Kamikaze cyclist

There is a hard-bitten breed of suicidal maniacs who get their kicks out of touring the entire continent of Australia by bicycle. Personally I cannot comprehend the mentality of someone who wants to punish themselves to that level of torture. It was bad enough labouring between road stations by car, trying to keep the ambient temperature in our vehicle below 50 degrees centigrade, let alone physically working up a sweat as well. Of course we also had the luxury of an ice box to keep our drinks cool, plus a barrier between us and the myriad of bush flies that plague the outback. The distance between road stations out in the desert is vast, several hundred miles is the norm with absolutely NOTHING in between, so these poor devils have to carry their entire world on their bike. This involves lugging a tent, clothes, cooking gear, food, plus at least their own weight in water. Just one look at all this encumbrance loaded up on two wheels made me feel exhausted and want to run for a beer. I cannot imagine what it must have felt like to have worked up a hell of a thirst after labouring for hours uphill, and the only thing available to slake it is hot water. On the way up North, we spotted one of these kamikaze pilots in the middle of nowhere trundling along at a snails pace into a headwind in the opposite direction. Quite aptly he was sporting a Japanese flag flapping wildly from an aerial affixed to his saddle. I just could not let this pass without taking a photo of this guy, for I didn't think anyone would believe me if I told them. We drew to a stop, and I jumped out of the car to quickly take a snap. Seeing me holding my camera, he slowed down from the breakneck 6mph he had spent hours accelerating up to, and drew up for a chat. Sure enough, he was a Japanese national, and I could not let the moment pass without dropping Kamikaze into the conversation. Ignoring my tactless insult he told us he had been on the road for months, and intended to ride right around the continent of Oz. The size of our average Asian cousins is never very impressive to start with, but this guy looked like he had less fat on him than a greasy chip. You would not believe he even had the strength to pull away on his heavily laden two wheeler, let alone haul himself the umpteen thousand miles he was facing in front of him. He'd already travelled well in excess of two thousand miles just to get where he was now. I could not help but admire the guy, even though I had to doubt his sanity in his quest. Waving goodbye we drove off into the distance, leaving him with the difficult task of getting enough momentum to maintain balance whilst accelerating back up to his optimum cruising speed. Three weeks later, we were on our return journey back down to Perth when we came across the same guy pulled over in a rest area. He was now several hundred miles further south, and looked to me like he weighed even less. Trotting over to him with my video camera I introduced myself as the tourist who had chatted to him weeks earlier. I invited him to come over to join us for a drink. He remembered us immediately and gleefully accepted our offer of a nice cold glass of something straight from the ice box. To my surprise however he turned down a beer, although thinking about it I suppose it made sense. In that sort of temperature any alcohol is likely to send you crackers in a very short period of time, plus the dehydration effect could give cause for concern as well. He was already carrying so much water with him it's a wonder the bike didn't fold under the weight. H2O is something you take for granted in the UK, and it takes a bit of a mind shift to appreciate how the lack of it's free availability out in the bush could evolve into a life threatening situation within hours. One of the key things people impressed upon anyone travelling in the outback is, what ever happens 'DON'T LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE' Many people have expired after doing just that. Any form of shade is almost non existent and wandering off only makes a bad situation ten times worse. (Not sure how that would work with a bike though) After a very pleasant chat lasting more than 30 minutes we once more set off on our journey South, leaving our Japanese friend with a flask full of ice cold water. I often remember our chance encounter, and it wears me out just to think that he must still be on the road now. If anyone sees him, please give the lunatic my regards...

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