Thursday, 30 December 2010

Muswellbrook

Left Bylong early on a cloudy day and was riding to Jerry Plains. But on the way I met Graham from James Estate Wines out for a ride. We rode along and chatted. Graham also rides mountain bikes. He suggested I stop in and say Hi to Jan, as their cellar was open that day. Glad I did. I met up with Jan when I was in Stonehenge. She was on a bus going to the Birdsville Races. She didn't get to Birdsville, because of the rain, but I didn't know that.. Stayed and chatted for some time. Ended up leaving with a bottle of Verdelho. (Had some last night - it was good. Everyone liked it.)
Further down the road I found I missed the turn off I wanted to take. The Golden Highway was busy, with no shoulder at all. After half a km, I wasn't keen to keep going towards Jerry Plains, so turned back and ended up heading to Muswellbrook. Much more pleasant road to ride on. The only down side was the strong head wind all the way. It was a pedal down hill day.
Muswellbrook has City Rail trains to Sydney. But, only a few trains a day. I arrived at 4:30pm, the next train was at 9:00pm. From there to Hamilton to wait a hour for the next train towards Sydney at 11:37pm. Sydney City Rail service has a few weaknesses; no staff, no station announcements and no indicator boards. Past the time that the train was to arrive, a train arrived, and I foolishly got on it, only to find that I was heading back towards Muswellbrook. Bailed out at the next station, and rode back to Hamiltion Station. One of the first times I've used my mobile phone and Google Maps to navigate about in suburbia. The next Sydney train was at 2:38am, but it didn't arrive on time either. Arrived at Morisset Station close to 4am. Since I often wake about this time, and had had no sleep, I bunked down on the station bench until 6am for a short nap.
Currently visiting friends at Morisset for a few days, before heading to Sydney.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Ulan, Bylong

Christmass day:birds singing, water rushing. Memories of childhood christmass days. Food, rest. Watched the couple near by move their baby about all day - to get it into the shade, closer to where they had moved their chairs. Designer baby. Straight from Toyota land.
There was a sudden heavy down pour, but then it fined up again.
Set off early on Boxing day with overcaste weather. Planned to stop in Ulan. Hit a new Top Speed: 81.86km/hr. Down hill obviously.
Ulan has lots of mines. Air smelt of sulphur. Was raining heavy when I got near there. Decided to keep going.
More driver silliness: Saw a car pulled over - but disappointingly saw that they stopped to add more rum to their drink. A 4wd packed with young males, speeding along a rough dirt road. Bouncing, slipping or skidding, airborne, stones and water flying out the sides.
Even with all my gear on the back, the back wheel can lose traction on wet clay. Most unsettling.
125km for the day. 8hours pedalling time.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Tambar Springs, Coolah and beyond the Black Stump

Tambarr Springs has amazing views out across the landscape. But I didn't see any unusual creatures...
Found a small cemetry tucked away in the bushes on the edge of the road between Tambar Springs and Coolah. I wonder how many people notice it. Most of the stones are unreadable, but saw 1800's mentioned more than once.. A few more years and nothing will be left.. The last deposit was in 1993.
The Black Stump! I've passed it. I'm beyond the black stump. The pic is from on side. Not sure if before or after it. It looks like a burn't branch to me actually. A plaque states there was a black stump once, but was burned down in a fire. A long with the hotel that was near by.. The black stump isn't what it once was... The silly season is in full swing, and its now a rest stop.
Decided to stop in Coolah, as the roads are crazy busy. And for a small back road, just too many idiot about..
There will be moans about the road toll over Xmass/New Year. The thing I find surprising is that there are not more crashes. Slowing up is a fate worse than death..

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Boggabri, Mullaley

Pictures: Wean race course. Its overgrown with grass at the moment.
Some of the rock pools at Dripping Rock.

Didn't leave Barraba until 11:30. A very late start for me. Lucky 10km down the road was a shed. Rested there and had lunch till the sun cooled off a bit.
Lots of dirt roads, flies, mossies and cows. Very quiet on the road though.
Sorted out the flies. I've some strings hanging off my helment, that swing in front of my face. Keeps the flies out of my eyes and nose.
Took a detour to see "Dripping Rock". Yep, its a waterfall, that was flowing. Been a lot of rain lately here. My plans to have a swim were dashed but the number of mossies. Some are basically flying syringes. Standing still - you could almost feel your blood pressure dropping. No chance I going to give them more skin to feast on.
Had a flat tire this morning. It went down yesterday, but after pumping it up, I kept riding for another 40km to find a spot to camp. With all the rain here, there is a lot of water lying around on the road side. Got wet feet several times going over causeways.
Flat repair was easy, once I moved into the tent to do it. To many mossies outside. The hole looks like a thorn - but couldn't find anything stuck in the tire. Time will tell if I missed it.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Barraba

