How much water across the Nullarbor

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How much water across the Nullarbor

Postby justD » Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:48 am

In September I did my first tour from Newcastle to the Gold Coast and in my own stupidity I ran out of water on the Pacific Highway :) Nothing serious, but I did end up rashioning the last bottle of water on a pretty hot day.

Planning to ride Perth to Sydney around July/August and I'm keen to hear how much water/liquid people carry with them as this will be one of the biggest differences in weight on next year's tour. As I understand there's one stretch where there's absolutely nothing for 192kms, so how much water do you need for 192kms? By the time I start the tour I hope to be able to ride 200kms in a day (aiming for 6 days / week (AT) 150kms / day avg) , but you never know when a headwind will change your plans for you... so assume I'm sleeping over one night somewhere in the middle of that 192kms.

Yesterday I did 40kms on the first 600ml bottle, which means I'll need 30L for 200kms and say another 1-2 L during the night. Just doesn't seem right/possible.
Last edited by justD on Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by BNA » Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:28 am

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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby Cranky Jim » Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:28 am

" Water should not be a problem if you are well prepared. Most settlements rely on "bore" water, and you can usually have bore water free by asking in each roadhouse (but it would be a good gesture to buy at least something, eg orange juice- roadhouses are not a public service). The water is generally very good and certainly drinkable. In some places, you may be lucky enough to find rainwater tanks, though it's not possible to rely on them alone. We carried extra water in "sea to summit" 6 Litre water bags that contain refillable wine cask inners. These are great: very robust, fold down small when not in use and cost about $20 from most specialist camping stores. You might also consider a do-it-yourself water bag. It's also possible to insulate conventional bike bottles to avoid some of the heat that makes water less palatable."

This is an extract from a guide to cycling the Nullarbor by Belinda van Straaten at -

http://members.iinet.net.au/~bikefish/f ... #Nullarbor

There is another version of the article at -

http://theridersofoz.com/index.php?opti ... &Itemid=57

where she says

"Water: The longest stretch without water is 200 km between Nullarbor National Park and Border Village. We carried between 10 and 15 liters of water, but found that most days we didn’t need that much (note: we only road on one of the really hot days - 66 km and I went through 11 liters of water and should have drank more - so be very careful when riding on hot days.)"

If you are going to do this ride I would recommend you have a read. Lots of good info.
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby Cranky Jim » Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:38 am

...and maybe Rowan Burns very detailed tour report might be of interest. He did this back in 1997 but it will give you a taste of what to expect ..
http://www.cycling-adventurer.net/perth ... index.html
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby il padrone » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:01 am

justD wrote:Yesterday I did 40kms on the first 600ml bottle, which means I'll need 30L for 200kms] and say another 1-2 L during the night. Just doesn't seem right/possible.

Wow! You are a drinker JustD :lol: Slight error there. But 3L for a long day would be about right, then you have to factor in whatever you may neeed for your camping (getting dinner going, washing etc). Usually this would be a minimum of about 7L. So you do need to plan to be able to carry an extra water bag or two - something like the MSR Dromedary is an excellent bag, not cheap but they will do the job and last for ages. I bought one after my third Sea to Summit wine-bladder style bag had delaminated.

This one is the 10L version
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby justD » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:43 am

il padrone wrote:
Wow! You are a drinker JustD :lol: Slight error there. But 3L for a long day would be about right,


lol... multiplying with the 600ml I obviously missed a decimal when taking it back to litre :oops: And I had actually checked it in Excel when I said "doesn't seem right". Oh well

Thanks, 7-10L seems a lot more manageable. In that case I'll probably take a 10L bag with me and carry 1 or 2 2L bottles in my pannier bags on the longer stretches.

Thanks for the links Jim, I'll have a read.
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby Aushiker » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:50 am

Hi

My comments are based more on walking than riding, but on walks such as the Larapinta Trail and for that matter here in WA, I always plan on three litres for camp and for such a ride as the Nullarbor, three litres, maybe four litres per day. So for the 200 km I would head out with nine to 11 or 12 litres of water.

This approach as worked okay for me, but I don't get carried away polishing my cooking gear and I "cook" with low water demand meals and wouldn't wash that night.

