We are now three weeks into training for our 27km leg of the ride from Ilfracombe to Longreach, and while it seems a short distance compared to the distance the main team will be cycling, for a 37 year old 170kg bloke who hasn’t been on a bike since high school it is very daunting.

Each morning Mandy and I meet at the first cattle grid on the Muttaburra Road at 5:30am to start our trek through the darkness and flies. We ride until the sun comes up and the bitumen turns to dirt – all in all it’s about a 22km round trip each morning.

Due to the drought and then recent rain, there is a plague of flies that really come alive at first light. There isn’t any need for gel packs or bananas as we ride – we get our recommended daily protein from the flies we each swallow in the morning like a couple of lost German backpackers.

The flies are so thick that our backs are black with a swarming mass of insects like some deleted scene from an Indiana Jones movie. We would shoo them away but it’s amazing the wind assistance you get from having a millions sets of tiny wings flapping away on your back! Apart from the flies, the mornings have been cool and the sunrises magnificent and every now and then we will mix it up and head out on the old river road and cross the mighty Thomson and enjoy some different tasting flies. Bicycling and eating flies…I feel like Kermit the Frog!

Written by Jacen Carpenter (training partner is Mandy Wright)

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