Unicycling for afghani kids- ride blog

Hey everyone,
Have to make this quick because the internet at this servo is really overpriced. So i started riding on Friday morning after a really welcoming morning tea at the Afghani embassy in Canberra. I headed through the suburbs until i hit the monaro highway and started to head towards Cooma. The weather was pretty dismal, compounded by long hills and a bit of a headwind the riding was tiring and at times frustrating. After battling through it all, the riding got a little better and i made good time in the afternoon. By nightfall i made it to Breadbo (76km) and we stopped in at the pub for a beer.
Luckily for us the owners of the pub were very kind and put us up for the night, and gave us a free counter meal. The next morning we left at 9ish and headed to Cooma- i had a newspaper interview organised for lunch time, so i hauled ass and made it in time- but left myself pretty wrecked for it. After a kip in the front seat of the the titanic (Alex’s volvo- and my support car for the first 6 days) we continued the climbing into Australia’s Highlands and made plans for Nimitabel.

The trees dissapeared from the landscape, as we forged our way over the Great Dividing Range. We gained 300m in height and lost a few too many degrees for my liking, but it was satisfying riding into the little town, having crossed Australia’s best excuse for a mountain range relatively intact (70km). We stayed the night in the Federal Hotel, and again managed to score a good deal on accomodation.

The next mornings weather had Alex and I not wanting to emerge from the cosy setting of our room, all night the wind and rain had me wondering if anything would be salvaged of the next day for riding. Luckily it calmed down a little bit and we departed in the grey sleet and icy wind. We dropped down into a number of little valleys that gave some shelter from the headwind, but provided a lot of hillwork. We were content with making it to Bombala and camped by the river there (60km).

The volvo didn’t provide much insulation from the morning cold so we got up early and hit the road. We planned a long ride to Cann River. This day would see us cross the state border into Victoria as well as lose a good 600m in elevation. The riding was hard in the morning with the flat terrain made incredibly difficuly by a fierce cross wind, Logging trucks, and the extra 4 or so kgs i added to my pack. Soon enough the riding got easier as i dropped down into the valleys which were now heavily shrouded in eucalypt and acted as a decent wind break. Soon the road started to trace the path of the Cann river and managed to avoid all the steep hills i was dreading, the lie of the land made the riding really fun and relatively fast. The land here is so green, and dairy farming meets the forest in most of the areas that i passed through. The weather deteriorated towards the end of the day with a light drizzle giving me a bit of a wet tail but the beer tasted even better at the end of the day (90km).

Alex is only with me for another 2 days so i will continue to add weight to my pack in preperation for a completely solo ride. Tomorrow we head to Orbost. I would really like to add photos, but the computer here does not allow any USB connections- so untill i get on the internet next that will have to do.

If you would like to donate to the cause i am raising money for please go to www.afghanmmcc.org and follow the links to the doantion page.

Cheers everyone, happy riding

Quietly and (almost) on your own you seem to be doing an awesome ride for an awesome cause.

Good job.

Keep going, Mark…
If you need any help (as I mentioned earlier), give me a shout (PM me or mail me at dennelli84(at)yahoo.com.
Good luck.

So i’m in a backpackers hostel in Lakes enterance. We arrived here last night and camped in the back of the volvo beside the waterway. During the night the cold front that was supposed to come through that afternoon hit like an absolute freight train. The car nearly got on two wheels in my opinion- and to outsiders it must have looked like something a little intimate was going on in the back of the car. This morning the rain had cleared but the wind persisted. I got my stuff together and hit the road but only lasted 1km before realising how dangerous it was to be on the road in these conditions. Alex had to start his way back home so i got my gear in order and he dropped me off at the hostel where i am writing this.

The last few days riding has been really good. From Cann river the road cut across a few valley and creeks which provided lots of climbing and lots of nice descents. The road cut through rainforrest with huge towering eucalypt trees, lots of ferns on the ground and the sound of bell birds was a constant soundtrack for the ride. The road varied between really well formed large verges to sketchy passes where even the white line was not always fully formed due to soil erosion under the road. We emerged from the valleys onto the lush green plains near orbost. Dairy farming is huge here, but it the cows wern’t there you could easily turn any of the green pastures into a decent enough golf course if you wanted. I rode into orbost against a beautiful sunset, had a relaxing beer with the locals and was put up in the pub for free.

The next day saw much of the same type of terrain, with the exception that on the crest of one of the hill climbs a whiff of salty air and the deep blue of the ocean greeted me as i fought the sea breeze. Hopefully the gale force winds pass by tomorrow morning and i will be able to make my way along the princes highway to Sale. The trip is now completely self supported and i think i have done a pretty good job getting my bag right- it doesn’t seem that much heavier than the last couple of days. A huge thanks to Alex Jorgenson-Hull for being my support crew till now. He saved my ass from a few logging trucks and has been great company and always good humored on the sometimes tedious 15km/ph trip.

Again, this computer does not allow me to post photos- there are some really good ones- but i will post them when i get the chance.

keep on riding,

Keep at it Mark!

I thought of your ride yesterday when I was out on the uni as it blowing a gale here in western Victoria, was quite difficult in the unsheltered open areas to stay up and riding.

It’d be great to ride along with you for a day or two along the ocean road - not sure if that will be possible, but maybe it will fit in great with the mid year school holidays - so my wife and kids can come along. We’re a couple of hours north of the coast. Hope you can post an update before you reach there.

All the best for going solo!

Ok. Some pics from the ride so far. Starting with the leaving morning tea at the afghani embassy, some pics from the Monaro Highway, Climbing into the Australian highlands, descending onto the coastal plains. More to come when i get them! At Taralgon at the moment. Cheers guys and girls,

Oh, and for those of you that have facebook there are more here

Love the pics, especially the one with the sun thru the clouds.

