It’s in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from the next supply stop, with every part of your body hurting thousands of miles. Miles that have been filled with opposing winds, swarms of flies, burning heat and a seemingly endless straight road that juts out to the horizon. And this is only the beginning; there are still thousands of miles to go.
This is the kind of challenge that 36-year-old Purdie Long will take when she leaves for the 5,500-kilometer journey from Fremantle to Sydney this weekend. Taking leave of his job as an emergency services officer to face long distances, day after day, for up to three weeks or even four weeks.
It’s not for the glory – there are no cameras or photographers in tow. It is not an escape – Long is a person who has confessed to himself and who delights in those quiet moments hidden with his partner, Verita and the cat, Frankie. And it is certainly not for the race – the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, which will follow the course for a long time, was canceled in February. However, the cancellation did not really change anything for the Melbourne rider, because for her it was never the race in the first place.
It was always the individual challenge that mattered most.
A challenge that means embracing the spirit of adventure and self-confidence that has seen the original Overlanders hit all over Australia on their rudimentary bikes more than a century ago. An adventure that will not only see Long riding on new terrain, but also pushing into a new territory physically and mentally as he tries to cross a continent under his power, one shot at a time.
Long tells us more about the history of his physical and mental preparation for this race through a nation in the video below:
“The charm of riding all over Australia is the unknown factor for me because I did not do an event where I spent three or four days of really difficult conditions,” explained Long. “When I get out in the middle of South Australia through Nullarbor, I will be in a new territory and this is the most exciting part I do not know how I will feel physically and mentally, this is only part of the challenge.”
The former marathon runner was never afraid to leave her comfort zone and face a resistance test. The appropriately named Long has covered 8.848 meters vertical drop in the female mass of Everesting in 2015 and has tackled the notoriously difficult 280-mile race in Melbourne to Warrnambool over the past three years. But even by its standards this is bringing the quest for the challenge into a completely new realm.
THE ROUTE: FROM FARO to OPERA HOUSE
The 5,500 kilometer race covers four states, a territory and a variety of different landscapes and climates. Long will have to try everything, from the endless solitary roads to the traffic of the major Australian cities.
There is no slowing down in the journey, with one of the most difficult obstacles coming soon. The route quickly leads into the desert and crosses the remote Nullarbor plain. This is the longest straight stretch of road in Australia, with no bends to break the monotony of the sparsely populated desert landscape. Refueling stops are often hundreds of miles away, and there is ample potential to burn the heat with the relentless sun hard to escape in the sparsely vegetated environment.
As the route emerges from the Nullarbor, the growing pockets of population give way to the rolling hills of Adelaide. Then, after the first big city from the beginning, it is located on a more familiar territory, the tortuous coastal roads of Victoria. Once through her hometown of Melbourne, Long will tackle the steep climbs and the often cold weather found in the high country of Victoria and New South Wales. Then it’s on the nation’s capital, Canberra, and the final stretch to a Sydney Opera House final.
THE PLAN: PREPARE FOR FARSI
Long will come out of the Fremantle lighthouse on Saturday 17 March at 6.22.
Completing the trip safely is, of course, its key priority. She expects to travel about 250-300 kilometers a day, a distance that in turn challenges her to give her, but gives her enough space to rest and have fun in the experience.
“I will stop to take a picture and I will stop for a bit of effort and I will do everything in,” said Long. “It’s probably something I’ll do only once in my life so even if I’m pushing myself, I still want to enjoy the journey.”
But do not be fooled that there will be times when enjoying the trip is not possible. Tackling the bike day after day will inevitably charge a toll on your body. This is the moment when you have to muster the mental strength to stay focused on the ultimate goal, rather than dwell on a here and now that could be full of pain, sores and saddle sores.
“I really like being in the moment and living the moment of the bike but in those days when it’s really difficult, maybe I’ll just have to see the finish a bit more and how I will feel knowing that I have achieved what I wanted”, said Long .
For a long time it was necessary a preparation that could manage not only the long days on the road, but also a load. Her ride will be completely unsupported as it requires the ability to carry all of its essential elements for the basic bike, Long must be able to transport food and water in abundance through remote patches. In addition, its load includes sleeping equipment, so stops can be timed around what suits them, not the location of the next accommodation.
The complete set-up is as follows:
- Specialized Roubaix road bike with Dura Ace Di2
- Roval SLX 24 disc wheels with Schmidt Sondelux 12 dynamo hub
- Custom kLite bar switch with Sinewave USB charger
- Roubaix 25/28 specialized tires
- Profile Design T4 aerodynamic bars
- Specialized Power Expert Saddle
- Revo Dynamo front light for display
- Front light Exposure joystick
- Wiring of the specialized handlebar stabilizer
- Specialized Burra Burra Framepack 5
- Specialized Burra Burra Stabilizer Seatpack 10
- Specialized Top Tube Pack
- Specialized Burra Burra Drypack 13
- Exposure TraceR rear light
- Exposure Blaze MK2 rear light
HOW TO FOLLOW
You can follow Long’s journey on social media via #GOLONG. She will also use a tracking device that will show his progress and that of many other riders who have decided to follow the Indian Pacific Wheel Race route to Australia.