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    Alan Melville

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    Alan Melville

    Al's Adventures

    A collection of stories by Alan Melville
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    Alan Melville

    Al's Adventures

    A collection of stories by Alan Melville
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  • SANDSTONE TO WILUNA P1010475
    Alan Melville

    Al's Adventures

    A collection of stories by Alan Melville
    Get emailed when something new is posted
    ...
  • WILUNA TO MEEKATHARRA P1010524
    Alan Melville

    Al's Adventures

    A collection of stories by Alan Melville
    Get emailed when something new is posted
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  • WILUNA TO MEEKATHARRA REV 1 P1010768
    Alan Melville

    Al's Adventures

    A collection of stories by Alan Melville
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For those that are interested.

- Posted on 11 March 2019.

I did a ride from Muka to Albany in October of 2018, where I was joined by a friend, Anthony, from the Gold Coast. We then rode to Collie together on the Munda Biddi. I pulled out at Collie to go to work and Anthony kept going.

I did a series of videos that I have put on You Tube, here is the link to part 1. Parts 2 to 7 should flow on from there. Each vid is about 15 minutes duration and about 17Gb in size, Size can be smaller if you watch in lower resolution. 

It's only Part 1 that has all the intro blurb on it. the intro's on parts 2 - 7 are short.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkdxrzHxU-o

 

 

Cheers.

Al

I’MMM BAAACK….

- Posted on 16 February 2018.

Hi Crew,

Well, my trip back to WA went like clockwork, I picked up a hire car in Perth, drove past the house and picked up my tools, checked my fruit trees and then toddled off to work for 8 days.

I reversed the routine after finishing the work, dropped the hire car off, caught a train to Midland to get a check-up done on my teeth, then Uber’d it to the airport from there. Initially I had intended to swap out my ExtraWheel trailer for my BOB Ibex trailer whilst at home. I did end up taking my ExtraWheel home but whilst at work one day, I thought I’d have a quick look on Gumtree to see what was on offer. Well, true to my arsey form, there was a BOB Ibex, resplendent with a 28 Plus yoke [very hard to get here in OZ!] for the princely sum of 200 bucks. Needless to say, even though I was working my fingers to the bone, I found a thin slither of time to phone the guy, like I dropped everything, told everyone my Mum was dying and I had to make a few calls….. J I told the guy that I’d take it, he insisted it be picked up as he wasn’t going to post it, even though he’d had heaps of offers on it. I didn’t miss a beat and casually said I was out of town but would be back on the 10th. Sweet he said, “I’ll hold it for you”. “Where do you live” I asked. Turns out he was in Avalon, well that’s bloody miles from the city centre. L I had him on speaker and during the conversation I had opened Google maps, found Avalon, discovered Dee Why was a shitload closer and casually said “Mate, I’m in South Sydney, can we meet in Dee Why?” “Yeah, that’ll be sweet, can you bring cash?” So, instead of flying to Melbourne, I flew into Sydney, stayed at the City Central YHA for the first night, had a quick lesson on Sydney Public Transport next morning whilst heading to Dee Why, paid cash and I now have a brand new BOB Ibex worth 700 odd bucks which cost me 200 bucks, a Fastlink ferry and a couple of bus fares…… Upside was I was able to spend a great time with my Daughter that lives in Sydney. It was fab to see her. J

I flew out of Sydney and into Hobart on Monday the 12th, arriving at 5PM. I Uber’d it to the self-storage, which is literally only 5 K’s from the airport, put all my gear together in a tad over an hour and peddled off to the caravan park in Cambridge, which is about 2 K’s from the storage. Total cost of storage was 50 bucks…bargain! It all went like clockwork.

I spent 3 days at the van park. I had to pick up some new spectacles I’d ordered prior to flying out, picked up some mail from the central GPO, had to battle the bloody Derwent Bridge cycleway twice for that! Man, it’s an insane experience in high winds!!!! I also modified, with the help of gear from Bunnings, and fitted a light Iso-Elastic arm to the front carrier for the GoPro. I had had it mailed in from Brisbane, another Gumtree find….  J

This morning I left the van park and headed off to Sorell. From there I headed out to Nugent and then to Buckland and down to Orford. I covered 66 K’s, had to push on one hill as the back road gradients are a little steeper but also scored a sweet 23 Km downhill run. OK, it had a couple of ‘bumps’ in it, but was essentially all downhill! I’ve had a stonkin’ tail wind all day which has been fab! I shot a lot of vid but didn’t take any pics. The Iso-elastic arm is good but there is an issue with the gimbal mount, which causes some vibration. L

I’m in the caravan park at Orford, it’s pretty pricey at 25 bucks a night but I’m sucking the power out of it and charging everything I can. I had thought I may stay here a couple of nights as 66 Tassie K’s after a couple of weeks off is being felt, but at that price, I can’t see that happening. I’ll likely go through to Triabunna tomorrow, it’s only 6 K’s and is a truckload cheaper than here. I just didn’t have it in me to get there tonight.

OK, that’s it for now, stay tuned. I may even find it in me to take some pics…..  J

Here's a link to some pics;

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmaXhGrE

 

Cambridge to Port Arthur and return.

- Posted on 28 January 2018.

CAMBRIDGE TO DUNALLEY PUB

I headed into town for my new specs appointment, resplendent with the new yoke on the trailer, that lasted 3.02 K’s before it and the bike parted company. I was very lucky, I hadn’t realised it was going berserk behind me but the driver of the car behind me, a young woman, had thought to herself, “That’s going to fall off!” no sooner had she thought it when it did. She pulled up, bounced out of her car, tossed both panniers and then the trailer off the road, said “I could see that was going to happen” bounced back into her car and was off. I then picked up the bits and was just putting the stand up on the bike, which I’d dropped to gather up the panniers etc, when she reappeared, grabbed both the panniers and trailer and took off up the road saying, “There’s a pull over with more room up here” I grabbed the bike and followed. By this time another older guy had stopped and helped her with the panniers. We got to the pull over and had a chat. She was a fit woman, maybe very late 20’s, very early 30’s and obviously a quick thinker. She had her 2 children in the back seat and she toddled off on her merry way. The ExtraWheel with the longer yoke is definitely going home now!!! I rearranged the weight in the panniers and it seemed OK but the ride into town was a bit tense as it was along the Tasman Highway.

The young guy that did my eyes was having kittens about the state of my cornea, years ago I had an op on both eyes and they’re a bit different to the average eye. He wouldn’t take my assurances that, as far as I was concerned, they were fine. He wanted to send me off to the specialist and maybe get them operated on, bugga that! I eventually gave him the number of the guy back in WA who looks after me so he could ring him and ease his mind. I’ll pick up the new specs when I get back from WA.

I also mailed the old trailer yoke home.

I then headed off towards Sorell with no concrete plan. When in Sorell I rang a guy I have worked with who lives there but got no answer, so I headed off. I took the beachside route and the traffic quietened down immediately. I’m amazed at just how dry it is here on this part of the East Coast. All of the houses in the small towns I passed through are on tank water, which I find amazing, considering I’m in Tassie and the West Coast has dam after dam, full of water. I peddled and pushed my way towards Port Arthur, ran out of water, cursed the fact that I left my filter at home and eventually rode into Dunalley, where there is a pub that welcomes campers in a paddock it has beside the pub. First thing I did was fill up 2 litres of water from the basin in the toilets. It seems wrong to say I filled my bladder up in the toilet, but essentially, that’s what I did!!!! My sister and I had a good laugh over that!

I’ve set up the tent in the paddock and am about to hit the hay.

Dunalley Pub to Port Arthur.

I was up too early for the pub and as I needed more water, I rode back into town looking for a public tap, with no luck. There was a tap at the public toilets but a sign said it wasn’t potable, bugga. I saw a bloke in a little office and asked him if he knew where I could fill my bladder up. He had a tank right there and let me use it. Turns out he’s the Denison Canal Operator, has been for a long time. The Canal has a rotating bridge that requires operating on a regular basis, 365 days per year. The canal is the only one of its kind in Tas, and maybe OZ. It was cut back in the 1900’s and is very short. It enabled the boats to take a short cut from Blackman’s Bay to Dunalley Bay. Blackman’s bay was a major fishing / logging region in its day. We had a good chat about all things Sea and Earth. He told me about the town being all but razed to the ground back in 2013, all in all an interesting guy. He stayed and saved his home but says even though he’s pretty well over it, he still gets a bit edgy when several hot days are forecast.

Here’s some blurb from Wikipedia;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denison_Canal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Tasmanian_bushfires

I headed off to Port Arthur, eventually I left the cleared country and re-entered the forest, albeit a very dry one. However, it was nice to have the chirp of birds for company again. The forest is very similar to that of South West WA.

I arrived at Port Arthur cv park, where a badly sloping, non-shaded tent site costs 38 bucks a night and a bed in a 10 bed dorm, which is both level and shaded, costs 33 bucks a night, go figure that one out! Bunkhouse it was, and for the 2 nights I was there, no-one else turned up!

Rest day in Port Arthur.

I did some maintenance on the bike, namely cleaned around the fork seals, re-tensioned the rear wheel spokes and repaired a puncture, the 1st of the journey, on the trailer wheel.

I rode around to the historic penal settlement to take some pictures but discovered it cost 39 bucks for and adult entry, not impressed Jan…. I find it ludicrious that we have to pay such an exhorbitant amount in order to view the history of our country. It was 99 bucks for a family pass. I’d be interested to know the breakdown of the nationalities that visit the place. I reckon at those prices, Australians would be near the bottom of the list!

I said to the young lady “I doubt that it’s changed much since 1978 eh?” She agreed it probably hasn’t. When I was outside I got straight onto the net, found the ‘Contact’ page for the site and wrote the following;

“Hi Team,

To say that I'm really pissed off is a massive understatement.

I'm touring Tasmania by bicycle and made a special effort to visit Port Arthur, only to find not only would I get charged 38 dollars for an unpowered, unshaded and badly sloping camp-site at the nearest caravan park, but this morning, having ridden from there to the ruins, I discovered I'd have to pay 39 dollars to gain admission to the site.

I consider it an utter disgrace that we are required to pay such an exorbitant price in order to see our own history.

You can be thankful that I'm standing outside using my phone to contact you, should I have had access to a computer, I would have given you an absolute earful.

Needless to say, I didn't visit the site.

Totally Dissatisfied.
Alan.”

I gave my full details and am now awaiting their reply!

I rode back to the van park and lounged around for the rest of the day.

PORT ARTHUR TO CAMBRIDGE [HOBART]

I was on the road about 8 ish with the intention of peddling through to Dunalley Pub. The mornings ride through the forest and beside the sea was very pleasant. I had a couple of stops on the way, discovering on one of them that the little frozen Lemonade icy poles only cost $1.25….winner…..

I arrived at Dunalley Pub around 1ish and after having a bit to eat, I felt pretty good so I carried on towards Sorell. I took a different route to that of the one I came in on, it meant a bit of a longer climb, however, the reward was a nice long decent into Sorrel, that and the fact the scenery was a little different. There was one short section of gravel and whilst on it 2 cars approached from behind. As the wind was blowing from right to left, I changed to the incorrect side of the road so as not to get dusted out. When the 1st car was close enough, I waved it through, no dust, worked a charm! Did the same with the 2nd car, unbeknown to me, it was a cop car!!!!! Complete with cops!!!! I gave them a casual wave and a smile and received the same back!!!!!  J

The temp rose quite a bit after 1ish but the tailwind also picked up and before I knew it I was in Sorrel and doing a ram raid on Coles. I then did one on a health food shop disguised as a McDonalds, walking out with a large, very healthy bucket of chips and a medium Fanta! I lay around in a park under the shade of a shelter and around 5:40ish, headed off to the cv park in Cambridge, arriving a little past 6:30ish. I’ll stay here now until I fly out to WA on Wednesday.

Just for the record, I've just ticked over 1900 K's in Tassie! Go me!!! I just worked out I've been here 6 weeks so that puts my daily average at about 45 Km per day. Pretty casual really!!

Cygnet to Hobart

- Posted on 21 January 2018.

