1997 Robin Rishworth - Ride Report - Media Report - Sighting

Robin Rishworth cycling the Canning Stock Route

A telephone interview with Robin to be uploaded in time.

In 1996 an attempt was made by Robin Rishworth and Alan Davis to cycle the Canning Stock Route unsupported. Robin turned back at Well 51, Alan unknown. Although this attempt was unsuccessful, the knowledge gained meant that Robin now knew how to cycle the Canning Stock Route without a support vehicle.

Robin Rishworth was a supreme athlete with many outstanding achievements. He was also the cartographer responsible for the Rooftop Adventure Maps series.

In 1997, Robin's goal was to be the first person to cycle the Canning Stock Route, solo and without a support vehicle. With the help of friend (Peter Vernon) laying a supply line across the desert, Robin was able to achieve his goal. Reports of another rider on his tale spurred Robin on to push/ride through the night and start in the early hours of the morning. Earliest get up 1.50am. Latest finish 11.30pm. Robin did get to the finish line four days ahead of his supported rival, Bob Simpson, in 26 days, 23hrs, 15min. The route was Old Halls Creek to Wiluna, the distance recorded 1780km.

Robin Rishworth was the first cyclist to complete an unsupported cycle of the Canning Stock Route, utilising supply drops.

Robin's efforts as the first person to cycle the Canning Stock Route was brought to my attention through correspondence with Eric and Ronele Gard. The ride report and a copy of the newspaper article were supplied by Phil Bianchi, author of Work Completed, Canning.  Reading this report, I think it is safe to say that Robin is not your average man!

The first bike ride down the Canning Stock Route
 By Robin Rishworth

I cycled the Canning Stock Route one of the last remaining uncycled long distance tracks in Australia in July 1997. I chose to ride by myself and without a support vehicle carrying my own 60kg load. The Canning Stock Route (CSR) which for much of its 1800km, is little more than two tyre tracks. The historic stock route commences at the remains of Old Halls Creek Post Office in Northern Western Australia and finishes at Wiluna Post Office, in Central Western Australia. I started with 10 days food and I had to be totally self sufficient for the first 400km. The amount of water I carried varied between 5 & 15 litres.


Robin Rishworths CSR MapThe Stock Route was first surveyed by Alfred Canning in 1906 and the idea of the stock route was to transport cattle from the Kimberley to the Goldfields around Kalgoorlie. Alfred Canning constructed 51 watering points along the stock route which he called wells. Today only around 10 have reliable water, several have been completely rebuilt. The CSR is gradually becoming one of the nation's most popular long 4 Wheel Drive adventures; it is so long in fact that motorists require fuel to be transported 400km east from Newman for their vehicles. This year over one thousand 4 Wheel Drives are expected to drive the track. The track had never been completely cycled. Larry Nolan and Alan Davis are two people that had an attempt last year.

Some of the stumbling blocks for cyclists are the large number of sand dunes, the extremes in temperature (I had 35°C - -4°C), long sections of corrugations, the tracks remoteness and the lack of water available. I also had an attempt at the Canning last year; I cycled down as far as Well 51. From that experience, I spent a year planning how I could best approach a successful attempt down the Canning. I had to be fresh, no cycling through the Tanami desert beforehand like last year, my bike had to be strengthen to handle the corrugations, the chain and gearing had to be brand new to handle the sand and salt.

Last year I couldn't carry enough food and water. I arranged for a friend to bury five food drops at about five day intervals, 11 bottles of coke, lollies and water every 20 - 30km in old 2 litre coke bottles. Peter Holloway of Cycle Science in Mitcham virtually completely rebuilt the bike except the frame. I used "Jar bars" on the front to absorb the 900km of corrugations this allowed me keep weight on the front handlebars. I used wide 2.35' Tom Ritchie' tyres given to me by Ken Evens Imports to give me better grip in the sand, they looked like brand new at the finish of the track.

On June 16, I was cross country skiing, by the end of the next day I had flown from Melbourne to Kunnunurra and bused down to Halls Creek.

