Living the dream … by cycling the Nullarbor

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long distance cycle
Kevin Payne is travelling light as he packs his bike (inset) for his epic journey. Pic: Facebook/Kevin Payne

Most grey nomads will have, at some time or other, passed an intrepid long-distance cyclist in an extremely remote location, and wondered the same thing … who are these ‘mad’ men and women, and why on Earth do they do it?

Kevin Paine (aka Pizza Rider) says there is no such thing as a typical bike-packer.

“We come in all different varieties,” he said. “You could see an overseas tourist travelling solo from Cairns to Melbourne for a six-month holiday, a family riding to a nearby campground for a weekend, riders completing a long distance race/ride, and riders who travel on dirt tracks away from roads.”

A keen cyclist when young, Kevin says he always dreamed of one day riding from Perth to Sydney … and now, in his 50s, he has the opportunity to do it. On March 16, Kevin will be joining riders from around the world as they leave Fremantle in Western Australia to tackle the 5,500-kilometre Indian Pacific Wheel Race ride which will take them through deserts, wine districts, rolling hills, winding coastal roads and tough alpine regions before eventually arriving at the Sydney Opera House.

One of the world’s best bike-packers, Mike Hall, was hit and killed two years ago during the race and, although the event has not been an official one since, bike-packers choose to remember by doing the same ride at the same time under race rules.

“Once the clock starts, it doesn’t stop until you finish … riders ride alone being self sufficient using only services available to the general public.” said Kevin. “While there are some bike-packers that stay overnight in motels or are welcomed into the homes of other cyclists via a global bike-packing accommodation network, many choose to camp out.”

He says a lightweight tent and sleeping bag are easy to attach to bikes, and rest stops and caravan parks are often used, although those riding faster often stop wherever they are to take a ‘ditch nap’.

“Downsizing your belongings to fit into a caravan requires tough choices … and bikepacking just requires a more extreme downsizing,” Kevin said. “The more gear you carry, the heavier the bike but leave items off and there’s a chance you may need them.”

Like all bike-packers, Kevin is naturally anxious about safety and has this advice for grey nomads and other motorists.

“Where possible, change lanes to overtake … leaving at least one metre on roads of 60km/h or less and 1.5 metres when the speed limit is above 60km/h is law in all states except Victoria,” he said. “If you can’t pass safely, wait until you can … just like you, we all want to return to our families at the end of the journey.”

  • Have you come across long-distance cyclists on your travels? Comment below.


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2 Responses to Living the dream … by cycling the Nullarbor

  1. Wish you luck and please don’t ride two and three abreast on single lane highways.

  2. Not a fan of bikes on highways the speed difference is to great trying to keep the required distance from a bike is not always possible.

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