Congratulations to Joanna Sharpe for setting the Darwin to Adalaide record in the following categories: Female, 18-49 Age Group on am upright bike.

Darwin to Adalaide (Primary record) Finish Start 6:45am 18 May 2024 Finish 18:40pm 29.5.24 3812km 11 days 11hrs 55mins

Joanna Sharpe also set the following embedded records during her attempt:

Darwin to Uluru, Start 6:45am 18 May 2024 Arrive 10:43am 24.5.24  Distance -2027km 6 days 3hrs 58mins

Uluru to Port Augusta Start 12:39am 24.5.34 Arrive 15:30pm 28.5.34 Distance 1526km 4 days 2hrs 51mins (2053km)

Darwin to Port Augusta Start 6:45am 18 May 2024 Arrive 15:30pm 28.5.24 3451km 10 days8hrs 45mins

Uluru to Adelaide Start 12:39am 24.5.24 Finish 18:40pm 29.5.24 1781km 5 days 6hrs 1 min

Length of Australia Guinness and WUCA world record ride report

My name is Joanna Sharpe. Together with my crew I cycled the length of Australia becoming the first person to do so non stop in what was by far the adventure of a lifetime.

My crew were: Jude Billows, Rich Wyatt, Mark Thompson, Mathew James, Thomas Nicholas

I rode two Chapter 2 bikes, both aero frames. I can not speak highly enough of these beautiful bikes which were impeccable the entire ride in the most extreme environmental conditions. My main bike was a C2 Koko fully integrated with Sram shifting. I call her Cilla as she was soon to be The Queen of the Desert. My second bike was a C2 Rere. Mechanical shifting both with aero set up. I call her Shadow and she is beautiful. Both my bikes have an Infinity Bike seat, the only saddle I can ride distances on and find amazing. Both bikes were built and loving prepped by Bennys Bike Shop Auckland a bespoke store that specialises in builds and adventure riding.

I am a celiac with a dairy allergy. I used Isagenix for liquid meal replacement as well as all my supplement needs including for performance and recovery as well as energy, I hate coffee. I also used Pure Nutrition NZ (Race Fuel formular) for my carb on the bike drink. I did eat solid food however for me this causes huge problems for me digestively and did when I tried to eat solid food during this adventure too.

Leaving Darwin on 18 May 2024, together with a very small crew of 5 I attempted to set the Length of Australia (Darwin to Adelaide) world record as well as a number of other between Darwin and Melbourne thanks to WUCA and Guinness. The idea behind the ride wasn’t  to break a record, it was to set a benchmark, to become the first to achieve the length of Australia and to raise funds and awareness for Bowel Cancer New Zealand. There were 8 records being set within this attempt. The key one being Darwin to Adalaide the length of the country and continent. This record being a distance of +3700km taking a route via Uluru (because I mean why wouldn’t you take the time to see this amazing natural wonder of our world).

6:45am18th May 2024, is go day. Today the rubber meets the road for real.

The crew have spent the last 2 days getting supplies, vans, the last team member (Nathan Roderick – a highly talented videographer who is travelling with us to document the attempt), practicing shadowing me while riding and general support, they are learning the ropes however with 2 crew members who are total rookies in our crew of 5 I know they have absolutely no idea what they will face from exhaustion, isolation from habitation and confined quarters. Its hard to explain the complexities, they will learn as we go though and I have such confidence in them.

The adventure really started many months ago. To achieve the Length of Australia record  will be no easy featIknow. Its hard to explain how remote the environment is. To try to explain. There is only one road that connects the north from the south, The Stewart Highway. It is long and flat and strait and any wild fires, blocks on the road can not be diverted around, no other road exists in a country that is actually a continent and is so vast we will spend hours without seeing even another vehicle. There is no water for the most part, we must carry all we need as the desert is a dry area and often water cant be purchased. There is no cell phone service, we must carry emergency trackers in case we have an accident and even a fuel stop is often a day away. The planning for this has been so extensive and I know there will be so many things we haven’t thought of but full medical kit for all emergencies, litres of water, additional fuel and all the tools you can imagine are packed together with food that doesn’t need refrigerated and enough Isagenix to support us for the trip are packed. 

We had 2 crew working on bike mechanics (Mark and Mat), 2 as navigators (Mark and Thomas), an experienced support driver (Rich), specific support for me being my parter (Jude) and Nathan – not only a videographer but an experienced crew chief and support for rides of this nature. Thomas had the role of crew chief. This was it after 2 crew members dropped out last minute so we knew there was no room for error, everyone would have to share roles and be great problem solvers.

