T – What a bloody cold uncomfortable night we had! Both our sleeping mats went dead flat, the cold came in thanks to a whistling breeze and we stiffly climbed out of the tent and very reluctantly began the process of packing it away. We were tired. Were were stiff and we just wanted to sleep in a real bed and have a hot shower whenever we wanted.
So the decision was made. We would push for home today. It would be a big day but we felt we could do it. Our biggest day so far was a 600km day in Utah which started at 8am and ended at midnight.
C – Knowing the end is in sight really changes the way you think. There was just no way I wanted to camp again, to wake and face another day of cold riding. We knew the further south we got, the colder we would get. Being in the desert guaranteed us clear and bright skies, but today we were heading past the desert, into the farming land and knew that rain this time of year was basically a guarantee.
T – So we packed up the tent for hopefully the last time for now, loaded the bikes and headed on out. We did a quick top up of fuel and food in Kalgoorlie and raced out of town. At which point Mabel banged and twitched and tore off the last tooth on her sprocket. I tightened the chain one final time and hoped she would make the last 690kms with a very smooth front sprocket.
We had 200 kms to our next turn and we managed to knock it out pretty smartly. Then it was time to head southwards. We clipped along. Only stopping for fuel and fried food as we went.
C – We were not quite sure we would make it, but by 5pm, we only had three hours of riding left and knew we could do it. We made the decision to push on through the dark and just get there tonight. We did not tell my folks, hoping to surprise them!
T – Darkness came down and our pathetic lights barely lit up anything and I was on the constant look out for kangaroos. We were just 80 kms from Mt Barker when Mabels sprocket started to slip. I had to allow her to crawl up each hill, no matter how slight the slope, and try not to accelerate at all as it just caused the sprocket to spin uselessly against the chain.
Slowly but surely we moved closer to home. 30 kms out and we had to turn westwards. Straight into a headwind and an uphill climb. Mabel sat in the middle of the road. Her cog turning uselessly and noisily beneath me. I begged her to make it. Pleaded with her. We were so close. I started to hop off and push her up the hills and tried to coax enough speed out of her on the downhill runs to make the next hill.
C – Poor Mabel. Rosie and I felt bad for Mabel and we willed her forward. We rode next to her and Todd, sometimes idling along at walking pace, wincing everytime we heard the clanking of her chain spinning on her sprocket.
T – 15 kms out and Mabels ride was over. I couldn’t even gain any speed out of her on the downhill runs. Reluctantly we attached her to Rosie with a tow strap. This was not how we wanted to finish this part.
C – It was not the happiest way to end this leg of the trip, but as we pulled into town the rain began to pour and I could not help my laugh loudly in my helmet at the situation.
T – Chantelle and Rosie towed us the last leg and at the top of the final hill we untied Mabel and giving her a big shove Mabel and I and Rosie and Chantelle coasted down the hill and into Chantelles parents driveway. It was over. We had made it.
18 months of riding through 18 countries and across 3 continents. A grand total of 72 000 kms. We were relieved, and sad. It was a quiet, silent emotional moment for me as I sat there on my little brave steed as she idled away. Well done Mabes. Well done.
C – It was a quiet moment as we turned off the bikes for the last time this leg. It was 9.30pm and quite cold, with the rain now at a drizzle. Quite a fitting end to what has been so much adventure, but not nearly enough adventure for these two little, red, amazingly plucky postie bikes (or their adventure hooked owners!). It is overwhelming to think about how much this trip has impacted on us both, but I feel nothing but pride about our achievements.
T – These little postie bikes had carried us through heat and sand, rain and snow. We had crashed them and burnt them. And here they sat. All the way back home. I felt so proud of them. So proud of my wonderful wife. She had developed into such an amazing rider. Full of confidence. Both of us had changed and developed as human beings. I myself felt much calmer. Much more relaxed. And as a team, there was nothing the four of us couldn’t accomplish. With Chantelles brains, my idiocy and the pluckiness of Rosie and Mabel no one and nothing could stop us. Now it was time to reset, rebuild the bikes, and get back on the road. Part one done. Part two coming up!