From Antarctica to Australia

From Antarctica to Australia

Finding the connection between two places so different from each other requires a lot of imagination. But it's difficult. After all, no place in the world is comparable to Antarctica: as confirmed by astronaut Luca Parmitano, the only possible comparison is with the International Space Station.


However, after more than 48 days spent solo in Antarctica, the most remote and extreme place on the planet, it was from Australia that I set off to reconnect with the civilised world. My time in Australia would be spent taking part in the Indian Pacific Wheel Ride, a 5,500km unsupported ultra-cycling competition. I got back into cycling events just a few weeks after returning from Antarctica, but I was about to experience isolation again, but this time on a smaller scale.

A few hundred kilometres after the start of the race, the course leaves the city of Perth in Western Australia and sees the competitors enter the Nullarbor desert: a section of more than 1,000km, characterised by very strong winds and suffocating heat. The opportunities to refuel and rest in small and isolated gas stations alternate every 100-150km. This makes the race all about adventure and discovery of the surrounding environment and one's own inner limits. Not that I was looking to go into too much depth on the latter subject, but, as they say, you always have to keep your body (and in this case mind) well trained!


The great heat and the far from boring landscapes of the desert made the first part of the journey a pleasant discovery. Perhaps because, a few weeks earlier, I had crossed another, much whiter and monochrome desert. This discovery was made even richer after reaching the central part of the race: the Great Ocean Road and its breathtaking scenery, complete with some incredible Australian wildlife. Kangaroos and wallabies, wombats and the friendly koalas made the kilometres less heavy and the feeling of fatigue caused by the wind a little less harsh. 

It is the last section, however, that literally leaves me speechless. Given my familiarity with the European Alps, I didn't have too many expectations of the Australian region bearing the same title. But the passes that followed one after the other, in complete solitude and almost total absence of traffic, and that also took me over 1,500 metres above sea level, added immense value to the beauty that I had taken in so far.


A small note must be reserved for the weather: accustomed to riding in the most difficult and extreme conditions, by a strange twist of fate, the first real downpour only came as I reached the finishing line. As soon as I unclipped from my pedals, a storm broke out in the shadow of the iconic Sydney Opera House.


For this adventure race, I used my tried and tested setup that I use on my long, ultra cycling rides. I've been using this setup since the Trans America and the mild Australian climate allowed me to lighten my load a bit also. I have the right balance of minimalism and efficiency without ever forgetting comfort, thanks also to the choice of the appropriate saddle. My favourite again: Aspide Short Supercomfort.