Paola Gianotti’s record world tour by bicycle comes closer to its final stage. However, the continents are vast, the distances are huge. Especially in a country such as Australia, made by limitless scenery and a desert very difficult to cross.
It takes three days of flights and landings to arrive in Brisbane (you can see the first stage on this page). Australia is really far. In this new stage of the world tour the driver will be Nico, an Italo-Philippine thirty-two year old guy who is now part of the team.
“You laugh, joke and pedal. I am fine, really fine. The neck is good, it is not a problem, just a small pain sometimes”.
The start in the long, not at all flat Australian roads is at 5am every morning, sometimes the weather is foul. Traffic, high wind, incredible drops and rises pile up day by day. “Over three thousand metres in the last five or six stages, continuous ups and down with a difference higher than 10%”. Along the two thousand kilometres Paola covered until that moment, they have been meeting many animals: parrots, wallabies, snakes and bugs, black swans, koalas, cows, sheep, magpies etc.
There is no lack of meetings with the inhabitants either. “When you spend all these hours by bicycle, every detail has its importance. A smile or a greeting by a stranger helps to go through a difficult moment, a moment of loneliness and homesickness. It is our humanity, it always needs to come to the surface”.
In Australia Paola is supposed to face another big challenge: crossing the Nullarbor Desert, over a thousand kilometres by bicycle. An undertaking that puzzles those who hear about it, because of the excessive wind, the sweltering hot, the lack of places where you can find food and water.
The team is ready, let’s go. The first length of desert is treeless, and then the view changes continually, even because it comes close to the ocean from time to time. Almost halfway, there is a straight stretch of road one hundred and forty kilometres long, not even one bend, one of the longest roads in the world. Paola faces it with good will: the hot is unbearable, there is headwind. To pedal in this desert is really difficult. “The sun begins to disappear while the kilometres on my computer raise. I reached and exceeded the thousand kilometres on a total of about 144 kilometres in this never-ending strip of tar. It is dark. The darkness allows me to ignore how boring this road is to cover. I decide to carry on for another hour. Come on, under the stars in the Nullarbor Desert”.
The day after, the waking up time is before dawn. Virtually without realizing it, Paola finishes the length of road. She realized it when she reads the sign “Attention. Bend in 500 metres”.
It takes four and half days to cross the Nullarbor. During the last five kilometres various signs signal the presence of a museum, a school, a filling station, a library. The last one is the most hilarious: it says “Cappuccino in 1 kilometre”.
It is the best cappuccino in the world for Paola and her team, because it marks out the end of the Australian part of their world tour by bicycle. The record is closer and closer. Now they just have to wrap Hobo and get to the closest airport to fly in another undiscovered, magical continent: Asia.
To be continued…