Mullewa: What Is Gonna Come Next?

Mullewa, 13 December 2016

I tell Dimitri I need accommodation until Saturday, 17 December. Four days, four nights. “How much for four nights?” I ask as I sit on a bar stool in the timeless expanse of classic old-style country bar. Nothing refined here. The plastic chrome and polished wood dominated ‘theme’ pubs and bars have not made it here yet.

He thinks for a moment. “Fifty dollars a night” he replies. I nearly fall off my stool. Fifty! It’s a bargain. Airconditioned, ensuite, fridge, TV. A bargain. I pay up and set to wait for my parcels. And to see if I can resurrect my Brooks.

Dreamer and Zi-Biddi are recovered with the help of Dimitri from the teeth, claws and bad attitude of Turbo. Performing a risk assessment I ask Dimitri “How often do you have random zombies coming in, say, hitting the cars?” The entrance into the compound where the units are does not get secured at night. Anyone can walk in and attempt whatever nefarious intent they have with the various vehicles there. Dreamer wouldn’t be first on the their list of wanna haves but would be a tempting spur of the moment ‘let’s-go-for-a-ride’ thing. Again thoughtful, Dimitri answers “Can’t really remember when. Not often. Not often at all. Pretty safe here”. I decide I can leave Dreamer and Zi-Biddi on the unit’s veranda. Locked up mind you.

Accommodation sorted I go about ordering all the things I need. A power supply for my Surface Pro 3, Sea to Summit travel liner long size and a Stella cycling saddle. All online. I stress to the various suppliers that they items have to arrive by Friday the 16th. Time is running out and I’ve not long until Christmas and I’m determined to spend it with Baz and Roz. I missed last year’s, being in the West MacDonnell Ranges. No way I can justify to myself missing Christmas this time round, seeing as I’m five hundred kilometres from Perth with eight days to make the distance. It is going to be done.

Ordering done. Clothes washed. Snacks, nibblies and beers nestling in the fridge. I now have no further excuses. It is time to take on the Brooks.

An internet search tells me only that some other owners suffered prolonged break-in periods for their Brooks but no one seemed to have had a problem with one already well broken-in. There doesn’t seem to be information on how to tell if your Brooks has simply reached its end of life. There is however plenty of information on how to adjust a Brooks. Information I already know. Sooo … if there doesn’t seem to be an ‘end of life’ for a Brooks and there is a lot of information about adjusting perhaps it really is a simple case of poor adjustment.

The heat on the veranda is impressive. I’ve walked into a huge baker’s oven, the blocks of dongas being baked instead of bread. Guess that makes me a raisin. In a couple of hours the sun will be full blown on the veranda. Two hours to think how to adjust this saddle in a way that I haven’t already adjusted.

First, get a beer.

Second, sip beer, stare at saddle.

Three, try to formulate some clear thoughts on what to do.

Four, sip beer, stare at saddle.

Five, conclude that the Fuck It! Principle is valid in this case.

Six, implement the Fuck It! Principle.

Seven, drink beer.

Eight, set down beer.

Nine, get out the 5mm hexagonal key.

Ten, start adjusting the saddle.

All very well to say so, but exactly how? To tighten, as in stretch the leather. More. Or to loosen, as in reduce the tension on the leather. And how much? The saddle feels pretty darned firm. Let’s loosen it. And I loosen it a lot until I can feel there’s a definite ‘softness’ about it.

There is only one way to adequately test a saddle. Ride Baby Ride. And ride a lot. Hours. No idea how hot it is out here but it’s not below forty in the shade. I need to ride for a least two hours coz then I can judge its rideability. Anything less and it could be my ass accommodating the saddle.

As much as I’d love to test my tweak, the furnace is hardly inviting. Better to go to the bar and enjoy a beer chatting to Dimitri and who ever else turns up. But tomorrow, tomorrow Baby, I ride. There’s a fifty kilometre loop if I follow the Mullewa-Wubin Road for about eighteen kilometres until the non-existent settlement of Wilroy, then west on the Wilroy-Kockatea Road for some twelve kilometres to the Mingenew-Mullewa Road and back to Mullewa. Guess what I’m doing first thing tomorrow morning?

