Congratulations to Alexandria Meixner for setting the woman’s 19-49- Australia Perth-to-Sydney mark on 2019-04-11. “Xandi” covered the 2,464.36 Miles in 9 days 12 hours and 33 minutes. She left Perth on 2019-04-02 at 11am and arrived at the Opera hall – in Sydney on 2019-04-11 at 11:33pm
Here is her personal account of this amazing feat followed by some pictures of the adventure
We are sitting currently in the plane to Munich and my attempt to sleep is foiled by the huge amount of snoring here in the plane. So what is closer than finally revueing our adventure and sharing it with you.
But I am doing exactly as I have thought in the last few days – I want to think, sort events, tell you facts. And all that comes is emotions. Not easy. As always. So I just write my report and you take out what’s interesting for you?
Perth, the city in the west of Australia – one of the many impressions during our last preparations, which will accompany us the next few days and which can only be described in one word: helpfulness. The crew grows closer even more in these days, than has happened at the team meetings before, even though we did not think that would be possible anymore. Many grins approach the 180° and can only be stopped by the ears.
Everything works perfectly. Until it’s time to reload the electronic circuit on Valentina my bike. Yes, where is the cable …? Putt putt putt … that these things always get legs …. and it seems, just flee home again. Walter panics a bit, after it could not be found in any of the many bike shops. “The Power of Facebook” strikes – the saving angel Caroline swaps cables against the expertise of Walter and Klaus. We are on the way to Sydney with the cable, while Caroline is happy that her Powermeter now works.
The start in Perth at the Indiana Teahouse is surprisingly sweetened by Austrian Australians. Was really funny, to hear so much nice Styrian dialect and to be sent off by cycling enthusiasts, whom also sent Straps (Christoph Strasser) 2 years ago on his journey. So we started on the 2nd of April at 11:00 a.m. Sydney Wintertime (9:00 a.m. local time). We decided to adjust the time at the beginning so thats easier to count in the end and everybody is talking about the same time.
And so the adventure begins: out of the city with much enthusiasm but after an hour the first flat tire. After my experiences in Borrego Springs at the World Cup (3 flats in the shortest time), I feared that we do not have as many spare tubes and coats as needed, if this continues. But luckily we only had two flats along the whole trip.
The first day is fine, but I’m already fighting with the headwind. The mileage is accordingly lower than hoped. A message from Caroline makes me hope it gets better “i told you, sometimes there is such a strong headwind, so i have to stand up to move forwards.
Hopefully its getting better the next days. Good luck!“ The news gave me hope that this is an exceptional day. But this day is followed by a second with an exceptional night: rain is joining the wind, it feels like the rain comes from Sydney and not from above. Pfft … Rain, what does that matter? The first powernap lasted 38 minutes, a bit of attrition creeps in on me, but my crew can break that up again and again, is able to cheer me up. Fascinating how well the team works together, to get me fit and back on the bike in the shortest amount of time. An originally unplanned ritual has now been established. The headwind dance. Even Valentina dances with pleasure. Once I would have liked to see the whole thing, certainly the perfect laugh number …. I will always remember the faces of passing vehicles. Slowly my memory begins to become incomplete. At Halfwaypoint I slowly loose hope that the wind will be lesser. I lose a lot of strength and time sitting upright, which I would like to have spent lying on the handlebars, but it is not possible due to the strong wind – mostly it comes from the right front – like the road trains. And whenever one of them drives by, I have the feeling that I´m suddenly slowed down so much that it feels like stopping. For me not possible to handle lying down. So it’s a constant up and down – guided by the navigators: “Attention Roadtrain from behind” – up, then down again, “Attention Roadtrain from the front” – up, then down again. Occasionally the wind turns and comes from the side. Jippiee – or not, because it is so gusty that I´m unwillingly nearly change the side of the street. So up again. I’m looking forward to the nights, because at some point after midnight there are hardly any roadtrains left. But instead the kangaroos come. Oh how great was the joy when we saw our first one. So cute. However, annoying with time, because in our opinion really stupid. Most of them turn around and jump away. But many take the illuminated street as an opportunity to cross it. I know you won´t believe me if I say I have never seen so many animals of one species at a time. But it´s true. A Roo
Hunter, who drove Walter to the next town after he had an accident with an kangaroo, told him that 4 times a year a truck is cleaning the road from all dead Roos in different states of decay. And they collect approximately 4000 animals in a distance of only 20 km (12,5 miles)! So you can imagine how many dead animals we saw and smelled on our way. Driving in the night was a real challenge and sadly Walter, as mentioned, hit a kangaroo with the RV. Both, the poor animal and the RV couldn´t be saved and died on the spot. This was the time that there was only one car for 29 hours. A challenge for all of us that included motels and taxis for the teams that I could ride without any unwanted stop. Somehow, in addition to my fatigue, the endless straights, the darkness of the nights, as I have never experienced before and the cold of 6°C were very challenging, which presented not only me but all of my crew with great challenges. But now to the endless straights. During the day they made me happy, frustrated, surprised. At night, I thought to myself, I’m in a nightmare: imagine the following situation – you know, it’s not far to the motorhome and to your sleeping break. Luckily you are not too tired, but you know that it is good to take a break during the team shift change. So get on with it – only up to the lights of the motorhome. There’s the longed-for, cold shower (the attribute cold is not longed for – but unfortunately the heating up of the watertank did not work), the treatment of the knee and laser treatment for the buttocks, which was affected for the first time. And you cycle, give everything before the break. But the lights are not coming closer. “Hey, guys – what’s going on? Am I turning crazy? Am I dreaming bad? I see the lights, but can not get any closer! How far is the motorhome away?“ Behind me, in the pacecar also no idea. But now
I look at the clock: am I really standing? One kilometer … and the lights are not closer …. the second kilometer … nothing happens …. altogether it was 17.5km from the moment I looked. But that seems normal. I think of Walter’s story that the Roo-Hunter saw the motorhomes hazard warning lights for 20 minutes before he arrived at scene. But on the other hand the sky was closer in the outback. The stars felt so close to touch – finally, I know what that phrase means. And sometimes I thought, the road merges right there directly into the Milky Way. She was not much further away than the taillights of the motorhome.
