Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bicycling Trip to Australia: Halfway

Ten days ago, I reached the halfway point in my 2,473-mile fictional bicycling journey across Australia, known as the Bicycling Trip in Australia. Hooray! (By "fictional", of course, I don't mean that I'm faking the mileage altogether, only the fact that I'm bicycling in Australia. The mileage is real.)

The trip started near Sydney in February, and I'm currently on pace to reach the Indian Ocean in late Spring / early Summer, 2013. That's about the pace I predicted, and my average weekly pace isn't that far off from the preceding Bicycling Trip to Alaska (37.1 miles/week now, compared to 37.4 miles/week for the Alaska trip). However, I can sense it; the motivation has been lacking as of late.

Recall that the main the reason I do these fake bicycling trips is to motivate me to exercise. In that, they've been huge successes. But it was much easier to motivate myself when the trip was in familiar North America, along roads that I've actually seen and driven in person, than in Australia, which I've obviously never been to. Besides that, let's face it: Australia has a whole lot of nothing in it. That's part of it's charm (and one reason I want to go there), but from a statistical standpoint, it isn't particularly interesting to one who is faking a cross-country bicycling trip. "Woohoo, I just reached a town with nothing in it. Only 43 more miles until the next town with nothing in it!"

Sure, the Alaska Highway had a lot of nothing, too. But at least I've actually been there, and because of that, otherwise unimpressive dots on the map such as Muncho Lake actually mean something to me. Every dot on the map along the Alaska Highway is at least a little familiar to me. On the other hand, these small towns in Australia really are just dots on the map to me.

Every week when I update my progress, I load up Google Street View from my fake location. I'm sure Google Street View doesn't do Australia justice, but the view has looked pretty much exactly like this for the last four months:

View Bicycling Trip in Australia in a larger map

As boring as this part of Australia looks on a screen, I'm sure it's anything but if you actually go there. And some day, we will. But that doesn't help me too much on this here bicycling trip. I mean, even the meaningless dots on the map are about to go away completely. For you see, I'm about to cross the Nullarbor Plain, home to the longest stretch of perfectly straight highway in the world (90 miles), and on paper, not much else. 700 miles away on the other side of the plain is the town of Norseman (population 857), which - believe it or not - is the largest city I'll see for the next 1,000 miles.* (To put that in perspective, Whitehorse is 27 times larger than Norseman.) It will take me four months to get to Norseman, if I'm lucky.

(* - I haven't updated the web page yet, but I made it past Ceduna last weekend; Ceduna's population is over 2,000.)

So I guess what I'm saying is, this Bicycling Trip in Australia is turning into somewhat of a grind, even if it is only a fictional journey. (I mean, can you imagine doing this for real? Holy crap!) But I can do it. Just keep on pedalin'.

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