Halls Creek to Well 45

Robin Rishworth CSR cycle Old Halls Creek to Well45June 17, I cycled out to the remains of the Old Halls Creek Post Office, the official start of the Canning Stock Route, a 30km cycle on a good gravel road. I spent the night camped in the Halls Creek Caravan Park. My mother was also staying that night as she was on a bus trip that had just come up the Tanami Track. The following morning I cycled 16km west along the Great Northern Highway with a British cyclist and said goodbye to the bitumen for the next 26 days. I cycled a further 160km down the Tanami Track to Billiluna, a small aboriginal community which I arrived at ll pm. I had covered 176km for the day. Last year I spent four days at the unit.

The following day I had a late start at 12 noon as I waited for the store to open and to fix three punctures I had received the previous day. I cycled for the next 8 hours into the dark with a full moon and covered 70km. The next day the track became increasingly sandy as I passed Well 51 and pushed onto Well 49. Along the way I obtained a further 4 punctures. The thorns just kept piercing my tube. It was warm (33 C). I walked through to 11pm. I had covered 83km. There were 11 vehicles at the well but not one had a campfire to cook my meal on.

In the morning I found my rope wasn't long enough to retrieve any water from the Well. Luckily I was given some rope from one of the campers. I began with a usual photo and film session which just about every vehicle seemed to want to take of me. I usually charged them a few lollies or a can of soft drink. As I passed 5km south of Well 49 I passed the furthest point Larry Nolan had reached with his push bike last year.

I pushed on, pushing being the main activity, some long flat sections of sand that were totally unrideable. The branches of trees also encroached onto the track; I cut my hands on occasions. I had some good solid cycling as I approached the Breaden Hills which are the most substantial mountains on the Canning for 1000km. The table topped mountains are spectacular. I parked my bike at the turn off into the group of hills and climbed Crown Head, one of the highest points in the Breadens for a great view.

When I returned I found 5 vehicles crowded around my bike. Their general questions were "a bike shouldn't be here!", "how far are you going?" When I told them the whole way, their general answer was "can we ring you in a month?" I passed a further 16 vehicles for the day. I had a really strong tail breeze. Something I had for every day but two on the Canning. I gradually got into my first small sandhills. I covered 53km for the day and finished when I couldn't see the track any more.

Lots more corrugations and I had short side trips to trig points on Mt. Romily and Crescent Ridge. On lots of sections the scrubby trees grew right beside the road and I was constantly bashing protruding branches with my large pack where one branch pushed open my zip where l kept my personal belongings. I ran 4km back up the track to find my plane ticket blowing in the wind torn in two, 30 metres from the road. Then I had a really fast cycle on rock for 15km (I averaged 25km/hr) to Well 46 which had been restored. I had been unable to contact my friend who was to put my food out and one motorist had told me his car had broken down and he had pulled out. I hadn't seen any vehicles for a day and I only had three days food left with me. I spent two and half hours contemplating what to do. It was a beautiful spot.

I decided to push on as the dunes started to get bigger. It was a warm 30 C degrees. I met my first (and only vehicle) for the day and they told me they had seen Peter two days earlier. What a relief. I was 400km south of Halls Creek. The sand dunes were becoming very closely spaced every 500m. They were totally unrideable but they were lots of fun. Just on dark I reached the remains of Well 45 and I camped one sand dune south having covered 70km.

Well 45 to Well 36

Robin Rishworth Well45 to Well36For the next two days I encountered the biggest sand dunes on the Canning and I only covered 42 & 43km. There were large burnt out areas which for some reason made the structure of sand very sticky and extremely hard to ride in. The track wandered around a bit so I spent most of the two days cycling direct from dune to dune anything up to a kilometre from the CSR.

Between one of these such dunes I met my friends (Peter Vernon) and their two passengers Laurie and Peter. They gave me lunch, while I took two attempts to fix a puncture and then they travelled back with me and explained the system of bearings and paces where my food and water had been buried. I camped with them overnight and had my only shower for the whole trip. I made very slow progress and it took me six hours to cover just 20km, I pushed the bike to 9pm and camped at the northern edge of Lake Guli, beside one of my buried 2 litre water drops.

