Great Australian Bike Challenge

The first five days of a project in progress

Copyright 1992, 1998 Henry Kingman

Author's pre-word:
I've sat on this for six years, which is as long as anyone ought to sit on anything, unless it's a bicycle seat, which you should sit on forever. It scares me to put it on the Web, because I have the feeling that I need to finish it before making it public. So, if you somehow stumbled on this, Please Understand that I put it up for my family and friends to read and I'd rather it not be made into a Golden Web moment (not without a lot more work and prior negotion, anyhow (-;). This first "chapter" is especially embarrassing in its prolixity and general weirdness, which I can only hope to excuse as evidence that the writing quote unquote muscle got flabby while the bod was out there ... crossing oz on auto-cyclist..

It started out like any dream, emerging with a sacred fascination which made the routine of day to day life seem a sleeplike state. It held the imagination captive in idle moments, threatened concentration during active ones and recurred even in the midst of other adventures one would have thought substantial enough to hold all attentions riveted. It was not to be denied.

For all its contingent dread its prospect beckoned irresistably, a shining out of this world idea taking hold, shaping a thousand small daily decisions toward its own fulfillment. It subsumed.

It invited comparison with past experiences and, though none of these seemed very well to uphold its feasibility it admitted always the thread of chance, to which was tied committment's hook, set with each day's riding and conjecturing and imagining a little bit more firmly into the jaw of destiny.

The thread unwound from the dream spool. It is one year long, tangling and looping across the training grounds. From Paris to Brest and back. Through five European countries. In Venezuela along the cordillera of the Andes, across the Gran Sabana, outlining the Carribean coast. Webbing from San Francisco four times out and across the Sierra Nevadas, and tracing the Pacific coast down to Los Angeles. Lacing Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy, the Marin Headlands and Mt. Tam. Thickly lassoing the polo field in Golden Gate Park. Clotting the streets between here and the office.

When playing out the dream thread had become my whole existance, I flew with it to Australia, where it picks up in Useless Loop at the far western edge of the continent and straightens out in a long line to Meekathara, then Wiluna, tiny outposts in a vast expanse. It sights squintily in a grimmace of exertion along the Gunbarrel Highway to Giles, then on to the Olgas and Ayers Rock. Alice Springs, the Plenty Highway, Bulia, the Channel Country, Windoorah, Quilpie, Charleville, Dalby, Oakey, Toowoomba, Woodenbong and Byron Bay: but brief knots in the continuum,

If at some point the dream thread slipped into reality it never relinquished the element of the fantastic, that canny implausibility of dreaminess. If the thread lies played out, there remains yet to be done the weaving of it into whatever textile or text may be spun from a dream's lingering trace. This is the story of a bicycle race.

Overlander Road House
Front Seat of the Race Bus
The Prologue
Rolling Train Terrain
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7