Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Racing The Munga 2016 - Taking a Trip to Mars
The 30 minute nap I had just had stood me in good stead. I had also downloaded an audiobook and it was about to step up and do duty. My book of choice was The Martian. It ticked 3 important boxes. Firstly, the story line was technically interesting and peppered with enough humour to keep me engaged and hopefully awake. Secondly, the narrators voice was lively - dull and boring is tasty candy for eyelid tuggers. Lastly, it was over 10 hours long.
The Martian was an excellent choice of book. Particularly in terms of solitude and the landscape I was riding over. I felt like I was part of the story. Talking of solitude, apart from Erik Vermeulen in his Pajero the only other vehicle I saw in that entire stretch (apart from my fellow competitors) was the motorised bicycle of a guy who was on fence inspection duty.
In addition to the audiobook I also had many hours of music stored on my phone which would be called upon from time to time.
I rode out of Britstown on the tar for a few kilometres before the route had me riding up a sandy jeep track. It wasn't fun but I knew it wouldn't go on for more than a few kilometres. It was the perfect time to get into my audiobook.
Ahead lay the Smartt Syndicate Dam. Most people refer to the dam simply as the Syndicate Dam but I like the full description with the Smartt prefix. I simply enjoy the irony of the name. The original Dam was built over 100 years ago with grand plans for it to support 1800 hectares of irrigation. Their idea was to grow wheat and lucerne to support the establishment of a breeding centre for sheep, goats and horses. In practice it peaked at less than 300 hectares given the unreliability of the water flow of the Ongers river.
Today it's a red dust bowl - there isn't a single drop of water in the dam. The surrounding landscape is barren and drier than Bill Murray's humour. Even if you close your eyes into a narrow slit and turn your imagination on full-blast it's impossible to imagine green fields of lucerne and wheat swaying in the wind. It was much easier to imagine I was piloting a Mars rover over the surface of a dusty rocky strewn planet.