Unfortunately, we woke to discover that the winds of the day before hadn't changed their trajectory. This meant that instead of cruising along at 30+ km/hr, we would be working hard to manage 18, if that. I was happy to let the other two disappear up the road in aero format, and for the first and only time on the Tour popped in my ear buds and listened to tunes for half the day, if only to distract the mind from everything that hurt From a physical perspective i was holding up OK, although managed to strain the groin a few more times, simply during the process of getting on and off the bike. At this stage even on bitumen, all the contact points were painful, so the whole day would be spent restlessly shifting from one position to another, holding out for as long as possible before standing for a stretch or adjusting to a hopefully less painful poise, and the whole process would repeat....for hour upon hour.
A large shaded tunnel mid way provided the perfect opportunity to escape the heat, have a feed and a bit of a lie down, and ponder the amazing reverberating echoes courtesy of the corrugated tunnel lining, before getting moving again. I couldn't imagine doing day after day of pavement in similar fashion, as is presumably required for road events such as the Indian Pacific back home.
We were hoping to make the deliciously named Pie Town, but this didn't seem likely given the heat and wind. It was hard enough just getting to the major resupply town of Grants in the late afternoon furnace. Craig had forged ahead of us and kindly had some cold cans of coke waiting for us when we rolled in. We indulged in pizza before hitting the gas station on the outskirts of town and pressing on in the late afternoon, when the road sidled around a series of spectacular sandstone cliffs adorned with natural arches. We finally hit dirt again as the sun dipped and we threw down camp in another paddock populated by the tell-tale signs of cows. It was a disappointing day with regards kilometres covered, but sometimes you've just got to take whatever the weather gods dish out.
(221 km and 1295 meters)