Australia is a vast country, as our intrepid round-the-world cyclist James Bowthorpe is finding out. In an attempt to raise more than £1 million for research into Parkinson’s disease, James is aiming to circumnavigate the globe in record time. This week sees him cycling along the coast from Perth in the direction of Adelaide….
James found an internet kiosk on the edge of the Nullarbor Plain, an area of semi-arid country, and posted the following message.
“There is a keyboard and screen like normal and its all mounted in a box. Inside the box are some workings and a man all scrunched up with a screen that shows him what I’m writing. He jots it all down and when I’m finished he puts it in an envelope and runs off somewhere with it, so I hope this works.
“A few days ago I sat down and worked out what I have to do to get back on the 13th of September as I originally planned. This would break the record by over three weeks, leaving as I did on the 29th March at 1300. I will have to hit an average of 202.2 (recurring) kilometres a day, which will then give me seven days from now til the end when I won’t be cycling (flying, resting, dilly-dallying). The hardest part is getting that .2 recurring spot on.
“The man in the box gets paid by the second so I better go, but suffice to say, spirits here remain high, despite some physical problems. If past experience is anything to go by, they will fade with time.”
Outside of the towns and cities, Australia is a harsh and unforgiving country. Its landscape is fascinating James, but he seems disturbed to find that the only wildlife he sees seems to be roadkill. He’s encountered countless dead ‘roos and passed a dead camel by the road, noting that the 200,000 feral camels in the country are related to a pair that escaped while carrying mail across the country 100 years ago.
He was cheered to see some live creatures, though, when four kangaroos bounded in front of him, moving swiftly and quietly. “A good example to follow,” he said. He’s also interested in the country’s legendary sheep. “When I pass a big field of sheep they all run for the middle then stand there like they've gone upstairs but can't remember why,” he said.
The going seems to have been relatively good, with James attempting to gain ground and rack up the miles whenever possible. On June 12 he managed 254 km and the following day 240 km. Then, for a day or so, he was up against a headwind which slowed him somewhat and on the 15th he managed 170 km. Enough for anybody, but James knew that he had to make it up by cycling 230 km the following day.
As we leave him, James has just taken the wrong route out of Port Lincoln, distracted, as he says, by fine weather and warm wind. Go, James!
James is doing this ride to raise money and awareness for research into Parkinson's disease. The total raised so far is £41,517.38 and he is 3 per cent of the way towards his goal of raising £1.8m. If you want to support James in his quest you can donate at his site www.globecycle.org, you can also follow his progress via live GPS updates at www.whereintheworldisjames.com (James has attached lots of pictures to the route too so that it is very much more than a line on a map) and he also has his own video channel on Youtube.