#GOLONG - A woman, her two wheels and their trip across Australia.
On March 17th 2018 at 6.22am, Purdie Long set out on a journey from Fremantle in Western Australia to Sydney. We caught up with Purdie shortly after her ride and got ourselves a little insight into what it was like on the road to Sydney:
Kilometers ridden? 5500km Fremantle to Sydney
Riding time? Total riding time was 247 hours. This worked out to be about 12-16 hours each day.
Nights spent sleeping rough? 6 (I think!)
Days taken? 22 days
Best sunrise? Day 17 – Angler’s Rest to Beechworth, sunrise at top of Fall’s Creek was pretty stunning. Also some beautiful sunrises across The Nullabor.
Best sunset? Day 7 camped in Yallata, rode couple of extra hours after dinner into the sunset
Longest day in the saddle? Day 13 – Salt Creek to Portland was 350 km
Shortest day in the saddle? Day 5 across Nullabor, horrific headwinds 50km/h cut day short to 155km
Number of egg sandwiches consumed? Too many! Usually alternated between egg/lettuce sandwiches and veggie burgers
Strangest animal seen? Didn’t actually see anything too strange – mainly kangaroos, 1 x echidna, 2 x snakes
So you just completed a 5,500KM journey across Australia, on your bike, un supported, how does it feel to have achieved such a momentous goal?
I think I am still processing it all. I feel a sense of satisfaction in achieving what I set out to do. I didn’t have too many issues along the way, which I am thankful for. I feel a sense of empowerment at being able to have completed this ride. There were some very tough days in the saddle, both physically and mentally, so I can draw a lot of strength from getting through those moments.
Can you give us a quick run through of the route you took to get you to the Opera House?
Starting in Fremantle, headed out through the Perth hills towards the Outback. Across The Nullabor, through the Adelaide hills. From Adelaide, headed along the tourist route across The Coorong towards the Victorian border. Coming into Victoria, rode along the coastline through Warrnambool to the Great Ocean Road. From Melbourne, headed out through the Dandenong Ranges and NE towards Bairnsdale. From there headed towards Alpine area along Great Alpine Road through Omeo and Angler’s Rest, then up the back of Falls Creek and into Bright over Tawonga Gap. Headed out of Victoria towards NSW and Snowy Mountains region through Cabramurra, Adaminaby towards Canberra. From Canberra headed towards coastline through Wollongong and north along coastline, through Royal National Park, and then into Sydney Opera house via an intricate network of bike trails.
Where did you stay each night?
Depending on how I was feeling and where I was location wise, I slept in accommodation (budget hotels, caravan park cabins) or camping with sleeping mat and bivvy*. The benefit of camping was having the freedom to ride a bit later into the night and just set up camp when I felt fatigued and had done enough for the day.
*A bivvy is a self made sleeping shelter, based on the design of a traditional tent.
What was the funniest experience you had sleeping out?
Had some funny experiences camping out. Sleeping in the disabled toilet in Moss Vale and being disturbed by the cleaner at 2.30am was quite funny. He was unsure if I was up early or going to bed late! He didn’t realize that I had been sleeping in the toilet.
Another funny camping experience was sleeping on a park bench in Heyfield. The park was across the road from the local pub, which was pretty active when I went to sleep. When the pub closed, was woken up by groups of people walking through the park. One young girl swore at me, saying “Get a house you homeless #$%^” then another couple were getting quite cosy in the bushes!! #awkward
Tell us about your emotions throughout the journey, did you have days that were harder than most? Can you talk to us about your hardest day on the bike?
I had a few days that were quite tough. In the first week I was having issues with my body – mainly pain and inflammation in my knees. This made it very difficult to be comfortable on the bike.
I also had a couple of mornings on the bike when my mental energy was quite low. I found that if I was on the road at around 3am, I was still quite fatigued and energy was low. It wasn’t until the sun would rise on these days that my mood would start to lift. On these mornings I would try and just stay in the moment, and not get carried away with any negative thought patterns. Talking to V at these hard times also helped me to refocus.
Tell us about the Nullabor, what is it like to ride on a road that is dead straight for 180km? That must have been mentally quite challenging?
