My wristwatch alarm begins buzzing at 3:45 AM.  Its high pitched insistence startles me from a deep sleep.  My muscles ache with exhaustion.  3:45 , I’m sure you will agree, is an ungodly hour to rise.

The Australian bush, where we are camped, is still and silent, the sky above a carpet of stars.  The air is cool and crisp, almost autumnal.  My sleeping bag is draped casually over my shoulders, shielding me from the early morning chill.

Bush Camp off Highway One in Western Australia after a long day on the road.

The freshness of the day will fade quickly.  Of this I am only too aware.  Within a few hours the temperature will climb into the 80’s, then the 90’s.  By early afternoon it will surely top 100.

The desert scrub will provide little shelter from the unforgiving sun.  By late morning, the winds will most certainly begin to gust.  The Big Wet is on its way.  The eight month period without rainfall will come to an end.  The Western Australia climate is unpredictable this time of year.  Headwinds will turn a reasonable 150 kilometer ride on pancake flat terrain into a hellish 10 hours of pedaling.

We will, for a brief moment during the worst heat of the day, contemplate hunkering down under one of the rare acacias.  Calling it a day after a mere 80 kilometers.  But there is water to worry about and diminishing food supplies to consider.

In the end, we will push on, hopeful that the winds will change.   We will be disappointed.

Not much shelter from the elements in these barren parts.

Worth the effort?

A recent blog follower made this comment:

All the bicycle travel diaries online use words like “beautiful” and “breathtaking” a lot, but the photos are anything but beautiful, why would I want to spend weeks and months staring at the pavement?

At times, these accusations about bicycle touring are accurate.  Monotonous, dull, boring, repetitive.  Those are the words most people would use to describe the 577 kilometers separating Broome from Port Hedland.

But sunrise and sunset are nothing short of magical. They are, without fail, “beautiful” and “breathtaking.”

As the soft hues of first light brighten the horizon, I pedal along in a state of something near elation.  My fatigue is forgotten, as are the many kilometers that lie ahead.  Dawn and dusk are splendid celebrations of light in this barren and arid part of the world.

Is it reasonable to endure 8 hours pedaling down a sizzling highway in exchange for a few moments of beauty?  Perhaps not.  But the highs are so sublime I am willing to endure the heat, the fatigue and– yes– the boredom of staring down an endless ribbon of road.

Dawn and dusk in the desert is pay-off plenty for the trying times in between.

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Between Dawn and Dusk

6 thoughts on “Between Dawn and Dusk

  • October 7, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    But the highs are so sublime I am willing to endure the heat, the fatigue and– yes– the boredom of staring down an endless ribbon of road.”

    Also, lest we forget, it beats sitting in an office, staring at an inbox filled with papers.

  • October 8, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    Been watching your blog for a while now and it is inspiring. Just wondering when your heading down through perth. Im flying in to ride the munda biddi trail and a bit more mid November.

  • October 10, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Going distances such as “Broome to Port Headland” by bicycle has another advantage: You get a feeling of “time and space”, philosophically one of the most important questions to answer. After that experience you are loosing your axieties (“angoisse”) and one can confidently tackling the problems confronting a live. But you have to go the way (by bicycleor walking) first.
    Michael Münchehofe

  • October 12, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    Lovely photos! So why aren’t you riding any of the east coast of Aus? It’s SO different to the west! My husband and I cycled from Sydney to Melbourne last Christmas.

  • October 17, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    As winter approaches the Cariboo your photos give us a sense of… warmth. Thank you. We had a wonderful Warmshowers guest this weekend. Dylan Kentch from Alaska was heading south. He was looking through our guest book and recognized you from his journey through S America. — We think of you often. Take care.

    • October 25, 2012 at 11:56 PM

      Thanks so much for staying in touch! It must be amaazingly beautiful up north this time of year. Hope to be following your bike tour SOON!


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