Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

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Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby il padrone » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:41 pm

An article and photo gallery about Russell Bathard, a long time outback wanderer is in today's Australian.

Image

Photo Gallery and news item*.

Russell Bathard wrote:"When you're doing something like this, everything gets stripped back to the basics," he said. "I have four things I focus on every day: water, food, shelter, and the state of the bike. I don't have any other distractions, no mobile phone or GPS.


Where he has been for the past month, on tracks in the Northern Territory and Queensland, he sees an average of about two cars or two trucks a day.

"I wash my hands in the dirt, I can smell rain well before I can see it or feel it when I'm out here," he said.



* To get around the paywall, copy the article headline into Google and you'll get the full text.
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by BNA » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:07 pm

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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby Uncle Just » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:07 pm

Requires login ...pay per view?

Otherwise a happy wanderer. Just the basics, no electronic gizmos. I think his Keep Clear signs are redundant if all he meets are two vehicles per day. :lol:
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby il padrone » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:45 pm

Uncle Just wrote:Requires login ...pay per view?


^^
^^
il padrone wrote:* To get around the paywall, copy the article headline into Google and you'll get the full text.
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby cyclotaur » Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:35 pm

il padrone wrote:
Uncle Just wrote:Requires login ...pay per view?


^^
^^
il padrone wrote:* To get around the paywall, copy the article headline into Google and you'll get the full text.

Nope - This doesn't work for me ....
Here's my blog - A bit of fun :)
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby il padrone » Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:46 pm

OK. Google 'Outback cyclist Russell Balthard'. Second link in the list is the article, in full.
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby John Lewis » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:12 pm

Nope that didn't work. Google only put up a link to this BNA page.

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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby il padrone » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:22 pm

Well that tricked me. I couldn't get it either - thought the media barons' webnerds must be really good. But no, all my fault, wrong spelling. Google Outback cyclist Russell Bathard (note slight correction to surname)

[edit] Oh damn it, still no go. I don't know! I had the full copy before.... honest, truly. The media barons seem to be winning here :(
Last edited by il padrone on Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby Aushiker » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:27 pm

il padrone wrote:Well that tricked me. I couldn't get it either - thought the media barons' webnerds must be really good. But no, all my fault, wrong spelling. Google Outback cyclist Russell Bathard (note slight correction to surname)


Not working for me.

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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby }SkOrPn--7 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:35 pm

Works for me using FF.

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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby Aushiker » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:36 pm

Okay obtained it through another source outside of Google. Here is a copy of the text. No photos but.

EVERY day, Russell Bathard battles elements that few of our Olympians have ever tested themselves against.

Strong winds that can throw him off his bike. Sandy roads that can bog him down. Snakes, dingoes, road trains and cattle grids -- and always extreme heat during the day and extreme cold at night.

While former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and the cream of the world's top cyclists hurtle around the streets of London and the Olympic velodrome over the next two weeks, 63-year old Bathard will continue his two-wheeled outback odyssey on a second-hand bicycle, saddled with his belongings and supplies -- and showing all the sort of character needed to win medals on the other side of the world.

Bathard has been riding his bike through Australia's deserts for 30 years without backup or support crew. If something goes wrong, the responsibility is his and his alone.

What he shares with our Olympians is a sense of focus. For Bathard, riding a bike through such extreme country requires stripping away all else and focusing purely on survival.

"When you're doing something like this, everything gets stripped back to the basics," he said. "I have four things I focus on every day: water, food, shelter, and the state of the bike. I don't have any other distractions, no mobile phone or GPS. But I have ultimate responsibility for my own survival."

The Weekend Australian caught up with Bathard on a dusty road, 150km west of Mt Isa, but for the past 30 years, he has spent a few months each year living in Glen Waverley in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, then getting on his bike and riding around the outback.

On this trip he left Melbourne three months ago and since then has ridden his bike to Mildura, then through South Australia and along the Oodnadatta Track to Alice Springs, then across the quaintly named Sandover Highway through the even more quaintly named Utopia Station before crossing over to Queensland and further east to Mt Isa.

When on the road, he carries enough food and water for about a week, but then he has to rely on finding a water supply, something he's been able to do so far through good planning and luck, albeit with a few close shaves.

At night, he always sleeps rough, finding a good place to camp as the sun goes down so he can get a good night's sleep under the stars before heading off again when the sun comes up.

He needs a tree or a rock so that his bike is upright. If it falls over, the whole weight distribution he has worked out can be thrown, and he can lose some of his precious water.

Where he's been could be a whole new verse of "I've been everywhere, man".

"The Birdsville Track, the Strezlecki Track, the Gunbarrel Highway, the Oodnadatta Track, the Savannah Way," he said.

