Today I continued biking with Qi. On the first 46 km from Friendly Beaches to Swansea, our average speed was around 10,5 km/h although the route was mainly flat. You might think that we suck at biking because even an asthmatic grandmother could bike faster. Well no. Here is the fact: today, we had to fight our way against very strong headwinds (around 50 km/h). An heavily loaded bike equipped with paniers offers a massive air resistance, so at some moments we couldn’t bike faster than 7 km/h on flat ground! Moreover, violent wind gusts made keeping the balance on the bike really difficult, which was a bit scary because there was lot of traffic on the road.
Qi is used to long-distance biking. Together with 32 other Chinese, she biked more than 2000 km from Chengdu to Lhassa, with more than 100 km per day, crossing some passes at 5000 m. Her small size and featherlight weight make her an impressive climber, but are big drawbacks in these kind of flat and windy conditions. With her thinner tyres and climber profile, today’s ride was a nightmare for her. It was like asking Nairo Quintana to ride Paris-Roubaix (those familiar with road cycling will understand, sorry for the others 😀 )
Even if I am not that heavy, coming from Belgium I am quite familiar with this sort of windy rides. Consequently, I had to wait several times for her. Even if we had a pretty early start (8h15, by far my quickest packing so far!), at 13h we hadn’t even biked half of the distance that we had foreseen! As if it was not enough, the landscapes this morning weren’t as beautiful as the other days, except maybe the lookout on Great Oyster Bay.
After our lunch at Swansea, we decided to split: Qi was tired in these conditions and went at her own pace at a nice campsite 15km further, and I switched the warrior mode on to bike the 50 km left to Triabunna, always in the same bad conditions. I wanted to reach this town in order to be able to go for a side trip to Maria Island the next day. The landscape however was again rather scenic on that part.
I managed to reach Triabunna at 18h30, after nearly 7 hours of riding! I pitched quickly my tent in a terrain behind a pub that offered free campsite. Then I had a beer at the pub, firstly to thank the pub for letting me pitch my tent, and secondly because after such a day, I deserved it! In the pub I met two people that I had already seen in Coles Bay hostel, Edward and Katherine, brother and sisters from Yorkshire, England. We quickly sympathised and finally, had a very nice chat and a few beer together. (Finally we drank for much more money than what a campsite would have cost, the owner of this pub is damn clever :-p). Afterwards I quickly ate some wraps (it was too late to start cooking some hot meal) and thanks to the combined action of the heavy physical effort and the few beers, I had my best sleep in the tent so far!