It’s been a big couple of weeks in my world! Roughly one month ago I set off on Expedition Dust, a cycling journey that will take me from Steep Point, The most westerly point of Australia through the red centre all the way to Byron Bay in the east visiting as many schools and youth groups as I can to empower others to take care of there mental wellness.
On the 21st of may my expedition partner Loren and I got dropped at the western edge of Australia, fully laden with all the gear we would need for the next 100 days. As the truck drove away it all became very real, our bikes were heavy and the sand was deep. Loren got on her bike and started riding making it all of 5 meters before toppling off and hitting the ground. She struggled to pick the bike up as I rode past, to the bottom of the daunting sandhills that we had just spent the last 3 hours driving through. As I hit the first bit of an incline my bike stopped moving forward and sunk into the sand. 100 meters in and I was pushing the bike. Loren had got herself up by this point and was also pushing. That first day we pushed our bikes for 4 hours and only moved 1.7km, it was tough right from the get-go!
Over the next 6 days, progress was very slow. Loren quickly lost all confidence on her bike and had become black and blue with bruises from talking falls, her bike was starting to become irreversibly damaged, the rack had snapped, the trailer was bent, one of her bigger falls had snapped the through axle and somehow managed to bend the steel handlebars. It was a tricky situation because I was having a tough time but enjoying myself and the challenge, whereas Loren was determined and picked herself up over and over again but was mentally worn out and physically damaged. I could tell Loren wasn't having a good time. On the morning of day 7, she decided that she needed to leave. What Loren had achieved was amazing but this adventure wasn't for her.
My world spun into turmoil when I realised that I was going to have to make this journey alone. I was sad Loren had left but it was probably for the best as the trip wasn't getting any easier. I am no stranger to solo expeditions so I knew I was completely capable, but I really wanted to share this experience with someone else. Loren pulled out and I pushed on away from the coast and into the outback alone. Having a three-person tent all to myself was a bit of a luxury but also very lonely, so I put the word out that there was a bike and all the gear for anyone to join me on this expedition. It didn't take long for an Australian man named Dylan to sign up for the next 1000km, but the catch was he couldn't join me for two weeks.
The misfortune of being alone turned into an opportunity for self-reflection. I was now excited to have this time to myself in nature. The outback was calling as I left the road and disappeared into the bush, it was a new and unknown landscape full of wildlife I had never experienced. The kangaroos watch as I slowly pass through the lands they call home, the black eagles soar above and the only thing that is constant is the buzz of the flys swarming my face. Every night as the sun dips below the horizon the temperature drops rapidly, I dig a fire pit to heat my body and cook my dinner. Silence blankets everything except the crackle of my fire and the bats that swoop overhead. Darkness consumes the sky but the stars glow brighter than anywhere I have ever been. Nature is the place I am my purest self, its the place I am me.
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