He has cycled up and down the east coast five times, been over to the west coast and back twice, and had numerous trips "filling in the gaps", as he puts it, between major highways.

Bathard said that despite being in some of the more remote parts of Australia, most people simply waved at him when they drove past in four-wheel-drives or cattle trucks.

"People in cars or four-wheel-drives are just indifferent to you," he said. "The only people who stop and talk to you are the Aborigines, they'll often give you food, sometimes shelter."

Bathard was a schoolteacher in the 1970s who then went to work at the research station on Orpheous Island off north Queensland in the 1980s. It was then that he started these long cycling trips.

It costs him about $10 a day, but he is financially comfortable enough to be able to pay considerably more for a holiday. So why does he do this?

"Because there's a tremendous sense of achievement in doing something like this," he said. "But it's more than that. I love being in the bush and living with the bush. A couple of weeks ago I saw a whole flock of parrots turning at the same time, and their colours glinted in the sun. You just don't see things like that in the city."

What are little things to passing motorists matter a lot to him. One gripe was that cattle grids in Queensland are wider than those in the Northern Territory, putting a lot more pressure on his bike when he rides over them.

Where he has been for the past month, on tracks in the Northern Territory and Queensland, he sees an average of about two cars or two trucks a day.

"I wash my hands in the dirt, I can smell rain well before I can see it or feel it when I'm out here," he said.

Back in Melbourne, his mother, 88-year-old Eva, still worries about him when he's away.

"Any mother would, but he rings in when he can," she said.

Credit: ANDREW FRASER


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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby Aushiker » Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:28 pm

}SkOrPn--7 wrote:Works for me using FF.


Nothing to do with the browser ... I saw the link to the Australian and assumed it was another link to the paywall ... oddly it isn't.

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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby il padrone » Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:39 pm

Oh, well whatever the paywall des or doesn't block, back OT.

Russsell's travels over the past 30 years sound quite remarkable. Reminds me of a Sydney bloke, Larry Nolan, who kept being encountered by people in all sorts of remote outback locations, riding a pretty standard touring bike back in the late 80s and 90s. He wrote several articles for Australian Cyclist magazine, but then dropped out of sight. I always wondered what further exploits he got up to.
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby PawPaw » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:24 pm

Read it this morning....extraordinary guy who encapsulates the solo adventurer spirit. I can totally relate to his preference for being totally self dependent, and his affinity with the natural world. My kinda guy, though rarely meet them because they are generally off doing stuff alone. :)
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby Meditator » Sun Jul 29, 2012 7:00 am

I"ve been watching the tour de france for the last little while and today's men's cycling road race. I am sure that is a lot harder to do than cycling outback roads, which i have done enough of to know.

I think the article underestimates the skill and effort required in races such as the tour de france. I mean hurtling down a hill at 100kph! Who amongst us could do that and come out alive.

Pitching the road racers against touring cyclists who just have a lovely time cruising around on a holiday pretty unfair. I do get sick of he heroising of this style of travel.

Don't get me wrong. Its a fantastic way to travel but we are on holiday. Its fun and its not difficult. Yes we have our odd tough day but we don't risk very much and we're usually fixed with a good nights sleep.
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby iacl » Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:05 am

Meditator wrote:I"ve been watching the tour de france for the last little while and today's men's cycling road race. I am sure that is a lot harder to do than cycling outback roads, which i have done enough of to know.

I think the article underestimates the skill and effort required in races such as the tour de france. I mean hurtling down a hill at 100kph! Who amongst us could do that and come out alive.

Pitching the road racers against touring cyclists who just have a lovely time cruising around on a holiday pretty unfair. I do get sick of he heroising of this style of travel.

Don't get me wrong. Its a fantastic way to travel but we are on holiday. Its fun and its not difficult. Yes we have our odd tough day but we don't risk very much and we're usually fixed with a good nights sleep.


I don't think the article aims to negate the skill or effort required to race at that level. And lets not forget the very considerable support afforded to those athletes! Chalk and cheese!

I am guessing the motivation is a bit different as well.

Does that make what this fellow does (and others like him) any less remarkable, or for those interested, inspirational.

For me, I am so glad there is more to cycling than the "race". And for a very rare moment it made the mainstream media.


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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby mitzikatzi » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:21 am

Works for me (with FF)
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby Uncle Just » Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:48 pm

I"ve been watching the tour de france for the last little while and today's men's cycling road race. I am sure that is a lot harder to do than cycling outback roads, which i have done enough of to know.

I think the article underestimates the skill and effort required in races such as the tour de france. I mean hurtling down a hill at 100kph! Who amongst us could do that and come out alive.

Pitching the road racers against touring cyclists who just have a lovely time cruising around on a holiday pretty unfair. I do get sick of he heroising of this style of travel.

