Here’s where you need to grab a map of Australia to comprehend the distance between Perth and Brisbane and get a clearer understanding of what Caroline Soubayroux and David Ferguson just accomplished as part of their 29,000 km round-the-world ride.
Scan the names on the map and spot the noteworthiest location – the one that spans most of the territory between Perth and Adelaide: the Great Victoria Desert. Once you’ve passed that, it’s time for Nullarbor National Park, the world’s largest semi-arid landscape.
Once your eyes are accustomed to the map, you’ll see there’s only one main road – the Highway 1 – through this part of South Australia; it’s the artery where all of west-east traffic across the continent converges. For the two riders, the unescapable contact with vehicles that are unused (and largely oblivious) to having two cyclists sharing the road with them marred the 5,422 kilometre stretch, seeing them stick firmly to the hard shoulder whenever possible.
Other than the cars, the pair talk about the almost constant, punishingly warm headwind, especially in the desert where there were no trees to block it, and the onslaught of horseflies that Caroline says were “everywhere”. Fortunately, these were elements they’d predicted, and David’s dad was on hand with a support vehicle to give them some respite from the desert and the wind.
“Even at night,” Caroline adds, “our campervan would find itself invaded by flies and mosquitoes despite the nets. But it was always such a relief to see the campervan”. After five tough days crossing the desert, a switch flicked in Caroline as they entered Adelaide and she fell in love with the cycling-friendly city.
But it was only going to a brief stop: after leaving Adelaide, the pair had more opportunities to avoid the Highway 1, but they were always acutely aware that it does represent the fastest way to get anywhere – and even includes, at times, gorgeous stretches along the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Coast.
Sure, Highway 1 may heave with traffic at times, but as it coasts the ocean and cuts through the rugged, dryness of Nullarbor National Park, it still managed to draw Caroline Soubayroux into its embrace of eucalyptus, acacia flowers, and sandalwood.
And on a bike ride around the world, it’s the scents as well as the sights that set the mood for the experience – and they’ll be the ones that linger most in the minds of Caroline and David.
THE BIKE OF THIS ARTICLE
JENA OLIVE GREEN; GLOSSY
Jena is a carbon gravel bike, designed to give you more freedom of choice when you go out for a ride. Jena was designed to satisfy any of your needs, whether it is performance on dirt roads and single track, or adventure, exploration, and bikepacking.
Jena is a light, reactive, and easy-to-handle bike with racing-comfort geometries, and able to adapt to the multiple uses required of a gravel bike.