Clement and I followed the Stuart Highway to my school-friend Bec’s house 30km out of Darwin. We experienced a string of firsts on this, the next very different leg of the adventure. The new orchestra of birds – familiar for me, new and exotic for Clement. The ‘fuck-off you wanker!’ abuse that cyclists get dished out all the time from motorists in Australia. Clement’s introduction to Aussie Rules football as we kick a footy around the back yard. And an amazing dinner with food we haven’t seen for so, so long.

Is there a resemblance here? :-)

Is there a resemblance here?:-)

Bec and I spent the late evening looking through our old school magazines, spotting us and our class-mates – the girls with their frizzy hairdos and the boys with their haystack ones – so popular in the 80s. It’s been almost 30 years. Ouch!

It was great to see Dad again, who came up from Adelaide to meet me. When I see him again I will really be in the home stretch – in the last kilometres before Adelaide. The end is nigh, and I am excited and scared at the same time.


Jetty Road, Brighton, Adelaide

Jetty Road, Brighton, Adelaide

Exactly two years after leaving Eindhoven on my bike, I will be standing on Brighton Jetty in the suburbs of Adelaide, Australia. You are welcome to join me there to celebrate the end of this life-changing world cycle trip. Furthermore, you are invited to join me cycling, driving or motorcycling through beautiful areas north of Adelaide in the two weeks before my final arrival in Adelaide. This will be a slow meander through some of the most beautiful parts of Australia at a pace that everyone can keep up with, and enjoy!

More keen travellers are welcome to join me earlier, travelling at a faster pace.

Dates:
August 31, 2016: Start meander to Adelaide at Wilpena Pound.
September 13, 2016: Arrival at Brighton Jetty, Adelaide, Australia.

Accommodation:
On the way, we can stay in local pubs and wineries. I will probably try camping everywhere, or other interesting options – more fun and interesting – and also cheaper..:-)

Rough itinerary:
Aug 31, Sep 1: Wilpena Pound.
Sep 2: Wilpena Pound – Hawker (55km)
Sep 3: Hawker – Quorn (66km)
Sep 4: Quorn (Devil’s Peak, Mt. Brown) (My grandma was born here)
Sep 5: Quorn – Melrose (62km)
Sep 6: Melrose (Mt. Remarkable, Alligator Gorge)
Sep 7, Sep 8: Melrose – Clare (131km)
Sep 9: Clare (Clare Valley wineries)
Sep 10: Clare – Tanunda (97km)
Sep 11: Tanunda (Barossa Valley Wineries)
Sep 12: Tanunda – Balhannah (68km) This leg is not flat. Flat alternatives are possible.
Sep 13: Balhannah – Jetty Road, Brighton. (37km) Via Mt. Lofty with view over Adelaide.

Please let me know if you can join. It will be fun!

For those keen on joining me for some desert cycling, here is my planned route through Australia up to the meeting point in Wilpena Pound. The last part involves some bad road cycling (Oodnadatta Track). I will see if I want to do that or not nearer the time..:-)


I sit on the quay in Darwin, my father at my side, taking in the surroundings – the bird calls, the trees, the clear blue skies. The Australian accents, toilet block building with a drinking fountain, the utes with the Australian number plates, the Northern Territory flag. We have only sailed 400km and it is so, so different. I can feel the desert lurking beyond the horizon as the heat of the day mounts, and I feel a welling up of emotion. I have come all this way to be here, through so many places, meeting so many people, and now I am here. I am home.

The crew of the Sue Sea

The crew of the Sue Sea

Dozens of dolphins jumped around as – playing with us – as the boat passed through the calm waters. Amazing sunsets and sunrises were presented before us on the open seas – alone in this beautiful place with only sea and sky. As the sky turned from blue through oranges and pink to black, the full moon rose and lit the seas with a shimmering beam, all through the night. We threw-up as the boat was pummelled by the violent ocean, and then returned to health and to a rhythm of cook, eat, sleep.

Sunrise on the Timor Sea

Sunrise on the Timor Sea

We have had a real sailing adventure. Thank-you to the crew of the Sue Sea who let us (Clement and myself, together with Romain – a backpacker from France) on board to take the boat back from Dili to Australia after taking part in the Darwin to Dili yacht rally. From the second we met them in Dili, they have welcomed us onboard and to their sailing family, and found a way to transport us, our luggage and our bikes on the 15m yacht.
The bikes, after the most thorough clean they have ever had (for Australian quarantine), were disassembled and stowed in with the sails at the very front of the boat. A little bit wet and jossled, they arrived safe and sound on Australian soil – all the way from Europe without a flight on a plane.

Igor, Gus, Betsy, Fons, Michael and the rest of the sailing family we met in Dili – you are legends!


Yes. With a little break, it’s time for another video – probably my second to last one.. Indonesia and Timor Leste are beautiful. A fantastic end to the trip before the last leg in Australia. I hope you like the video!


‘Sure! You can come along!’
The sailors of the Darwin to Dili yacht race were sitting around the table drinking, laughing and telling stories. One of them will be returning to Darwin, and Clement and I are allowed to join them. A dream come true!

Darwin to Dili trophies

Darwin to Dili trophies

Today’s cycling was a dusty affair. I popped over the high pass into a new, much drier valley, and over a second little pass into the dry, Australian-like landscape. Timor has two climates, and the border is the mountains. It is fascinating to see everything change so suddenly. Water is the bringer of life.

The green middle valley

The green middle valley

The dry side

The dry side


Today was a ride up from the beach into the heavens – over the highest mountains in Timor Leste. Its good to climb again – and to climb on a half descent road. Riding in the sun, it was a lovely slow climb to a less hot night at just below 2000m.

On the way up

On the way up

The road just got better and better. Approaching and leaving the town of Same, I had pristine new road which made climbing a breeze. Even the road in construction about 5km out of Same was pretty good. I spent the climb listening to podcasts and trying not to get my earphones stuck in my ears.

Mountain road

Mountain road

Mountains

Mountains

My place of residence tonight is with a family in the mountains. I spent the evening talking to the grandpa in Indonesian – one of my last chances to use the language for a while.. Tomorrow Dili again, and then we’ll see how I get to Darwin, Australia.


‘It’s coming! It’s coming!’
I lie on the bamboo bed structure under the straw roof as the guy pokes the tweezers deep into my ear. I expect the unexpected every day in East Timor. Today it’s not a Tae Kwon Do class on the road deep in the mountains. Today I’m having the rubber piece from my earphones extracted from deep within my ear. It took two hours to get it out.

My ear doctor

My ear doctor

Clement has left. His rim on his back wheel is almost dead, and he didn’t want to venture further on the bad road along the coast, and then into the high mountains. He’s returning to the northern coast and on to Dili. I’ll meet him again there.

He might have been better off coming with me. The road got better slowly. It still had it’s fair share of deep road-wide puddles and mud, and the odd river crossing or two, but it also had a stretch of a few kilometres where I could scoot along at over 30 km/h. It was heaven.

River crossing - the bridge is visible on the left

River crossing – the bridge is visible on the left

The narrow road

The narrow road

I’m staying with a lovely family on the south coast, getting near to my climb into the mountains. No swimming here though. Big crocodiles apparently.