About the Quest

Shadow of his Former Self, October 1995

(Above Shadow of his Former Self, Nullarbor Plain, South Australia, October 1995. © Patrick Maslen)

    the Path of Quest Bird, November 1995

The Quest - Australia

Ride to the edge of town and keep on riding.
Eat when you have to, sleep when you have to, shit when you have to;
Follow the path of Quest Bird.

- Quest philosophy

In 1995, I undertook a Quest: to ride around Australia on a bicycle. After two brief training runs around Melbourne, Australia, my friend Richard and I cycled from Melbourne to Sydney (via the coast) to Brisbane to Cairns - the east coast of Australia. We left in January (Australian summer) and the 6,000km east coast part of the journey took us about three and a half months (including rest-stops etc.)

We rested and worked through winter (Jun-Aug) in luxurious Port Douglas in northern Queensland. During this time, my friend found a girlfriend, and the two of them flitted off to New Zealand, leaving me all on my lonesome.

Rather than give up, I jumped on a plane with my trusty bicycle Edgar and flew across the dry land to Perth. The Quest continued. I cycled alone through empty Western Australia. When I came to the dreaded Nullarbor Plain, thirteen-hundred kilometres of arid, treeless desert, I just kept on going.

The Nullarbor run took me two weeks. It was hot and unpleasant cycling. I faced fierce winds, storms and flies. Many times I wished I was elsewhere, but it finally finished and I was in South Australia. (Actually - apologies to South Australians - I still wished I was elsewhere :-)

Hugging the coast all the way, I wended my weary way past Adelaide, back to my home town of Melbourne, determined not to give up, having come so far. Finally, after eleven months and twelve-thousand kilometres on the roads around Australia, I was home.

After a year of study, I finally made my way to Tasmania, Australia's southernmost state, to complete the Quest. It was cold and hilly, but quite beautiful. I returned to Melbourne on the 29th of November, 1996, exactly one year after cycling around the mainland. Quest complete? I'm not so sure.

Wheels in Motion, November 1995

(Above: Wheels in Motion, October 1995. © Patrick Maslen)

Quest 2 - Canada

Five years passed before the urge to go Questing once more finally became impossible to ignore. In the southern winter of 2000 (July) I teamed up with my old friend Richard, and our trusty bikes Ed and Horace, and we journeyed to Canada to cross the North American continent.

We travelled from Vancouver on the west coast through British Columbia, up and over the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Nearly every bend in the road, every mountain lake was like a postcard. On the other side of Crow's Nest Pass we came to Alberta and the beginning of the Prairies.

The Prairies were hot and dry and flat; they were reminiscent of the flatlands of South Australia. We didn't enjoy cycling them, and we also had the wind against us. Time was not on our side on this Quest, so after Lethbridge we traversed the central provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba by bus, stopping in the plains cities of Regina and Winnipeg.

By mid-August we were back on our bikes at Thunder Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior, a body of water vast like an inland sea. We cycled through the endless-seeming hills, lakes and forests of desolate northern Ontario. The weather was by now turning nasty, and we experienced cold snaps and storms on our way. Ontario is a huge province, much larger than we had imagined, so we were forced to skip another stretch on the bus (Wawa - Montréal). After breakfast in the national capital Ottawa, we were in Quebec.

The St. Lawrence River flows through Quebec, widening as it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. We cycled along its length, then travelled through the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. As we travelled on the weather grew ever colder. In mid-October we reached Halifax, on the east coast. We had reached our goal and completed another Quest.

Quest Continues, October 1995

Above: Quest Continues, October 1995)

Map of the Quest

<img src="imagesquest.gif" WIDTH=580 HEIGHT=480 usemap="#quest" BORDER=0>

The Quest Hall of Fame

During my year-long Quest and afterwards across Canada, I had the pleasure of cycling at various times with a number of other long-distance cyclists. If any of you are reading this, hello and thank you. Fellow Questers are (in chronological order):
  1. Richard Lough of Melbourne, Australia. Richard was my first travelling companion. He cycled with me in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Now he's a public servant in Canberra, Australia.
  2. Ian Duckworth of Perth, Australia. Ian cycled with Richard and I for day in New South Wales. Later in the Quest I met Ian again in Perth.
  3. Helena Lessels of Sydney, Australia. Richard and I travelled with Helena on the way to Mission Beach in north Queensland. Helena visited me in Melbourne in 1996, but I haven't heard from her since.
  4. Michio "Mich" of Chiba City, Japan. I met Mich in Western Australia, and cycled with him before and after (but not during) the Nullarbor run.
  5. Richard (II) of Berkshire, United Kingdom. I never did catch his second name. I cycled the borderlands of South Australia and Victoria with Richard and his girlfriend Nicki (also a cyclist, but who had traded her bike for a Volkswagon combi-van in Australia..)
  6. Maarten Haentgens-Dekker of Bergenop Zoom, The Netherlands [defietser@hotmail.com]. Maarten is a true cycling legend. He has cycled through all of Europe and Africa, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and China, Argentina and Central America, then across central Asia, the old Silk Road from Beijing to the Netherlands. Amazing. I met him on the east side of the Nullarbor, then again on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, with his mother. We cycled together for just one day, but we became friends. Now he lives in Barcelona, Spain, where I visited him in late 2000.
  7. Henny van Opstaal of Bergenop Zoom, The Netherlands. Maarten's mother joined him (yes, cycling) in Adelaide, and he cycled up to Sydney with her. She spoke only Dutch, and she liked good coffee. She too was part of the Quest.
  8. Chris Brandt of Vancouver, Canada [cbrandt_triathlete@yahoo.com]. I met Chris and Leslea (see below) in Tasmania, and we all rode together for about a week and a half. Chris is a triathlete back home, which goes part way to explaining why he liked the town of Triabunna, Tasmania, so much.
  9. Leslea Duke [lduke@pacificcoast.net], also a former triathlete, cycled with Chris and I in Tasmania. Now she lives in her own fine house in Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada.
  10. Maurice Cormier of Montréal, Quebec. Maurice cycled with Richard and I for a day as we were leaving the town of Amqui, a small town near the border of Quebec. He had a huge trailer filled with provisions.
  11. Garth Smith of Calgary, Alberta, Canada [long_bike_ride@hotmail.com] was on his own trans-Canadian Quest when we first met him in Quebec city. Later we met him again in New Brunswick near the town of Shediac (where he accompanied us for a day), and for a third time at Halifax airport before we each went our separate ways.
This page maintained by Patrick Maslen(quest_bird@yahoo.com), Last modified: Mon Jun 20 22:19:19 EST 2005