Sticky wickets on the Eyre Peninsula

Sunset highway

What I like most about cycle touring is that everything always goes according to plan. Not my plan, mind you, but still a plan.

My idea was to leisurely pedal up the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula. Ticker tape and bikini car washes figured heavily in the scheme, though I left room for the possibility that they might not be integral to its overall success.

The Port Lincoln coastline

The Port Lincoln coastline

The universe had other designs. Beyond Port Lincoln it offered 50 km/h crosswinds that swung me across the road like a drunk lamp-posting home from the pub.

After a near-miss with a grain truck I crashed to a halt and told Mother Nature exactly what I thought of her.

Big mistake. She backhanded me in mid-curse with a gale so violent it broke my sunglasses. Beside me a field of canola gaped. Wind blew across it like gossip, and in its wake a million tiny heads leaned closer to share their secret.

Problem solved

Problem solved

Momma don’t take no sass. 

Suitably humbled, I pedaled to Tumby Bay to buy super glue and pout. Neither took much time and by early afternoon I was back on the road with a different point of view.

All was forgiven the next day. I rode north between clear skies and rolling hills, piling up kilometers so quickly that I couldn’t help but stare at my speedometer. I hate when that happens. Biking for mileage is like screwing for money – it takes all the fun out of it.

I cooled my heels in Arno Bay, a seaside village with more pelicans than people. In fact, the only person I met was Nanna Rosie, a sweet old lady who convinced me to order an “Arnormous” hamburger at her cafe.

The "Arnormous" Burger

The “Arnormous” Burger

Preparing this monstrosity seemed to be hectic work. Judging by the noise from the kitchen and the results thereafter, I can only assume Nanna Rosie lifted a fridge over her head and shook its full contents onto two sesame-seed buns.

“How was it?” she asked, beaming.

Hard to say. I’d just eaten a burger with two beef patties, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, mayonnaise, pineapple, fried egg, cheese, beet root and the better portion of a pig. My tongue had transcended taste.

This enlightenment was revisited in vivid detail all through the 45 km ride to Cowell. I burped and hiccuped the entire time, quite nearly rechristening Elbow Hill as Chunder Mountain along the way.

Commercial Hotel

Cowell’s Commercial Hotel

I arrived in town just as daylight was leaving. It played off the Commercial Hotel, a hundred-year-old beauty no one has yet had the riches or shortsightedness to demolish. Here’s hoping it never happens. The world needs more monuments without plaques.

The next day I biked in torrential rain to Lucky Bay, where I caught a ferry across Spencer Gulf. Unfortunately my helmet (Limar 525) did not share my enthusiasm for the voyage. I forgot it on the pier.

I’d like to think it tearfully waved a handkerchief as my ship disappeared over the horizon, though it’s just as likely that Limar made rude gestures and spit on the irony of protecting a brain that buckles under the weight of a transit ticket.

Happier times with Limar

Happier times with Limar

Whatever the case, we shall be reunited soon. I explained the situation to the ferry folks in Wallaroo and they agreed to put Limar on tomorrow’s boat. First class, of course.

None of this was part of the original itinerary, but that’s okay.

I’m happily stranded in a town named after the Narungga word for wallaby urine. I slept in a public toilet to escape the rain and woke up feeling great. Hell, I even smiled at the kid who told me I had an “olden days” bike.

And why not? After all, the real joy of cycle touring isn’t planning. It’s Plan B.


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