I fixed yet another puncture in the morning, then I had an easy 5km ride across Lake Guli which was a dry salt Lake, to Well 42 which was just a post and in a puddle. I then encountered 10km of corrugated sandy track which I had to walk most of it. It was then back into the dune country and finally out of the burnt out area. I got another puncture. I saw only my second car for three days and said I would camp with them at Well 41. It was 4pm and I pushed my bike with no torch to 11.30pm as the temperature fell below zero for the first time. I ended stopping just 800m short of the Well. I caught up with the couple in the morning and they told me they had just thrown the porridge out ten minutes earlier.

I dug my first food dump up which contained several large tins of fruit, a fruit cake, breakfast cereal, muesli bars, potatoes, apples, dry biscuits and cheese. But most importantly a beanie. My valve popped out of my tube after 14km and I spent the rest of the day on top of a large sand dune trying to fix it and my other two spare tubes which very already heavily patched. I kept failing to fix the tubes and I was low on water. I tried again in the morning but I couldn't fix my punctures so I had no choice but to wait and get help from other motorists. I didn't know how long I would have to wait maybe 2 - 3 days.

I blocked the track with branches and left a note and walked 5km and dug up 2 litres of water. I was pretty upset to be stuck in the desert with around 1000km to go. Later four people pulled up and they fixed my punctures for the next 3 hours.  It was a relief to be moving again and I covered 25km that afternoon as I sped 6km across the Lake Tobin, another dry salt lake. I camped with Busselton group who had fixed my punctures, under a large stand of desert oaks.

I was determined to make up lost ground and I started at 5.40am but it was extremely cold and I pushed my bike over several big sand dunes to Well 39. It was -4 C and my hands were numb. I made better progress over the dunes and covered 52km. The following day I took the alternate direct route between Wells 36 & 38 which was over grown and didn't appear to get used any more. I pushed the bike for 38 of the 40km over some big sand dunes including Mt. Shoesmith. I arrived at Well 38 after the sun went down. This was the hardest day of the trip I was very exhausted and I had an average speed for the day of just 4.6km/hr.

Well 36 to Well 28

Robin Rishworth Well36 to Well28The following morning the track continued to improve and I was able to ride 50% of the track. I arrived at Well 35 just before midday and I left the sand dunes behind for the next 120km. I had to contend with large flat plains with lots of corrugation's. I camped just passed the turn off to Well 34.

It became windy and threatened to rain. The following morning I arrived at Well 33. I dug my next food drop up and I had a bath. 4km south of here at the Kidson Track intersection which was the first road that headed out to a highway for 700km, there was the only telephone on the whole Canning Stock Route. It was a reverse charges phone only.

I battled corrugations and very slow riding in a recently burnt and very damp area for the remainder of the day and I covered 52km for the day. Gradually I passed a few small sand dunes, I passed three Japanese on motor bikes who must have had a lot of trouble riding, because I found they had chopped the track up and made it very difficult for me to ride. By lunch time I had covered just 18km. Gradually the country improved and sections were through gibber and there was a small section of trees and gullies near Well 30 which was very pretty. I camped 7km further south, 53km for the day. Another early start and lots of sand dunes, I made good progress as I passed Thring Rock and I covered 32km before lunch. I finished with 74km for the day including pushing my bike over 60 sand dunes for the day. I camped on top of one of these dunes and I had to share my camp fire with two camels. For the next three days I saw another 40 camels.

Well 28 to Well 19

Robin Rishworth Wells28 to 19I camped near Well 27 I had passed only 5 groups of vehicles for the past six days. I passed Slate Range and I made much better progress to the halfway point at Well 26, which had been restored and had good water. I pushed on over more dunes and camped on top of one these for the night I had covered 66km.

