“But Arturo, we want to talk to you because we know that on the 11th September something happened in your life, on the 11th September, your father had a fatal heart attack” We were watching the cyclist race “La Vuelta” in Spain, it was the finals that day in “Cibeles square” when we received the call that my father had passed away. His body was found, and apparently it was an heart attack. We don´t know really well. a dream cross Australia by bicycle I remember when I was a kid during the summer holidays I would sit in front of the TV next to my father and we would watch wildlife documentaries together The ones which use to impress me the most were the ones about Africa and Australia. Then, I was stumped by the fierce battle between cyclists on the “Tour of France”. I think that’s when all begun. That battle. How to reconcile the annihilating the idea of death and the endless pursuit of life. How to match the horrifying idea that the nothing will come, with the invading joy of the provisional true love. How to deactivate the tombstone with the sowing, the scythe with the carnation? Is that what men are? That battle It’s been a long time that I wanted to combine my passion for cycling and a desire to live an adventure in the wild nature, I knew that an ordinary trip would no longer be satisfying.
Raise funds for heart diseases research was the way I found to honor my father and accept his loss. A pushed myself to my limits went through an inner journey Australia is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Indigenous population is 3% of the total population 85% of Australians live at 5 km from the coast About 80% of animals and 90% of flowering plants are endemic many of their species could kill a human being A country where crocodiles and sharks share the same environmental space. A home for the most poisonous snakes and spiders in the world. An extremely wild, unpopulated country, full of meanings. I think Australia caught my attention for many reasons, beyond the eccentric fauna and flora. I had very high expectations. I can´t take anymore “To the heart of Australia” July 2018 16.000 km – 215 days 4650 € collected In memory of Arturo Guedes Santalices Filmed and directed by Arturo Guede Seara I´ve been preparing this project for a long time but it really started to take its shape when I was living in Paris I was already planning the road, possible stops how long it would take me, how many kilometers I wanted to do Short speaking, I was putting in to paper everything I wanted to accomplish My first idea was to do it alone, until the day Virginia appeared in my life and then months later I decided to share this project with her and in the end, she became the most important part of my journey. “The first time Arturo told me about the project was the first time we met in Paris, by “La Seine”. And well, I told him that my father is a cardiologist and when I told him that, he told me that he was developing a project for heart diseases. He told me he lost his father not too long ago and this would be the project of his life. Ride 16.000 km across Australia, by bike was his idea, and well, little by little I got that yes, he was serious about it. East Coast Cairns – Melbourne Adaptation All happened very fast, we spent two weeks in Cairns where I finished a mountain marathon, I was destroyed. The idea was, we would buy a van so Virginia could come with me. So we spent two weeks trying to find us a bike and a campervan, I’d meet her at the finishing destinations so we could spend the evenings together. We passed through towns like Townsville, Brisbane or Sidney. And after 57 pedalling stages and some days of rest, I arrived to Melbourne after crossing three aussie states. We would wake up very early and have a quick breakfast in order to avoid the hottests hours of sun. I’d make 60 to 70 km and stop at the at the previously planned meeting place to have lunch with Virginia, if the place was worth to it, we’d stay and we’d try to camp in the area. Otherwise I´d make 20 to 30 kms more. You quit everything and throw yourself into the abyss. During the fall you connect with your insecurities and your fears, without looking back you rush, because deep down at the abyss are your dreams. And to grab those dreams, no matter what can happen, you must adapt yourself. Adapt because you left the comfort zone and you started a whole new chapter of your life. You