So there was one night where there are 2 variations to tell – one by me and one by my crew. Whats the same briefly described: we all really tired, the temperature 6° C, icy wind. I was dressed warmer than at home at 0°C and still I froze like hell and not only the cold but also the despair sat in my bones. The decision of my crew to load me into the car for a Powernap was the only correct consequence. So heres what I went through: I was lying in a car that was parked on the Czech border and heard that men were talking about having to erase an identity. There would be 4 names in 4 different envelopes and they would have to draw one. Then these men came to my car – what confused me: they looked like my good friends, but I was sure they were not. Why else would you want to delete an identity? And by now I was sure that they would want to delete MY identity. Because they told me all the time, I should go cycling – just through the night, through the darkness – to Sydney.
Ha … they should come up with something better! I’m standing on the Czech border and they want to persuade me that I have to cycle to Sydney? I’m not stupid, they’ll take away my passport as soon as I’m over the border and then I’ll never get home again … Why is not anyone I really know here? Why only these men who look like my friends? What did they do with my friends?
The story of my crew coincides only peripherally with my experience: they wanted to get me back on the bike after the Powernap, explain to me that we have a big goal: biking from Perth to Sydney. I did not believe them – why on a bike? And why in the middle of the night? I do not loose it – or do I? Maybe they should take me to the hospital? Maybe I’m crazy? But I’m sure of that, why in the middle of the night by bike, even if you can drive or fly by car? And besides, I only move on again, if there is someone I know. Fortunately, Walter and the rest of the crew were already on their way to us – although they have not been able to get a motorhome, but a minivan, with all the luggage form the motorhome squeezed in. For the time being I was put back in the car.
The power nap lasted for 5 hours and after I woke up, my perception was completely different: Damn – I have slept so much time, I have to ride so Sydney, now the world record is much harder to get. As I write these lines, I just have to smile in admiration. Admiration for my crew who had the right words in each of these situations, could motivate me and straightend out evertything for me.
I can not remember much else – the point where we started the last 600km I know. “Only” 600km, still a bloody long way – but somehow foreseeable. From now on we counted down in one hundred k steps. The 500 was specially celebrated with Nutella. From the last Timestation to finish again was a horror – 120km approximately. I just remember “there we go from 1000m high to 0” – I thought: well, thats easy rolling to the finish. Oops, the altitude in between, I did not ask. The first 60km with 1200meters and the last 60km with the city traffic of Sydney. In the middle of the night, tired, city highway, left and right cars with 80km/h. My pace car always behind me, the second car 60m in front of me. Step on it,
Xandi – the embassy and SBS radio stations are waiting for us in front of the Opera Hall. That gave me strength again. Just before the finish, I met cyclists at the traffic light who spoke to me and could not believe that I cycled from Perth to Sydney in less than 10 days. Am I really that, have I really done that? Everything so unreal. Far away. Right in front of
the Opera Hall as well a cyclist who greets us. Everything is as far away as in a dream.
The stars in the outback were closer than the Opera Hall, as I get off my bike in the roundabout and am greeted by Julia and Melanie from the embassy with a nice banner and a beautiful bouquet. As if in a dream, I staggered towards the stairs of the Opera Hall, while I waited for my crew, who parked the cars. Can not believe we made it. That we are on target after all these hardships – just as we wanted it to be: happy, healthy and an unspeakably ingenious team.
So we arrived at the Opera hall on 11th of April at 11:33 p.m. after 228 hours and 33 minutes. With a great sense of gratitude, that is so big that I can not express it in words, I would like to tell you that no one could have made this race such an unforgettable experience as Brigitte, Klaus, Z, Martin, Thomas, Chris, Franz – and of course Walter, the best crew ever!