They would operate in 2 teams with a driver and an observer in the follow car at any one time.  Jude was in the Mothership and assisted specifically with me off the bike whilst also doing all she could to support the crew and look after fuelling and cleaning as well as procurement.

We had a quick gathering in the foyer of the Club Tropical Resort, our accommodation, and only 1km from the start point before we started. As New Zealanders,  it was important to us to have a maori blessing for our journey as well as a prayer to thank the First Nations custodians of the land we would be traveling over before we made our official start. 

As I ride off the sun is rising and already I feel the magic of what we are taking on. After 20km the follow vehicle cant follow me on the paths I must take so a follow bike does the job as verifier to ensure we comply with WUCA rules. I’m pretty sure Mark the official who took this task enjoyed the role very much getting to be a part of something special. He was a way behind keeping me just in sight but I know relished the bush we rode through. Not long and Id found the Stewart Highway, my home for 3600km it felt special and I had butterflies of excitement. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the 20m road trains starting here but I guessed id be very used to them by the time we reached Adalaide!

As the mother ship headed off to Adeliade River Roadhouse I think all of the crew and I were thinking, we aren’t in Kansas anymore!

Outback Bingo! Well, I mean you have to haven’t you when you’re up that close! So far I  had already seen a pig, a wallaby, Gallahs, cockatoos, a wedge tail eagle, a donkey, Kangaroos,  cane toads and a HUGE Brahman bull.

The team following me to Bridge Creek got confused, notes were not comprehensive enough it seems with no cell phone reception this had to be the only time this happened. The crew begin to think better about the stops and changes and how to navigate this adventure with so few back up options. In a few days time such a mistake could have catastrophic results with resources and climate so unforgiving. I thought it was good it had happened now, lets evolve and learn early on. 

The wind  was providing us with very strong headwinds. Welcome to Northern Territory dry season. Along with riding into the trade winds for the next 3600km wind. Unexpectedly this early I also got introduced to wildfires. We thought we may experience them but little did we expect 5 days of uncontrolled wildfires. They start for numerous reasons and they burn right up to the road, hot and Smokey. Being so remote there are no fire services to attend to them they simply burn for hectares.  I knew I had to get used to them and wore a face covering I could pull up for the duration of the ride. The smoke is strong, the fires come right across the road but there is no other way than through and other than getting singes from sparks on my hands and kit I manage fine. We understand under WUCA rules I could have been taken through to safety however these outback wildfires last for hundreds of Km, what would be the point of a world record when so much was taken out. We had to learn to manage the conditions as best we could. Laterly I did develop a rasping cough and chest infection that I took antibiotics for, sore eyes as well as small singes on my skin but the crew kept a close eye on wind direction and gusts, most importantly the bikes were fine and it has to be said the crew kept the doors and windows firmly closed, the heat was intense and ash flew everywhere.

A crew change and at 600km we arrive in Katherine an actual township where services are found yay, also the home of awesome world tour sprinter Cadel Evans. Locals approached and advised us it was not safe to park in town, there is a lot of unrest in some of the Northen Territory so we learn to adjust our stops. The crew also know to always be in pairs and that the van must be not left unattended for risk of break ins, that would be a disaster. I  swap from my bike ‘Cilla and onto Shadow have my first rest and a feed before heading into the night shift of day2. Our plan is to ride to  a roadhouse in Mataranka, the next one actually still open after covid.

The Stewart Highway is proving to be  quiet and easy to manage. At night you can see vehicles approaching from a long way off and the road train drivers are such professionals. All the RV drivers touring the road (the only other traffic) sees our follow car sign and toots and waves, its super. I know the crew are worried about the wildlife both for my safety and the vans. It comes alive and the road is no barrier to the mobs of ‘Roo that chase me along the road. I quite like it but I know the crew are freaking out. The dingos are similar although the crew don’t spot them as much. They are everywhere and I kind of like the company. There are birds eating carrion and roadkill, and anything else that decides to wander, fly or slither makes its way  across the tarmac at night. Whilst I have seen the tail of a crocodile beside the road no alive ones although snakes are a different matter. I was worried id freak out to be honest as I’m terrified of them but its amazing how fast you get used to them. They look like the poo emojo all curled up to seek the warmth of the road at night and to escape the wildfires but I get good at spotting them thankfully. I don’t need to be riding over what we call a “danger noodle so I become quite the spotter!. The wildfires are pretty when further away from the road, pretty exciting when it is close. None of us have ever seen anything like it before. 