no longer have a job and much less a home. So again, you have to adapt Adapt to a new country, a new culture, a new language. Adapt to push your limits daily and let your body complain. Adapt yourself to go against your own thoughts that will tell you one and a thousand times that you can’t push it even more. Adapt to the idea, if it´s possible, that you will never see your father again. Without days of pause the kilometers fell one after the other. I had a clear goal and the affection of my loved ones pushed me towards it. I ride through some kind of bike lane to Gold Coast. Getting to the big cities was always chaotic and became my biggest nightmare. A maze full of cars was waiting for me in each of them. And sometimes, it wouldn’t be the only thing that would be waiting for me. The bays of Byron and Hervey Bay receive a visitor every winter. Humpback whales migrate north from Antarctica to pair and give birth. These creatures were hunted almost to its extinction. During the 1930s, more than 50.000 whales were slaughtered each year. Fortunately, commercial hunting was banned in 1986 to enable cetacean populations to recover. It is a magical animal. They are such curious animals and come to observe you. Their size scares but they have a natural sensitivity that makes them extremely careful. They convey peace and serenity, the experience of watching is magic. Tiredness gradually took hold of me along the East Coast, by far the most populated area in the country. The distance travelled gradually increased but the stages became monotonous crossings of asphalt, cars and road-works.. Finally, I approached Sidney and although I was quite concerned about how to get into to the city I was especially excited to get to the most famous city in Australia. The roads were under construction, I couldn’t get through. All the signs indicated that the bikes were prohibited, at that point I just needed to get through it, find a way. Finally I arrived, 116 km to arrive into a sort of parking lot near Sydney. I had planned to get straight to the iconic building. Sydney Opera House is one of the most famous and distinctive buildings of the 20th century. It was inaugurated on the 20th October 1973 by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, in her role as Queen of Australia. Looking for some more nature landscapes we head inland going a bit out of the script, we went slightly north to the Blue Mountains. When ultraviolet radiation is dispersed within the atmosphere it creates a blue-greyish color in the mountain range and hence its name. The “Blue Mountains” region was named a World Heritage Site in 2000 and consists in eight national parks and one conservation area. Virginia had obligations to attend to and we must be apart from each other for the second time. Looking for more pleasant temperatures and coming back to the plan I set a path towards the south to reach the coast again. Although there was a long way to go to reach it, the next landmark would be the city of Melbourne. But before that, a magnificent piece of road by the Pacific Ocean was waiting for my contemplation. 70 kms along the coast, ups and downs, roller – coaster. My intention now is to arrive to a campsite by the beach apparently very pretty and also free, I have 5km left to get there but look. 6 kms of corrugations and sand but, wow! It has been worth getting to this campsite. We eat here and maybe we continue a few more kilometers. This is a lake full of birds, there It´is the sea… I intended to get to Melbourne by another way, I decided to turn inland, leaving the coast for a while. A new perspective. I was looking forward to crossing the highest mountains in Australia, located in Kosciuszko National Park. Finally, we got to the mountains, I´ve already traveled the first part of this stage, 39 km in which to ride uphill 1.600 m. Winter was not over yet what left me many doubts. The presence of snow or ice could cause the closure of roads and leave me isolated for days. Come on! I had planned to do 20 kms more but it’s getting dark. Roads are more dangerous here on the mountain. Australia is a very flat country. The highest point is 2,228 meters of altitude and is located in the National Park of Kosciuszko. The only region where we can find a cold climate and alpine flora. Besides, numerous lovers of winter sports. – Oh, I’m waiting!
– They’re gonna cross the road over there – Ah!