CYGNET TO GORDON    

It was a beautiful crisp morning and I was on the road by 0730. I took the coast road with the intention of getting as far as Snug, a small sea side community, parrrp…. didn’t happen. I got as far as Gordon, which when I arrived, I discovered it has a community run campground where one can stay for 4 consecutive nights at 5 bucks a night, so I plopped my fat bum down there and didn’t move for the rest of the day!!! Well, that’s not strictly true, I had to ride up to the general store 3 km’s away in order to get 5 bucks to put in the honesty box. I was impressed with both the prices and the range of the store considering its location, bought a bit of health food disguised as chocolate! The ride around the coast gave some nice views, there were some big hills but overall the road was great and there was very little traffic. I was overtaken by a B double full of fuel. He was just tonking along and it was quite a sight watching him get around some of the hairpins! Did big K’s today…..36 Km’s!!!

GORDON TO SNUG

On the road early, the plan was to get into Snug by 10am so I could get a full day in the van park and charge all my gear up, which I did. I found a bit of shade for the day for the tent, which was very pleasant.

The ride through was very pleasant, although there was one hill…… The particular hill was on a side road I had planned to take around the headland because I thought it would be reasonably flat….parrrp….wrong…..it was the steepest hill I’ve encountered since the Arthur River-Corinna road. I turned around and rolled back down and stuck to the main road even though it was quite busy. I saw a couple of “swamp chooks” [little swamp hens] cross the road in front of me, instead of crossing straight over and whizzing into the bush, they chose to run along beside me for a bit! Those little bastards can really hammer, they were doing near on 50 kph, naturally I was egging them on with “Run you little bastards, RUN RUN” What amazes me is how the birds never seem to poke their eyes out when they suddenly decide to turn off into the undergrowth at that speed!!!!!  

Had an interesting chat with a guy on a motorbike that stopped. He does a bit of bicycle touring and was interested in the trailer. He has a BOB and asked if it would be worth swapping over, given all the trouble I’ve had to date with the new yoke, I recommended he stay with his BOB. He was riding a nicely setup BMW which was very quiet, I was quite envious as he pulled away with no effort!!!

Also ran into Jim, a retired guy travelling with his car and van, I first met him in Stanley. We had a good yak and he went on his merry way. He’s base camped at a place a bit down the coast, and does day trips from there. A great way to go I reckon. All in all, a very lazy day.

SNUG TO OUTER HOBART. [CAMBRIDGE]

I hit the road early in order to try and miss the inevitable traffic en-route to Hobart, Snug is only about 15 Km’s away from Hobart. I took the A6 into Hobart and it turned out to be a good call as the gradient up the range was very doable. Once at the top it was a great downhill run into the city center. On that run I hit a new top speed of 77.8 KPH, that was pretty sweet!!!  J I simply passed through Hobart city centre, picked up a bike path and crossed the Derwent River Bridge and headed out to Cambridge, which is the closest van park that has camping sites around Hobart on the Northern shore. Crossing the Derwent Bridge is a bit of an epic, the path is extremely narrow and I had to concentrate otherwise the panniers caught the guard rails on either side. Two bikeS approached from the opposite direction and I had to stop so we could lift their bikes over mine in order for them to get past. There were also a couple of pedestrians heading my way and even though they fried to make themselves skinny, there wasn’t the room to go past them. I got past them when there was a bit of a “passing bay” about 2/3rds of the way over.  I stopped at Woolies on the way as I needed a bit of tucker. I’m camped in the van park and will have Sunday off and catch up with the web page etc. Tomorrow I’m hoping my other yoke for the trailer will arrive at the Hobart PO so I can whizz in and pick it up. I also want to buy Bruno from the bike shop a beer for organizing my brake pads so efficiently when I was in Queenstown.

The other day I got a call asking if I could do 8 day’s work back home and as I’m getting low on funds I’ll fly back and do that. I’ve made arrangements to store the bike in a self-storage place for 50 bucks a fortnight. I’m going to take the opportunity to take the ExtraWheel trailer home and return with my BOB Ibex.

OK, so I’m all up to date…….. I know it's not very descriptive, but unfortuantly it all has a sort of "sameness" for me. Not that I'm not enjoying myself, because I am, I'm just not inspired to stop and get the camera out so much any more.  Chat later!

Here’s a link to a few pics, not many mind you!

 

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmdLwJJ2

 

 

Dover to Cygnet

- Posted on 17 January 2018.

I was on the road early and followed the coast road which was very pleasant. It was another beautiful day with blue skies forever.

Once on the highway, traffic was busy.

I stopped at a road side stall and bought some plums, apricots and a jar of orange marmalade. The vendor had a sign on the stall saying, “If you choose to steal my produce, I hope you choke”. I liked their style! The plums and apricots were yummo! The orange marmalade is absolutely delish!!!

I stopped for a break and to take a pic of a sailing boat I was gaining on. Whilst on the jetty taking the pic, I ended up having a long chat to a bloke who is living on a 26 Ft motor yacht and sailing around Tassie. He lives on a FINN 8 and was extolling its virtues. He was a bit of a character, had his cask of Chateau La Kar-board, which he was drinking out of his high class coffee mug! I sort of wouldn’t mind doing the yacht thing for a couple of years, but not in OZ.

From there I carried on to Huonville where I did a ram raid on Woolies, bought a new shirt from the Op Shop, the last one I got is falling to bits after only 2 years, an utter disgrace considering the price I paid! [free…], I rode around Huonville looking for power points, no luck so I hit a park bench and sampled my new found culinary delights. 

After a couple of hours of lounging around I headed off to Cygnet, where the camping is cheap, arriving here after an hours riding. The pedal assist came into its own as there was a head wind the whole way.

All in all, a pretty cruisy 70 Km-ish sort of a day.

Pics here;

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmdLwJJ2

DOVER TO COCKLE CREEK AND RETURN

- Posted on 16 January 2018.

DOVER TO COCKLE CREEK.

I ended up having another day off in Dover and subsequently doing the blog. It was a nice lazy day.

I left Dover about 0900 on Sunday but had to stop about 2 Km’s out the road and attend to the bloody trailer again, I don’t know what it is with the damned thing, it has a mind of its own and plays up at any old random time. I’m regretting having bought it as opposed to my BOB Ibex. Once that was sorted, with a fair amount of the Queen’s English being used I might add, I carried on my merry way.

For some reason I’m not sure of, I didn’t really feel like peddling down to Cockle Creek but I felt I was that close I may as well do it. It’s the most Southern point in Australia that one can drive to, which of course is a must do bucket list item….ho hum……not.

Well the ride turned out to be quite pleasant, particularly once I had passed the turn off to Hastings Caves, which is a big tourist attraction in these parts. The tar stops at Ida Valley, a small community from where an old narrow gauge steam engine does tourist trips from. From there, there is 25 Km’s of nice dirt road that winds its way through the forest before coming out on the coast just prior to Cockle Creek. It only took me about 3 hours to get down here. I wasn’t taken by the first few camp sites and kept going in the hope they might improve, which turned out to be a good call as the National Park site was very nice. I set up camp under a big pine and took it easy for the rest of the day.

REST DAY AT COCKLE CREEK.

Early this morning I rode out to the whale statue, a tribute to the Southern Right Whale, whose numbers took a serious hit due to whaling activities carried out from this section of coast in the early years of European settlement. It’s estimated there were over 100,000 Southern Right whales back in the day and now there are only about 10,000 left.

After the ride to the whale I gathered my gear and headed off to South West Cape Bay as the weather looked to be improving. I left about 0930, the suggested time for the return walk is 4 hours, I took 6! I shot a lot of video and took a lot of pictures along the way and upon arriving at the coast. I really enjoyed the walk through the forest. The track passes through both Eucalypt and Rain Forest and across open marshland. There is a heap of birdlife, including Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos, of which I saw a large flock happily chewing on the Banksia’s, of which there are only 3 species in Tassie, 1 on the mainland, 1 on either King or Flinders Island [I can’t remember which] and 1 on The Three Sisters off the North Coast between Penguin and Ulverstone.

The coast is very similar to the coastline that runs from Augusta to Esperance in West Aus, wild and rocky, interspersed with nice sandy bays. I have to admit, by the time I returned, I was feeling pretty knackered and I intend to hit the hay early. All in all, a good day!

Funny story, I was down on my knees completely absorbed with getting the right shot of a large Fungi on the side of the track, when I heard a very gentle French voice quietly say “Are you OK?” It scared the daylights out of me as I’d not heard anyone approach. She looked quite concerned until I showed her the camera and then the Fungi. J

COCKLE CREEK TO DOVER.

I was on the road by 0830, after having completely repacked the panniers on the trailer in the hope it’ll make it easier to tow. I had hoped to beat most of the tourists off the dirt section, which worked well. J  The morning was a glorious one with blue sky forever and no wind. The air temp was a crisp 12 degrees which made for really nice riding through the forest. Because there was no cloud cover, I had to put my long sleeved shirt on as soon as I exited the forest, even though the temp only rose to 17 degrees by the time I’d arrived at Dover, which was 1130 am.

En-route a guy in a large rent a van gave his ABS a good workout and came to a halt beside me for a chat. Whilst chatting I asked him how much his van was costing per day, “35 per day” was his reply. He bought an air matrass and was sleeping in the back. Cheap as chips! After I’d moved on I got to thinking if one did that with the van, then bought a Portapotty and a 20 L Jerry can for water, one would be able to utilize all of the self-contained campsites around Tassie, therefor saving a heap in camping fees and getting quite a cheap trip out of it! It had the room for me to chuck all my gear, wholeless bowlless, in the back!

As soon as I had claimed my bit of dirt under a tree in the van park, I got all the batteries out and on charge. Happy happy!!!

‘Cuse the sun is out and the temp isn’t too insane, a lot of people are out sunbathing, including a little group of French chicky babes a couple of sites up!!! I might pop over later and say G’day!!!! :)

Here's a link to the pics;

https://flic.kr/s/aHskuFM8d1

 

Cygnet to Dover

- Posted on 12 January 2018.

CYGNET TO DOVER.

I didn’t leave until 11 am after having charged 2 batteries. Even though I slept like a log, I didn’t feel 100% as yesterday was a big day. I rode back to Huonville to cross the river and continue South. I stopped and took a few pictures as it was a blue sky day and the river looked great.  There were quite a number of yachts moored in the river and 1 really stood out. It looked to be about 50 Ft long and quite slim, unlike the others. I reckon it would be a very efficient passage maker. It looked like it could do with quite a bit of TLC but I liked the lines. At 2pm I really hit the wall and was fortunate enough to find a little BBQ area with shade. I could have camped there but there was no power there so after a nanna nap and some munchies I carried on. The road to Dover has a fair amount of climbing on it and the last range near on broke me because I was so tired, however, the 5 Km decent into Dover was worth the while. I’ve camped at the caravan park for 20 bucks a night, which has a simple but effective 3 walled shelter serving as a camp kitchen, in which I have seated myself with all my charging gear. I ended up knocking over about 65 Km’s and sure as hell know about it after the big day yesterday!

REST DAY IN DOVER.

So, once again I slept like the dead! I wonder why? This morning I was up early on off on the bike to take some pics of the area. I stopped and unloaded the camera and in the process put my gimbal on the trailer pannier for safe keeping. When I packed up the camera gear I forgot about the gimbal and didn’t realise until 11:30 when I went to charge it, needless to say it was gone! I jumped straight back on the bike and retraced my earlier ride but I couldn’t find it. I’m not surprised as it was 5 and ½ hours between rides. PITA as it was about 300 bucks. That put a dent in my day.

I spent the rest of the day typing up the journal and processing some pics.

I may stay tomorrow as I’m still feeling the other day coming over the mountain.

Here's a link to some pics of the Southeast sofar;

https://flic.kr/s/aHskAhx9oB

New Norfolk to Cygnet

- Posted on 12 January 2018.

NEW NORFOLK TO CYGNET.