Please keep the updates coming.

OK- i have made it to Torquay on the Coast and the very beginning of the Great Ocean Road. I am staying in a backpackers with a leaky roof but compared to bunking down in the scrub in my tent, this place is a palace. The last few days riding has been really hard, with cold fronts coming up from the South West and bringing strong head and cross winds, rain and even a bit of hail. Thankfully this has not been compunded by hilly terrain- the riding all the way from Sale has been pretty flat compared to my initial week of climbing. My daily averages have suffered with the challenging conditions- down to about 65km a day, but the forecast for the weekend is clear so i should get some nice riding on some of the best coastline in Australia.

Not many pics from the last few days- i think your kind of over the epic sky shots by now (and thats all that the weather and landscape has been able to supply!). Hopefully the weather is kind to me for the next few days and i will get some good ones of the Coast here.

keep on riding,

Hello everyone,
Just thought I would give you all an update of how I have been going. The weekend’s weather held out nicely so I managed to set out on the Great Ocean Road with fine weather. The road winds its way around headlands, across cliff tops, traverses valleys and creeks and often heads inland into dense rainforest to avoid the rugged coast line. Despite the School holidays starting on the Friday, the traffic was light and the road always had a well formed (if rather small) verge to ride on. I made it to Wye River that night and spent the night in the pub, managed to watch the Sydney swans get spanked by the magpies, have a lovely counter meal courtesy of some very kind travelers who passed me on the road earlier in the day.

The next morning I was excited to get back on the road and see more of what I had gone through the day before. I was not disappointed. Somehow I managed to get a puncture about 3km out of Apollo bay and to my dismay both my tire levers snapped when trying to get the TA off the airfoil rim. I had to walk it into the town only to find that not only were there no bike shops in Apollo bay, but that it was a Sunday afternoon and most of the shops were closed. I didn’t want to waste the rest of the days good weather just hanging around so I got my mcgiver thinking cap on and rummaged through my pack too see what I could come up with. Using a flat steel multi tool that came with the unicycle and my bog trowel (and a whole lot of rage) I managed to get at the inner tube, patch the puncture and get back on the road.

This distraction had taken up a few of my good riding hours so I had to change plans for where I was going to stay for the night. I left Apollo bay and climbed inland, through steep green pastureland that was once ancient rain forest. The roads were littered with debris from the overarching eucalypts, which made for lovely scenery but forced me to ride in the tire marks of the passing cars to avoid difficult and dangerous obstacles. As the afternoon came and the light started to fade I started to think about possible opportunities for a camping site. Eventually I came across a service road used by rangers in the Cape Ottaway National Park. After walking 200m down it I found a nice grassy patch under a huge tree where the noise from the road was all but cancelled by the wildlife and the roaring sound of the wind through the trees.

It rained pretty heavily in the night so getting up in the morning and packing up a wet tent was not the most enticing of prospects. I managed to get it done though and hit the road. The weather was pretty miserable. It was spitting rain all the way up to Lavers Hill (which included some of the nastiest hill climbing I have had to do since crossing the great dividing range), and then poured down as I descended back to the coast at Princetown. Despite the weather I had made some pretty good progress and was now only 20km from the most scenic parts of the Great ocean road.

The next morning I enthusiastically prepared for the days ride- the ride was sure to be a highlight of the trip, and it was not going to be that long either as I had lots of lookouts and national parks to check out along the way. Just down the road was the loch ard gorge (a place famous for a shipwreck that got washed up there and only produced 2 survivors), the 12 Apostles ( a series of rock formations off the coast) and a number of spectacular bays, beaches and landscapes to explore. I rode into Peterborough on dusk after exploring the coast all day a very content man.

The road left the coast the next morning and I followed it across the plains until it hit the coastal township of Warrnambool, from there the road was set to Rosebrook where my Dad had managed to organise a place for me to stay with the brother of one of his good friends. It was a long, pretty uneventful day (had my photo taken for a local paper which was published today) 80km.

I woke up this morning to heavy rain, gale force winds and pretty bad prospects for the weather. I checked the Bureau of Meteorology who confirmed the bad weather for the next 24 hours. I think I am stuck indoors for the day but can at least get some washing done and update this ride blog.

Here are some pics from the recent few days riding



Thanx for keeping us updated with a very kewl write-up.
Sounds like an epic adventure, I am jealous.

Interesting about the 12 Apostles, I never knew there was ‘another’ one.
Here’s a pic of a series of formations on the side of Table Mountain in Cape Town, also known as the 12 Apostles.

also- just thought i would post some links to the other media stuff i have managed to accumulate on the ride.





Love the pics! Those beaches look incredible. Sounds like you are having a great adventure.

quick update- In Mt Barker tonight, only 40km to Adelaide! YEEHAWWWW!
Will be having a small BBQ at Rymill park from around 12:00. Any and all are welcome. Will write up about the last week when i have more time.

Congratulations! Good job…Bloody legend :slight_smile:


love your work:)

made it to adelaide safe and sound- despite some heated words with a fat guy in a Chrysler 300c who told me to get off the road… douchbag. Spending a few nights with a friend from uni, but will post my last photos and do a more comprehensive writeup when i get the time. In the meantime i think i might have a few beers, sleep in and watch the big footy game tomorrow (Adelaide vs Port Power). A huge thanks to everyone that donated and helped me along the way. If it were not for the kindness of strangers this trip would not have been nearly as pleasurable and rewarding as it has been.
Hope you have enjoyed this stilted and piecemeal recording of my adventure.

Keep you eye out on the forums for a thread i’m going to write on self supported touring as well as a more comprehensive writeup to fill in the blanks in this thread.

Cheers guys- keep on riding (as for me i might take a break for a few days)


I tip my hat to you sir.

Rest well.