14 December 2016

No early start today, having had my fair share on the Ride. It’s about 1030 by time I roll out of the Railway Hotel, turn east until the humongous grain silo storage area simply bursting with wheat. Two-trailer road trains trundle in, get weighed, go to where they are to dump their load before heading back to the farm to collect more. Guess they are busy out there, harvesting away. There’s the roofed silo. Full. Then there’s the permanent soft-covered silo. Full. Then there’s half a dozen other temporary soft-covered silos one after the other. Huge Chitons a hundred kilometres from their preferred habitat. And a thousand times bigger. Oh, and somewhat lighter in colour. In keeping with Chitons, they even have the plates where the enormous tarpaulins overlap.

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Chiton. Imagine it much much bigger and you’ve pretty much got the idea of the temporary grain silos in the wheatbelt. paleaocast.com

Opposite the grain silo begins the Mullewa-Wubin Road. Dreamer is far more alive today than normal. Bereft of panniers and lacking Zi-Biddi, Dreamer is positively jittery bouncing around, the four bar in the massive Mondial Marathons causing it to bounce around and there’s a responsiveness when I power with my legs that simply does not exist when under load.

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The entire south and central park of Western Australia is shifting a zillion tonnes of grain. Every grain silo is full to overflowing
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Wheat field with the wheat still in it

But this ride is not about the glorious freedom of simply riding unencumbered. This ride is about comfort. How long I can sit on my Brooks. And so far so far it’s going OK. Not perfect. But definitely better. At Wilroy. eighteen kilometres in, I stop. Taking out my Brooks Saddle Wrench Tool I loosen the saddle some more. Planning to ride the thirty-odd kilometres to Mullewa without either a break nor getting off the saddle to reset my ass I get back on.

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A check-the-Brooks-ride allowed me to get back to gravel. At least for a bit

The Ride however is not only about The Ride, oddly enough. And a few kilometres along the gravel Wilroy-Kockatea Road I come across a small granite outcrop. And, you consider in your thoughts, what is the significance of that? Weeell … some lizards and snakes like to make their homes under the rocks on and around granite outcrops. Despite passing a zillion beautiful looking potential habitats on my Epic, I’ve not made the opportunity to check them out. The imperative of the ride, you understand. Today, I make the effort. It does mean my Brooks saddle test isn’t going to be quite as thorough as it should.

Despite my attempts I uncover only a scorpion, a couple of tough looking spiders, a lot of creepy crawlies and no reptiles.

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Wheat field sans the wheat

Back on Dreamer. It doesn’t last though. Ten or so kilometres later I come across the Devils Creek Hall. The info-sign at the Hall tells the tale of a life and lifestyle long gone from the area. There’s no other building in Devils Creek but fifty or so years ago it was a thriving rural community having a ball, literally, on Friday nights. Now, it’s a vestigial memory of what used to be.

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Devil’s Creek Hall. Half a century ago it was part of a vibrant community enjoying a good party every weekend. wikibackpacker.com

Back on Dreamer. The remaining thirteen kilometres pass easily enough despite the long incline, powered as I am by a screaming tailwind. Enjoyable such a tailwind may be, when I head south it will be straight into my face. Lovely to think.

Back at the Railway Hotel I stand next to Dreamer and stare at my Brooks, thinking considering analysing. This is real important stuff. I rode longer without discomfort today than any time over the last week or so. Still, is it rideable for eight to ten hours?

I drink middies in the Railway Hotel’s bar, chatting to Dimitri, the toothless old dude and the odd worker or two who pass through. It’s actually very entertaining. Rare is it that I actually sit in a bar and have a drink.

Tomorrow I plan another ride. See if I can do the whole circuit without getting out of the saddle.

15 December 2016

Two and half hours for fifty kilometres. The winds from the north east, a rare phenomenon. I rue the missed opportunity of riding south pushed by a tailwind, in contrast to the habitual effort confronting a southerly.

