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Well it’s been some time since the last post! So, since we have recieved our Australian residents visa and will be emigrating in late September this year.  It only seemed fitting to post a quick update!

Since we got back, Nic got into road racing on his De Rosa Idol and Sedef put up her cleats.  We had to sell the ‘bents’ as we didn’t have any room for them in our small London flat :-(
However, since we are now moving to Oz. We’ve decided that we will get new ‘bents’ and start rolling again!  Next Autumn (Australian autumn/European Spring), we will start off with an Adelaide to Darwin bent ride through the outback!  Then a Simpsons desert jaunt, after that… who knows…

So Nuts on Bents will be revamped later in the year with a bent forum as well.

Well it’s been two months now and I must admit it’s rather odd being back in the rat race! For a start I’m sitting in a proper chair, sleeping in a proper bed and eating decent food! Saying all that, we do miss the cycling (which we thought we’d never say!) and the travelling, not to mention the people we meet along the way and the rest of the experience of travelling by bike.

The recumbents are not exactly London friendly, so we’ve put them away safely and got ourselves some road bikes, Nic is racing around too fast, while Sedef is taking it more gently. We’ve already noticed our fitness is dropping, though the fact that we’ve enter some road races means we’ll have to get back on top form!

Slowly, we’re putting our notes together concerning the trip, collating all the diary entries (Blog and paperbased) and preparing for the book! Fitting this into the ‘normal’ life of work, eat, sleep is harder than we thought! But none-the-less a worthwhile one!

Sedef has also been busy putting together a collage of our photos, which at 20x20cm has a great collection of our experience. If you want a copy email us! It’s rather large so I don’t want to put a copy up here – well not yet anyway!

Nic’s bashed together a DVD with a scaled down version of our photos, down from 6000+ to just under 1000. Still, as a slideshow it takes ages – thank god for fast forward :-)

We’re still eager to get the Canadian leg done, and also do more! The latest idea is to do a Pole to Pole round world trip via Bicycle, Sleigh and Walking – though this will take a lot more planning than cycling to Sydney – watch this space as they say!

355 days and 25,100kms from London, we finally got into Sydney on a lovely sunny day… When we had set off from London almost a year ago Sydney had seemed so far away – and deep in our hearts we had both wondered if we would ever make it this far… And now, unbelievably, here we were!! The sense of achievement was immense – we were exhausted, both physically and mentally, but very glad and proud that we had accomplished our goal. And relieved that there would be no more cycling…

We were invited to stay at friends of friends’ in Sydney – Helen and Derek, two Brits who had emigrated to Sydney last year, and whom we had been introduced to by email. We headed straight for their flat in Mosman, across the bay opposite the Opera House. Helen and Derek were a scream and their flat had absolutely stunning views towards the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge (the picture above was taken from their balcony!!). They made us feel so welcome and Helen, a professional photographer, even took us to a good vantage point on the harbour for some proper finish photos!

We spent a week in Sydney doing sightseeing, some last minute shopping, going to the Lunapark, and generally having a great time with Helen, Derek, and their friends… We topped it all of with champagne at the Opera House…something we had promised ourselves we would do on the day we set off from London. AND IT TASTED GREAT!

If we had to use one word to describe Australia, it would have to be BIG. Like most Europeans, we hadn’t realised quite how big until we got here – and on our second day of cycling discovered (to our great dismay) that a black dot on a map does not necessarily signify a town – unlike in all other countries we had passed through. Australia is so sparsely populated that a black dot in the outback is, at best, a roadhouse with petrol, camping/hotel facilities, a shop and restaurant, and at worst, a junction with nothing but a few mailboxes for the adjoining farms. We thought the picture below would really make it clear how big Australia really is, in case you didn’t know already. And consider that the population of the whole country is about 20 million – same as London!!

