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”……
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.
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!!!!
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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