Red sandstorms in Australia – part of cycle trip’s ‘rich tapestry’ for Eric

September 24, 2009

They're holding a private disco in Aberdeen this weekend to help replenish the bank balance of Eric Smart, the 44-year-old cyclist who is riding from Aberdeen to Adelaide, Australia, in aid of The ME Association. At the moment, he's in Coober Pedy, the Australian outback town which mines the world's most valuable opals. The red sandstorms that have been reported in the British papers this week have been part of the cycle trip's ‘rich pageant' of events. They're mentioned in his PS.

Before you all get too inebriated on nips, pints and alcopops I wanted to thank everyone for parting with their hard earned pennies to help me and M.E. on my Aberdeen2Adelaide adventure.

However, thanks barely begins to repay the debt of gratitude that I owe to family, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers who have given so generously, in everyway, throughout the whole journey.


Even although I am on a solo cycle ride I have never felt alone, due to the magnitude of love and support which has continually flowed my way helping me through some of the more challenging aspects of the trip.


Seventeen months, sixteen countries and fourteen thousand miles pedalling have produced an amazing eclectic mix of experiences.  Tooth traumas, a broken bone, freezing in minus 38 degrees in Turkey to frying in plus 48 degrees in India.  Snowstorms and sandstorms, multiple bouts of Delhi Belly, countless crashes and being policed through Pakistan by six armed security guards have all added to the rich tapestry of the trip.


Nature has played its part too, as mangy aggressive mongrels snapped and growled at my heels as I headed through Greece, whilst wolves howled and harrassed me during my time in Turkey.  I am watched by curious wallabies during my nightime riding in Oz.  Stupid black boulder like cows and big red kicking kangaroos cluttern up the road as I ride past.  Whilst sleeping rough at rest areas I have been woken up by dingoes looking for some dinner by rummaging through the rubbish bins.  Then there has been the small matter of snakes, spiders and even emu's as they use the tarmac like a trampoline to bounce across the road with their poor wee chicks stumbling and stuttering behind them.


I believe many of these moments are classed as ‘Character Building' but how big does a character need to be?  I was reasonable happy with the size of mine before I left!  After all I am simply a tourist on a bike!


However I look at it, it has been a wonderful trip and I am now only a few days away from reaching my original destination of Adelaide. As I still having some months, muscle and money left I have decided to push on and pedal through New Zealand, across America and Ireland then cycle up from Stranraer back to Aiberdeen.  This will add some symmetry to the cycle ride.  So I guess I have covered two thirds of the kilometres, in two thirds of the time.  I have also burned two thirds of my budget and thanks to events like tonight the trip has raised two thirds of the 12000 pounds target.


I believe many people have donated raffle prizes for tonight. Equally, others, not able to attend have still payed for a ticket, so thanks again for your more than generous contributions. It is only fair that I should donate a prize too.  So one lucky winner will get a free massage, healing or yoga tuition upon my return – that gives them seven months to get suitable stressed.  If none of the above appeals to the winner then I can always bore them with a ninety minute monologue on moments from my trip.  Having said that, I do fear for my family and friends who undoubtedly will have to endure months of endless stories without even having to reach into their pockets to purchase a ticket – perhaps they should invest in a big box of cotton buds now!


As I write this I am literally holed up in an underground campsite in Coober Pedy, the opal mining capital of the world.  Nowadays it is very rare that I sleep inside, so this seems even more surreal than usual but the whole trip has been like a big dream – Thanks to everyones effort and support I have reset my alarm for another seven months time.

PS: I arrived in Coober Pedy last night and I am staying in an underground campsite about 5 kilometers out of the town. 


Yesterday there was a massive sandstorm so I only managed about 50 miles of being blown all over the place and was happy to get here.  As usual I slept outside the previous night but woke to the storm.  I could not get out of my sleeping bag as anytime I tried to move everything was blown away…it was incredible.  Eventually a campervan came into the rest area and parked right next to me to shield me a little so I could pack up my things to get on the road again…all good stuff.


Eric is raising money for The ME Association. He, his family and friends have so far raised £8,240.15 towards his target of £12,000. All the proceeds from the page go directly towards ME Association funds – not to family's efforts to help keep Eric on the road. If you can spare something, please click here to visit his online fundraising page.

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