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Great beads of sweat and suffering

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 15 November 2011 | Views [1307]

Massive storm clouds shower the surrounds but bypass Broome; for now.

Massive storm clouds shower the surrounds but bypass Broome; for now.

Right about now I would trade most things to stop sweating. Not even just now, but say, the last 3 weeks when the 'build up' began. Sure awesome clouds have started to crowd the horizon like a watery caricature of Mars' 24km tall behemoth Olympus Mons. Soak up the sight of them with a glass of wine and a few crackers for longer than 3 seconds and you're bound to need to wipe a cascading bead of sweat from your eye before long.

Yeah hooray, this 'dry' stayed dry, but endless days of low 30's was only nice when the air wasn't more humid than habitable. And to make matters worse, I spend most of these sunny days riding around on a push bike; dessication personified. “Why?” you ask. “I don't rightly know!” I answer with the benefit of 6 years of consideration to aid such a declaration. It is an opportunity for much personal growth I can say, but not with much conviction.

Ever since moving from Melbourne to Brisbane, I have wanted to ride my push bike between the two cities. In a triumph of obsession over reason, I have never been able to write such an endeavour off as simply too sadistic and stupid to be feasible. So thinking that I'll just teach my brain a lesson, I changed the goal of 2011 from South America, to the long desired bike ride. It was in a rare moment of clarity in Vietnam, probably aided by the general expansiveness of unemployment, that I thought that I would regret not doing the bike ride more than not doing South America. That is if I have the time and clarity to regret anything on my death bed, a place either endeavour could bring me closer to in truth.

The first 6 months of the year consisted of merely paying lip service to the idea. I was testing the waters on how people reacted to openly declaring my intention to forgo a 4 hour flight for something that will cost 50 times more and take 360 times longer. Bike riding still seemed preferable as the only thing I've learnt from plane flight is that most people stink up close, babies don't like enclosed spaces and caterers think unpalatable and indigestible are key factors in meal preparation.

The duration of the ride is appealing for two reasons. Firstly, the longer I have to do it, the more leeway I have with the inevitable bike breakdowns, fascinating natural phenomena, and general apathy that comes from not being forced to get up in the morning. Secondly, if something is good, fun, wholesome and once-in-a-lifetime-ish, why wouldn't you want it to last as long as possible? Maybe because your bum will never feel the same again, speeding cars will take on a new aura of menace, and having to share an armrest will never seem like the greatest travesty to befall you again.

Preparation, or at least the reality of its necessity, really kicked in once the government decided I was too insignificant to tax and bestowed a $5.5k tax return upon me. That was enough spendings to live off while on the road, but I still lacked a few key elements. Like a bike for starters. Spending is one skill I perfected long ago, and I always relish the opportunity to practice such a fine art.

Online shopping became more addictive than crack. I rationalised the disappearance of funds by seeing online transfers as merely the exchange of numbers that resulted in me acquiring goods needed for my trip. Those numbers were still a lot further away from zero than they had been in a long time, so I paid little heed to how much they fluctuated. 4 months later I still have roughly $5k to my name, and now have all the things required for such an undertaking.

My bike fits me like a glove for my ass, being used to riding bikes that should have been put out to pasture about 3 owners before I got them. Small, subtle adjustments are an on-going project because something that niggles after 10kms, becomes highly annoying after 35kms and crippling after 70kms. I named her 'Miranda' in honour of my last 'new' Merida bike that escorted me all around Brisbane before some light-fingered son of a goat herder accosted her in the middle of the night. And yes, my bike is always female as it doesn't sit well to rest my gnads on anything of the male persuasion.

My Broome lifestyle was set for a major overhaul once I had the bike to do the necessary training on. Continuing to age my liver took precedence after acquisition so I pencilled in the last 3 months to be the time when I transform from alcoholic to athletic. Apparently, radical transformations are harder than just wishful thinking and I currently sit somewhere between the two extremes. I've done enough riding to shed most of the excess kilos inertia and Mary-Jane had bestowed upon me. Being built like a Praying Mantis on a hunger strike most of the time, losing weight means I'm going to look like I'm fleeing from a prison camp for the entire ride.

A large part of my travels down the east coast will entail catching up with old friends I haven't seen for years though. So a large part of my training has been preparing my liver for said catch-ups. While acknowledging the need for a concerted effort towards marathon level fitness, were I not to counter balance that with some hardy 'piss-fitness', I'll be too crook to even leave Brisbane.

After a large night spent celebrating life in general, I shake off the worst of the hangover by sleeping in. All that does is ensure that I have to ride through the heat of the day. Yep, 36 degrees, 1 million percent humidity and a 10 knot head wind is pretty standard. The first 20kms is just recycling alcohol as it is sweated out and reabsorbed, but it eventually loses its potency and I am able to enjoy maximum exertion in sauna like conditions. Although I am carrying no luggage and the biggest hill in Broome is a termite mound, it is still good practice.

With less than 3 weeks until I leave, the fact that I haven't ridden my bike in two weeks may give people the impression that I'm rather blasé about the effort involved. If you understand blasé to mean mild panic, you're not far wrong. And while apportioning blame is a cop out, it's not going to stop me from doing it. How inconsiderate of friends to get married right in the middle of my training schedule.

The only Matsos man with more time there to their name than me is the manager Chris, and his recent nuptials resulted in Miranda going unloved for at least the first week. Trev was up from Perth for the occasion and collecting on the hospitality he showed me in Hobart. The bucks party, wedding, recovery BBQ and a few ineffective and unproductive stints at work raced me through the week like I had been online shopping to buy crack. In the blink of an eye, Trev had gone and life returned to normal. My flat mates understood normal to mean 'throwing parties' and my first night of peace in a week became anything but. And this week, two close friends left town requiring beach parties that would have been far less enjoyable had I been there with my bike.

A major goal for the ride is to determine what aspects of my life need to change to ensure I make it passed my 40th birthday. Working at Matsos is the first casualty as 2.5 years is long enough in any job. Whether or not I come back to Broome is something only extended consideration will reveal. So for the next 3 weeks, I'll be living like I won't be coming back, which isn't any different to how I've lived here all along really. And serious training for the ride can start when I get to Brisbane. There's nothing like procrastination to turn any challenge into an ordeal.

Tags: preparation, sunshine

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