Gradually the country was becoming easier and I could ride most of the sections between the sand hills. The country became flatter after Well 24, but there was a thick sand section for 5km which I had to drag my bike through. I passed Well 23 which was 12km further south and it was also the turn off for vehicles to get their fuel drop. I walked to 10 pm and camped at Georgia Bore which had reliable water. Only problem was the bore required one person to jack the handle up and another to catch the water. I made slow progress to the turn off to Well 21, with my first headwind of the trip and lots of corrugations. A German traveller tried to convince me that the southern section of the track was flooded and there was more rain on the way. My moral dropped, "I had come all this way and I was going to fail because of the weather". I trudged along into the headwind for the next 20km sometimes pushing the bike and occasionally going cross country over a sand dune to save a few kilometres. Then a large burnt-out area which was just possible to ride cross country if I concentrated really hard, corrugations by corrugation. I was feeling lonely, only one vehicle for 1 1/2 days.

Late in the day I saw one vehicle, then another two, as I was speaking another three came along and then three from the opposite direction. I travelled into the night and camped with the three vehicles heading south at a nice spot under some desert oaks with a view to Lake Disappointment. I finished at 9pm and had covered 70km.

The next morning I got up really early 4.30am and I was on the track by 5am. I was determined to cover the 115km to Durba Springs. But it was so bitterly cold I was forced to stop after 5km at the turnoff to Well 20 and light a fire just to keep warm. At 8pm I started again but I felt very tired and I struggled to ride for the next hour and fell asleep in the sun for an hour on the road, the sheer cold had drained me off all my energy. This experience made me very cautious of early starts for the remainder of the trip.

Savory Creek
I was cycling across a mixture of sand and salt flats which abut Lake Disappointment. I reached Savory Creek my only significant stream for the entire trip, it was salty unfortunately, but the salt base made easy. I then forded the stream with a group of 4 Wheel Drivers from Perth filming me cross the 50 metre wide muddy stream. I had agreed they could film me if they gave me a bowl of water to wash my feet in. I scored three pairs of socks and a tuna sandwich. For the remainder of the day I passed 18 more vehicles. I narrowly missed getting run down as a vehicle came flying over a sand dune.

I got a puncture from a thorn and spent the next two hours trying to fix it. My pump had had it, so I flagged a vehicle down and they pumped it up. I then entered a large burnt area which extended for the next 60 km. I was forced to walk most of this section. At just on dark I saw a group of Tasmanian's camping beside a clay pan. I scored tea and a seat for 2 hours. Then I pushed on walking in the dark for a further 4km and camping with another group at 11pm. I had only covered 42km for the day.

Well 19 to Well 14

Robin Rishworth Well19 to Well14My tyre was flat so they pumped it up. I then walked into a strong headwind for most of the day. It was very cold. I had my goretex coat on. I crossed the Tropic of Capricorn where I had a bottle of Coke and lollies buried. Finally the burnt area stopped and I was able to start cycling but only just, as the headwind was so strong. I could only ride at 8km/hr across a flat claypan but at least I was riding. Gradually the terrain became rockier and I was able to make better progress. I passed another 22 vehicles all heading north and I got three groups to pump my tyre up. They told me they had had hail the previous night at Durba Springs.

This was my goal for the night and if I could make it I promised myself a half rest day. My tyre became flatter and flatter. My progress became faster only because the track was so damp. I was nearly cycling over the largest sand dunes. I was making great progress when my tyre became completely flat. My pump didn't work so for the next two hours I cycled on a flat front tyre. It was very difficult to balance my bike. Just as it got dark one vehicle came from the north and I flagged them down and got my tyre pumped up. They had been following my "odd" tracks all day. They were the last vehicle that passed me for the remainder of the trip from the north. I walked and rode in the dark till I arrived at 9.30pm at Durba Springs.

At the Springs there were about 25 vehicles. I settled at the first camp fire with a group from Esperance W.A. they told me if I had been 10 minutes earlier I could have had fish. "That would have been a great but the 10 minutes earlier had a familiar ring to it." The Esperance group gave me plenty of food and in the morning while I relaxed they gave me bacon and eggs and serviced my bicycle and fixed my pump, tubes and lilo which had around 20 punctures. It was great relaxing at Durba in the sun for the morning but I had to keep moving because I had heard rumours that another other cyclist was on the Canning further north and he intended to be first to cycle the Canning. At 2pm I took off slowly as I passed another 15 vehicles, I dug up my next food dump, some extra clothes, runners and most importantly an extra tube. I relaxed and enjoyed looking at the Durba Hills with a strong tail breeze behind me. I made a detour and climbed Canning's Cairn for a great view. More burnt area from Canning's Cairn in the Durba Hills meant more walking. I was beginning to hate burnt areas. I crossed more sand ridges and stopped near Well 16. I had covered 43km in the afternoon.