Australian people turned out to be nothing like how we imagined it – we thought we would come across lots of tanned, tattooed and pierced surfer dudes and beach bunnies, traipsing around in shorts and bikinis, with surf boards under their arms. Instead we met hundreds of down-to-earth ‘grey nomads’ – retirees caravaning around the country. We found the people to be refreshingly honest and direct, very friendly and generous, and with a great dry sense-of-humour of the British variety.

Sure enough the outback was harsh, inhospitable, and at times quite scary and lonely. The dingos and kangaroos were not the menace we feared they might be though we did see literally hundreds (dead and alive). Australia taught us the meaning of real hardship – both physical and mental. It really cut us down to size, making us feeling insignificant as an ant and realising how vulnerable we really are against the elements.

Now on the home stretch for Sydney, the end was finally in sight! We redoubled our cycling efforts to get to Sydney in time before our visas expired. On the Sturt Highway (east-west road stretching from Adelaide to Sydney) we went through miles and miles of boring farmland and great big empty plains. It was like being back in the outback again – only this time there was barbwire fencing on both sides of the road and nowhere to camp (other than campsites in towns).

There was some tough distances to cover between towns (100km+) and the wind changed direction yet again to blow right in our faces!! There is simply no justice for cyclists in the world… To make life more miserable Nic’s injured knee was not healing very well and continued to give him trouble. The only good thing about this leg of Australia was that Sedef’s pace picked up again despite her new and more knobbly tyres, and the persistent wind – simply because she removed her odometer and refused to check her speed! Throughout the outback Sedef had got increasingly obsessed (and depressed!) with her speed which seemed to get worse and worse as the weeks went by… So much so that she absolutely detested her odometer by the time we reached Adelaide. The fact that her pace improved after removing the odometer seemed to confirm our theory that half the game in long distance cycling is mental rather than physical endurance…

About a week from Loxton we got rained in for a week at a tiny town called Balranald – absolute torrential downpours! Balranald was more of a village than a town really – a campsite, small highstreet with two cafes, a handful of shops, a pub and not much else! Oh and TWO hairdressers!! It seemed extravagant to have two hairdressers for a town this size – so Sedef thought she might as well get a haircut to support the local businesses. But believe it or not, she couldn’t get an appointment! They were both fully booked for the next 7 days solid?!

Day 344: The book

As you probably imagine we will write a book about our experiences on this trip…and hope someone will want to publish it, and hope even further that somebody will want to read it! :p

As well as this blog we have been keeping a detailed diary throughout the trip, with lots of stories to tell. We have many ideas for the book, format as well as content. As for the title we thought we might call it either ‘Tailwind? What tailwind?’ or ‘Whose bl**dy idea was this?’. Though the title we seem to favour most is “A lone woman cycling the world (with Nic for company)”. Of which, here is an excerpt:

After cycling like a well oiled machine for 100kms through the harsh Australian outback, Sedef sat under the stars, gazing at the campfire. She said aloud to herself: “God it’s so hard for a single woman all on her own to cycle this far. I don’t know how I manage”. Nic replied, handing her a hot mug of cocoa and wrapping a blanket around her shoulders: “I don’t know how you do it either. I couldn’t do it on my own”. :pIf anyone else has any good ideas about the title for our book, please let us know, and in return we will send you an exclusive Nuts On Bents memorabilia – such as Nic’s old socks (trained to kill), Sedef’s corn plasters (with UN health hazard guarantee), and selection of photos from Nic’s collection of roadkill close-ups. :p

If anyone else has any good ideas about the title for our book, please let us know, and in return we will send you an exclusive Nuts On Bents memorabilia – such as Nic’s old socks (trained to kill), Sedef’s corn plasters (with UN health hazard guarantee), and selection of photos from Nic’s collection of roadkill close-ups. :p

Well even the best laid plans can sometimes go belly-up… Due to rapidly dwindling finances, following a still unsettled dispute with one of our suppliers which has left us over a thousand quid out of pocket, we have reluctantly decided to postpone the Canadian leg of our trip. We are also now a month late for our original plan of crossing Australia – due to a miscalculation of the distance we had to cover! The initial calculation of ’2500kms’ which we arrogantly thought we could comfortably cross in two months was in fact more like 4500 kms! Sedef swears to Nic that she is much better in accounting than map-reading! :p

The misjudgement of timing means that even if if we had the funds we would be hitting winter months as we traverse Canada – another 4500kms+, and with the Rockies in between…

Sydney: our initial goal is now in sight and almost a year to the day in reaching! That we did plan well… We will be flying back to London on 27 July – the day our Aussie visas expire!