I didn’t get off Dreamer for the two and a half hours. Once stood I on the peddles to perform an ass shakedown. I can live with two and a half hours. It’s far, far longer than anything I’ve managed of late. And if it remains all but impossible then I’ve got my Stella fat-asses saddle with thick wads of gel coinciding with the point on my ass where the pressure points drive me slowly (slowly?) inconsolable with pain and discomfort.

The Sea to Summit Silk Travel Liner arrived. Two more items to go. One day remaining. I call Microsoft. Always the most troublesome are the mega companies: Sony, Microsoft, Coleman, Keen. Institutions so divorced from the customers they purport to value that getting support from them is akin to getting blood from a stone. Even though Microsoft have said the power supply will arrive on time, I simply do not believe them.

“Hmmm”, says the customer service Dude, based in Manilla, “yeees, seems we have an order here”. “But?” “Weeell, seems that, weeell … “ The sentence dies without resolution. “It’ll be there tomorrow” I’m told. For some reason I’m not really convinced. Will see tomorrow.

The beer truck is expected today at the Railway Hotel and I’ve volunteered to help unload it, since the hotel is understaffed. It means I’ll get some free beers. Gives me something to do as well.

16 December 2016.

Last day. The excitement builds. Will Zi-Biddi’s new rear end turn up? Or not? Will the Surface Pro 3 power supply? Or not? Time to find out.

Wander down to the top end of Jose Street, like I have for the last three days, walk into the sparse Easyway shop go to the Licenced Post Office counter in the corner and ask the assistant my usual question. “Yes” I’m told “there is a parcel.” But only one. Microsoft came through but there’s no sign of a parcel from Cyklorama. Hmmm … what to do? I godda leave tomorrow. I pay ten dollars to the woman to forward Cyklorama’s parcel to my father’s address in Glen Forrest. I expect to be moving fast as I head south and don’t have time to spare to wait in another nondescript town enroute.

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Mullewa’s high street. Post office in the foreground, the green building where I get my caffeine hit, and the supermarket at centre right

Head down to Mac’s Dine In Take Away Deli where I take my usual espresso and cappuccino, without the abhorrent sprinkling of cacao Australian’s think just great on the top. Caffeine hit dealt with, continue to the Ampol Garage and Yarrumba shop run by Indians who have a better selection than the Foodland for supplies for the Next Bit. And to collect the chicken biryani they’ve specially made for me.

Eating my biryani in the park opposite the shop it’s impossible to not think about what’s coming. I’m close now, real close. Less than five hundred kilometres. A week. Whatever it is it is a week. A business week if a hundred a day. A full week if eighty. A week.

I stand atop upon the pinnacle of my achievement. Crows hawk and screech, circling above but as yet too afraid to alight to begin their feast. Least they too shall lie immobile and desecrated among the Fallen. The stench of voided bowel ruptured flesh the blood soaked torn earth sweet perfume as I stand on a mountain of The Fallen. I am the Ride Warrior, cousin to Death Dealer, soulmate to Conan, Eternal Friend of the Silver Warrior. Around me lie countless slain. I stand firm and proud. In one hand I hold a brutal battle axe and a metre long double edged falchion in the other. Both born in the bowels of a volcano honed and sharpened in a nuée ardente, christened in the blood. Still am I unsatisfied. For although I have prevailed overcome and vanquished all that came against my worst enemy remains undaunted. Worst, remains undefeated. He whose spectre rises vast above the battlefield, dominating the skyline, obscuring my view of the passage forward I need to take.

I have yet to defeat myself and cleave out the subtle secret, answer to What Comes Next.

I confess. It is far, far easier to deal with the vast multitudes aligned against me than prevail against my own intransigence.

Tomorrow I ride. The next time I stop with any intention my Epic shall be over.

And I still don’t know what comes next.

So fuck it. Let’s enjoy the Ride. The future will be dealt with when it arrives.

Max

Mullewa, the Last Bit soon to start, 16 December 2016

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