I left town about 10ish and headed toward Jeffery’s track with the intention of using it as a short cut from the Derwent Valley to the Huon Valley. I had read that it was a mud fest in the winter and very slippery even after a moderate amount of rain due to the high clay content. Seeing as how it had been dry for the last few days I thought it was worth a try. Going by the contour lines on the map, it looked to be a bit steep but what the hell, I figured I called return to the van park if it all went pear shaped!

The first 15 K’s were quite easy, with only a few really steep sections. The ‘track’ up to this point is in actual fact a well-groomed gravel road, servicing the houses that are up that way. However, once past the last house, it slowly deteriorates to a real four wheel drive track.

I rode it until about 500 meters from the peak where it became so steep I had to unload the bike and ferry the stuff up to the peak in two sections. It was bloody hard work! Once I reached the peak I reloaded and off I went, all in all, that section took well over an hour.

On the way up I had spotted a few of the Tasmanian Trail markers. The Tasmanian Trail runs from Devonport in the North to Dover in the far South. The decent into the Huon Valley was pretty radical, shitloads steeper than that of the Derwent side. I had to really sit on the brakes and shift my great fat bum over the rear rack for almost 4 Km’s. By the time I got down my shoulders were killing me. I was so grateful for the 3 inch front tyre as it meant I was able to keep trackton the whole way down, the front tyre didn’t let go once, it was a different story with the 2” rear tyre, but even so, it did well, because even though it was seriously steep and loose, I didn’t once feel I was going to lose the lot. I’ve never bought a fully loaded touring setup down something so long, loose and steep, it was a blast and I really enjoyed the challenge. I toddled down at 8 Kph, just enough to easily keep my balance but slow enough to manoeuvrer where ever I wanted. As an aside, the brakes were a little warm when I finished!!

Once off the track, the road was good dirt and then tar into the town of Grove. From there it was onto the highway and off to Huonville. On the section to Grove there was a group of mountain bikers, about 10 of them, coming towards me. We stopped for a chat, turns out they were all from France, with ages ranging from 45 to 55 by the look of it, and had a week in Tassie, in which time they were doing some of the trail. They were asking about trail conditions and after telling them about the long climb and nice decent the other side they were in for, I mentioned that there was a café at the peak with topless young female Swedish waitress’s serving free hot chocolate, I’m not sure what happened next, I turned away for a split second and when I turned back they were nowhere to be seen and I was talking to myself!!!!!! I’m still a bit mystified about that!!!!

From there I rode into Huonville and made my way to the caravan park. They wanted 35 bucks for a non-powered, non-shady site so I told ‘em to jam it and rode the extra 15 Km’s through to Cygnet, where they wanted 12 bucks for the same deal! When I arrived, there were just under 6 billion fruit pickers there! It’s a big cherry growing area. I wanted to re-charge the bike batteries but figured it’d be best to leave it until the morning when most of them had left for work as it was just too busy in the camp kitchen. 

REST DAY IN NEW NORFOLK

I did very little today, other than charge batteries and visit Woolies, which I might add, is huge, considering the size of the town.

En-route, as I was coming through Hamilton, I spied a touring tandem with a child’s trailer behind it parked beside a large tent, but all looked quiet around the tent so I didn’t stop.  This morning I was wandering around the caravan park I spotted the same tandem. It’s ridden by a couple from Switzerland who have their 4-year-old son with them. I had a chat and they have ridden from Hobart up the East Coast to Devonport and then down through the highlands with the aim of heading back to Hobart from where they fly out. 

LAKE ST CLAIR TO NEW NORFOLK.

- Posted on 08 January 2018.

I packed early and headed to the visitor centre scouting for a power point, which I found! I plugged 3 batteries, the laptop, phone and tablet in. I then sat around for an hour and a half, tapping away on the computer, fully expecting the phone to ring regarding my “suggestion” from the night before, however, it didn’t! [See the post from Queenstown to Lake St Clair] I didn’t need a full charge in all the batteries as I only planned to go through to Tarraleah, which is about 55 K’s.

When I left I was fangin’ for a decent feed so I did the 5 K’s through to the main road and a café called the Hungry Wombat. When I pulled up there were two touring bikes parked up and the owners were quite obvious to me!!!! I ordered a full breakky and then had a chat to the riders, a couple from the USA. They had a pair of Surly Trolls with Rohloff’s, nice bikes, and had been on the road for 4 months (I think) The women was telling me I was only the 8th tourer they’d seen in that time.

It bought to mind that the previous day I’d seen a tourer heading to Queenstown, upon which I’d thrown up a wave enthusiastically whilst yelling out “You wanna stop for a chat?” “No Thank You” came his rather curt reply. Pretty odd I found and quietly thought “Hope ya get 2 flat tyres ya fukka!!”  That thought cheered me up and I enjoyed the rest of my downhill run…… I asked the couple if they’d come across the guy, their reply, “Wasn’t very chatty, was he?” They too thought it was odd as touring cyclists always like to stop and have a yak, however, they didn’t curse him with 2 flat tyres! Note to self, “Don’t be so harsh……Nah bugga ‘im, I hope his spare tube has been eaten by rodents as well!”

They [the couple] were also heading towards Hobart and left a bit before me as I got chatting to a European couple interested in the touring aspect using a pedal assist. I caught up to them and we cruised along together for a while until I needed a drink because of the big breakky. The woman was the pace setter and she was fairly pumping along! I caught them up again coming up a long climb and told them there’ll be hot chocky at the top, sadly there wasn’t!

We stopped in a small roadside stop and were talking about blogs ETC, they were saying they didn’t know where people found the time, they reckoned they didn’t they take nice pictures either. They were saying they struggle to remember the places they’d been. I suggested doing what I do and use the GoPro as a recording tool as it works well for me and also shows the country I pass through. They seemed to warm to the idea and I’d be interested to know if they take it up, I guess I’ll only know if I run into them again as they don’t have a blog!!!!  J We parted company when we left as they were turning off the main road and I carried on to Tarraleah.

I had the longest downhill run of the trip into the Nive River Valley, it was absolutely sweet. I pulled up at the bottom as I was feeling a bit tuckered out and had a short nanna nap. I had thought I’d have an equally long climb but to my surprise it was only 3K’s into town.

Tarraleah is, it turns out, a privately owned town. It was released by the Hydro Authority back in 1997 (I think) and bought then. Consequently, it’s very neat and tidy, unlike a lot of the small towns which are often scruffy and poor looking. I think Tarraleah is used primarily for accommodation and seminars. I heard it got sold again in 2016 for around 10 Million.

I checked into the van park and asked if they had a camp kitchen as I would like to charge my ‘phone’…. The young women informed me they didn’t but she was sure if I went to the restaurant and bought a drink, they’d be able to work something out….  J Sad really, she had no idea who she was dealing with. Within 15 minutes of picking my camp site, I had 3 batteries, the tablet, phone, computer, gimbal and GoPro batteries all on charge in the Gents toilet block. When the 3 bike batteries were done, I popped the 4th on…….  And it didn’t even cost me a drink, other than water, which I used their tap for anyway whilst I filled 4 litres’ in my MSR bladders!!!!! It was a very peaceful place and I slept well.

I was on the road at 0700 the next morning and immediately copped a 3 Km climb. After that it was through undulating country that is primarily used for forest harvesting. ( Pine and Tassie Bluegum) However, there were some very nice sections of natural forest with stacks of bird life.

I popped out of the forest, literally, it was a very clear delineated line, into the pastoral country near Ouse. I pulled up in Ouse and did a ram raid on the local IGA, which was well stocked and priced considering the small size of the place.

Whilst I was there an older couple pulled up in a mobile home made by EarthCruiser called the Southlander, they’re custom made and about 300 thousand bucks. I got to thinking it’s a bit of a pity that tech wasn’t around 30 years ago when it could be properly utilized. Now one really needs to go to Africa, in the wet, or maybe the Amazon basin to fully utilize it. Still, if EarthCruiser popped up beside me and gifted me one, I’d gladly accept!!!!! J

After a break and a long chat to a young guy touring on his motorbike, I headed to a Wikicamps location at Bethune Park which is beside a lake. The wind was absolutely howling in from the West so I hardly had to turn a peddle, it was also quite hot but as I crossed the causeway it was delightful. The camp site was crap but I didn’t have anything left in the tank to carry on. I peddled back across the causeway and sat at a little picnic shelter which, besides its strength, the wind was very pleasant because the water cooled it as it crossed the lake.

Even though the wind was a steady 30 KPH and the crazy Taswegians were turning up with boats of all shapes and sizes and hitting the lake, crazy bastards!!!! You wouldn’t want to go to war against them, you’d never be able to predict what they were going to do next!

Around 6pm I headed back to the camp and set up for the night. The initial spot I picked had hundreds of little green beetles that got into everything. Needless to say, I shifted sites. I had to put all 9 pegs in to keep the tent tied down due to the wind.

I was up early and on the road by 0700, the morning was delightful. I didn’t sleep really well last night, one of the tents with a mum and her kids had the radio playing all night. God knows why? The bloody thing kept waking me up.

I had decided to use the highway to get through to the Bushy Park  turn off then use a minor road that follows the Derwent River to New Norfolk.The highway turned out to be great, in the one and a bit hours I was on it, I only saw 8 cars and 1 truck, plus it had a really good shoulder. In stark contrast, when I hit the road beside the Derwent, there were heaps of cars and no shoulder. The river scenery was nice though.

I was in New Norfolk by 1030. The first thing I did was find a health food shop, it was disguised as a bakery! and ordered a hot choc and munchies. I then made my way down to the caravan park and set up. 

QUEENSTOWN TO LAKE ST CLAIR.

- Posted on 08 January 2018.

I staggered out of the tent at 7ish, no need to hurry as I had to wait for the PO to open. About 8:30 ish I got a text confirming the arrival of my pads at the PO. Sweet! I whizzed down to the PO and was their first customer for the day! I installed the pads there in front of the PO and back to the CV park I went. I packed everything, went and did a ram raid on the IGA and had a snack or two, health food of course!

By the time I was ready to leave it was 1PM. I figured I’d do a few K’s and then camp, that however, didn’t work out.

The ride out of Queenstown is a long uphill climb, about 4 K’s but it’s well graded and so I knocked it over in reasonable time. Once I hit the top there was a sweet downhill run and I was off. I was enjoying the ride and the K’s were rolling under the wheels with ease, so much so that I kept going until Lake St Clair, a distance of 96 K’s. I arrived there at 1845 and tried to find the free camping site but was unable to. There were no instructions on how to access it anywhere. I wasn’t a happy camper. I rang the motel back down the road to see if they had camping, I needed it access to power to charge at least 1 battery. It was them who told me how to get to the free camping ground.

Whilst this was happening, I came across a card put out by the National Parks, entitled “Tell us how we went”, so I did, in no uncertain terms too, I might add!!!! I made sure my name and number were on it as well in the hope they would ring me.

As I said, the ride between Queenstown and Lake St Clair was really enjoyable, the hills were manageable, some of the views down the valleys were fantastic and the forest in general was great. The traffic was light, there was an abundance of bird life and I saw 2 Echidnas, one of which I managed to capture on the GoPro, I’ll put the footage up and link it later.

There is a patch of Alpine Forest just prior to Lake St Clair and I was passing through it at 6 pm ish and when the sun broke through the clouds the light was fantastic. All in all, it’s been my favourite section so far. 

ZEEHAN TO QUEENSTOWN.

- Posted on 08 January 2018.

I left Zeehan around 9ish, after having to stop almost immediately to attend to the trailer, which was going berserk. Once that was sorted, I headed for Strahan.

The ride through was really pleasant, the road is well graded and there were some very nice sections of forest. On one of the hills I figured I was clicking along and looked down at the speedo to find I was doing 69 kph! That was a buzz!!! Just prior to Strahan the road drops down out of the hills and onto the coastal plain which is relatively flat with nice forest which was really nice.