– You can stay there
– Ok, thank you And tell me that this isn’t life. Wow! Mount Kosciuszko is mainland Australia’s highest mountain, at 2,228 metres It was named by the Polish explorer Paweł Edmund Strzelecki in 1840, in honour of Polish General Tadeusz Kościuszko This night we slept in a kind of abandoned horse racetrack. Thoroughbred racing is the third most attended spectator sport in Australia, behind Australian rules football and rugby league I’m leaving this place, the bushes are quite wild. I have already left the Kosziuszko National Park behind, and now here I was at the State of Victoria and a few miles from the city of Melbourne. There, I would take the ferry that would take me to Tasmania, if I ever get there… The situation has become unsustainable. The last days I´ve received more bird attacks than during the whole trip. I had no choice but… I was super tired (burned out) after the East Coast, after crossing many cities and having to deal with loads of traffic. That was no doubt my biggest fear… many times I had to cycle by the main roads shoulder and motorways. Even if it’s allowed here sometimes, it is a big risk. I arrived to my destination very tired, physically and especially psychologically exhausted,
gigantic trucks and cars that passed at great speed have caused me a great stress. I arrived in Tasmania after saying goodbye to Virginia, she had to leave the country due to her visa status at the time. Once in Tasmania I could breathe again. I had a hard time, again many hills, bad weather… but, somehow there I could finally connect deeply with the project and with the meaning of all I’ve been doing. I have to go to a supermarket to buy vegetables because they forced me to throw them away, I had a few carrots, a zucchini and more things but apparently it is forbidden because of plagues. Second stage in Tasmania. I keep riding uphill and look what’s left of me. I’ve done 35 km and I’m already exhausted. Tasmania was linked to the Australian continent 13.000 years ago. After the rising of the sea level, the Strait of Bass was created becoming the largest island in the country. As a result of this isolation some species we can only find here, one of them is the Tasmanian devil. My legs are so bruised. It’s not a good sign. We are already in the Bay of Fires, as you can see it´s named after the fire look red rocks. The truth is, I’ve never seen anything like this. You’re not scared or what? I’d stay here for life, but I don’t have any water, there’s no potable water around and food is limited. I’m heading to a city 14 km south from here and not coming back. After 70 km later, 71. I’m already at Freycinet N.P. Let’s see if tomorrow I can go into the mountains, I think I might have to do a trekking to get there, I’ll stop by Tourist Information Center now to get some infos and find myself a shower, after 4 days without it… “Freycinet National Park include a series of jagged granite peaks in a line, called -The Hazards- There is the secluded Wineglass Bay too, voted as one of the world’s ten best beaches”. I’m already on the road You see, second day, I haven’t gave up and not just that, I’m also heading to the lookout of the highest mountain here. Let’s see if it doesn’t rain. The first hour was easy, lucky enough it didn’t get wet, otherwise it would have been impossible. There’s a massive granit slope on the way, if it’s wet it will be very slippery. I’m not sure you could appreciate the climbing until now… I have to climb up those yellow signs there, wow! I’m not filming the way up because I’m afraid to fall. So peaceful… Come on Australia, I’m so glad I came At the time of British colonization in 1803 there were between 5,000 and 10,000 indigenous inhabitants in Tasmania. The Black War or Tasmanian Genocide wiped out the entire indigenous population. Traveled about 20 kms from Port Arthur and I have crossed this rock arch called the Tasmans arch. I was moved by the stories of the massacre and it surely does not match with the beauty of the area. With the barbarism of humanity still in my thoughts I made a stop at the capital before heading north. I had only a few days left before my ship sails back. At that point I was still at the opposite side of the island. I’m on my way to Devonport, I have to take the ferry tomorrow morning. After more than two weeks facing alone different situations I could say that I had passed the test of fire. I had gained the necessary confidence to face the big challenge that, since the beginning of the project stretressed me and excited me equally. Once in Melbourne, I was dedicated to dry all the material, It was soaked after the last days of heavy rain. Virginia was back and together we would share the last kms straight to the jaws of the wolf just before taking different paths. – It has no flavor
– Yes South Australia “Calm before storm” After Tasmania, we had to hurry, the summer was coming and every time I’d check the weather, the desert’s temperatures were higher and higher. I started to see question everything. We were already arriving almost a month later than I had planned and things were getting very complicated. We’ve done it. Just some months from now we have started this adventure without parachute, we throw ourselves into this abyss together. I couldn´t be any happier to share it with her. However, I knew since the beginning, I wanted to cross the desert on my own and face a real challenge, the one that would take me to the limit of my strength. This moment, as the one of saying goodbye to each other, were near. I started the project in Queensland, from there I headed south to the state of New South Wales, a little further down I crossed Victoria. From Victoria I took a ferry to Tasmania, the fourth state. Now back from Tasmania I find myself in South Australia, on my way to Adelaide with 500 km ahead of me. I have to get to Adelaide as soon as possible because the summer approaches, temperatures keep rising every day, it’s 37 to 40 ºC already. The Great Ocean Road was left behind and we were on our way to South Australia, known for its extensive vineyards. On the way I’d stop by the Mount Gambier to visit its famous blue lake. The sun is strong and I’ve been suffering from headaches. I’ve filled up water, eaten some nuts and a banana. I have to make 60 km to the first stop where I’m meeting Virginia for lunch, and then we continue I think there’s 200 km left to finally get to Adelaide. Fat I just took off my slippers, it hurts me terribly and it’s the first day I’m wearing them. The vines here are endless , I can not see the end of it. Well I can see some trees over there, but still very far. I had to stop by this shade, there’s not much trees along the way and by the bushes there’s certainly spiders. I just ran into cyclists, That’s unusual… – I’m raising money for SANE Australia.
