This one might be a bit long but it’s definitely worth reading! Lots can happen in just 2 days!
After watching the Eclipse in the morning, it’s time to get back on the road and carry on the journey. Little did I expect the encounter that was about to happen…
On that same day, in the evening, I come across this caravan stopped on the side of the road. A bit of chat with Rose, the driver, and I learn that a few 100m ahead are Allen and Jane, RUNNING around Australia, followed by their support caravan.
They are from New Zealand, in their 60’s, they are vegans and run (so to speak…) exclusively on raw fruit & veggies, one marathon distance per day, from 1st of January to 31st of December, from Melbourne to Melbourne. I meet them on the road some 200km north of Tennant Creek, they have already run all the way up the East Coast, and across North Queensland here to the Stuart Highway, they are about halfway through!
They are finishing their run of the day and only have a few more km to go. I slow down and we have a bit of a chat in the middle of the road at about 7km/h! Allen comments: “we thought it’d be a good way to see the country”.
We camp together and I am invited for vegan dinner, a nice and healthy avocado salad, yum! As I ask to learn more about their motivations and choices, I learn that Jane has survived a cancer and at that time saw vegan diet as a healthier choice that would help her fight it.
I admire their effort and motivation. They have put together this project and have their food, fuel and shoes (1 pair per 1000km) sponsored. To me they illustrate the difference between difficult and impossible. Whatever it is you want to do, if you start by putting your mind into it, and don’t get overwhelmed by the difficulty, you can do pretty much anything you want!
But to make things even better, they tell me about an Irish guy, RUNNING AROUND THE WORLD, who should be some 100km ahead of them, so I should catch up with him the next day.
And indeed, the next day, at a roadside rest area, I meet Tony Mangan, 57, from Ireland, halfway through his run around the world from Dublin to Dublin, that he started in October 2010 (so 2 and a half years ago). He has already run 30,000 km, across Ireland, then from Newfoundland down to the United States, across to California, and then all the way down to Ushuaia, then across New Zealand, and now across Australia’s Red Centre!
I ask him a little bit about his project, he says that he has already cycled around the world, so now he might as well run around it! According to him, your dreams are what’s most important, what you should follow. In Australia he has a support car following him, to cope with the long stretches without water. But he tells me that on some parts of his run he was on his own, with a backpack or a small trailer!
Tony is already in Indonesia as I write these lines almost 1 month after meeting him! He literally out-ran me! You should definitely click here and check out his adventure!!
A cyclist guy meeting three runners in two days. . . the world is not as big as it seems!
I continue my ride and I get to Dunmarra at sunset. We are Saturday and I am 45km away from a place called Daly Waters, which is famous for its character outback pub. (It is also a place of significance on John Stuart’s explorations and has some history concerning Australia’s international flights!)
So night falls and I try to gauge whether it’s worth riding 2h at night to get to the pub, without being sure what time it closes!
Of course I decide to go and I get started on a pitch-black night ride. This time there is no full Moon (remember the Eclipse just happened a few days ago, means the Moon is new!). I have no problem being seen as Red is lit up like a Christmas tree and I wear a hi-viz jacket. There is not a lot of traffic anyway and the freshness of the night is quite enjoyable! I can actually feel that the fresh air flow cools down my water bottles!
Anyway, I eventually get to the famous pub, which is not yet closed. The staff are having a beer outside and they are a bit surprised to see some bearded guy show up on a loaded up bicycle at almost 11 PM at their pub in the middle of the outback! And from there the avalanche starts:
“Do you want a beer?” Sure!
“You must be hungry, I’ll make you a sandwich” All right!
“Another beer?” Can’t refuse that!
And then there is a group of people still having drinks outside
“These guys really want to meet you” ok…
And that’s the best one: this lady stands up and says
“Let’s all put 5$ for Andre and his bike trip!” what??
And here I am with 40$ in my hand, not really understanding what is happening! People keep trading me full beers for my empty ones
And then Rod and Leesa, a couple touring on motorbikes, offer me to sleep in the spare bed they have in their bungalow.
Once again, all I did was to get on my bicycle and pedal! I didn’t ask or plan for any of this to happen! And maybe the way I tell this story makes you feel that I am having a lot of fun all the time. I do have some fun, but it is also pretty hard some times, and I always have to keep myself going. But I must say, if haven’t done so already, that all these things that happen start with a try. Try to go somewhere and see how far you make it. Try to talk to people and see what you can learn. And it really applies to everything you do, you don’t have to be riding a bicycle through Australia! J U S T T R Y !