When I arrived in Strahan I rang a couple of van parks about a tent site, there were no unpowered sites available and the powered sites were 40 and 45 dollars per night for 1 person. I promptly decided they could jam that where the sun don’t shine. I decided to push on and figured I’d camp somewhere along the road. I then had a brain wave and rang the 1 van park in Queenstown, where I discovered they had sites, a camp kitchen and it was only $12.50 per night! So, off I choofed, not really consciously making for there but the ride turned out to be quite easy and I covered the 40 odd K’s in a tad over 2 hours. En-route I saw a couple of cyclists heading my way and we all pulled over and had a yak, they were an Israeli couple who had ridden from Sydney down to Melbourne and the did a bit in Tas. They were due to catch the ferry out of Devenport in a couple of days and hoped to hitch out of Strahan. We were about 9 K’s out from Strahan when we met. Later on the thought crossed my mind that they would probably had more luck out of Queenstown as most of Strahan’s traffic is tourist traffic and often loaded to the hilt. I wonder how they fared?

Upon my arrival in Queenstown I made straight for the van park as it had been raining most of the way. I got the tent up, got the batteries on charge and had a hot shower and had some munchies, life was sweet!

As an aside, over the course of the day, in which I covered 90 odd K’s, I used 13 Wh per kilometre, which was down from the 15 Wh/K down the Arthur River - Zeehan section.

During the evening I had decided to stay an extra day and next morning I sat in the camp kitchen and caught up on the blog as well as rang Bill from Follow My Ride” regarding the yoke troubles I’m having. He uses the same yoke and has no trouble and had heard no reports of anyone else having the issue.

Around mid-afternoon I stripped the rear brakes down as they had worn down metal to metal and a) weren’t working incredibly well and b) were making a horrible noise! They’re easy to change out and I had them off within a couple of minutes. I then went to grab the 2 spare sets and bloody hell, couldn’t find them anywhere!!! PANIC……  I had a thorough look but they weren’t to be found. I distinctly remember popping them in a small plastic zip lock bag in Stanley when I was repacking my gear. I suspect they’re still there, in their little zip lock bag, feeling lost and lonely…….. By this time, it was about 2:45pm, I did a Google search for a bike shop in Hobart that was near the Post Office (Bike Ride. Liverpool St.) and rang them. A bloke named Bruno answered and confirmed they had the one’s I required. I explained my situation and asked if he would mind posting them ASAP. He was more than happy to do so, I paid for Express postage and because he used his brain and put my phone number on the satchel, about 20 minutes later I got a notification text saying they were in the system. It was a little unclear as to whether I’d receive them the next day, however the staff at the PO thought it a high possibility. My squeaky brakes and I, could only wait and hope.

Down to Zeehan

- Posted on 03 January 2018.

DOWN TO ZEEHAN.

So I left Stanley and rode through to Smithton, which was not uneventful, as the trailer fell off! I was lucky as it happened when no vehicles were behind me. I’m not sure what caused it but it was a bit alarming, particularly as I wasn’t even belting down a hill! I fiddled around with the load a bit and it seemed OK afterwards. It’s not given me any trouble prior to the new yoke being fitted and I can’t help thinking it’s the new yoke causing the issue.  In Smithton I posted my excess gear back home and did a ram raid on Woollies for some fresh food. I left with the intention of heading out to Cape Grim and then going down the dirt road to Merrawah. The ride out through this section was particularly reminiscent of the Denmark area in WA. The dirt road down from the Woolnorth boundary to Merrawah was in good nick and very quiet, although when there was traffic, it rarely slowed down much and the dust was annoying. The bloody trailer fell off again and this time I noticed one of the reducer spacers on the Ortlieb panniers was missing, I suspect it came loose on the 1st fall as it was the same pannier that parted company with the trailer back then. The weather was fantastic, quite warm without being too hot and blue skies. I didn’t take any pics as it didn’t really inspire me. When I reached Merrawah there was only a tavern so I pushed on to Arthur River where I camped at the one and only caravan park. From Arthur River I continued on down to Corinna via the dirt road that goes through the Arthur – Pieman Conservation Area. My first camp was at the Linsey River bridge. The ride up to that point was very pleasant, the early part of the morning was on bitumen and the arvo was on dirt, which was good dirt. Imet a group of young crew from Sydney and had a yak, hi guys if you’re reading this! There were very few hills and I made good time. I pulled up at 1 pm ish. The camp was very pleasant. By the time I’d stopped the rain was coming in, it had been brewing for some time. Next morning, I headed off and almost immediately hit the first horrendous hill of the day! It was bitumen and bloody steep! Each subsequent time I saw bitumen at the base of a hill I knew I was in for a hard hike a bike push, the worst of which was only about 100 hundred meters long but had to be at least 18 to 20% gradient, it was pure hell. That whole section of road from Linsey River through to Corinna was hard work. I suspect it was put in by a blind bulldozer driver after a hard night on the turps! It was a huge controversy when it was put in and I feel they could have done a much better job. When I reached Corinna I tried to book into the camping area but there were no places available which was a bugger as I had depleted 3 batteries and the 4th only had 75% left in it. I asked at the tavern/restaurant whether I could charge one of my batteries and they graciously consented, so I sat around for 2.5 hours and then paid my $12.50 for the 4-minute ferry ride across the Pieman River, which was named after a convict, who was a Pieman from England who had escaped from detention and was recaptured in the area. I was a bit gutted that I wasn’t able to stay as I had planned to have a day off and during it, do a few of the walks in the area to see the Huon Pines, but hey, I guess if one doesn’t do the research, one has to roll with the blows. I had been told that there was 12 K’s of dirt after the river with only one real hill, well the “real hill” was immediately after the ferry ride and the bloody thing was 5K’s long. Having to push the bike up that, which was the 11th for the day, just about did me in, particularly after having done 50 K’s on the “Road from Hell”!! I camped on the side of the road, literally, I was about 3 Meters off the road in a tiny clearing in the rain forest. Needless to say, I slept like the dead! I was on the road bright and early the next morning and whilst there were a few hills for the first 8 or 9 K’s, they were nothing like the hills the day before. Once I hit the main road into Zeehan, I really started to scoot along as it’s really nicely graded, as in gradients, there were a few long uphill runs but they weren’t too bad. On one section I could have sworn I was in Scotland, I even stopped and shot a bit of video to prove it. The clouds were low on the hills, the vegetation was low and windswept, with a cold wind blowing. When I reached Zeehan I checked into the caravan park and hit the camp kitchen to charge the batteries.  It was New Tears Eve, I celebrated New Years by using New Zealand time and hit the hay early…….    TBC……

Still in Stanley

- Posted on 22 December 2017.

Hi Crew,

I've been cooling my heels here in Stanley, for 2 reasons.

1. It's a very pleasant CV Park with a good camp kitchen and facilities.

2. I've changed the tyres on the bike and hit a bit of a tech snag......That being the fact that a belt, unlike a chain on a derailleur system, cannot be stretched!! A chain and derailleur system has a far bit of latitude for backward / forward movement. Given that I need to go past the belts physical length means I have to fit a longer belt. After taking the measurements it transpires I need a belt that falls between two sizes, which is a PITA, still, I've ordered said belts from the importer in Perth and am now sitting around on my rather ample arse waiting for them to arrive......oh but it Christmas time and the PO is shut until the 12th of never, Ho Ho Ho......Bugga…..  haha, It’s not a big drama as I'm in no hurry and it's enabled me to do a few bits n bobs.

I wandered up to the top of the “Nut” which I might add, is as steep as hell, but the view was good as it was a nice clear day. There is a little [2K] walk around the top with various lookouts. There are Wallabies and I also saw a couple of small Kangaroos, called Pademelons, who was the retard that came up with that name for a ‘roo? No wonder they’re small and stunted, with a name like that anything would develop a complex!!!!

From Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_pademelon

I noticed that one of the Wallabies had a very bad case of mange and there were a couple of others that weren’t as badly affected, but mangy all the same. Out of interest I looked it up on the web and found this;

Sarcoptic mange is an infection of the skin in mammals caused by the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei. The parasite can infect both humans and wildlife, with the disease referred to as scabies and mange respectively. Sarcoptic mange is widely distributed, affecting over 100 species, spanning seven mammalian families. Signs of mange include intense scratching, skin reddening, skin thickening and hair loss. Severity of the infection and mortality rates vary depending on species and geographic location. The mite is invasive to Australia and is believed to have arrived about 200 years ago with European settlers and their domesticated animals. Since its introduction, S. scabiei has been documented in a number of native Australian species. Sarcoptic mange has the most significant impacts on wombat populations and can cause local extirpation of populations. Increased management and population scale treatments may be required to protect isolated or small wombat populations…………..”

Taken from here:

http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/Sarcoptic%20Mange%20in%20Australian%20Wildlife%20May%202017%20(2.0).pdf

I got a lift into Smithton with the guy who does the cleaning and bits n bobs around the CV park yesterday to drop into Woolies to buy some more food as I was completely out. I also had to buy a ¼” nut as I’d lost one off the front rack. Rodney is his name, he’s born and bred here in Stanley and at 55 YO and recently semi-retired, he’s one hell of a character. He’s very contented with his life, intelligent, switched on and a true Aussie with a very sarcastic / dry sense of humour. Needless to say we had a great time and a good laugh!

 Here's a link to the pics I've taken here in Northwest;

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmciyWKc

In Stanley

- Posted on 20 December 2017.

The CV park in Ulverston was very nice [Big 4] and it cost me 25 bucks. I charged all the gear and worked on the journal, which kept me up until 11pm, nearly unheard of for me!! Slept like a log and on the road by 0800. I headed off towards Burnie where I hoped to pick up a slider and other bits from Anthony. The weather came in, as in it rained, and I pulled up at a health food shop in Penguin. It was cunningly disguised as a bakery……. I had a hot choc, chook and camembert pasty, choc hedgehog and a blueberry slice. Best health food shop I’ve ever been to!!!! I departed in the rain and headed towards Burnie. The road was good with some nice coastal views. Bunnings was on the outskirts of town and I got the gear to set the gimbal up with and completed that in the Bunnings car park. I then went to the PO and lo and behold, Anthony’s parcel was there. I made the comment that express service is great, particularly at this time of year, the women seemed taken aback, and then commented that it was the first time someone had a positive comment about express post. I told her I’d just had 3 or 4 parcels delivered, all had arrived on time and I also had a parcel waiting for me in Stanley which had only taken 5 days to get from WA to TAS. Personally I think it’s a fab service. I camped at the Bernie Ocean View CV park, which was very quiet and although a little older, very clean. I spent a lot of time getting everything into some sort of order, over the last few days the pannier organisation has gone a little South, making it hard to find anything.

I was on the road early, but prior to actually riding, my daughter Innika rang and we had a good chat. Turns out it saved me a heap of K’s as after the chat, and 2.2K’s down the road, I got a call informing me I’d left a water bladder at the CV park. Back I went to retrieve it! I was heading in the general direction of Stanley today but as it was 80 odd K’s away I wasn’t too stressed if I didn’t make it. What a day!!!! This morning was quite pleasant as I managed to stay off the Bass Hwy and also did a ram raid on the Wynyard Woolies. I was wandering around in Woolies when I went past the hot cooked chocks, which smelt divine, I went to grab one and I spotted a hot roast lamb in a resalable bag for $9.35, well I was all over that like a rash!!!! I didn’t know Woolies did other hot goodies. I have to say, it was some of the best lamb I’ve ever tasted, it just melted in my mouth and was really delish!!! After devouring half the lamb, a snickers, a banana and a heap of water, I up and off towards Stanley. I had to re-join the Bass Hwy which turned out to be purgatory. There was no shoulder to speak of, and the wind slowly increased. Naturally, it was a head wind and the bloody thing peaked at 40 KPH. There was a lot of hills and when there was a cutting the wind was funnelled and was howling, I reckon it was well over 40 KPH but there was no way I could measure it. As I crested one hill, the wind gusted from the right and blew me 10 meters off into a shoulder and a driveway. I was actually quite lucky in two ways, 1 I’d just got past a guard rail which I’d been having to hug whilst climbing the hill and 2. It was a right to left gust. Had it been the other way, I’d have been splatted by a truck. The road isn’t really built to take the semi’s and log trucks and they do the speed limit, which is 100 KPH. To be honest, most other states in OZ would build a 4 lane Hwy to accommodate the amount of traffic, which is unbelievable, considering there is only about 500’000 people in the state. I would swear they were all on the road to check out the retard riding to Stanley…….. I got to a CV park which is only 29 K’s out of Stanley, I pulled over but decided to push on, so push on I did. I dragged my sorry arse along at what seemed a snail’s pace but what was actually a rather brisk 16 KPH. By the time I reached the turnoff to Stanley I was near shot. From the turnoff to the PO in Stanley is 7.48K’s, and guess where the wind was…….Parp……wrong, it was on my back, I did that section at 32 to 35KPH, how sweet is that!!!!!! Pure bicycle touring heaven!!!!! The tyre that my Brother sent over was at the PO and from there I headed to the CV park, which is where I am now, firmly ensconced in the camp kitchen under the guise of writing this but in actual fact, sucking their electricity supply dry by charging all my batteries!!