Well 14 to Well 9

Robin Rishworth Well14 to Well9

Gradually more sections were becoming more rideable but only just as I struggled just being able to ride at 7/8km/hr through large burnt out areas. I got another puncture as I tried to skirt around 3 vehicles from Ballarat. Luckily they fixed the puncture while I ate their chocolate. It was only 6 C.

On a narrow corrugated section of the track, which I was struggling to ride at all, a mine vehicle came racing towards me so fast (about 80km/hr) on a narrow section. I only just had time drag my bike from the track into the scrub, he had nearly hit me. I flagged the next mine vehicle down and the driver told me "it wasn't a road, I should expect vehicles to travel at these speeds and he told me not to be so grumpy". I looked forward to the sand ridges, they were still fun and they kept coming up regularly as did the wells. I hit a good section and I was able to ride for 15km without stopping. I camped in a large burnt out area 8km south of Well 13. I had covered 86km.

I got out off the final significant burnt section after two hours of slow difficult cycling and started climbing more sand dunes. I skirted the edge of Lake Aerodrome for the next 8km. Then the final 20km of sizable sand ridges and I was at Well 11. I felt I was nearly there. I made good progress passed Well 10 to Well 9 where the track had become more solid clay based. The vegetation had changed from spinifex to medium sized trees, there was lots of Emus and Kangaroos too which I hadn't seen to this stage on the Canning.

Well 9 to Wiluna

Robin Rishworth Well9 to WilunaWell 9 had a windmill and cattle. The terrain was so different. I felt safe I was out of the Great Sandy Desert at long last. I had just under 300km to go. My final food dump was 2km south of here and I pushed on very tired for another 6km so that I could say I had ridden 100km on the Canning in one day. When I found a suitable spot I had covered 101km.

The track was deeply rutted but mostly clay based and I was passing wells regularly. I passed another two more vehicles, they gave me chocolate. The group walked up to me and congratulated me for getting so far, only problem was they thought I was a cyclist from Perth whom they had heard on the radio. I had spent twenty minutes with them. This made me edgy "I didn't wish to get passed by another cyclist. I wanted to be first down the Canning" and no sooner had I cycled 200m and another 2 vehicles approached. This was making it hard, most of the people were very nice and they wanted to stop and chat but I had a dead line and I didn't wish to be rude. Both groups did the usual, filmed me with their movie camera, took photos and wanted to contact me afterwards. Jean from Bacchus Marsh gave me her gloves and made me a sandwich. I really needed the gloves because cycling gloves didn't combat the freezing temperatures each morning, while her brother and husband made me lunch. "Another hour lost".

I pushed on steadily till I arrived at Pierre Springs/Well 6, the most beautiful section on the whole Canning. The approaches reminded me of the rugged Victorian Alps. Staying there was the Cousin's from Mansfield in the Victorian Alps, the next large town from Alexandra where I work. The large trees around the well and the leaves on the ground were so undesert like. If I wasn't being pushed by the other cyclist I would have stayed here.

At 1pm the weather started closing in really fast and I hoped that I could at least get another hours cycling in before the skies opened up. The wind had swung around to the south and I battled a stiff head wind. At the turn off I dug up a bottle of coke and some lollies. I pushed on with my goretex coat on; I was entering a remote section for the final 212km. It was closed to motorists because of flood waters at Lake Nabberu. I tried to race the storm and raced along at 25km/hr for 28km to Windich Spring, a long 300m waterhole. I push on in the dark for a further 7km and somehow I had managed to skirt around the storm. I had covered 110km for the day.

As I lay exhausted around my campfire, with not another vehicle for at least 50km, I pondered whether I could ride the final 177km in a day. I got up early but my question was answered as I waded around a swamp for 5km and then used roads that appeared to have seen very little traffic this year. I took a wrong turn and wandered down a station track off the Canning for 11km and became lost. Just as I was about to retrace my steps a mine vehicle stopped and showed me where I was, all I had to do was follow the road I was on and I would be back on the Canning having skirted Lake Nabberu. This was the last vehicle I would see to Wiluna 125km away.