We are in no means finished with our circumnavigation plan – we will simply return at a future date to complete the rest of the tour!

After our lovely break in Adelaide we double-backed to the Barossa valley, the most renown wine region of Australia. We thought it would be rude not to pay a visit to a vineyard (or twelve) for some wine-tasting on the way! Well someone has to do it… :p

After Barossa we headed east towards the beautiful Murray River – when disaster struck. No major cycling trip would be complete without a full scale wipe-out and we had one just before a town called Loxton. Nic’s rear wheel locked, which caused him to lose balance and plow into Sedef – bringing us both down on the gravel verge at 25 kph. Sedef managed a strategic soft landing, skidding along to a bumpy stop on her bottom – she was OK other than a bruise or two. Nic unfortunately fared worse entangled in his bike, and got a deep cut on his left knee, bleeding profusely. We managed to get to the camp site 5km away and dressed the wound. When it continued to bleed the next day we went to the local surgery for some professional medical attention – it was too late for stitches and just a matter of letting it heal over. There was no sign of infection thankfully.

We spent two days in the picturesque town of Loxton having a little break. We visited the rather impressive ‘historical village’ – a full replica of a town from the time of the early settlers, complete with bakers, bank, general store, school, blacksmith, saddler, doctor, dentist, and even a small train station!

On our last day in Adelaide we had a meeting with Frog Films, to do some filming for an Australian TV programme. The filming took about an hour, where we had the opportunity to talk about our trip and why we chose to do it on recumbent bicycles. Just as we had finished filming a group of school kids on bikes arrived with two adult minders – it was a regular school day and they were on their ‘bike ed’ class – part of every 11-12 year old’s school curriculum here in South Australia, where they are taught about road safety and good cycling practices. We were impressed!

Also in Adelaide we had been booked in for a radio interview with ABC, on a popular chat show hosted by Peter Goers. Unfortunately at the last minute we were bumped off schedule when the Australian soccer team (‘socceroos’) managed to get through to the next round in the World Cup and they decided to do a last-minute special on it!

Day 331: Adelaide

After Clare Valley we arrived at Adelaide – the capital of South Australia. An incredibly pretty city right by the Torrens river and the sea, also known as ‘city of churches’. We thought it should also have been called the ‘city of cyclists’ – in no other city have we seen so many cyclists and cycle paths! For us it was love at first sight as we cycled through the incredibly orderly city centre on our day into town – despite the high rises and all the modern shops and conveniences, we were amazed to see that the city is absolutely spotless, traffic is light, and the whole place still retains the feel of a laid-back provincial town. An additional bonus is that the sun always shines, the climate is dry and not muggy, in fact very similar to a lovely meditterenean climate all year round. There is also a fantastic central market selling all varieties of fresh produce and meat, and deli luxuries. What else can one want?? And to think that we would have missed out on all this had it not been for a TV and radio interview we had lined up in the city. Adelaide was a 100km detour off our route, and our initial intention was to bypass it.

From the centre of town we cycled to the southern suburbs, to the lovely home of a Polish family we had met further up north, when they had helped us when Nic’s bike broke down. Back then they had invited us over for a short break at their home in the southern suburbs. We accepted the invitation gratefully, and spent an absolutely blissful 4 days with them, being thoroughly fed and watered by Barbara’s amazing home cooking. Sedef even managed her first Polish vodka – absolutely lethal! For the first time since starting the trip we realised how much we are missing the comforts of a cozy home that most people take for granted…

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