There are no pics for either yesterday or today. I was probably very remiss not to take a pic of the lamb……….

Lost the rear wheel nut....... :(

- Posted on 18 December 2017.

So, today I was up bright and early with the prospect of leaving Devonport and heading towards the North West corner for a bit of a look. I started packing early as I had to be in town early to check the mail and drop into the camera shop for a couple of bits. I went to attach the trailer and to my dismay I discovered the left hand wheel nut had come off. The reason I'd not noticed it is due to the fact that the bike has vertical dropouts as opposed to horizontal ones, these are the things that hold in the axle. I was gutted, to say the least. It effectively stopped me in my tracks. I knew I could ring Bill at Follow My Ride, in West Aus, where I bought them from, but I'd have to wait until 11 o'clock because of the time difference, and then it'd take at least 2 days to get here!! Whilst looking at it, I figured I'd been riding without the nut and all was good, so I might as well make use of the near on 5 hours I had to wait and go for a ride and retrace my steps from the past couple of days. So That I did! I went into town, where the street sweeper was operating, bloody hell I thought, it'll be gone if that bastard has been over it. I carried on towards Bunnings, still looking but not really hopeful, when there in the gutter I spotted my wheel nut. I'd retraced 8 Km's to that point. Super stoked, to put it mildly. I also recovered one washer, but the other, a special locating washer was not to be seen. Too bad, I'm sorta not too stressed out about it!!!!

After that I got my bum back to the caravan park, packed up and headed into town. Bought the gear from the camera shop and visited the PO where there was only 1 of 2 parcel that I expected. The PO people said there would be another delivery at 1 ish, so I waited...... It wasn't in that so I rang the sender in Sydney and got the tracking number, he gave me the incorrect one initially which caused a bit of confusion but I eventually got the correct one and discovered it had been delivered to West Devonport first thing this morning, so off I went. To the sender’s credit, it was addressed corectly so it was Auspost's ballsup. I was starving by this time so went to Woolies and bought some food and eventually left town at 4PM. I had decided to take the quiet road out of town, it is the old highway and it runs through Forth and then on to Ulverston.....parp.....wrong!!!!! It was as busy as hell, with 2 monster hills and absolutely no shoulder........ Anyway, I lived and got to 60 KPH on the downhill run which was a blast. I rode to the Caravan park in Ulverston because it was easy and I'm parked up there now.

The front page pic is of the rear wheel nut how I found it. It's the silver thing in the foreground in the gutter.  :)

There is a link to the downhill run below.

 https://youtu.be/yN4U-Im1qog

At Last.....Tassie

- Posted on 16 December 2017.

Yipee…It’s nice and cool…. Here in Tassie

So, I did a few day’s work at a mine called Edna May whilst the bike was on the truck heading to Melbourne, which was very handy as it both killed a bit of time and made me a bit of money.

The trip over was very comfortable and it was quick at 3.5 hours. When I landed I Uber’d it to the Watsons Transport yard to pick up the bike but unfortunately it hadn’t arrived…..bugga…… The guys rang the driver that was due in next and discovered he was a few hours out of Melbourne and I rang the Perth depot to try and find out if it was on that particular truck. They weren’t 100% sure so all I could do was wait. The truck eventually arrived and we whipped back the curtains and there it was! Big joy! I only had about an hour and three quarters to get from the yard to the Tassie ferry and the Watson boys reckoned it would be touch and go so the bike came off the truck and straight onto the back of the delivery ute, still on the pallet, and one of the young guys drove me to the ferry. I promised them a carton of beer when I returned. They reckoned they won’t forget!!!!! J I made the ferry with 30 minutes to spare so all was good. The boarding procedure went very smoothly and I was the only bicycle boarding. I had a bunk in a 4 share room with 2 other occupants on deck 8, and whilst it was small it was adequate and I slept really well in a comfortable bed. The trip over was very smooth with no seas to speak of.

I was up at 5 and on deck. It was a very pleasant cool morning and we were about half an hour out from land. Unlike Melbourne, where the ferry has to travel for about an hour prior to leaving the harbor, Devonport is literally only about 500 M up the Mersey River, which makes for an efficient landing. I arranged a few things on the bike prior to disembarking and was off the ferry by 0700. I cycled into town which was about 4 K’s, had a bit of breakky at Macca’s then headed out to a transport yard to pick up a gimbal I’d organised whilst at work and which had arrived the day before. I was pleased that the gimbal had arrived but dismayed, read PISSED OFF, to discover my GoPro housing with my 300 buck aftermarket Zenhieser mic wouldn’t fit onto it. Not a happy camper Jan!!! I really want to get a gimbal as I enjoy chatting to the camera as I’m riding but I would like to see the country I’m moving through as opposed to my ugly mug all the time. The issue I have at present is that the GoPro can’t ‘see’ over my handle bar bag, that’s why my rather handsome face adorns all the video’s…….. So if I can get the gimbal up and working it’ll be the county I’m travelling through you’ll see and not my face, yes, sad I know, but you’ll all get used to it over time……

In my usual manner I organized another gimbal, which I found in Melbourne, with its own waterproof casing that I’m assured by the importer will take the GoPro bacpack with my mic. Feeling happy but pissed off that I’d bought a 300-dollar unit I couldn’t use, I forked out another 500 bucks for the new unit, a Removu S1, with waterproof housing. I paid for express post and hopefully it’ll be here tomorrow. I roamed around town visiting the light house and enjoyed a long chat with a young woman who would like to start touring by bike and who had some questions about gear. It was getting towards 5pm when Kate went on her merry way, I had thought I’d leave town today but instead returned to the CV park. This evening another cyclist arrived, a German woman by the name of Suzie. She had a really well set up bike that she’d had custom made for her. She’s staying tomorrow so no doubt we’ll have a bit of a chat.

I slept well as it was a beautiful cool night. I still find my sleeping bag a bit warm so I tried to find one that is better for the warm nights but no joy. Had a long chat to Suzie, she’s here for 6 weeks and really only has a guide and not a plan, unusual for a German……  I cycled into town and checked the mail, the Gimbal had arrived and as soon as I unpacked it I realised my Zen mic won’t fit on the back, I was pretty pissed off to say the least, particulary having been told by the distributor that it would. Needless to say I rang them up and gave them a serve. The outcome of which is I’m receiving a wireless mic kit from them at a reduced price, not a hell of a reduction but at least they’re helping. Also, the guy I spoke to this time was quite honest and very helpful. He doesn’t think the Removu mic will be in the same class as the Zen but he does say it’s shitloads better than the GoPro. [Which isn’t hard to beat!!] That should be here Monday so I’ll most likely wait here at the CV park ‘till then. It’s a hard gig this touring by bicycle…….. I set the gimbal up today and did a trial run, not an absolute screamin’ success, there’s a bit to do to get it up and running how I want. It’s a bit frustrating but I guess I’m not your average user!

It’s been interesting here in Devonport, I’ve never really stayed here, I arrive and leave. Riding around I’ve noticed that things are not quite as rosy as it seems. To me there appeared to be a lot of whacked out and homeless people. I’ve also noticed there seems to be a lot of low income earners. I met and had a good chat to a guy in the caravan park who volunteers in a soup kitchen and he confirmed that there is indeed a drug problem in town, the use of ICE is very high. There are also a lot of homeless here. There are sections in town that, on a Friday night, the Ambulance won’t attend if called, unless the Police are already in attendance. Another local was telling me that Devonport had a boom a couple of years ago but that is well and truly over and the youth of the area have no real prospects, therefore the drug issue.

Video of Day 1

- Posted on 05 December 2017.

Hi Crew,

I did up a video of Day 1.

A couple of things;

1. This is primarily for me as a record of the days advents. I'm going to see how I go doing little vids as opposed to writting a journal, at which I suck, as the years gone by have proven.

2. Be warned I've got pleanty to say so it's 20 minutes long and unless you have unlimited data it should therefore be watched in low resulution, which can be changed by clicking on the little cog on the bottom right hand corner and then clicking on "Quality" and clicking on either the 144 or 240 settings when it opens in You Tube. If you have unlimited high speed data you can simply open it and let it do it's thing. If you open it in 144, it'll use about 34Mb of data.

Here's the YT link;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AHGUW2KPDM

Let me know what you think.

Muka to Perth

- Posted on 03 December 2017.

Hi Crew,

Well, I left Muka 10 days ago to head to the South coast via York, the Wandoo Forrest, Jarrahdale, Pemberton and Walpole. That didn’t happen….. read on!

Day One.

Left Muka at 1pm. It wasn’t too hot and it was good to be on the bike again. I headed off towards Kununoppin and really only planned to do about 20K’s. Due to the heat I didn’t stop and covered 47 K’s. There were tons of Locusts on the wing and the little bastards hurt when they flew into my face. I camped in a reserve which had some nice birdlife but was also home to tons of mozzie’s and ticks which was a pain. Today’s riding was a split of approx.. 50 / 50 dirt bitumen. The bike and trailer went well.

Day 2.

Slept well last night and was on the road by 0730. It was a very pleasant temperature. Headed down towards Doodlakine with the idea of picking up the old Goldfields road and using it to bypass Kellerberrin and then continue along it to York. En-route I stopped in at old Doodlakine, which is now only an information sign with a roof over it and the original well. I filtered 4 litres of water from the well and figured I may as well head off to Doodlakine wheat silo to use the outside power point to charge the batteries as opposed to using the genset. I figured there would be no-one there as it’s a small silo and Kellerberrin is only a few K’s down the road. Parp….wrong, turns our because it’s on the main railway line it’s still utilized, but the crew, who were a great bunch, let me charge the batteries which was great. It was quite hot today so the rest in the shade was a relief. After charging the batteries I rode through to Kellerberrin and did a ram raid on the local IGA. Bought a heap of cold drinks and a bit of fresh fruit and veg for the next 2 days down to York. I then rode out of town and camped. I had an elevated position with great internet signal and a gentle cool breeze once the sun set.

Day 3.

Slept very well last night and was up at 0515. Phaffed about as one does in the morning and went to take a pic with the good camera and discovered there was no memory card in it. After a frantic then more controlled search, I figured it was gone!! I thought about it and figured it must be at Doodlakine as I had transferred all my pics to the HDD I carry whilst I was waiting for the batteries to charge. With my ripper internet connection, I obtained the phone number for Doodly, then rang and explained my plight to them. After 15 minutes they rang back to inform me they had it in their hot little hands. So, back to Doodlakine it was, a round trip of 46 K’s, still, it’s a very expensive SD card as it can be written to at a rate of 280Mbs per sec which is what I require for the 4K video. En-route I came across an unusual tree, a species of which, like the Platypus, only exists here in Australia!!! By the time I got back to Kellerberrin it was stinkin’ hot, so the poor IGA suffered another ram raid. I hung around in the shade of a park, had a snooze on the bench and rode off towards York at about 4PM. I camp about 15 K’s out of town on another hill top. I’d like to say it had commanding views of the surrounding country but when all those views are wheat, it’s not really “commanding”!! Once the sun set it was very pleasant with a gentle breeze. The old Goldfields road is a good dirt road and very quiet in the way of traffic which I really like.

Day 4.