– Hey, what is that?
– Mental illness – Post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression…
– So, do you have a crowdfunding page or something? – Yeah, I’ve got one
– Me too – I’ll donate to you
– All right, me too – Awesome, nice to meet you
– Safe travels Initially, we decided to get the fastest road inland, however; I had to order some extra material for my bike, it might arrive in less than a week at Port Augusta. As we had time, we decided to visit a coastal area that apparently is very beautiful, and we waited until the material arrive The hardest part is about to start, 119 kms left to get to Port Augusta. From there, the road towards the desert starts. All the material that I ordered for my bike has now arrived to Port Augusta and I’m now preparing the backpacks, organizing everything. Well… Studying how much water I will need. I bought a bottle of 10 liters that I don’t think I will be filling up completely at the beginning. The heat is unbearable, there are loads of flies… I saw myself putting an end to the project when we finally reached Southern Australia, Port Augusta. We met a couple in a campsite on the way, we all connect really well. I remember explaining them a bit of the project and what I was planning to do afterwards. By then the woman was crying, asking me: “as a mother don’t go out there. It’s very dangerous, you are not aware of the heat at the outback. It’s not the heat you’re used to in Europe. There’s a big hole on the ozone layer above us, the heat here affects you in another level.” She also told me that there are many criminals and thieves out there. Tourists disappear and people die every summer”. Honestly, this is when the uncertainty took me over. I thought about changing the project, or even abandoning it. We kept hearing people telling us all the catastrophes that happened at the desert. People would put themselves in our place and say things like “well, he is crazy. It’s summer, he can die for multiple reasons.” Then, came the day when Virginia showed me this book, “100 days between heaven and the sea”, by Amyr Klink. I finished the book, it was a dose of brutal motivation, I fell in love with his life story, I decided to go on with the adventure and embrace the the big challenge. Outback. “The dream”. 3396 km. 35 days I started crossing an infinite road that would lead me through almost 4,000 kms, I hardly crossed someone, even at the beginning I started questioning all over again…. Wow! What the hell am I doing here? After that I was finally enjoying it, I left behind all my problems, all the external concerns. It finally became the best part of the trip. I am finally crossing the desert, the goal was to cross Australia from south to north, from Port Augusta to Darwin, I have so much respect for this place, and at the same time, very excited to be living this adventure. I’ll make it, even with all the arduous obstacles. Considering this temperature I hope I will still be able to continue my crusade in a month and a half from now. I´ve traveled about 40 kms and it’s the first shadow I find, it’s a kind of camping area, if I can say that… There are fire extinguishers, people probably camp here. I don’t plan on staying here tonight, so I’ll keep moving. I’m going to wait half an hour because I’m starting to feel the heat over my head, I need to eat something, hydrate well and then continue. This is getting pretty serious… They don´t move free cattle I thought I could get my water at the first stop, no luck, the tank was broken, at that point I had no choice but head to Spuds anyway. Not much energy left, but 140 km accomplished, I’ll probably sleep here by myself. Oh! finally, I can’t anymore. The joy of silence, absence of noise. we are so used to the constant tension of places, I do appreciate the calm of this place. Being capable to listen to the wind kms before it gets where I am, the starry skies… However, it is quite hard to get comfortable with the infinite noises of the night… Second stage 40 kms of the second stage, the sun has not risen yet, I will try to hurry as much as possible, find water and continue later. A mini-lake that has become salty, during the dry season they usually evaporate I’ve crossed many of these along the desert. I have just started my journey and