As with every night, well lit road trains pull across to pass us, staying well to the right, respectful of me and the follow van. I am so grateful. This was to become the norm in the Northern Territories with only one “close” pass. I did have an encounter with one very large brown snake taking up an entire lane of the road which after my instinctive move to the left shoulder was greeted with yells in my ear of “right right right”. The crew had seen its huge mouth so I’m thankful for that, seems like he liked the look of me! We also saw toads, cockatoos and more ‘Roos on the side of the road than you can count. 

Mataranka to Dunbara proved to be less relaxing than the previous shift. Kangeroo -1 -Mothership- 0

Now I wasn’t there so here’s what I’ve been told  by Mark. “We filled up with water at Mataranka and headed off, passing the other crew on the way. I was tired and had curled up on the bed, gently rocked to sleep as we headed further south. 

I feel Jude braking hard, then releasing the brakes and reapplying them. In my just awake state I think “This thing has ABS, apply the brakes and leave them on”, Then comes the gentle swerve, followed by a thump. I think she has come across a line of traffic and run over a traffic cone, or a curb, or something similar. We coast to a stop and all is quiet, I go back to sleep. Next thing, Thomas is calling, waking me up. “Hey Mark, the van is dead in the water, we hit a ‘Roo and the van is dead”. I get up, go out and have a look. Form the outside there is little evidence of damage, but underneath the engine is pushed up, every light has come on and the vehicle is in limp mode at absolute best, but really it’s going nowhere. (where did mark think we would find a traffic cone or a traffic jam in the outback I ask you!!)

We had tried to get the air-conditioning going, but to no avail, Thomas had looked at it and we were still trying to trouble shoot. I said “So I guess we aren’t going to fix the aircon” Thomas laughed – made his morning.

So problem solve on the run, we are not even 1000km in yet. The crew reacted immediately and I didn’t even stop. They split the crews again, getting the follow van ready for an extended haul while Jude, Mat and mark  awaited a lift to cell phone reception and  09:00 when we could contact the rental agency and see what could be done. Thankfully Jude had done a super job of keeping the crew safe and the van off the road for that I am so grateful.

I decided not to wonder what may happen. We had no idea if the crew could even get a replacement van and meet us again. I knew enough to know the crew knew they couldn’t meet WUCA rules for the ride unless the crew rejoined us soon but there was nothing to do but ride and hope for the best. So I did the only job id been given, turn peddles, until mid afternoon the following day when I was due a rest stop for a short sleep. Things were kept interested by nature giving us the most dramatic wildfires of the trip. The entre road on both sides for km was lit up with huge flames. At many times the flames came right across the road. The heat I cant explain. The sounds are unnerving and so unusual its captivating  and I remember thinking, well the film footage will be exceptional and when will I ever get to do this again. I enjoyed the light show it gifted me and the experience that in any other circumstances you would never ride through. 

The day time temps were extreme, even without the fires it was into the high 40 degree centigrade  temps and with the fires night stayed hot too. During the day the smoke from the fires covered the road so as to prevent the follow car even seeing me when I was a couple hundred meters away. It was also a very dry heat and felt a lot like riding in a wool sweater. I was actually dealing better than I thought though with a history of overheating, I think the joy and excitement kept me constantly wondering what Id see next and the crew did a super job of keeping me as cool as possible, with basically no water or ice and no shade on a strip of tarmac through the dessert for the duration. 

Stopping next to some fresh road kill  (nice, my companion smell of the outback!) and advised me we were stopping at a camp called Daly Waters for my rest as they had water and fuel. Sweet, I fell fast asleep. 2hrs later I woke up with  a start convinced I must be hallucinating. An old guy on a mobility scoter was being followed by 2 donkeys, 2 water buffalo, two horses, two geese, two ducks and 2 horses. Well, I’m in Noahs Ark I thought but no this was the daily procession through the camp, what a buzz!! The residents were so enthusiastic and kind to us donating to Bowel Cancer NZ and letting us share their water as well as selling us fuel. Such a beautiful community and such a blessing at a time we honestly wondered if we would be able to make our dream a reality,

I rode on more passionate than ever to do the best I could to make this happen and we headed for a settlement called Elliot.  Blow me over with a feather if there on the road, 24hrs after leaving them near Larramah we were passed by the other crew in somehow a new van!! Spirits couldn’t be higher and Ill forever be grateful to Lets Go Motorhomes for making the impossible possible in the middle of nowhere. They had found a van out of commission for repairs in Darwin and driven it down at some speed Id say to the crew. We were back together again, we were going to do this. We were going to make it!