The faint Canning Stock Route crossed this wide well used farm track. I turned back onto the Canning and the track appeared very disused. My progress was slow; I dug up my final bottle of Coke and lollies at Well 3. I was back in sandy country and I had to walk sections there, was also some very rocky granite sections and a large telecom aerial. At The Granites a tank had been made out of rock. I pushed on and stopped at a delightful campsite just below a small hill. I had covered 121km.

I was very tired but I wanted to push on and it was cold. I put my tent up and had a large fire. At 1.50am with the moon shining brightly I couldn't resist just finishing this nightmare off. So I packed up and by 2.30am I was ready, only to watch the moon set as I took off. I couldn't ride and I had no torch so I walked in the bitter cold -2 C to 4.30am when in the darkness I started ride /walking. I passed Well 2 in the dark as the sun rose I reached Neds Creek Road. This was a wide maintained public road five cars wide. I felt at this point I had made it I only had 38km to go, it was bitterly cold, at 8.45am I arrived at Wiluna Post Office.

The finish line...

26 days, 23 hours and 15 minutes, 1780km, 14 punctures, 900 sand dunes later I had cycled the Canning, from Hall Creek to Wiluna Post Office. To my knowledge nobody had put there bike tyre marks down the Canning before. A group from South West Victoria at the Caravan Park made me breakfast. My agony was all over, well almost. For the next four days I suffered food poisoning.. I then cycled from Kalgoorlie to Perth.

Food & Water Drops

I met my friend (Peter Vernon) between Wells 44 & 45. My friend buried five containers of food, water every 20-30km and 11 x 1.25 litres of coke. He marked them on a map and with a distance and bearing from a man made feature, often a survey stake. My task was to dig them up with my hands. I found most of them quickly but one food drop took me half an hour to locate. They contained: Potatoes & apples, packs of rice & spaghetti, dry biscuits, 2 large tins of fruit, breakfast cereal, muesli bars, map & cheese. Also enough Iso sport drink powder for 5 litres.

Facts in Brief

Start: Halls Creek Post Office
End:  Wiluna Post Office W.A.

Duration: Took 26 days 23hr 15min.
Distance: 1780km
Long Distance-Testing the Limits of Body and Spirit in a Year of Living By Bill McKibbenSand ridges: Around 900
Corrugations: 700km
Burnt out areas: 300km
Temperature Range: 33°C to -4°C

Wells: 51 wells (10 with reliable water)
Water carried: up to 18 litres of water

Bike weighed: over 60kgs fully loaded
Mechanical problems:  Lost 3 full days
Punctures: 14
Chain: Ran the chain completely dry

Total distance cycled: 1780km
Most km in one day:

Least km in one day: 40km (walked 38km)
Off Track: Covered 90km completely off tracks through scrub and
Most sand dunes in one day: 60
Most in one hour: 12
Walked: around 400km of the total distance and climbed 6 mountains
Road Conditions:
475km - Good cycling at 18km/hr or greater with few interruptions
512km - Fair cycling at between 10 - 20kmlhr with interruptions every 500m - l km or so
525km - Poor cycling constant stop start riding, very slow riding over corrugations, generally at less than 10km/hr very demanding and I had concentrate hard on balancing the bike on these sections
227km - Unrideable (walked) very thick sand, burnt out areas, sand dunes, overhanging branches, just too tired or covered at night without lights
45km - Direct cycling involved walking and very slow speeds very demanding
I have all sections of each grade mapped on the RAC map.

Other issues:

I had no lighting after 6 as solar panel failed to work
I had no lilo after 10 days (it had 22 punctures)

Other vehicles:
Saw 130 vehicles only 8 going the same way as I did.

Earliest get Up: 1.50am (last morning)
Earliest Start: 2.30am
Latest finish: 11.30pm

Wildlife: snakes, camels, kangaroos, lizards, Rosella, (kangaroos & emus (below Well 9)) heard dingos but didn't see

Robin Rishworth with a 60kg load in 1997

Most embarrassing moments: Losing Airline ticket and have to retrieve it and running out of toilet paper.