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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby il padrone » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:10 pm

Another point that you may already be aware of is that many of the Nullarbor roadhouses (only supply points for hundreds of kms) do not supply water. You'll have to buy bottled water.
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby Moocar » Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:35 pm

Temperature is the defining factor when figuring out how much water you will need. On days of 20 degrees or less, I'll basically only consume about 2 litres in a day. Once the temperature reaches 30 I'm consuming at least 4 litres a day. So if you want to be really finicky about how much water to carry, checkout the weather forecast for the days in advance and adjust your amounts accordingly.

+1 for MSR dromedaries. They just don't break which is one less thing to worry about on the journey. If you're cycling with a pannier setup, it's probably a good idea to buy two 4 litre bags so that you can distribute the weight.

Ahh, the Nullabor. It's only a matter of time....
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby Kalgrm » Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:30 pm

il padrone wrote:Another point that you may already be aware of is that many of the Nullarbor roadhouses (only supply points for hundreds of kms) do not supply water. You'll have to buy bottled water.

Not quite true. I've driven across about two dozen times. All the road houses have toilets and there are taps in the service areas for refilling radiators, etc. They do charge if you want a shower, but you will be able to access enough water to fill your bags.

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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby justD » Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:09 pm

Aushiker wrote:My comments are based more on walking than riding


Why is that Mr LHT owner? :)
Yeah, I don't think polishing my cooking gear's going to be too high on my priority list either, but I do hope to find a shower every 2nd-3rd day.


Moocar wrote:Temperature is the defining factor when figuring out how much water you will need.


Which is why I'm thinking about July/August, depending on what the overall wind direction is then. I can handle cold quite well, but Australia, even not the Nullabor, is a little hot for me.

Moocar wrote: So if you want to be really finicky about how much water to carry


Not really. I wanted know what the norm is and then I'll probably add 2-3L to that, so I'm thinking 12-14L on something like that 200km day and considerably less on days when I know there's a town or roadhouse within a reasonable distance.

Moocar wrote:+1 for MSR dromedaries. They just don't break which is one less thing to worry about on the journey. If you're cycling with a pannier setup, it's probably a good idea to buy two 4 litre bags so that you can distribute the weight.


Good idea, thanks! I see they come in 6L bags, so that sounds like a winner to me.

Thanks for the input people, I think I have a fair idea now. And I can relax as the weight of 30L was a big concern :)
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby il padrone » Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:36 pm

justD wrote:Yeah, I don't think polishing my cooking gear's going to be too high on my priority list either

But when you've got a whole lot of burned-on crud in your pot, cleaning it out may be a bit of a priority, maybe higher priority than a shower even :?:

justD wrote:Which is why I'm thinking about July/August, depending on what the overall wind direction is then. I can handle cold quite well, but Australia, even not the Nullabor, is a little hot for me.

Check here for the wind roses for selected sites across Australia, by month and time of day.
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby John Lewis » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:04 am

This may help, Grabbed from Google.

[PDF]
How to Safely Cycle the Nullarbor
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
How to Safely Cycle the Nullarbor. Prevailing wind direction. Winds on the Nullarbor Plain can be very strong and have a great effect upon riding times. ...
www.transport.wa.gov.au/mediaFiles/cycl ... ochure.pdf

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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby justD » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:27 am

Wind roses!!! :(
Those things have driven me insane before and I was planning to ask on here for someone to help me understand them when I was ready to commit to a date. Now, reading the following on that page seems pretty clear:
"The circles around the image represent the various percentages of occurrence of the winds. For example, if the branch to the west just reaches the 10% ring it means a frequency of 10% blowing from that direction."

Based on that it seems like I'll have the wind from behind me most of the time in July/August, as well as this sentence from the flyer that John posted:
"May to October: from the west or north-west."

Actually, I think I know why the roses confused me before :oops: I assumed they were "pointing" in the direction that the wind was blowing and that never matched up to other posts where people like you, il padrone, had given others advice on wind directions... I obviously missed the "blowing from that direction".
Yes, I did serve in the navy for a year, but a grease monkey down in the engine room never had to worry about wind direction and navigation :)
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby hartleymartin » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:29 am

Amount of water needed to cross the Nullarbor? - LOTS!
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby mylesau » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:57 am

+1 to what Moocar said. Temperature makes a huge difference, don't do the calculation based on what you drink at your local temp, do it at the temp you'll be doing it at and then add some more.

