Notes: Day 17 - Aileron

Day 17: Wednesday July 27
Today was simply amazing. It did not begin well:
I couldn't sleep so I set the alarm an hour later.
Then went to visit my cousin Gary, and Va,l but no-one was home.
Then in Todd Mall, the rear wheel seized up in the middle of the street, as the skewer began to snap. With a trailer on, and panniers, this is a kind of “cut the harness and hope the horses make it to the bank" situation. A very kind young Polish woman named Johanna helped me to untangle the mess and, finally, hook it all up again, after I dug out my spare. Since I was covered in more dry lube by the minute,  I can only assume it was her inherent  kindness that lead her to give me this half hour,  and not my suave charm. She is working teaching botanical drawing to aboriginal women, and since I have a background in  rangeland ecology, we had a good natter about common interests as I put things back together!
I was then invited for coffee by a couple of local cyclists, which was great, but another half hour gone.
After this I took a photo of the bike at the Flynn Church where Wendy and I eloped to be married,  and rang AvantiPlus in Salisbury, and had them post a couple more skewers on ahead.

I seem to remember that straight after the wedding, I headed down to the pub to check on the reception for the few folk who had been able to come up to Alice. I left my new bride to walk in her wedding dress to the end of Todd Mall with her new in-laws; she took a short cut through the old Woolies store! She's put up with a lot since the very beginning!

I stopped at a couple of bike shops on the way out of town, and now have some spare skewers that come from old bikes and might fit in a pinch.

It was now well after 11. However, there is a very good bike lane out to the end of the hills north of Alice Springs, so I made it a comfortable, if slow start. Once on on the Burt Plain, the wind decided, at last, that it was a southerly, and I cruised at 25 to 35 kilometres per hour for the rest of the day! So I am in Aileron after doing 141 kilometres with a late start!

I would be further north again, if it were not for the enjoyable conversations. Riding a bike out here is like walking a dog in the suburbs; you are everybody's friend. So at the afternoon tea stop 40 kilometres south of Aileron I talked to the bush nurse from Ti Tree, and her partner. I told her the infamous Pitjantjatjara  hot chili story and she told me how the local children had given her “bush sultanas” which are “good for weight loss.” She found this to be true: they give you rampant diarrhoea. Then I talked a while with two Belgian girls who are driving to Darwin and then back to Melbourne via Mt Isa.

Aileron itself-- I arrived just on six-- was hilarious. A couple from a local outstation were having a domestic. This consists of the protagonists standing 100 yards apart and airing  grievances loudly and publicly. It's very safe method of dispute, unlike the nasty close quarter violence we whites too often do in the privacy of our houses. Think of it as a kind of public, community moderated, marriage counselling cum dispute resolution system. Everything gets vented safely. Other members of the community weigh in with wisecracks, or  even  applause, or call bullshit on what is obviously too far from the truth.

So it was on for the entertainment of one and all as I rode in, with him up the north end of the petrol bowsers, and her down past the shop. A bevvy of little kids were hurtling around playing a game of their own, and it was all good… and then, in drove Dave and Mabel from nice polite Belair, with their Commodore and Viscount van! Their consternation was the funniest thing of all!

I have no language for this area at all, but the bloke was clearly losing the argument, and eventually several women joined in to howl him down, so he maintained face by striding off towards Tennant Creek still shouting!

The engineering is impressive; I'm just not sure about the cultural messages!

I was a bit sad to ride past the Plenty Highway turn off, but with no spare skewer, and narrow tyres it would be just too long and slow. With today's progress, I'm only 26 kilometres below my required 100 kilometres a day, even after the day off in Alice Springs.

Next morning, July 28: It's a cold, not quite frost, wet tent kind of morning.  I noticed last night that although the highway has no speed limit, they get you to slow down to 130 kilometres per hour as you pass by the Aileron entry and exit. It's that kind of Territory!

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