Next stop was Renner Springs. The extreme wind hadn’t given up but hey I expected it and tried to embrace it. They’d be gone at some point and I knew id miss them then for the cooling they gave me as the heat was still in the 40 degrees. For the crew, by this point washing kit was an issue, it had to be hand washed. I think in the backs of their minds some crew  envisioned launderettes, not the case. Mercifully the dry wind gets all the kit dry in about 30 minutes. My biggest issue is a sore on my groin from the same position on the bike with no change of terrain in sight for the entire trip. The head cross winds coming from the same direction are meaning I’m leaning into them so this is something I have to do all I can to manage. Hygiene is a challenge here but I do everything I can and the crew are generous by not taking showers and conserving all water so I can have a daily wash, other than that baby wipes are the go. The medical kit is being well utilised but so far I’m managing well and dressings help.

The sun sets after Renner Creek and the winds are still strong. I cant explain the beauty of the sunrise and sunset. Such a highlight every day that I never get bored off. The bird life comes alive and the sounds of the bush remind you how very much life thrives in this remote but beautiful place in the world . The nights are clear, they do get cold down to 1 degree and as the moonrises as a full moon, we are still seeing wildfires. 

Next stop was Tennent Creek. We had been warned much earlier of potential civil unrest, as the town is under curfew and lockdown. The mothership has let us know there we people milling around and the feeling was not pleasant, so I sat in the follow car whilst it fuelled up as opposed to continuing riding to stay safe. It has to be said and I’m sad to say it but  I felt the only nerves of the trip here as opposed to the many other hazards on the road. 

Leaving Tennent Creek, my plan is to ride about 140km before my nap. The crew are exhausted and the extra work and lack of sleep that losing the van had on them has well and truly caught up with them. I am actually doing fine ironically and haven’t restored to listening to music yet even, its just amazing how much there is to see. That not to say my mind isn’t squiffy it is and of course there is pain and discomfort but I expected that. Some of the crew find it concerning though but not Jude or Rich who have seen it all before and know I’m fine. I’m happy and enjoying the ride. I ride past the Devils Marbles at dawn with the gift of an amazing sunrise. Being so remote a Greyhound bus stop serves as our stopping place for a crew change. 4 days in.

There were actually some long steady climbs, straight road and low grades, maybe 2%, just enough to knock the top end off my speed but I was  heading uphill at a steady 26km/hr. The crew are concerned Im  sitting off the side of the saddle and I have t be mindful of not causing other injuries as a result of this one sore. It was super cool to be following the Ghan railway towards Alice Springs, I loved seeing the flash tourist train, a rare sight.

It becomes clear that the crew rest needs to be addressed. Its becoming a real issue and only compounding.  We pass Aileron Roadhouse I started to have her first hallucinations. had been listening to the B-52’s and saw faces in the tarmac and the bushes… New Zealand TV presenter Hillary Barry, King Charles and Mark. I know Mark was honoured to be in those hallucinations but as to King Charles and Hillary Barry I have no idea, its not like I’ve ever met them!!

I feel a couple of the crew thought  I wasn’t riding fast enough but I was never worried about pace. I knew this was a marathon not a sprint and had a timeframe in my head of 300km per day. With the lack or any civilisation I had to be careful of my hygiene, sleep and not ride off the road its not like there is anyone to come rescue us unless we press the SOS button on the tracker and I don’t want to DNF. Its ben tried before and not achieved and my goal was always to achieve it. Maybe the newer members wanted to compare it to RAAM timings but its not RAAM and the challenges are different. Not least I was riding into a head wind for 3600km on a road I couldn’t change position on. I was always happy with the pace, I think I judged that well. 

I did start to struggle with some serious bloating. It was hard to be on the aeros and I looked like a rookie had been let loose with a filler needle. Exercise oedema and bloating are something I often encounter so it didn’t phase me but its sure not fun. I chose to focus on the joy of adventure and in the most part this really worked for me,

The Tropic of Capricorn was for us all a big landmark, as was going through Alice Springs and getting to the turn off to Uluru at the Erlunda Roadhouse. 

We stopped at the marker for the Tropic to say a few words about the reasons for the ride- raising money for and awareness of, bowel cancer New Zealand. I also rode past the highest point on the Stuart Highway, 727m above sea level. 

