I had one of those cherished days, wind at my back, slightly dulled by two huge deluges, as two fronts passed over head. I had no real plans of how far I might go today, just knew there were 205km to Esperance. So headed out of Norseman in no particular hurry, actually wondering why everything felt so heavy, until I looked back and realized I was climbing. I was actually feeling really good.....amazing what 36 hours off the bike does for the body.
I had spent two nights at the Railway Hotel. It is an old place, being slowly done up, very similar to the Lakeside Hotel in Rotorua that my brother runs. A lovely young lady works very hard running the place, and offered me a deal I couldn't refuse. It was going to cost $25 a night, to camp behind the Caltex Roadhouse. For $30 a night I got 3x hot showers, 2x breakfasts, I got to do all my laundry, washed and dried, free wifi for 36 hours, TV, a double bed, and a packed lunch (last night's roast) to take away this morning. And I relaxed. Gotta be a great deal. I highly recommend cyclists staying there.
Norseman is no longer the town it once was. Many of the houses are empty, run down, or semi demolished. Twice I walked a lap of the streets, and saw only a couple of people out and about. The Police were patrolling in their car, the dogs were protecting their properties, but the only place with any life was the Roadhouse. Even the IGA was slow. Two staff, three customers. The first aisle in the shop was empty freezers. I thought I had walked into somewhere that had closed down.
The only buildings in good nick are the council and government buildings: Police, Mining Claims Office, Health Centre, Council Offices, Child Welfare, and the RSL. Strangely, all the footpaths, parks etc are in great nick as well, and it must rain a bit there, because the gutters were deep.
Norseman has always been a mining town. It is named after a horse that dug up a huge nugget. Camels were used alot in those days, so the streets are really wide, to allow enough width for a camel train to turn around. Looks strange now though, being so empty.
It is at the western end of the Nullabor though, so lots of folk pass through. As I was riding the last part of the Eyre Highway(Nullabor) I was glad to be finishing, and wondered why so many drive that route. It is a looong way. And being cooped up in a vehicle for 1200km must be very uncomfortable. Biking it was hard too, but at least I got to experience all the facets of the road first hand.
Seems I missed the mystery lady with the yellow wheelbarrow, She stayed at the Railway Hotel. She must have heard about my naked dancing around the tent (Ooops, there's that image again ) and hidden when she saw me coming towards her.
Anyway, riding out this morning, and I quickly realized I had a following wind.....when at one stage I felt I was slowing down and looked at my speedo to see that I was going 25kph. Hmmmm. Only dreamed of before. At 85km, and enjoying the ride, I was hit from behind by a torrential downpour. And it continued the whole 5km to Salmon Gums (where the gum trees are pink in the summer). Seemed like a good time to stop for a hot chocolate.
It was only 11.30am, so a little early to stop for the day, so I headed off again when the rain passed. About this time I had a close encounter with six Emu. A train was coming, but they were startled by me, a mere cyclist, and dashed out of the tree cover, and across the train tracks, in front of the train. I'm pleased to say they all survived.
At 120km just before Grass Patch, it bucketed down again, and I ducked into a memorial shelter for WWII Victoria Cross winner, but I was wet, and the wind was very cold, and I was shivering, so I made a dash down the road to a restored building with a veranda. This may have to be my tent site for the night, although it's right next to the road. I ran on the spot, and did star jumps, and eventually the rain eased. Best thing to do to get warm was ride.
And then the clouds and rain disappeared, the sun came out, and I found a secluded camping spot. 150km. Less than 60km to Esperance tomorrow, and I'm feeling good.