Day 4: Madura to Esperance - The 90 Mile Straight test of endurance - Flying Solo Gear Company

Day 4: Madura to Esperance - The 90 Mile Straight test of endurance

Posted by Amanda Chan on

  • Distance: 730km
  • Dep: 8am (local Madura time... whatever that is.)
  • Arr: 320pm (Perth time)
  • Temp: 16°C to 37°C

I woke up to the sound of a truck stopping right outside my room and it sounded like it was pumping petrol a metre out the window where Sheba is supposed to be. As in, my first thought was that Sheba was lying crushed under several hundred tonnes of Road Train and that my journey had already come to an end. Panicked, I got up and peered through my chained door to find Sheba quietly sitting there covered in dew, untouched and respected. Beyond her sat a mammoth road train refueling at the front gate. I think it was the first time I actually looked at one in detail because I was always tucking and passing.

Suddenly, I felt very little.

It was towering and covered with the dust from all of its journeys around the country. It was also very out-of-place, an oily and worn manmade piece of machinery surrounded by thick forest. The whole restcamp was immersed in a deep eerie fog, similar to the cold mornings on the chook farm I lived on for 3 months. The locals warned me heavily about roos in the area, which would inevitably put an early end to this journey should I hit one. So I took my time eating my scrambled eggs and made a move as soon as the sun lifted the fog.

Sure enough, as I started my ride, I was greeted by a pretty confronting roo carcass smack in the middle of the road. It was opened up and being consumed by two large birds. There was no way I would have lived if I hit that guy at speed. So I slowed to a crawl and pressed on with squinted eyes. By the time the sun was hot enough to ward off the animals, I had seen about 3 dozen fresh roadkill and about a hundred very delighted birds. The road leaving Madura reeked of nature doing its job.

My first stop in Caiguna, 190km after Madura, marked the start of the infamous 90 Mile Straight, a portion of the Eyre Highway that is the longest straight road in the world. Funny, I thought I had ridden it yesterday. But knowing the animals are active at dusk I knew I had to get a move on. So I jumped into another 180km of riding... On a straight road for 2 gruesome hours. This straight line was very much just that.

Aside from learning how to operate my GoPro with both hands while riding, I've realized something.

90 mile straight

Insecurities. They tend to run wild, and people always try to change their looks or ways based on others' opinions. But if those people didn't exist, insecurities wouldn't exist. Put it this way, I wouldn't be concerned about how I looked in a bikini if I were the only one on the beach. I'd let that shit run wild. Nobody chooses to be insecure. It's a terrible feeling. But everyone is, in some form or another, because we are social creatures. That being said, with me being increasingly isolated on this trip, I found myself caring a whole lot less about anything compared to when I was in the city. 

It's safe to say that this is the most confident I've ever been, and I think it's largely due to the fact that I'm so far away from anyone who is out to make someone's day worse.  They don't have much to add, so they create things to add.

I lost myself in this subject for all of the 2 hours until I rolled into Balladonia 180km later. Sheba fueled up and I crammed a tasteless chicken burger into my belly. Time for the road again.

This leg was far less enjoyable. All I could think about was either napping or needing a hug. I desperately craved poutine, the national dish of Canada. In retrospect I think I just craved some sort of comfort or familiarity, which is typical while traveling. Understanding this yearning made it possible to continue onward. I somehow made it safely to Norseman and an older couple excitedly texted some photos they took of me. It's enchanting when people take an interest in your story.

90 mile straight

With that, I remembered my reason, and hopped back on the saddle. I can tell you now that almost 600km of straight lines does wear you down a bit and this final 190km was no different. The first hour was tough. I had a banging headache and I just really wanted to eat some Pringles and watch an episode on Netflix. I'm not bothered traveling alone, in fact I absolutely love it. However, I did crave having my butt in a comfortable place. This day was indeed about 7.5 hours in a sportbike position with barely any rest.

Esperance Sheba

Thankfully the final 100km into Esperance was slightly more curved and the last hill before the town offered a stunning view of the bay. This was very much appreciated after seeing 1400km of plainsThe Ashvault Backpack was against my back as a bit of a back rest stuffed with a hoodie and some snacks, and it was a helpful addition to the ride.

Esperance is a wonderful little town full of very kind locals and a beachy aura. After the final fuel stop I couldn't mentally get on the bike right away, so I grabbed some snacks at IGA and just perched up against Sheba in the middle of the Shell servo, slowly eating a single Twix bar over the course of 50 minutes. Cars were going around me, but the drivers smiled out of sympathy. I had no idea what time of day it was. Or what day of the week. I forgot my surname at some point.

The sugar high finally got me moving, so I checked into a youth hostel, showered, and went for a walk in the dark. My Asian Canadian skin becomes charred in the blazing Australian sun because of the lack of ozone protection. In the same light, there are parts of Esperance with no street lights and you could still find your way using the light from the stars. As with the roos and vultures, nature is all about give and take. I'm trying to practice this in my normal life, in the belief that karma is circular and you must do good to receive good.

Australia can be a hard roadtrip to complete - especially if you come from a cold climate. But I'm willing to go through it all for the sake of being able to tell myself that nothing is impossible. While doing so, I get to see corners of the country that I could never put into words. Any situation can be a good one if you pay attention to the right things.

Day 5: 500km to Albany - compared to the first 4 days, it's pretty much a rest day!

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  • So Sheba is a Suzuki and you are Phillipino Canadian maybe. Thats why you write so well. Probably have nice handwriting too!

    chazzi mark d on

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