As we approached Alice Springs, we can see the geology changing. There is still a lot of sedimentary rock, but the colour is less red. The temperature is a cool 20 degrees and there is still wind in my face. The trade winds are not to be be under estimated. They are relentless and unforgiving but Ive honestly come to quite like them. Once you forget about the speed they knock off you can embrace the fact that this such a huge part of why the outback is the way it is and I liked absorbing myself in the landscape

The highway turned right for us, the first time Id needed to turn the handelbars for 6 days and it was exciting to be on the way to Uluru. After what to us felt like a hub of activity through Alice Springs  now traffic gets a lot quieter, just us, the road trains and caravans!

We are heading for Stuarts Well, a great roadhouse with Emu’s, camels, camel pies, coffee, a cattle prod behind the door

The crew had decided to have a short day the next day, and a rest at Curtain Springs. I was frustrated having worked so hard through the strong wind and fires to bank some km for what I knew was harder times physically and mentally for me to come. Whilst I was of course tired and the exercise oedema was bothering me I also knew it was nothing compared to the things to come and really didn’t want or need to stop for a rest. However, it was clear the crew did and I know I’m not getting to the finish without a crew who can drive and crew safely so I decided to make the most of the extra down time eating and resting. The hard part for me is I know from experience that the day following a rest of more than a few hours makes for a tough day. Physically I never feel good and it takes a while for my body to get back into work mode but I knew it was needed for the small crew to continue after what had been such full on time. The motivation for me the next day however was we would be seeing Katu Tjutu, Mt Conner (also known as Fooluru as people mistake it for Uluru) and of course Uluru . 

There is no way to explain the feeling of seeing this most incredible natural formation. It is spectacular, magical, spiritual and undoubtably a highlight. I relished the entire time on our way to and from Uluru with sunrise on one side and moonset on the other it couldn’t have been more beautiful. It was such a trip highlight and when asked why I made the huge detour off the Stewart Highway I still say why wouldn’t you, its an experience Ill never forget and am so very glad I took by bike. Health wise I was certainly experiencing some digestive issues. As a celiac and dairy allergy food is a huge issue to manage for me riding long distances. This is even more challenging in the outback. I struggle hugely to eat solid food and in spite of 1 team member convinced it was what I needed it continued to cause me huge issues when I did eat a more solid diet. Thankfully Isagenix complete meals in liquid form are a lifesaver for me and alongside a solid meal before a nap this was ok but the digestive issues were of course not going away and took a long time to manage increasing stopping time. Nothing to be done but still a challenge especially in the outback without much water and only a campervan bathroom. Thankfully Jude who is my partner as well as a crew member helps me both physically and emotionally. Anyone who has done a similar distance knows the emotional challenge of a ride such as this but I find the digestive issues really hard and it can really get me down. I was so thankful for such an amazing environment as  this was the best thing ever to distract me from the issues and fatigue.

On the way back to the Stewart Highway during the evening the featureless terrain together with the most enormous amount of kangeroos were making me jittery. Its hard for the crew to see the roos from the follow van so one of the things I had to really manage was remaining super focused on the road at night. It in itself was exhausting and there were 2 occasions I had to stop earlier than planned, I just didn’t have any more mental capacity to focus. This was I know frustrating for the crew, especially the newer members who I think didn’t understand why I may have to change their plan but this environment asks so much of you it was a times as overwhelming as it was beautiful. A nap can fix a lot but admittedly this is super hard in the middle of literally nowhere and communication to the remaining crew waiting further down the road impossible due to lack of communication. Still, it has to be done. I feel my experience has led me to a place  where I am fully able to make a judgement on my safety and ability to ride and I go with that no matter what. My instinctive nature is to push myself harder than most and years with the same coach has taught me that this is unusual. If Im feeling its time to nap it is most certainly time to nap!

Heading back onto the Stewart Highway we have a few milestones we are all excited about. First up is halfway, and we cross out of the Northern Territories and into South Australia.

