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Retreat to Perth: the occasional breakdown can bring a surprising day

19 July 2011

At 7 30am Southern Cross was foggy and, well, desolate. Any vehicular activity had been a couple of hours earlier when the miners headed off to work pre-dawn.

I buy a polystyrene cup of the worst coffee in memory and wait by the side of the road for a ride with my small bag and matching 16” wheel.

I’m hitching.

After 10 minutes, coffee gone, a concrete mixer truck rumbles by and then mysteriously stops 100 yards down the road. I run on down. It’s about to take off again but the driver winds down the window, we have a chat and they can take me to the next town, an hour down the road.

I’m catching a ride with a 4.5 cubic metre concrete mixer.

Peter, cheery and talkative, and Richard, glum and less than perky, make room and we trundle off. Actually it’s got some real grunt.

In the next hour I find out a few things. Seems they’ve sussed me out, discussing something in some foreign language and decided they can take me through to Perth, the truck is brand new, it’s a delivery from Sydney, they’ve been on the road 81 hours, although they have stopped for a few sleeps, Southern Cross being last on the list.

They’d actually stopped to take a few photos of mining equipment, not essentially for my benefit, still it worked out well, Richard had that early morning problem, we discover his alarm was set, still on Sydney time, for 12 40pm. Peter registers astonishment at that.

We talked on about the merits of long distance bike riding but the boys didn’t see too many, they remained unconvinced.

We stopped for breakfast at a small town park with the ubiquitous amenity, the free outdoor barbeque, it’s not a town if it doesn’t have at least one of those, Peter grabbing a few groceries, to add to what was in the eski: 2 dozen eggs, same number of sausages, a kilo of backstraps etc.

A second mixer turns up and helped us devour a tasty, if slightly too large, feast, then Peter drags in a stray wandering by, “Any mustard?”

So, singing along to “Ballarina Girl” by Lionel Ritchie, in fact the whole greatest hits, then, to balance it, Dolly Parton, “Who?”, says Richard, that allowed a vivid explanation by Peter, that’s how I spent my time with two Lebanese concrete mixer drivers as we bounced our way to Perth.

Then there was time to make my way to, in my opinion, the only decent bike shop in Perth for tourers with bike problems, (I’ve heard the old one over in South Street, Freo ain’t too bad either), Guildford Cycles, a bit out of the way, some leg work of a different style to which I’m accustomed recently required, but at least Destry knows bikes, has a huge supply of spares, he had equipped my bike with a Philipines style reflector setup on my exit from Perth 6 weeks ago, and while he didn’t have my particular, unique, sealed bearings in his box of spares, he rang the bearing shop and arranged a decent deal from a place that did. I just have to get over to the obscurely positioned warehouse tomorrow. And he cleaned up the hub and axle.

And, for the second time I dropped by, refused to accept any recompense, rather, offered me a cup of coffee.

It’s about karma, to paraphrase the bloke.

See, there are, occasionally, decent people left in the world.

I’ve had a day of them. Thanks again everyone.