That “gentle” breeze lifted to a 33 KPH gale, my tent was pitched with the wrong orientation and I was perched on top of a bloody hill with nothing but wheat fields around me. Man, what a night!! Still, I got enough sleep. I re-joined the bitumen after visiting another well put in by Charles Hunt [he was responsible for the shoring up of the Doodlakine well] and the ride through to about 30 K’s East of York was reasonably uneventful, other than the temperature which was very high. One thing I did was had a nice wash in a fairly clear dam I passed. I’ve camped at Wallaby Hills reserve and charged the batteries.

Day 5.

I find sleeping a bit uncomfortable in the high temps. My tent doesn’t let much of a breeze through as it has “no seeum mesh” which is very very fine, although it does stop sand flies, which are insy binsy tiny little tackers….. Once up, I rode into York and visited the IGA for fresh veg and cool drinks. I met a fellow cycle tourer and we had a good old chinwag. He’s from UK and was here for 4 weeks. He wasn’t that impressed with WA as he couldn’t carry enough water. I thought afterwards that maybe he wasn’t that adaptable as I noted he actually had plenty of room to tie more 2 Litre plastic bottles to his bike. He was also a little overwhelmed by the distance between towns. I also had an interesting chat with an ex shearer. He was telling me stories of him and the team he was on shearing 40 thousand sheep up in the Kimberly and a lesser amount down in the Murchison area back in the day [late 50’s early 60’s]. He was an interesting bloke. I left York and rode up the hill towards the Lakes but turned off at the top onto Helena road, which is dirt and goes through the Wandoo Forrest. I really like the Wandoo forest area. The road was good and I was at Talbot road in no time. From there I cut onto a small service track which was gravel and then camped in the bush. I stopped early and charged the batteries. I find it easier to stop and charge the batteries with this little genset. With the Honda I could use the top of it to put stuff on as it has a decent cover but this isn’t so with the little unit. All in all, a good day, albeit quite hot.

Day 6.

It was a very peaceful night, no howling wind or traffic noise and I slept well. I was on the road at 0715. Things went well for maybe 3 K’s and then it all started going pair shaped! The track had been graded to get rid of the erosion and a really lousy job had been done. This meant there was an absolute shitload of loose sand mixed with pea gravel. The current bike I’m on is simply not meant for these conditions with its skinny rear tyre that acts like a plow disc in that stuff. The first 16 K’s took me 3 sweat drenched hours to cover, there was more pushing than riding. Pushing nearly 90 Kg up loose pea gravel and sandy hills is NOT my idea of fun, trust me on that! I suspect some of the trees are still reeling from the profanities they heard!! I slipped over with the bike coming down on top of me several times before I remembered I had my Micro Spikes [made by Kahtoola] with me. Once I had them on my boots things improved no end. I made it off the track to the road, which turned out to be not much better, particularly the last 11 K’s which was corrugated to the max, and then hit the Brookton Highway. In total, I fell off the bike at least 10 times, 2 of which were very hard and unexpected falls. Both of those falls really hurt, one on my hip and one on my head. The second of them, when I bashed my head [yes, I was wearing my helmet] I just lay where I fell, recovering and thinking to myself, “I’m too old for this shit!” Man, I’ve gotta say, it was hard work. The huge advantage over this current rig to the old one is the lesser effort to pick it all up when it falls over, which I’m hugely thankful for. When I hit the Brookton Hwy, I only had 2 litres of water left which was a bit concerning. I broke out the phone to see if there were any truck bays close at hand, the idea being that I would sit and wait for someone to stop and ask for a couple of litres of water. Well a Point of Interest showed up with the name of Christmas Tree Well, and it was only 800 meters away! You have to be shittin’ me I thought, either some sadistic bastard is taunting me or it’s either an Aboriginal water hole or an historic well, either way, I rode up to take a look. When I arrived I thought it was the sadistic bastard, but then I noticed some greenery and thought goody good a soak, I’ll dig a hole and get some water…….but then….. I heard a frog……and frogs mean water….and there was…. A friggin’ huge puddle, you little ripper. I got the genset set up and charging then filtered 6 Litres of water, which although it had a Tannin stain from the tree roots, was beautifully sweet. It was a great little place to camp and a nice end to an extremely hard day.

Day 7.

I was in the tent last night when a light started flashing around, I looked out and someone was checking out the waterhole in the dark, they then disappeared and returned with a ute and started going up and down to the water. I wasn’t sure what they were up to but I didn’t hear any chains rattling or big splashes so I figured they weren’t dumping a body, none the less, I exited the tent and slipped into the bush where I kept an eye on them until they left. I then went to sleep and voila, woke up alive this morning, which was a bonus!!!! I left there at 0800 and headed for Perth. My plan was to get to Armadale and then decide what to do. At Armadale I made the decision to head to my nephew’s and drop off the trailer, then head down to Fremantle and stay at the Prison YHA for a couple of days. I rang Luke and arranged to drop the trailer then proceeded in his direction. I dropped the trailer off, all whilst having a good chat to Luke, then headed off to Freo along the river, arriving at the hostel about 7 pm. All in all, a good day, although there was 5 Km’s of sheer terror whilst descending into Armadale down the Darling Scarp at speeds of up to 60 Kph. I learnt that 60 kph is the absolute top speed for my 90 Kg rig, let’s say things get interesting and I’m not sure who was the more terrified, me or the other innocent road users……..  ‘nuff said!!!!!

Day 8.

Due to the high temps during the day, I’ve decided to pack up the gear and head to Tassie. This morning I rode over to Bibra Lakes to a place, Follow My Ride, that sells ExtraWheel spares and bought a set of ExtraWheel nuts for the bike. As an aside, he [Bill] also sells and hires trailers / panniers for riders wishing to do any touring but who don’t necessarily want to buy the gear. For the purpose of the Tassie ride I’ve decided to leave the genset here and use hostel / caravan park accommodation. To that end, I hired a car at 1215, drove over to Luke’s, picked up the trailer and gear and drove to Muka, where I dropped everything off, picked up 2 more panniers and one of my ExtraWheel trailers. I was knackered and hit the hay early. My balance was a bit sketchy from the fall a couple of days ago as well.

Day 9.

Drove back to Perth, dropped into a pallet supplier and organised to have a pallet made for the bike so I can truck it to Melbourne, the guy gave me a business card so I can email him the details but I promptly lost that so I’ll have to ride back on Monday and see him. I dropped off the hire car at 1230, Uber’d it back to the hostel and repacked all my gear and fitted the trailer. Whilst doing this, the hire mob rang me to let me know I’d left my USB charging lead in the car so I used that as a test ride for the newly configured rig. I also picked up a new higher volume tyre for the trailer in Freo. The tyre turned out to be too fat and won’t fit into the forks on the trailer so it’ll go into my spares bin!!!!!

Day 10.

As a test ride, I had planned to head down South for a couple of days but when I woke up this morning I simply couldn’t be shagged!! So I’m staying put here at the hostel. I’ve also picked up 5 days’ work, which will fit in very nicely as the bike will take about a week to get to North Altona in Melbourne. I’ll hire a car and drive to work, which just happens to be just past Muka which is handy. During the ride I did to pick up the gear yesterday, I could see all will go well in Tassie with the new rig. There may be a couple of little issues but I doubt [hope] nothing major will turn up. If it does, I’ll just have to deal with it eh? OK, next time you all hear from me will either in Melbourne or Tassie. Stay tuned! 

For you viewing pleasure, pics are here;  :)

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmaSjeWe

This may be a game changer.....

- Posted on 04 November 2017.

Hi Crew,

My brother found a ripper little genset for sale from a mob called iTECH in Perth. After ringing and chatting to them about it, I whizzed down yesterday and picked one up. It was on special for 349 bucks, down from $799 and I felt at that price it was worth the risk. Turns out the electronics and motor are made in Japan, by Fujitsu I think, and its assembled in Hong Kong.

My existing Honda EU10i weighs 15.08 Kg [with 2.1L of fuel] and runs at 68 Db, the new unit weighs 10.75Kg [with 3.2L of fuel] and runs at 72 Db, which technically nearly twice as loud, although it doesn't seem so. I measured the noise level from the rear at 1M and at 45 degrees. It’s a 2 stroke as opposed to the Honda which is 4 stroke. This makes the noise a little more offensive, but as it too is pure sinewave, 1KVA peak and 800 VA nominal [same as the EU] and near to 5 Kg lighter I will give it a serious go. As I tend to charge the batteries as I'm moving and run it for 2.5 hours the noise isn't a great disadvantage. Economy for both units are very close. Physical size difference is significant.

That increadibly handsome socked foot in the sandal is for size comparision. BTW, that foot is up for hire if you ever need a foot model, rates are very reasonable........

Stay tuned for the latest in cutting edge technology..................    :)

 

New bits n bobs

- Posted on 31 October 2017.

Hi Crew,

A quick update.

I'm still in Muka. As this ride is only nanometres away from being a screamin' disaster, I've decided I may as well do some finer points on the upgrade / mods front. To this end, I've purchased some new road tyres, a different style handle bar, [the palms of my hands get a bit sore from too much weight bearing down on them] and a new 27.5 wheel for the rear.

The tyres have arrived, the handle bars arrived today and I'll start fitting them. I'll likely have to extend the hydraulic brake lines, however, I wanted to get the bars on prior to ordering the gear for that. The rim is yet to arrive and I have to wait for its arrival prior to sizing and ordering the spokes to relace my existing Nuvinci into it.

Now, after all the above is taken care of, I strongly suspect the temps on the Nullarbor will be North of 35 degrees!!! Given this may be the case, I'm likely to do 1 of 2 things; 1. Head down to the South West and enjoy a ride taking in numerous beaches. 2. Put everything on a truck to Melbourne, fly over and then head off to Tassie for the Summer. I had thought about jogging to Melbourne, backwards of course, whilst raising funds for a worthy charity. "The Alan Melville Benevolent Fund" sprung to mind, but I discovered that if one jogs over the Nullarbor, one is closely scrutinised by the Federal Shoe Police and forced to wear runners, and if I can't go bare feet, I'm not going, I'll fly instead, so that’s that sorted!!!  However, donations the  "The Alan Melville Benevolent Fund" can still be made and you’ll be delighted to know anything over 2 thousand dollars is tax deductable…….. so throw ya money in the tin……  J

Tassie appeals to me!!!

Don't hold your breath but stay tuned, you'll hear it here first.....

Al.

The new rig!!!!!

- Posted on 20 October 2017.

So, big excitement here at Adventure Central........

The new rig arrived in Perth on Tuesday, so I zipped down Wednesday morning and picked it up.

Was home by 4PM, got it unpacked and went for a quick spin. All seemed good!!!  Happy Happy!!!!

Got both the bikes together this morning and started swapping out the bit’s and pieces I wanted to. Everything went well other than the front mudguard. I had hoped to use the new one which is a billion times skinnier than the old one, but that won’t work so tomorrow I'll put the old one back on. Hey, if that's the extent of the issues, who gives a toss!!!  

So, got it all together, put the loaded panniers on both the front and the rear, hooked the trailer on and took it for a spin. Looks to be very promising. I lost 21 Kg off the trailer to the back-pannier rack and I sure can feel the difference. Pushing / manoeuvring it is also a shitload easier. 

I might be onto a winner here........'bout bloody time!!!!!!

So, during my downtime I ordered a new helmet, as one does when one has too much time on their hands. It’s a flash unit with bone conduction speakers that rest against the jaw bones. Evidently the music is simply in “one’s head” My only concern is that the other voices that are already in there don’t object……  J Hey, that’s only peculiar to me, you’ll be OK……  maybe…… I’ll report back on it at a later date. Needless to say, it was on special and cost AU $229. I also bought a couple of off-road tyres for the new bike as it has a different size tyre…..how surprising!!!!!

I have to make the mod to the parallel arm permanent as it makes a big difference to the steering by reversing it and therefor shifting the weight closer to the front wheel axle. I'll knock that off over in the next couple of days.

Righto, stay tuned, as soon as the helmet and tyres arrive I'm outa here!!!!

Give me a break.........

- Posted on 13 October 2017.

Wed. 4/10/2018.

So, out the gate I rode, with a little trepidation I might add, due to the trailer weight . However, I felt I’d get used to it and there is really one way to test one’s hypothesis on trailer weights, and that’s with real world use.