We arrive in the border town of Kulgera. The whole crew gathers around and we song the song… it’s the chorus to the song “Livin’ on a prayer” by Bon Jovi… you have to sing it badly and sing it wrong… “Wooooah, we’re half way there… woooah, lizard on a chair…”. We sing it so badly we attract comments from some other travellers – perfect! It lifted a lot of our spirits this milestone I have to say. Crossing into South Australia was such a buzz, I stopped at the border to take a photo. These small moments of internal celebration were really important to me. I had worked so hard to be here and wanted to take the minute to cheer what had been achieved and spur me on for the next part. It was so hot though and obviously the flies were something else. Whilst I haven’t mentioned them in this report lets just say constant, everywhere and they travel in packs. The crew found them insanely bothersome. I kinda felt, well I have 99 problems, they aint one. When they really start to bother me Ill know the rest of me is fine haha. Every time I stopped they covered me and travelled on and with me for the first 500m of any start back peddling. The face covering used for the fires was as useful with flies and I wore it whenever I stopped. The crew using mosquito covers on their faces at all times too, just remember to remove it to drink or eat lol!

One of the things the crew were well used to by now was using the warm dry winds together with a makeshift line to dry laundry  in a very short time. The side of the Stuwart Highway was our kitchen, laundry and bedroom. Treating the environment with respect was of huge importance and we adopted the philosophy of take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints. 

We found a remarkable feature in South Australia red road seal. It was like a magical road in front of us and super smooth. Ive never seen it anywhere else and I loved it. The terrain continued to change every day and I found this incredible. Youd think the outback is just the same but the colour, plants rock type differs all the time and every day was a new beautiful world. Honestly Im glad for this as the same long strait road needs something to break it up. The red road was a super distraction to my fatigued mind. 

Heading to Coober Peedy South Australia was certainly something Id been really excited about. I knew I couldn’t expect to see everything in daylight but id been very excited to see the opal mines outside of town and maybe the underground homes. Its so deliriously hot here that homes are built underground. With the temperatures still in the 40 degrees centigrade during the day and almost 0 at night I can well understand why, summer must be excruciating. It really blew my mind how these mines are literally right next to the road, no precautions here. Like the rest of the outback we had been discovering the landscape is dangerous if you don’t take personal care and you are often the only person for hours around. Personal responsibility is paramount. It was a little sad to see no remediation of the mines when closed. I expect that as with the wild fires its just not possible to manage in such remote country.

The mental strain, the injury on my groin and now soft tissue which isn’t healing is hard. I share with Jude but try not to do that with the remaining crew. I know it would cause huge concern and achieve little. It does mean however they don’t understand how long a kit change, toilet stop takes however and how much I long for a little extra time out of kit so with hindsight I should have been more adamant about the situation although of course it would change nothing, I wasn’t about to stop. Im experiencing extreme pain whenever I remove my kit. Its like my nerves are on fire. Pain wise a solid 9 out of 10. I think its due to the oedema and kit being tight. This turns out not to be the case but as a result of my soft tissue dying due to the constant same position on the bike with the strait flat road. It makes time at changeover longer and at this time I did feel the stop in Curtain Springs hadn’t done me any favours. Physically I would have benefitted from a break with time out of kit and the saddle to allow blood flow to return to my soft tissue now not then. Whether this would have resolved the situation I don’t know but crew dynamics would not allow this now and without a crew I couldn’t make it so I did my best to be as swift as possible and thankfully didn’t know the enormity of the  injuries so worried far less than I probably should have. My crew were fabulous but not professionals and 2 had not crewed before. 1 in particular being very inexperienced and with hindsight possibly overwhelmed to the situation and role. Whilst I spent 12 months looking for crew I appreciate its not for everyone and the lack of a medical person was certainly lacking in crew dynamics. However, even if I had had a Dr what to do? I would not have stopped and with the huge medical kit we had in the environment we were in I feel Jude and I did the best we could in order to keep me moving through that environment. There were no Drs other than an SOS call bringing in the Flying Doctors and no hospital to go to. It is not to be underestimated however how very challenging this remote and extreme environment is and having followed Rupert Guinnis step by step in 2021 I understand that even he with his much larger professional crew had huge challenges which resulted in even with his experience and more than determined nature finding that medical issues scuppered his ride many times with a crew car needed to assist his travel. He is my hero and I have such respect for him and his beautiful soul. Without him I wouldn’t have even taken this on. This tells me that I’m not sure there is a right way to approach something of this nature but mine was to keep peddling as every meter was a meter nearer to success.

We play a few games on the ride Dingo Bingo being one and I feel pretty stoked to say I saw a heap however, not one camel. In a continent with over 13,500,000 how do I see not 1?? We saw prints but even the drone failed to find me any. My one regret on this trip Id say. I feel I won animal bingo though when I saw an eagle fly away with a snake in its talons, Jude thinks she won seeing a camel pooing. Hummmm both pretty cool. By South Australia Emu bingo was as redundant as Roo bingo, they were everywhere and I loved seeing them chase me along the road, far less adrenaline spiking than the roos and hysterically funny animals!