How 60kg plus was carried down the CSR

Day Pack
Lunch, camera,  pump & puncture repair kit, jumper, maps, toilet paper

Large Pack
Sleeping bag, tent, spare cloth, tools, valuables

One Pannier
Lilo, 2 spare tubes, spare tyre, billy, candle

Attached to Frame
Water bottles -
2x 1.25 litre. and 1 x 1.5 litre


Robin Rishworth Kalgoorlie Miner


Kalgoorlie Miner 23 July 1997

Cyclist does what 'couldn't be done'.

Robin Rishworth does not pause when asked what motivated him to tackle the 1800 punishing kilometres of the Canning Stock Route through the Great Sand Desert of a pushbike.

'It was to defy the four-wheel drivers who said it couldn't be done,' said the super-fit Victorian, who claimed after his arrival in Kalgoorlie-Boulder to be the first to perform the feat.

'I am adamant I would have walked the 1800 kilomtres dragging the bike if I had to,' he said.

Generally, the 31-year-old cartographer from Alexandra get satisfaction by proving people wrong. He achieves this the hard way by attempting grueling stunts of athleticism, such as racing up the 1222 steps of the Empire State Building in New York after having won the Melbourne's Rialto Run-up in 1988 and 1989.

In fact, stair racing is one to the many reasons Mr Rishworth has switched to bikes, after having 'finished off' both Achilles tendons'.

Despite this, he maintains he would have completed the Canning Stock Route in quicker time by running or walking.

Also quickening his pedaling (and pushing) in his latest effort on the Canning Stock Route was the knowledge that two other cyclists were behind him.

Mr Rishworth is confident he is the first to complete the historic route from Halls Creek to Wiluna on a bike and stressed he did it just under 27 days without back-up vehicle support.

His food and water came from packages buried by a friend at intervals along the way to which directions were provided from painted stakes.

Although not his first attempt on the stock route, it is his last.

Extreme hot weather put and end to Mr Rishworth's plans to conquer the route last year, but experience enabled him to refine his approach, including bike alterations worth $4000.

'I wouldn't do it again - to be honest, there are much prettier (desert) areas elsewhere in Australia and everything on the Canning has been documented before so well,' he said.

'At the end it was very, very taxing , although not as demanding as people made out.'

Some stumbling blocks, however included 14 punctures, almost getting wiped out by a four-wheel drive, almost losing his return airline ticket, corrugations sand dunes and burnt-out areas, to name a few.

Mr Rishworth maintains that sand, corrugations and riding made difficult in burnt out areas (about 200km of the trip) were the rally tough parts.

More minor problems such as chocolate cravings were alleviated by many helpful and interested motorists (he encountered 130 vehicles) who volunteered their Tim Tams.

Incredibly Mr Rishworth said he was actually less fit than when he started his journey at Halls Creek, a symptom of over training.

Having achieved his goal, his next project is less sweaty - to return to work from his 'holiday' and to document the trip.

~ Natalie Carthew for the Kalgoorlie Miner



Southern Explorers 4WD Club report

Southern Explorers Four Wheel Drive Club report on meeting Robing Rishworth on the Canning Stock Route


Information references:

Ref: Correspondence with Eric and Ronele Gard

Ref: Robin Rishworth CSR Cycle Report supplied by Phil Bianchi

Ref: Kalgoorlie Miner 23 July 1997 - Supplied by Phil Bianchi

Ref: 1997 Robin Rishworth-Dual in the Desert, Australian Cyclist-First Cyclist-Unsupported Supplied by Robin Rishworth

Ref: 1997 Bob Simpson-Dual in the Desert, Australian Cyclist-Fastest Cyclist-Supported

Ref: Telephone interview with Robin Rishworth (Still to be uploaded)

Ref: Southern Explorers 4WD Club report

Ref: Long Distance: Testing the Limits of Body and Spirit in a Year of Living ... By Bill McKibben (Page 113)


Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 07:40

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