I left around 1ish if I remember correctly and rode for just under 3 hours. The wind was horrific, as in a 30 KM/H Easterly, still “I got peddle assist bro’ an’ I don’ care” Honestly, in those conditions it works really well. Heading straight into it was a hell of a lot easier than having it as a cross wind. When I turned South it blew me all over the shop!!! I pulled up around 4 because I was in a nice little area and as the more seasoned amongst us know, never go past a good camp site any time after 2pm!  J The trailer handles shitloads better than my previous iteration, I got the wobbles up on one section and went hammering off into the scrub, BUT, I didn’t go arse up, which I can guarantee would have happened with the MK 1 trailer. I was pleased with that. It was a nice cool night and I slept well. I was pleased to be on the road again.

Covered 30 K’s.

Thursday 5/10/2018.

So I was up at a reasonable hour and on the road by 0730 ish. I had decided to toddle through to Merredin which was only 40 K’s away, and camp on the outskirts of town. The wind was a lot more gentle today, which was pleasant.  My brother, who was going into Merredin for parts, stopped and had a chat on both the way there and the return trip, he was very envious and wished he could be doing the same as me…….   NOT!!!!!   I arrived at what I thought would be a nice camp site. When I pulled in the whole ring went turtle up and bent the shit out of the towing yoke. I thought it was an easy fix, but there was no way I could get it straight and not jammed against the tyre, so I had to ring my brother and he bought the trailer out and we loaded the whole lot on and headed home. I was pretty gutted, to put it mildly. I had only covered 70 ‘s in total. I was ready to burn the whole lot!!!  (As an aside, it took about 2 seconds to bend and a full hour and the use of an oxy set, to straighten it)

Covered 40 K's.

The next morning I was up very early and doing research on 4 wheel trailers as I know the weight is the real issue when John [my brother] rang me from Perth, he’d gone down at 0400 to see his wife. I got him to drop into Bunnings and pick up a particular model of a 4 wheeled garden cart. My intention was to mod it if possible for towing behind the bike. When he dropped it off I manufactured a towing yoke using an old yoke with a long [bad] history, loaded it up and went for a test tow. Having the weight on 4 wheels is the answer, all I have to worry about is towing weight, there is no issue with ball / yoke weight. However, the small diameter tyres on the buggy and lack of suspension are a major drawback, not whilst on the tar or other smooth surface, but as soon as one has to drop off the shoulder, things get interesting….  Lets’ say things go bananas and leave it at that!!!! So, needless to say, it was back to the drawing board!

First thing I did was wrap the laptop keyboard with gladwrap to keep the tears out whilst researching ideas……   J

I had decided the full sus bike had to go, a $10.4K mistake and a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, but facts are facts and I badly needed to get weight off the trailer if this gig was to be successful. This would necessitate the purchase of a hardtail peddle assist. One of the huge issues with this peddle assist caper is the fact that the different manufacturers all use different battery formats and the batteries for my Bosch powered bike are 1200 bucks a throw. I have 2 spares, hence 2400 bucks!! To try and cut my losses I decided I need to stick with Bosch. Not so easy when one is looking for a very specific motor type in the Bosch line.

Now, this is where Vanessa, a good friend of mine will just sigh and carry on with her coffee, she’ll know what I’m talking about! I jump on Gumtree and punch in electric bike as my search term. It threw up some 200 ads, so off I go, trawling through them, short listing those that loosely fit my criteria. I get to about the tenth from the end and lo and behold it’s a Reise and Muller hardtail with a Gates carbon belt drive and Nuvinci hub, $3800, absolute gold!!! It’s pretty late at night when I find the ad and as the seller is in Brisbane, I wait until the next morning before I ring. Turns out it’s still for sale, done about 70 K’s and he's selling it because he’s 70 years old it nearly killed him, literally! So, I say to him, “Mate, I’ll be dead honest, I know the real value of the bike and one half of me is saying don’t be tight and pay your full asking price and the other half is saying, see if you can barter” He doesn’t even hesitate and says “You happy with 3500 dollars?’ “Sure am” says me. [That’s a tad over half new price] It was paid for within 20 minutes via Pay Pal!!!  It’s now on a truck and heading towards Perth and if the stars all line up, it’ll be here around next Wednesday.

This is a great development as far as I’m concerned as I can use my existing spare batteries which turns my ballsup into an 8K one, and as this will be my last-ditch effort at towing the trailer / generator combo, if it doesn’t pan out I’ll be able to recoup a reasonable amount of my money as I got the second bike at a good price.

So, the new bike, which is designed to carry rear panniers, will be able to take between 20 to 25 Kg’s off the trailer, which will put the trailer weight at under the magic 35 Kg weight limit. I sure as shit hope it all works out as I’m getting a little despondent about this whole gig. The thing I’ve got to contend with now is the temps on the Nullarbor, it’s already into the 30’s here in Muka. Upside, the new bike has lights……..  J

Stay tuned……. It’s all go here at Adventure Central……  Mind you, I’m living on beans, suet and oranges off my tree…….  Ah well, that’s life!

'ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go!!!!!!!

- Posted on 03 October 2017.

OK, big announcement, there's a good chance I'll be on the road today, the 4/10/'17. Go me..........

I'm leaving Muka and heading down to Esperance via the back roads. From Esperance, providing everything is going well, I'll head up to Balladonia via the Esperance / Balladonia road. If the rig survives that road, [it’s quite rough] I'll turn East and head off to a place called Blinman in South Aus, which is the Northern Terminus for the Mawson Trail that heads from Blinman to Adelaide or Vice Versa. My rational for doing the Esperance / Balladonia loop is should the trailer / bike cark it, I’m not too far out to retreat to Muka.

Other than quietly shittin’ myself regarding the weight I’m towing, I’m looking forward to hitting the road again. The reason I’ve changed the route is weather, it’ll be quite pleasant heading to Alice but by the time I arrive it’ll be very hot and heading down through Oodnadatta and onto Blinman will be purgatory.

Stay tuned!

Al.

Trailer redesign.

- Posted on 10 September 2017.

OK, so it's been busy here at Adventure Central, where we fix all sorts of f**** up's, just for shits n giggles........

The last four days have been spent redesigning the trailer. I chopped the front and rear of the Mule off and grafted the front and rear of a BOB [which stands for Beast Of Burden] trailer. The BOB donor was an old unit that has been "retired" and was meant for parts. I had the correct yoke for bigger tyres which was a bonus as they cost a bomb to post over from the USA, and then there's the waiting time as well. The BOB unit pulls off the rear axle, thus keeping the centre of gravity a lot lower and hopefully, under control with the weight I'm towing. I should have done it right from the start but I'd heard good things about the Mule, still, I suppose they weren't towing so much weight.

I've used a donor wheel from my MonoWalker because I had it here and it was easy. It's a 4" wide by 20" diameter tyre so I'm hoping it'll fare a little better than the plow disc I was towing when I set off originally!!

I'm really hoping this'll work as I'm keen to get back on the road.

I'm not going to head out to Alice now as the temps will be on the rise. Getting there will be OK, but getting out won't be particularly pleasant. For this reason, I've decided to head down the back roads to Esperance and then, if all is going well, I'll head out to Israelite Bay and along to the Great Australian Bight, onto the old Eyre Telegraph line and eventually come out on to the Eyre Highway around Caiguna. That's all dependent on whether the rig goes OK on the beach with the 3" bike tyres. If not, I'll go up to Balladonia and across the Eyre Hwy to the East.

I have also bought the required parts for raising the handlebars as I was suffering from sore hands after only a few hours cycling. I purposely kept the mountain bike position for when I reach the Great Divide but hell, that's a shitload of K's away and I figure, why suffer on the way there. I can always drop the height once / if I get there!!!

Right, that's about it for the minute, stay tuned to Adventure Central, AM 101......  :)

Flickr album here;

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm7zJKch

 

 

So….That didn’t go quite according to plan!!!!!

- Posted on 04 September 2017.

So….That didn’t go quite according to plan!!!!!

I’ve decided I’m not going to call it a screamin’ disaster, that sounds a little defeatist, instead, I’ll call it a “Trial run”……

Sunday.

I left home about 0930 on Sunday the 27th of August. It was a pleasant morning, although overcast and I had an Easterly wind, which equated to a head wind, surprise surprise!! The peddle assist is great in head winds as it practically negates them. They are the arch nemesis of the touring cyclist, newcomers to cycle touring are very quickly disillusioned by them. Us old hands are different though, we’ve learnt all the right swear words for for head winds and we generally last a full 10 minutes more than the newbies…….

I rode into Muka and then headed North, that section was good because the head wind was now a side wind. In trying to keep to the flattest country possible I turned off the bitumen and onto gravel side roads and had just pulled over for lunch when a couple in a ute pulled up for a chat. With their local knowledge, I was able to avoid the hills and maximize the bitumen which was great. I covered 60 K’s for the day and camped at the Wilgoyne silo. There was a small open top drum thingo there that had been filled up with the rain so I was able to completely fill my water. Once I had done that I was carrying 18L or 18 Kg of water which should see me through to Menzies.

Having ridden 60K’s towing a heavy trailer after over 2 months of no exercise I was pretty spent. I slept well, to say the least.

Not a lot to report in the way of wildlife etc. There isn’t a lot of remnant bush out here as it’s a farming area.

Monday.

Hit the road about 0900 and headed off towards Mount Jackson. At Yannymooning Hill [yes, that is a real name] I pulled up for some breaky and for shits n giggles turned the phone on. Lo and behold, I got a signal and a message from the ATO…….. At first I thought it was some of my mates pulling the piss, but it wasn’t, sad really ‘cuse it cost me 8400 bucks, still, as the song says, and I quote “…scratch my neck, write ‘em a cheque and they go their merry way….” It’s quite amazing really, here I am with 1 bar of signal, my phone perch up in a tree, my computer hotspotted to the phone and I’m transferring money via the internet.

Having completed that, I went on my merry way to Elacbutting Rock where I had hoped to pick up a little used track to get me through to the Mount Jackson Road. I found it but there was no way I was going to attempt to drag the trailer through that shite… trust me…. I had already learned that once the trailer lent over off the vertical it was hell to hold upright. So, discretion being the better part of valour, which I’m getting much better at as I come out of my teenage years, I whizzed back to the road and went the long way, thus saving myself about a days’ worth of swearing…….

Put the drone up as I left the Wheatbelt to get a perspective of the county I was about to enter, it went well, but bloody hell, the whole kit weighs a heap. Bit of a bugga.

The riding was good, it rained on and off and the Easterly was quite strong but I made good time and covered nearly 70 Km’s. The one big issue I encountered was sand, it plays absolute merry hell with me due to a combination of two things; 1. The draw bar on the trailer is attached to the seat stem, therefore giving it immense leverage when it swings off the vertical. 2. The skinny little 50mm tyre on the trailer isn’t worth a pocketful of cold water in the sand, in actual fact, it’s like towing a plow disc!!! Combine these two shortcomings and one tends to fall off….on a regular basis…… the falling off isn’t such an issue as I’m not travelling fast, it’s the effort required to get everything back up that’s the issue. I have to remove the front panniers, the upper one is a doddle, the one trapped under the bike…hmmmm…. I then have to uncouple the trailer, not an easy job when laying on its side. Then I have to roll the trailer upright, then lift it up onto its stand, go and get the bike and re-attach it to the trailer and finally, replace the panniers, actually, that’s really easy compared to the other shite…. Of course I had to learn this through several failed attempts of trying to pick up the whole lot wholless bolless….. simply couldn’t do it, no matter which profanities or combination thereof I used!!!!!

On the upside, I came across 2 water tanks under a little rain catching roof that were full to the brim, very unexpected but very handy.

Needless to say, in bed early and slept like a baby, which was a bugga ‘cuse I woke up with a wet nappy and looking for a nipple to suck on!!!!

Tuesday.

