Test Run, 31 Mar 2017
The McLoughlins Beach footbridge provided the closest vehicle access point to the southern end of Ninety Mile Beach.
Joanne and I spent quite some time in the car-park adjacent to the McLoughlins Beach footbridge checking, rechecking, packing and repacking my stores and equipment for this first stage, the test run. The planned distance to travel that afternoon was less than 9km however I hoped it would provide some indications of the beach conditions ahead.
Again I want to acknowledge how dependent I was on Joanne’s support and encouragement in making this project possible. Ninety Mile Beach only the fourth beach conquest in our around Australia adventure, it most likely was the biggest physical challenge for both of us. I really appreciate Joanne’s patience, very early morning starts and most importantly her support both physically and emotionally in this endeavor.
After crossing the 160m footbridge, I had a 2.6km trek through the Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Parklands to the starting point at the very southern end of Ninety Mile Beach. I was so keen to try out the beach, on the trip south I left the shelter of the woodland tracks earlier that necessary. As a result, I spent a good half an hour pushing my bike into a strong southerly breeze along the beach before arriving at the southern point at 14:46.
I spent quite a while just taking in the scene and contemplating the massive task ahead. Given the effort it took to just make it down to the start, I did pondering but never doubted the challenge ahead. In a way that 15-20 minutes really prepared me well for the task ahead. Stand by the surf that afternoon was one of the most serene and peaceful moments I can recall ever having. While I was itching to get going, at the same time I felt relaxed and at peace, stand alone on the sand with the waves falling at my feet, the smells and sounds of the ocean satisfying my senses. It might sound corny but in this environment, I truly feel as one and very much at peace with the world.
After re-setting the track log on my Garmin GPS and making a few notes on my waterproof note pad I pointed my bike in a northerly direction and started pushing the bike along the beach, close as I could to the waves washing in. The closest reliable tidal predictions had a high tide of 1.00m at 12:06 with a following low tide at 17:58 of 0.45m. As my start was still closer to the earlier high tide, I wasn’t expecting sand conditions would be very suitable for riding for some time.
While I had some insight to what was install and had consulted and spoken to other intrepid adventurers before arriving here, I knew this challenge was going to be a process I would have to figure out for myself. Ninety Mile Beach is a high energy, wave dominated longshore beach; owing to the specific orientation of the beach to the ocean currents, swell and wave action, Ninety Mile Beach is predominantly influenced by heavy in-shore breaks, there are regular very strong longshore and rip currents; often with a pronounced easterly drift. This affects the condition of the beach sand in the tidal, wave affected zone. the continual sand drift tends to make the beach less compact and stable for bicycle riding as you might find on many other east coast beaches. My best chance for good riding conditions on this beach was limited close to the very low tides. As the morning, low tides on the east coast of Australia are usually the lower tides, one or maybe two hours either side of the morning low tide was going to be my best time.
The test run that day involving just 8.9km of Ninety Mile Beach mostly involved pushing the bike along the beach. It was only really the later parts of that afternoon did I get any chance to ride for more than 100m at any one time. I did arrived at Reeves Beach at 17:05. I wrote in my trusty waterproof notebook “20% bike if lucky”. Joanne had already driven up from McLoughlins Beach and had single handed set up camp and prepared a great curry dinner. There was really nothing for my to do when I got there but clean my bike and gear in preparation for an early start the next day. Thanks again Joanne.
Road crew trip to Reeves beach – 2nd solo trip it was so very kind of the locals to grade the road especially for me. I even had to get him to move off the road to pass. At the beach camp for the night met a lovely couple William & Leslie from Perth they were into week eleven of a 7 month trip.