It’s been just over a week since we finished riding the Canning Stock Route, with most of that time filled with driving back to Fremantle and the ‘in between’ that gives. We’ve just about subsided back to normal appetites and filled some of the hollows that had formed in place of burnt fat-stores. There’s been time to talk about and digest what we’ve done – though I still don’t feel closer to words that will do it justice.
How to begin?
The beginning? Why? The details of route, bicycle, food and preparation? How it seems to me now that I’ve ‘been there and done that’?
It’s possibly an indication of the stature of the Canning Stock Route (CSR) that none of this seems obvious. A sequential blow-by-blow with distances and times doesn’t seem right (though for future cyclists I’ll post this later) – rather an attempt to convey the essence of our ride. An overview.
So. Sitting here on my porch in the growing dark, with rain falling on the tin roof and Bryn hungry for his evening feed, I’ll say that it does feel as if we’ve done something significant. Even if part of me is instinctively moved to diminish it in light of my passage. It was the most physically and emotionally demanding route I’ve ever done – the Americas Trip had only short stretches that matched the sheer continual concentrated effort involved – for all 23 riding days. The greatest challenges were the corrugations/washboard which are a feature of around 75% of the route in varying degrees of severity. After this, the dunes (or sand hills) were often fun, or at least a (near) achievable challenge always with the prospect of a swooping descent and cooling air.
The enduring pleasures and satisfactions were more than I’d expected. I knew that the wide open spaces and remote camping would be incredible; but I hadn’t thought that there would be fun riding to the extent that there was. The early phases, until we got stuck into the dunes ‘proper’ after Durba Springs, contained some surprisingly flowing ‘lines’ that fed our mountain biking instincts. Even the dune riding rewarded determined concentration mixed with just the right power/line/body position.
A word on the route and landmarks sufficient to understand me before the more detailed route/logistics post: The 51 wells sunk by Canning at the inception of the route over 100 years ago are numbered south to north. Durba Springs is a haven of soft grass and shade about 500km from the start just after well 17. Kunawarritji is an aboriginal community near well 33 (1000km in) and the Canning Stock Route finishes officially at another community called Billiluna 180km south of Hall’s Creek on the Tanami Highway that connects the Kimberley region of northwest Western Australia with Alice Springs in the centre of the country.
Subsequent posts will explore the logistic and bicycle related issues amongst many other things – this one was just for ‘flavour’…