Heading towards Pimba riding past Lake Hart which is not too far from Port Augusta I had what was my only negative encounter with road trains. Two traveling together so over 40m long decided to come close and honk hornes. For a fatigued and mentally fragile cyclist this was a lot to handle. That and what seemed to be a night rave set up by the local kangeroos about tipped me over the edge, another short ride night. Even the still almost full moon wasn’t enough to bring me back to calm. My cortisol and adrenaline must have been off the charts. Roo watch is exhausting enough but those road trains were the final straw. I must say a huge thanks though to all those road train drivers which were with this small exception so professional, kind and welcoming. This is their office, we were a most unusual feature and they treated us brilliantly. We all knew and expected that the nearer we get to Port Augusta the more road trains heading for port we would encounter. We had to plan our ride of this section accordingly as nothing is stopping those road trains meeting their port timeframes. The traffic would be heavy and unforgiving so our timings were planned and had to be adhered to to be safe.

Pimba is located in the Woomera Military ground. It is a training and missile test area. The geology and flora remind us all of the desert road in New Zealand around Waiuru. There are military museums, opal mine tours, there are salt flats int eh lakes, lots of interesting stuff.

Heading to the Ranges View rest area, it is the first hills we’ve seen in days. It feels normal. We saw some of the prolific gourds that we’ve seen growing alongside the road. Not sure they’d taste good but probably edible. Clear blue sky, expansive view, it was a great day and a fine place to hurry up to port.  I had been having lots of hallucinations of course. One lot was a flock of birds that came and flew with her, I actually still think that was real btw. Most continued to be delightful and benign but of all days todays were more sinister. “Baddies” following me and talking and saying nasty things. Mathew was super at stopping this derail me, so supportive and today is a day to celebrate as get into Port Augusta and complete 3 records. When we arrive into this bustling dry hot town we are over the moon. A celebration ensues, complete with photos and fast food! Darwin to Uluru, Darwin to Port Augusta and Uluru to Port Augusta done and dusted. No time to waste though and with the most glorious sunset we head off into the hills  headed towards Adalaide.

I was actually wondering if I or my bike Cilla (now Queen of the Desert!) would remember how to climb but with the sore on my groin getting steadily worse and the pain removing kit now extreme (together with a solid 10/10 pain whenever I need to pee) I was sure welcoming a new terrain. I hoped this would help by being able to change position. The extra fatigue of the pain was draining and I longed for time out of my kit to give some relief for a few hours however we had used our rest time and I needed to keep moving. The sunset helped enormously and I was a bit saddened that this would be my last dessert sunset.

We had to follow the highway for longer than expected due to weather having damaged the back road we had intended ton take. Less scenic but with the road impassable even for our follow car there was no chance for me. Still, once off that and into the 1st hill it was spectacular. The first hill was  long and gentle and I loved it…..until randomly about 15km up I didn’t. I cant explain it other than maybe a need for fuel but I just had nothing left. I took a 15min nap and ate and realising it was ridiculous as I was so near the top I carried on, frustrating for the crew but this isn’t unusual after 10 days on the road I am sure. Short times of mental incapability may increase so I feel those who have crewed before understand this. We are now into South Australia for real and cant just pull in anywhere we must get to official locations. Bizarrely I actually feel fine now and ride well to Murray Town for my nap. It has become very cold for longer now as expected as we are south and actually nearer Antarctica than we are Darwin our starting point. 

This next morning I’m excited as we are now out of the outback and things look different. Its more like home, farming country and small settlements along the road. This gives me a real lift. Our plan to complete the world records in Adalaide then ride onto Melbourne is based on having fun with coffees, people and new interesting spots to see. I feel we are starting to see that next part of the adventure already. The downside of this new weather and environment however is there are multiple pee stops. This is good and bad, it means my is inflammation reducing, however an ulcer has developed in a location that makes peeing more than excruciating and the constant need is making the ulcer worse. There is additional treatment needed before during and after peeing. Ultra is not a glamourous sport and not a place for anyone who has issues dealing with naked people!. I guess it’s not much different from a hospital. I think about returning to “polite” society and that we can’t just stop and pee wherever we choose.. damn societal norms. The ulceration is a concern though. I  have had issues with sepsis 3 times previously so I have to be mindful. The medical kit gets a work out. 