Don't get me wrong. Its a fantastic way to travel but we are on holiday. Its fun and its not difficult. Yes we have our odd tough day but we don't risk very much and we're usually fixed with a good nights sleep.


No doubt the pro riders are fast and fit (and young) but what this guy does at 63 by himself on lonely, remote roads is imo also noteworthy. Not heroic but interesting and inspiring. I am tired of the heroising of paid professionals essentially just riding a bike to nowhere even though I've followed the sport for 45 years. Look at the hero worship of Cadel last year, or for anyone who will strike gold in London over the next fortnight. Looking after invalid children or the mentally ill every day is the stuff of heroism in my book. Incidentally did this guy seek out the attention or compile a blog or write a journal on CGOAB like most here? We all like to be acknowledged or recognised for our achievements and we all approach our vanity in different ways. An examination of the motive of those who write of their travels would be insightful methinks. I think it's also newsworthy particularly at a time when for most Australians going bush means relying on all that modern technology can buy. His method, no doubt like yours and others is low key and self sufficient. And he just sets out and does it. As most of us have learnt it's not so much the physical side of touring as you allude to but the mental challenge or indeed just starting. That's what spooks most urban aussies and why it's written the way it has been. They are intensely afraid of this big brown land unless cocooned in a metal shell. The TdF analogy is only meant as a timely counterpoint I think.

PS going down a mountain at 100km/hr is really not so difficult unless wet (but takes nerve and skill), it's being able to ride up a mountain and maintain the high power they generate for several hours that is so hard and beyond most of us.
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby RonK » Sun Jul 29, 2012 7:27 pm

Meditator wrote:Pitching the road racers against touring cyclists who just have a lovely time cruising around on a holiday pretty unfair. I do get sick of he heroising of this style of travel.

Don't get me wrong. Its a fantastic way to travel but we are on holiday. Its fun and its not difficult. Yes we have our odd tough day but we don't risk very much and we're usually fixed with a good nights sleep.

I understand what you are saying, and agree. I doubt that Russell Bathard thinks there is anything remarkable about what he does, any more than you or I do about our travels by bicycle. Russell makes it clear that he does it "Because there's a tremendous sense of achievement in doing something like this. But it's more than that. I love being in the bush and living with the bush.".

Be it holiday or adventure, or in Russell's case, a semi-nomadic way of life, it cannot be validly compared with the years of single-minded effort and sacrifice it takes to develop the skills and endurance required to become part of the peleton on a grand tour.
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby Meditator » Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:13 am

I just want to note that my criticism is not against the cyclist. Its against the writer of the article who has taken a below the belt kick to the professional racing cyclists.
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby il padrone » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:47 pm

Meditator wrote:I just want to note that my criticism is not against the cyclist. Its against the writer of the article who has taken a below the belt kick to the professional racing cyclists.

I've got to say, I didn't read it that way at all.

While former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and the cream of the world's top cyclists hurtle around the streets of London and the Olympic velodrome over the next two weeks, 63-year old Bathard will continue his two-wheeled outback odyssey on a second-hand bicycle, saddled with his belongings and supplies -- and showing all the sort of character needed to win medals on the other side of the world.

Bathard has been riding his bike through Australia's deserts for 30 years without backup or support crew. If something goes wrong, the responsibility is his and his alone.

What he shares with our Olympians is a sense of focus. For Bathard, riding a bike through such extreme country requires stripping away all else and focusing purely on survival.


Where is the "below the belt kick to professional cyclists"? He is simply pointing to Russell's focus and determination and suggesting he has a strong character - nothing that bags the professional cycling competitors. :?
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby Meditator » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:10 pm

Actually that's true. I had forgotten what was actually written in the article when i made the last comment.

However, I would still disagree that the merits of the effort and difficulty are comparable. And certainly i'm not sure how much strength of character you need to do what you enjoy doing.

It is quite exaggerated though. Its not really a question of survival at least not on any desperate level. I am sure a car wouldn't drive past if he appeared to be in distress.
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby il padrone » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:48 pm

Re. professional racing cyclists

Meditator wrote:i'm not sure how much strength of character you need to do what you enjoy doing.



I think it is only a rough comparison being made. I don't read that the journo is seriously equating cycle-touring with the TDF. But he is simply pointing out that it is out of the ordinary, demanding a certain dedication...... especially for someone who is over 60 and has been cycling the outback for 30 years. I would rate that as pretty exceptional.

Most people have a hard time riding from the 'burbs to the city.

Just my 2c.
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Re: Outback cycle-tourist in The Australian

Postby tmac100 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:40 pm

iP....

Totally in agreement with your last comments. I am still ticked off that the surgeon said "no bicycle trip" this July-August, but as healing progresses (and I read of folks like this) I figure my 64 y.o. body can still go across OZ - it will just take time. Next year ... :D
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