the desert had already shown me their two faces. The one that intimidates and shows you all its cruelty, and the one that challenges your perseverance for survival in a territory that is not suitable for life. This place will try to bring to surface the worst in you. A few meters away from where you’ll witness something terrible you can also admire the other side of it. It is a particular beauty combined with fragility. You will also be part of a long wait. The rain will come to end the loneliness, it will bring life, and not just take it away. Reflected on that rain water, you will realise that the two faces of the desert are actually your own true faces, now, time has come to face them. The worst and best parts of you have taken you to that point, but lucky enough, and not awkward enough you are not alone To Coober Pedy, 270 to 280 km without water. Leaving Glendambo. In the end I dared to make 10 kms more, I think I have done 122, 123 km in total and look what I have found, an esplanade just for myself. Lucky enough there’s not much wind. There’s gravel all around and it can certainly put a hole on my tires. I’ve put stones in it to fix them, I hope they don’t get flat by the morning, this is what been happening lately. My tent moves everywhere. I have crossed three carcasses of cows… clearly summer is near and it’s getting more and more complicated. Stage 4 – 6:30 AM The sun is rising and I’m still quite asleep it’s very difficult for me to get up that early. It’s been four days, two without any signal, 5 km from here there is an emergency phone. I’m just wondering, if during the last 400 kms I’ve just done something happens to you… Fourth stage, I’ve completed 120 kms and now I’ve been waiting here for almost 3 hours, I’ve decided to stick around for a while as I’ll have uncountable miles of “big nothing” in front of me. However, I’ll try to make 20 to 30 kms more to get closer to Coober Pedy where I’ll be able to get some water. The biggest distance without water in the Stuart Highway is 257 km, between Glendambo and Coober Pedi I carried sometimes 23 l of water and I needed 11 l one day Finally 162 kms after, I’m impressed how my legs are performing. I’ve crossed for the first time a cyclist on this road, it was quite a motivation. He’s a Chinese man from Beijing who has been traveling the world for three and a half years and I don’t know how many countries. I have 40 kms left to get to Coober Pedy guys, it’s quite close already but… I’m running short on water, eh? This is all I have left, this bottle and the 950 ml bike plastic bottles. I filled them up pretty well. I’m having a bit of a hard time, I’m running super tight and I still have 10 kms left. I need to get some food and some kind of liquid into my system other than water, insipid water. Fatigue wore me out little by little, but I was trying not to make room for doubts, I was determined to get to one of the largest monoliths in the world. Here they named it “the heart of Australia”; or, “the navel of the world”. However, the desert made it clear once again; this is not going to get any easier. I’ve finally arrived, gas station and refueling. It took me a lot to get here, I’ll do my grocery shopping at he supermarket and refill water. It looks like there is a place here where you can refill 30 liters of water for 1 $. I’ll do more 45 km this afternoon, I need to leave soon, it looks like there’s a storm coming tomorrow so I believe if I hurry up now I’ll be fine. It’s 6:00 p.m., I´ve done my shopping, filled up water, waited for a while, the sun is harsh now… it doesn’t go below 36 – 37 ºC there is no one on the road and it´s normal, I feel the sun cooking me… I’m 10 km far from the camping site I planned to pass the night and I’m setting up the tent here. It’s a truck stop hopefully they’ll understand the circumstances, I’ll try to be quiet and don’t bother them. Certainly they’ll wake me up during the night , they make a hell of a noise, It’s infested with flies, I didn’t had dinner, it’s getting dark and I have to prepare everything for tomorrow. There’s a eagle, surrounding me, it was entertained with a carcace and, wow! it’s been following me its been 1 km now. The famous road trains, they have like three or four wagons. You got to be to be careful, whenever