I recently did a 120 km trip with low wind and high temps - 3 litres wasn't enough - I drank that by about the 70 km mark and had to divert to refill. Though this was slogging though some sandy tracks which makes a big difference. Another recent trip (tar and good dirt roads) just over 140 km in high temps and I was empty by 120 km with 4 litres.

You could possibly consider riding in the cooler part of the day or possibly at night - that would help keep the water requirements down a bit - have a siesta in the middle of the day.
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby justD » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:58 am

hartleymartin wrote:Amount of water needed to cross the Nullarbor? - LOTS!


Years of training required to be able to slog that amount of water up a hill - LOTS.
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby il padrone » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:27 pm

justD wrote:
hartleymartin wrote:Amount of water needed to cross the Nullarbor? - LOTS!


Years of training required to be able to slog that about of water up a hill - LOTS.

Number of hills on the Nllarbor - zero :lol:
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby Moocar » Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:29 am

il padrone wrote:
justD wrote:
hartleymartin wrote:Amount of water needed to cross the Nullarbor? - LOTS!


Years of training required to be able to slog that about of water up a hill - LOTS.

Number of hills on the Nllarbor - zero :lol:


Satisfaction of propelling you and everything you need across the Nullarbor on your own power - Priceless :D
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby justD » Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:16 am

il padrone wrote:
justD wrote:
hartleymartin wrote:Amount of water needed to cross the Nullarbor? - LOTS!


Years of training required to be able to slog that about of water up a hill - LOTS.

Number of hills on the Nllarbor - zero :lol:


That is good news :) but... I am going from Perth to Sydney and I believe there are some hills towards the NSW side. At this stage I climb off and push on some average hills just with my own body weight, which is part of the reason I asked this question: I intend to lose another 10-15kgs by then so that the extra weight of water and gear is offset by (reduced) body weight :) Silly logic I s'pose, but I need to lose weight anyhow.
I'm hoping by the time I've crossed the Nullarbor a few hills won't bug me as much. I think it was you who one said that I'll get fit on the trip as well.
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby justD » Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:29 am

Detail wrote:I've recently been biking around some of the long distance trips in Oz ie, Yuendumu to Rabbit Flat 307km, last water in NT to Bililuna around 286km, Broome to Sandfire also about 286km. Also getting to Meekathara 255km. There aren't any bores or waterholes on any of those roads.


That's unbelieveable!!! This trip is such a big deal for me and you do those kind of distances without water stops and Kalgrm has crossed the Nullarbor 2 dozen times and I know il padrone tours a lot! Very impressive.

I'm hoping not to hit 35º too often, but all my days will be longer than 6.5 hours, unless something goes wrong. On the last 3 days of my previous/first tour, I did 131kms in 10 hours, 140kms in 10 hours and 95kms in 9 hours (lots of wind and some hills). For this trip I want to average 150kms/day, so even if I am a lot more fit and lose a lot of weight, I'll probably still be looking at 10+ hours per day.
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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby Kalgrm » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:53 pm

justD wrote:...... and Kalgrm has crossed the Nullarbor 2 dozen times ..... Very impressive.

I hate to burst the bubble of awe that now surrounds me, but I've driven across the Nullarbor a couple of dozen times - not ridden. One day I intend to, but it hasn't happened yet.

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Re: How much water across the Nullabor

Postby justD » Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:04 pm

Kalgrm wrote:I hate to burst the bubble of awe that now surrounds me, but I've driven across the Nullarbor a couple of dozen times - not ridden. One day I intend to, but it hasn't happened yet.

Cheers,
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lol, well now the pressure is on :)
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Re: How much water across the Nullarbor

Postby Aushiker » Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:13 pm

Detail wrote:By the way 150km a day, day after day, is a whole lotta kms. That's averaging over 20km/ hour for over 7 hours riding. Carrying a week or two of food and water for a day or two slows you right down.


Hi

That was my thinking as well. On my Geraldton to Perth I did do one big day, but if the plan had been to do that every day, it would have been damn hard going. There where days of driving rain and headwinds which really made life hard.

I personally work on an ideal of 100 km a day give or take 20 km depending on camping spots/towns.

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