Day 29 - Port Smith Lagoon to Broome
After a night spent barricaded in our dog box size dongas in an attempt to keep the mozzies and midgies away, the crew emerged just before first light for an outdoor breakfast cooked up by the Caravan Park staff. There was definitely a sense of excitement amongst the riders. This was to be our final day in the saddle. Only 145km of bitumen lay between us and our destination in Broome. I think we were all a little nervous about what the wind would do. After much discussion and checking of every weather map ever invented we knew we would be in for a day of mixed fortunes.
Before we set off on two wheels we were transported by vehicle the 20km back down the dirt road to the main highway. After a quick live radio cross to ABC Broome we began the days cycling in our respective pelotons for the final time.
We soon realized we were in for a very tough start to the day. A headwind was immediately hard in our faces and it was going to be a slog for the first half before the Great Northern Highway swung to the left and met with the Savannah Way that would lead us into Broome.
And a slog it was. Morning tea at 51km was an effort that left us feeling flat. It seemed to take forever. The temperature was rising to over 30 degrees and it felt like the hottest day on the bike so far. We knew another 30k down the road the highway would start to turn left so we kept chipping away with some extra stops to take on more fluids and get our very sensitive backsides off the saddle a little more.
Then it happened. The road curved left a little, then a little more and all of a sudden the wind was now over the back of our right shoulders (well not mine of course!) The pace quickened, our grimaces turned to smiles, the mood lifted immediately and the conversation became more animated. We spent the next 14km riding across an ancient river delta without any trees before we came to a T intersection at the Savannah Way and turned left again to our lunch stop at the Roebuck Roadhouse. There was now just 35km to go and a roaring tailwind to bring us home. The excitement and enthusiasm amongst the team was palpable!
On this final section we were met about halfway by a group of friendly cyclists from the Broome Riders Club who escorted us into town. We stopped at the Welcome to Broome sign for a team photo before pedaling on into Broome. Personally I could not wipe the smile off my face, and as we rolled up the final cheeky 300m hill to the Mangrove Hotel the tears started rolling uncontrollably down my face.
We were met by family, friends and curious onlookers and as soon as we dismounted for the final time, there was enormous, sweaty hugs all round. We had done it! Richard from All Trails popped the champagne corks, there were more photos and the celebrations began. This continued with a fantastic final team dinner washed down by a few well earned drinks. All riders were presented with their finisher certificates by Richard and Lou and there were many thank you speeches.
Together as a collective we had cycled 3192km from Perth to Broome! 4 incredible weeks that had it all in every sense of the word. It was physically challenging, mentally taxing and at times emotionally overwhelming. It was also breathtakingly beautiful, and incredibly rewarding. A life experience like no other.
Time to enjoy some downtime in Broome now, get some rest, and recover from the many sore body parts and reflect on this massive achievement.
Stay tuned for a full wrap up shortly and acknowledgements shortly.