Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Esperance + 1

Feb. 5th

So mates, where may I begin? Luck. I believe has several faces, and the luckiest amount us are the ones who have a flexible perspective. This was an emotion in demand after a relatively soft fall about 5 km out of town going up the one and only hill to Norseman. Anthony’s bike shuddered briefly, stopping him completely. I ran into his back wheel and fell in an inelegant heap to the side of the road. Despite a bruised ego, a quick look at the bike and rearranging of gear seemed to be the only setback. However, 30 seconds later it was clear that there was far more wrong. Further inspection revealed that Anthony’s front right fork was completely cracked. It was a carbon fork – strong, if not stronger than steel, but less resistant to impact which we believe might have happened on the plane ride over. Carbon forks are probably not the best for touring, and I had chosen a steel touring fork myself. However, Anthony had asked the same questions all over the bike shops in Sydney, and all had assured him that "Mate, she'll be right." Impact or perhaps an imperfection in the lay up of the carbon itself. Just luck. Either way this was a very uncommon bike injury and not one you plan for, take spares for, or can fix on the road.

This is where Lady Luck smiled on us. When carbon fiber fails, it fails with little warning and catastrophically – meaning that what has turned into about 48 hours of set back could have revealed itself further down the road and become a real trip killer. Fortunately, it revealed itself 5 km out of a lovely seaside town where the first car heading into town stopped with a quick raise of the old thumb. Inside was our Angel – Claire – taking her daughter to school; she also happened to have a bike rack in the back. She took a total stranger (Anthony; I rode back into town) back into town with all our gear to the Dempster Sporting Shop, one of two well equipped bike shops in about 1000 km. As it was early and there were no forks in stock. We had to wait until 10 a.m. to start calling. We took this opportunity to take Claire to coffee. We had a lovely chat about the virtues of Esperance, crop dusting (her and her husband’s job), the virtues of coffeehouses, some token American politics, and a little about rowing. We hunted down a fork by 11 a.m. and were having a lovely lunch at what has become our regular stop, "Cafe on the Rock" in which we have become the regulars. In a trip that forces you to find something new every day, it is nice to enjoy some consistency when you can take it.

Good food. Cold beer. A good bike shop. Pleasant accommodation. White beaches. Blue water. Not a bad place to spend a few unplanned days. Under the circumstances, it was as good as it can get, and frankly this is what a little adventure is all about. No one wants to hear about the trip in which every thing went by the book. Right?

On a more sober note, I shudder to think of how bad this could have been. We could have been 100 km from any town, and this is the kind of breakage that could have caused a much more serious human injury had we been going any faster.

Thus... it comes down to luck. We have some, and if it continues, we might just make it to Adelaide.

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