Tanami Track or Cairns-Cape York
I'm hoping to ask for some advice with my first post on this forum.
I've done a couple cycle tours so far. Around Australia in 2002 (all on-road) and Sydney-Melbourne + The Great Ocean Road in early '06, which included about 3-400k offroad in various stages.
I'm planning on doing either The Tanami Track or Cairns-Cape York later this year.
I'm a little nervous at the prospect of such a long offroad tour (which ever one I do), and would love to hear from anyone who has done either with whatever advice or information they have to offer.
A friend and I did both of these routes in 2004 - have a look at www.gracexpedition.org and www.red-line.moonfruit.com. Plenty of corrugations on both tracks. My friend had a fully rigid mountain bike and I used a USE seatpost and had rigid forks, and it feels like you're getting shaken to hell. Lots of good soft sandy bits as well to skid around in and walk through. The Bloomfield track at the southern end of the Cairns route is good. Further up, the old telegraph road on the Cape York route is the one to go for, rather than the bypasses. It's a busy road in school hols, with tourist 4x4's zooming along and not really knowing how they should be driving. Food and water is key on both - we were drinking (on the bikes and in cooking) about 8 litres a day each. The Tanami is very different terrain - flatter, more road trains and dust, but not as humid. The gold mines were helpful to us.
My browser wouldn't give me access to the first link you provided, but the second was very helpful.
You obviously did the Tanami from NW to SE, so I'm tipping you did a tough section even tougher than most into some pretty strong headwinds?
You mentioned going through 8 litres a day. How much were you carrying with you? I've got info about all the roadhouses and Aboriginal communities en route. Did you phone ahead to the mines or just turn up?
Wasn't aware of too much of a headwind. The bumps, heat, dust etc add up to a fairly tough set of conditions, so the wind is just another factor to add in - could be head, could be tail...who knows? The trip I was doing was a major event sponsored by UNESCO, which helped us get into places like the mines. I don't know if they just take people in any old way. We did phone ahead, but we had plenty of contacts because of the nature of the tour. Worth a try, though. No bits of gold hanging around on the floor, unfortunately.
I was using a Monoporter trailer for this section of the trip, so could carry more water. With bags, bottles etc we could each carry 17 litres max at a time. Drivers will usually stop and top you up, but it's a fairly busy route rather than an out of the way 4x4 track (despite how it looks on the map) so not everyone moving along it will be exploring (and so won't necessarily have the same frame of mind as you). The trailer worked very well - max load on rough roads is 15kg (I think), so not huge but it handled great.