Up at sunrise and feeling great. I’m very happy to say I have no aches or pains. Headed off up the Mount Jackson Road, in the rain. The road has a fair amount of clay/sand mixture and due to the rain, I had to concentrate on picking the right line because of the trailer issue. I filtered 4 L of water from some rockholes and cooked up some breaky under an overhang at the same rock. I had to cross 2 salt lakes today. Back in the day the roads were simply graded across the lakes which makes for hard work in the rain due to the clay. Needless to say, off I fell, with great dignity and fineness I might add!! Falling off in a Salt Lake is a whole different ballgame trust me, clay sticks like “shit to a blanket” it’s said in the bush and trust me, it’s true…… The crap was everywhere, not to mention one is skating around as though one is on an ice rink whist trying to pick everything up…… I came up with a really good profanity about the trailer’s engineer’s mother and a goat, I won’t go into that, but I was quite proud of it and it definitely helped!!!!!.......

Other than the falling off, the riding through this area is really enjoyable as it’s natural Eucalypt Forrest. Because of the rain, the bugs are out by the billions which draws a multitude of birdlife in and there is what I call a stack of “Micro Flora” tiny tiny little plants that one only see’s whilst walking or on a bicycle. There’s a few wild flowers out but not a lot.

After falling off twice in the sand and once in the clay, I made it to the old abandoned Mount Jackson homestead area and camped….in the clay…..in the rain…… are we having fun yet??????

Slept well though, like a baby once again!!!

Wednesday.

Awoke to a thick, damp fog hanging over the area, very different. Lay snugged up in bed and pondered the next section as there is about 100 Km’s of quite deep sand. After a few hours of deliberation, I made the decision to return home and re-engineer the trailer. It simply wasn’t working and, applying the law of averages, I figured I’d most likely end up injuring myself prior to reaching Menzies. It’s all well and good when one is bright and alert but as one becomes more and more tired, the chances of injury rise.

So, off I choofed at lunch time, headed for a real bed and a 4 burner stove, I mean home…..

It meant having to cross the lakes again but once the fog cleared there was no rain and the wind had dried the lakes out, only marginally but just enough to make a difference, and that’s all I needed. Because the road was a little drier, the riding was easier and I didn’t fall off at all. [Don’t tell anyone but I walked through the bad sandpatch so’s I wouldn’t FALL OFF!!] I camped in the same spot as on the way up.

Thursday.

Up just after sunrise as I wanted to get through to Wilgoyne today. Things were going swimmingly well….for about 10 K’s, it seemed the brakes were rubbing, I got off and checked, yep the rear calliper was definitely rubbing, it had taken a bit of a hammering during the falls and was buried under a clump of clay, I cleaned it up and adjusted it and off on my merry way I went. Still didn’t seem right so off I get, check again, clean all the clay from around the mudguard and off I go. Nope, still not good, seems to be worse, so I pull over, put the stand down, wander down the back of the trailer and discover the trailer wheel has busted 2 spokes and is chucking a spaz attack and rubbing up against the shock absorber, not doing it a whole world of good I might add. It appears the tyre compound is harder than the Aluminium of the shock!!

I tighten up the spokes and off I go, all good for 10 ish K’s and it’s up to its old tricks and broken another spoke. This time I pull up, take the wheel off, remove the tyre, reposition the remaining spokes to try and fill the gap, put it all back together and off I go. I hadn’t bought any spare spokes for the trailer as in all my years of towing one, I’d never broken any spokes in a tiny little trailer wheel. Parp….wrong move…..!!!!

After the above I’m tootling along quietly when a white Suzuki suddenly appears beside me, scared the crappa out of me!! It was a couple from Muka, we had a good chat, they’d been up to Eagle Rock looking around.

Off they went, off I went, did 10 k’s, trailer wheel started to cark it again, I could see this was going to be a long trip home……  carried on in this fashion to Wilgoyne, arriving totally knackered.

Oh, and just for shit n giggles, the wind swung to the West and was freezing……… so I was riding into…tun nun nun naa, you guessed it….a head wind.

Friday.

Had decided this morning that if things with the trailer didn’t improve once I was back on the bitumen, I would leave the trailer at the Wilgoyne Community Hall. It was only 8 K’s from camp and by the time I got there the trailer wheel was wobbling it’s guts out so into the hall it, and my panniers went. I then headed off into the freezing head wind to get the car and go back and pick up my gear. I was home within 3 hours, picked up the car and went and got the gear.

So, here I am at home. I’ll do a separate entry for repairing the trailer and what I decide to do. I’ve had to order some parts and a trip to Perth is required for materials.

All in all, I had quite an enjoyable time. It was good to be out on the bike again and I’m really pleased with the genset. It works in all weather; I can charge whilst riding and I barely hear it running. In actual fact, when riding into a head wind, I don’t hear it at all. The weight is a real issue and I am concerned about it. However, the freedom it affords with a peddle assist is great. My rain cover worked really well, enabling me to run the genny whilst it was raining. I worked out it costs me 1.2 litres of fuel per 60 Km’s, I’m pretty happy with that economy and that’s in the soft stuff and with a full load of water and food! I’ve also worked out it’s only worth charging the batteries [I charge 2 at a time] to just over 80% of their capacity. To do this takes 2 and a half hours. To charge them to 100% takes 4 full hours and I only gain 8 more K’s out of each battery. For that extra 8 K’s it costs me another 1 L in fuel, it just doesn’t add up does it? This is due to the fact that the last 20 ish % is what’s known as very low, constant current, constant voltage charging.

OK, I’ve put some pics here and there are more here;

Remember, hover the pointer over the link, right click and hit "Open link in new tab."

The other thing worth noting is when you get to the album, up the top is a bit of a blurb on the album and then if you click on the first pic and it'll open as a single, larger pic on the page. An arrow on the right and left will appear, enabling you to scroll through the pics. At the bottom of each pic is a description corresponding to that pic.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm7h2VCb

Hold on to your hat.......

- Posted on 26 August 2017.

Two quick points; 1. If you’re visiting from a web search, click on the title of the page and that will open that page and its corresponding gallery. If you’re here from a subscribed email link, the gallery will show at the bottom of the page automatically. 2. If you're viewing on a tablet or iPad, when the page opens all you will see is the top pictures and the heading. Simply scroll down and the text for that entry will appear. It can be a bit confusing initially but once you're used to it, it seems obvious.

Well folks, it's about to happen! I'm going to getting of my sad and sorry arse and peddling out of here into the rising sun...... well maybe, the above pic is of this morning, it didn’t clear until about 9:30am

Today is Saturday, the day I had planned to leave, however..... a bit of a spanner got thrown in the works yesterday in that a drone I had bought on E-bay in Switzerland, turned up on my doorstep. I already have one of the same drones, a follow me drone called an AirDog, trouble is, with mine I only had 1 battery and that gave me an in air time of.....tun nun nunaa....9 minutes 6 seconds..... and there was no way I was dragging 4Kg's of weight with me for a 9 minute flight time, hence purchasing the drone from Switzerland, it had 5 batteries in total and seeing as the Airdog shop had no batteries in stock, it seemed like the sensible thing to do!!! However, once it left Switzerland, it dropped off the planet and as I couldn’t track it, I didn't think it was going to turn up and I wasn't waiting around for it. Of course, it turning up had me re-evaluating the whole drone thing, Now I have 4 good batteries [2 of the Swiss ones were DOA. :(  [plus I could now see my 3K's worth of drones, which had I not been able to, I'd happily have ridden off and thought "To hell with the bloody drones" So, I unpacked it, test flew it, charged the good batteries, sorted out prudent spare parts and then had to find somewhere to put the bucket of snot on the bike! I literally have no room on the trailer. I came up with a simple quick fix rack on the drawbar. Pics below. So now I have, with all the new batteries and 2 chargers, 6 Kg of extra weight, still, looking at the upside, I have ~40 minutes of flying time. All of the above took until lunch time today, needless to say I’m staying right here until tomorrow!!!! I figure if by Alice Springs, it’s not had much use or isn’t giving me the results I’m hoping for, I can either sell it or post it home.

Right, so that’s the drone, you won’t hear about that again, until it goes wrong…….. 

So, where am I actually going I hear you ask.

The overall plan:  From Muka to Alice Springs for the first leg, then, should I not expire on THAT leg, I’ll head off to Adelaide via Oodnadatta, Blinman and The Mawson Trail. Should I not expire on THAT leg…. I shall whizz over to Melbourne and head up to Cooktown via the BNT [or as close as practical, given the weight I have on the bike and trailer]. Should I not expire on THAT leg, I’ll quite likely ride home from Cooktown via Alice Springs. Now, if I haven’t learnt to stay away from bicycles and trailers after all of that, I guess there’s no hope for me is there?……..  

The immediate plan; Leave Mukinbudin and head to Elachbutting Hill. From there head along a very small bush track to the Mt Jackson Road. I’ll follow that up to the Bullfinch – Evanston Road, then up through the Die Hardy Range and on to the Lake Barlee – Youanme Road. I’ll turn East on the Youanme Rd and head into Menzies. From Elachbutting Hill to the Bullfinch road is a bit isolated but once on the Bullfinch road there’ll be semi-regular traffic as there are some mining operations up that way.

The above is about 400 K’s by road, with near on no water. The road conditions range from sandy to very sandy….. To tell you the truth, the roads are normally in good nick, providing there hasn’t been a lot of rain. I anticipate it’ll take me a good 6 to 7 days to cover that stretch. There is no mobile coverage at all out there that I know of, so there’ll be no updates en-route until Menzies.

Prior to leaving Elachbutting Hill I’ll refill my water, of which I can carry 18L of, from a dam.

When I hit Menzies, I’ll update the next route section.

OK, ding ding, long load passing on the right, thaaaankyou…..

Preparing for the next adventure.

- Posted on 14 August 2017.

Two quick points; 1. If you’re visiting from a web search, click on the title of the page and that will open that page and its corresponding gallery. If you’re here from a subscribed email link, the gallery will show at the bottom of the page automatically. 2. If you're viewing on a tablet or iPad, when the page opens all you will see is the top pictures and the heading. Simply scroll down and the text for that entry will appear. It can be a bit confusing initially but once you're used to it, it seems obvious.

Ok folks, I know I've been a bit quiet on here but that's because I've been busy in the shed!

The big plan is to head off to Alice via Warburton and Uluru on my new push bike. In order to go that route and be able to charge the bikes batteries I've opted to carry a small genset. I've had to do some experimentation in regards to gensets and have settled on a Honda EU10i which weighs in at 15Kg with a tank of fuel. [This is what my solar gear weighed in 2015 and man, what a pain in the arse that was. I'm hoping this little gig doesn't go the same way!!] I'll carry another 5/6 L of fuel in a bladder, so total power generation weight will be 16.7Kg MAX. With the Honda I'll be able to charge two batteries at once, hopefully whilst on the move. To this end, I've purchased another 2 batteries, giving me a total of 3. Bloody expensive they were to, 1200 bucks each. Nasty business!!! 

In order to carry the genset fuel, landscape camera, drone and all the other shite I have, I've had to do some serious re-engineering on the Tout Terrain Mule trailer. This turned into a drama but I got through it and finished today. Big happiness!!!!  :)

I still have to do a few odds n ends but the end is in sight and I hope to be leaving Muka in a weeks’ time.

I've opened an account with Flickr to drop the pics of this trip into. I didn't realise Google pics required people to sign up for an account. Can someone who doesn't have a Flickr account drop a comment in the comments verifying that an account for Flickr isn't required to view the pics? Ta.

Next up, I would appreciate it if some of you could make a few comments, even if it's only to tell me I'm a lazy bastard and should be hooking out 200K's a day. It takes a bit to keep up one of these blogs and it would be nice to know people are following, otherwise I may just as well not bother. Ta.

The pics in the Flickr link below are not in order, I only just dumped them in there tonight. TBH, I don't know how to put them in any order but hopefully I'll be uber organized in future and it won't be an issue. They should all have descriptions on them though.

Hover the pointer over the link, right click, hit "Open in new Tab" and you're on your way!!  :)

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm2yr8MC

I'll still pop up an image here for each new entry and I'll also create a gallery for each new entry here as the gallery pictures here are downsized so that people with pre-paid / slow data connections are able to view them. I'm not sure how Flickr works in that respect.

Al