Excited to stop at my first café for a DF hot chocolate I find we aren’t in Melbourne society yet! The beautiful settlement of Georgetown advertises a café which is actually a hardware, grocery, farm, animal feed store with a coffee machine. Still, two family sized bags of snacks I was pretty stoked! The crews coffee expectations will have to wait. We headed to Clare and pass wind farms and crops. Hearing on the radio from others on the same channel that they have had to turn off the wind turbines as the wind is so strong reminds me that we are still at the mercy of the trade winds but its fun listening into the locals talking about this odd cyclist they are seeing on the road. Once we arrive in Clare I have to confide in Jude that I can no longer pee. I wont make it to Adalaide if I do its too excruciating. The ulcer too large and we make a call that once I get there we will go to a medical centre for something to manage the situation. The wound on my groin is looking ok but the pain seems to be exponentially greater than the wound appears. We dress it and I hope I don’t need to stop often to prevent the pain. We are so near to the world record becoming reality though that the excitement for me is huge. I feel my legs are free now the swelling has gone and I feel fabulous both fitnesswise and mentally. It the best days cycling Ive had, my body responds so much better to the temperatures Im used to from home and I feel Im flying. Im cheerful and excited and proud of us all. It’s a great day and as we stop on the outskirts of Adalaide to plan the busy trip into the city centre locals chat to us and cheer us on.

The trip into the city is madness. Its to be expected and I had talked to the crew about how I knew I for one would find sensory overload after being so remote for so long. 11 days in the outback had made me isolated and insular the new noises and smells were so different it was exciting but also sensory wise a lot to take in. The crew are in a van, I am on the road on my own and everything is much more heightened for me than them. It was possibly the most stressful part for the crew too getting through the city. I knew they were worried for me and couldn’t follow me but did a super job. The endless traffic lights however did nothing for my wounds and I found myself hoping I wouldn’t get red lights as the pain was so intense getting back on the bike. It took a lot longer than we anticipated but at 6.35pm we made it to our finish spot for the world record. 11days 11hrs and 50mins to cover the 3700km distance. We were so over the moon and proud of each other. It was almost dark but the feeling was beyond excitement. I don’t know I can put into words the feeling of pride in us all that I felt but I know it will last with me for the rest of my life.

To cut a long story short here, a trip to a medical centre led to a trip to Queen Elizabeth Hospital which led to me being admitted by Gynaecology and Plastics. The injuries were in fact a bone depth pressure wound that had become life threatening. The ulcer and soft tissue pain was actually a result of necrotic soft tissue. The tissue was dead and dying in my girl parts. This was due to constant pressure being in the same position on the bike for 11 ½ days. The pain when taking off kit was blood trying to return to the dead and dying tissue and the inability to urinate without extreme pain due to ulcers caused by dead tissue. There was simply no way I could continue with the part to Melbourne. The hospital were super treating me and creating a plan to allow me to be released as long as I was taken immediately to Melbourne to be near the main hospital before flying back to New Zealand for admittance to Auckland hospital. All the injuries would heal with proper treatment and medication however the risk to my life was very real now as  was the risk of sepsis again. Medical intervention to allow my injuries to heal were also such that I would be unable to put on shorts due to a catheter so at that point there was no doubt.

Id be lying if I said it wasn’t deeply saddening. I had been so excited to have a fun joyful ride along the Great Ocean road to Melbourne and enjoy the café culture, ocean views as well as many stunning townships and people we would see. It is hard to accept a mission has not been competed as planned but I did take solace in the fact that the Guinness world record for the length of Australia had been set together with 4 other WUCA records and was really pleased I didn’t know the extent of the injuries before we set those. The crew I’m sure felt the same but  know are so proud we set those records. I satisfy myself that I can in the future return to Adalaide and ride the Great Ocean road to Melbourne and experience that stretch again maybe bikepacking and that we raised over $5,000 for Bowel Cancer New Zealand. I can’t say enough how grateful I am to all those crew members and to the amazing companies that supported us:

Bennys Bike Shop

Chapter 2 Bikes


Everest Infrastructre

Retail Solutions

Lets Go Motorhomes

Motorhome Republic


DuzzAll Beeswax

TrackMe NZ

Infinity Bike Seats

NZ Steel


Club Tropical Resort Darwin

Big4 Melbourne

BFA Accounting

BSA Accounting

Without them we could never have taken on this great journey let alone finish it.