The most challenging aspect of riding on the Nullabor was the conditions at the time, having three consecutive days of 40-50km/h headwinds. There is nowhere to hide in these conditions! Because there are some stretches where services are so limited, I had to be careful logistically in terms of making sure food and water would be available, therefore I would plan my days around services. One of the days I had to cut short as I was just moving too slow in the wind, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it to the next service station.
You’re based in Melbourne with your Partner Verita and cat Frankie, how was it riding through Melbourne and being able to spend the night at home with them both? How was it to leave again to finish the final third of the ride?
Was great riding through Melbourne and being greeted by family and friends. V and a group of friends caught the train down to Geelong and rode me home. I also had some close friends drive down to Lorne and ride with me through to Geelong. Very nice seeing familiar faces and sharing the journey with these special people in my life. Staying at home was nice, made it a shorter day but I had time in Melbourne to get my bike cleaned at Total Rush (new chain put on). Also had my friend and physio Kat come over to the house and give me a treatment. It was nice just being at home with V and catching up with her, settling back into our routine, albeit very briefly. I knew it would be hard to leave in the morning, but I only had 1 week of my journey left, so I kept this in mind. I had made arrangements with friends to ride with me out of Melbourne, so I set the alarm early and maintained my routine of being out on the road before sunrise. Saying bye to V was tough, but I knew I would see her again in less than a week on the steps of the Opera house, which I kept visualizing.
You had such a strong following cheering you on from our humble workplaces or living rooms, could you feel the support you were getting?
Yeah I felt very supported by everyone at home. It was great having the tracking tool available for people to track how I was going and feel like they were part of the journey. I had constant contact with family and friends who were wishing me well along my adventure.
How is your body handling having ridden such a distance? How are those injuries you sustained from being hit by a car at the start of the year feeling?
My body is feeling pretty good. I took 3 days off the bike after getting back to Melbourne, and then I was itching to be out for a spin. It is nice to ride my S-works without it being loaded up with gear. The knee inflammation I had has all settled after a few days off the bike.
The injuries I had from the accident are not worse, but they haven’t healed as quickly as they would had I not done this ride. My broken toe on right foot is still quite tender and was sore during the ride at some stages. This is just something that I tolerated. My left thumb is still needing some rehabilitation to get it back to normal functioning.
What about the left hand side of your body? Can you explain how the damage on your left side differs from that on your right hand side?
I have quite a bit of numbness in both of my hands, but the left hand is worse than right. This is just caused by nerve compression in hands from being on the handlebars for extended periods of time and is extremely common in endurance cycling events. I have had a bit of massage and treatment to assist in the healing process, but it is just a matter of time before the compressed nerve settles down. Luckily on the ride my right hand was still quite functional, which allowed me to do everyday activities. I have also found that if I let my hands get too cold, they are even more useless. Wearing gloves on the bike is not something I am used to, as I don’t like the feel of them, but I have found that is the best way to keep my hands functional.
You’ve achieved something not many can say that they have done, nor will ever do, where to from here? Are you inspired to do more riding adventures like this one?
Definitely. I would be interested to do a similar event, perhaps even something off road
What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone who wants to set and achieve a big goal for themselves?
I think if people set a realistic goal, there is nothing stopping them from going out and achieving their goal. If you do the right training and preparation, you are only limited by any mental barriers you set up for yourself. I also think it is important when people start something, they make a commitment to themselves they are going to see it through. There might be days that are tough or that you want to give up, but you need to remind yourself of the commitment you made to yourself, and why you are completing this goal. I think a lot of thought and preparation also needs to be devoted to the mental element of achieving such a goal as riding across the country. Physical preparation is not enough, you need to think about the mental game and what tools you have available when you’re having a bad day and things aren’t going to plan.
If you haven't viewed this yet, take a look at the film produced with Purdie on her preparation and anticipation prior to setting off on her trip across Australia.
Thanks for letting us be a part of your journey P, it’s been truly inspiring to watch you accomplish it and we can’t wait to see where your next adventure takes you!
Be sure to check out Henry Productions - The amazing creator behind the beautiful imagery and video you're seeing here.