Cycling the Nullabor

Ben le Mesurier was freshly off the Nullabor when I spoke to him in Adelaide. I asked him about his experience crossing one of Australia’s most ferocious and intimidating stretches of road. These are his training and riding tips to get across safely.

Words - James Raison     Images -  Ben le Mesurier

Focus on training the mental side.

The physical only lasts so long but the mental lasts a whole lifetime. Knowing it’s going to be really hard mentally was something I got told a little bit, but I wasn’t fully prepared.

Learn how to pack your bags constantly the same every time.

That allows the balance to be similar all the time. Make sure you organise your packs so you know where everything is all the time. Do lots of training fully laden with stuff. Over-pack so you can judge how fast and how far you can go with that gear.

Train on the terrain.

Going and riding on constant straight roads would be a great training exercise for your mental strength. Make your training rides as diverse as possible, not just sticking to your regular. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions. Try under-packing and emergency riding.

Be mindful of the traffic

In general the road trains are really awesome. They don’t want to slow down or kill you. The B-Doubles are really good too, generally really friendly. I always waved at people and it’s really nice when people wave back. When you’re on the nullabor you’ll be fine with traffic as long as you’re courteous. I didn’t have one angry driver or close pass.

Don’t rely on signage.

It’s all well and good to trust the signs but these places are so rural that the signs don’t get updated. A sign could tell you something is closer or further away than it is.

Think about your… number 2s...

It’s something that affects your riding a lot because the next toilet could be 100 km away. It’s a weird concept but you have to think hard about digestion.

Listen to your body.

Sometimes you don’t listen to your body. I was riding at night and I was so exhausted. Before I left a roadhouse I didn’t feel right but I left anyway. I should have listened to my body. I slept out on the Nullabor next to a dead kangaroo with road trains 15 metres away.

Respect the heat.

The Nullabor is so variable. You can have really cold days of 25 or extremely hot days of 45. I waited in Esperence because I knew it would be super hot. Weather forecasts are something you really need to pay attention to. Wait out the heat. Another rider might go out in the heat and risk the whole race.