they overtake you and put themselves at the fast lane they will not see the last wagon on their rear-view mirror anymore. It was already summer and temperatures exceeded 40 ºC. The desert continued to claim for victims until the the end of the dry season arrives. Fortunately the amount of rain was not enough to block the roads, but good enough to restart life. Next stop at 190 kms. These cyclists traveled from Alice Spring to Port Augusta, making 60 – 70 km / day. They advised me, heading to Darwin during summer would be impossible. Ay! I can’t take it anymore! I can’t take it anymore! I am close, I’m not sure but the sign further on the road might be informing the change of states and time zones. I still have 3 to 4 km left, I am exhausted… Second day after the storm, today I’m in the middle of nowhere heading to the next stop, Kulguera, I have 150 kms left and I know I won’t make it… I think I might stay at a campsite 10-15 kms before I Kulguera Family, my eyes are filled with tears, first sign of Uluru. I’ll leave the A87 highway, finally, after having crossed all those km. I’ll take a perpendicular way and after 260 kms approximately, this new road will take me to the center of Australia, the heart of Australia. We’re almost there, we’re almost there, I have no words to describe what I had to endure to get here, the wind, I couldn’t swallow the hot water… I have 1 km left to Erlunda campground, I´ll drink, eat, get some rest and head to that “rock” as soon as possible. I checked the weather and it was not good news at all. It was catastrophic, in fact. Sandstorms, with temperatures of 45 ºC, humidity… crazy. He spent two days without given me any news. I was already expecting the worse, looking for news on internet, trying to find out if anything had happened to him. 110 km from Erlunda, I’ve got about 160 km left. I don’t think I’m going to make it, I´m so tired I have 500 meters left and I almost didn’t make it. I had to stop every 200 / 300 meters, I couldn’t move forward, it was one of the hardest moments of my life. I’ve never seen myself this much on the edge. I need to drink anything. There was one step left to Uluru, one step, and it was… it was the first time I have ever feared for my life. At that point… I was about to faint at any moment, there were no cars passing, I was willing to ask for help, I had about 20 kms left but I couldn’t go any further, the wind was insanely strong and I had no energy left. I had no food and no water. I have no idea how did I make it. I felt my body shiver, and the tears began to fall, I couldn’t control it It’s been months, years that I’ve been planning this, and It finally happened, with much more value and meaning after my father died, this is all for him, he’s pushing me from up there. It wasn’t easy to get here, I’ve been by myself for a while now, I’ve questioned loads of stuff. Come on, fuck… It was so hard to get here. We have arrived family, I am here. I sweated, I’ve suffered, I´ve cried… but here I am. What do you think? I’ve just got here and the first thing I do is eat, I was starving. I’m enjoying solitude, I’m resting by this shadow, I wanted to tell you that these two days were the worsts. I had a hard time, I didn’t think I’d make it. In my thoughts it was done already. I had spoken to my mother, to Virginia, it was the final step, that’s all. And no, it was the worst part, it was very hard. And now, today, I don’t want to think about it. I’ll have to really think about what I’m going to do. I’ll be heading north, towards Darwin and I’ll go through the same winds or worse It is the monsoon period now, thunderstorms and loads water, I could suffer it a lot or even die there I don’t want to go through that, it makes no sense. I could find myself blocked between two rivers, this would be really dangerous. This is your tribute dad, and my goodbye too. I made it, I had reconciled myself with life. That life that looked macabre and meaningless, that half-lived life since that 11th Sept. Circumstances of life had taken my father away stealing from us our future together. I had made it, I had made it through hell. I took a weight out of my chest. He’ll stay with me forever but now I could let him go, take my hands of the brake and live life finally.. Some dreams come true.