I'm back in Barraba. But only for a short time. I was good resting here for a couple of days, but the weather is cool and sunny and I've itchy feet. Want to keep moving..
The road here from Inverell was interesting. Met several wonderful people. I'll have more on that in the new year. Emails are being exchanged, plans are being formed.
Stopped at Copeland Dam briefly. The water level was down to 6%, its now at 40%. Long way till the spill ways are in use again. The road travels along the top of the dam wall. You can see the two different height trees - the old growth, and the new trees growing on land that should be under water when the dam is full.
Some of the road was dirt - hilly and steep, meandering amongst the cows. I crossed several causeways, flowing with water high enought to get wet feet.
With all the rain, there are lots of flies, and mossies. The flies are the ones that try and go up your nose, and into your eyes. Don't open your mouth!!
The land is very green and lush. On one steep hill, I got to see two Dung Bettles rolling a ball of dung along. They were much smaller than I expected, but very entertaining. I just wish it wasn't on such a steep hill.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Inveral

Had enough resting in Texas. The weather had returned to showers, so time to move on. Left Sunday morning in the rain. Later in the day the sun came out and it was hot. Tar melting hot. Tar was running like honey in some spots. Rested in Ashford for a while- most of the mid day actually. Then stopped about 20km outside of Inveral for another few hours.. Slept beside a hay field. Oh did that smell nice.
More showers on the way..

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Texas

What a week it has been..
I stopped a couple of days outside of Aratula. The second hand shop there, the guy gave me a book, so I had to stick around to read and and drop it back. While there, I saw a koala in the wild!!!! The koala climed down one tree, ran across the ground and up another tree. Did this a few times before finding a tree it was happy with.
After leaving, it was a two day climb up over the range. The road I picked had signs saying no trucks, semi trailers, caravans or busses. Some of the grades were 17%. Needless to say I walked lots of it. It would have had great views, but mostly I was struggling to see more than 20meters - fog or mist or clouds. It was cold and wet, wet, wet. It took two days to climb the range.
Stopped in Legume, and Liston for a night each.
I'm currently in Texas staying in the caravan park. Yes. There is a town called Texas in Qld.
Memorable moments;
If a tree falls in the bush does it make a sound? You bet. At 9:15ish at night, I went from sleeping to crouched ready to run in one heatbeat. A very loud "crack", followed by the sound of falling. In the morning i found some small twigs had hit the tent. The dead tree fell towards the tent, but the top of the branches stopped about 10meters away..
Digging a hole in the rain forest is hard work - lots of roots.
From Killarney to the NSW border, the road is called "Border Road". at the border, in NSW the road is called Killarney Road. QLD likes having the roads called Border road. Same thing happened when crossing again on the way to Stanthorpe.
Texas has sheep farming- lots of flies. Dig any hole early in the morning before the flies wake up.
New top speed - 79.5km/hr. Might have been faster but i put the brakes on early on.. But then lost a water bottle the speed crept up before I knew it..
Rain stings over 50kn/hr.
Being wet each day has its problems. I wear the same clothes each day. I've only three sets: one to wear, one to sleep or change into and one spare. So if one pair is wet, and its still raining, they go back on the next day. I found that I have lots of little blisters or boils. Any small cut would easily become infected. A day of being dry has helped them a lot. Clothes that are wet constantly smell. In short before washing today - I stunk. Going past road kill, the flies would all leave to follow me. I had so many on me, I'd chase them off to make the uphills easier. Fair dinkum!!! Skin softens in the water, and I found small pills of skin in the tent. Any callouses I had are long gone.. But after all of it, one good wash and everything is gone. I smell clean again, my clothes have the soap and sun dried smell. Looking foward to sleeping tonight - a clean dry bed.
The blue Ortlieb bags have shown a problem. The top is closed by a roll down, but the edge has a cloth strip. This strip soaks up the water and lets a few drops inside. I'm going to spray silicon on it when I get some to stop that. For the moment I'm double bagging to stop my sleeping bag getting damp.
The panniers on the Yuba Mundo work well. I feel like I can ride faster than with thee Go-Getters. Its also easier to pack and unpack the bike. Its also easier to push the bike up hill - the wide loader bar isn't in the way. The panniers sit a few inches higher - which is a big help when crossing water. I walked through water up to just below the axle height. The go-Getters would have been in the water, and lifting the bike. Water that deep has a lot of force. I wouldn't like to walk through any deeper flowing water...
Pictures:
- Road side heading away from my cow paddock camp.
- second hand shop at Aratula
- koala in a tree
Picture taking has been limited in the wet. My phone isn't water proof, and mostly I was so wet, I didn't want to risk opening the water proof bag to get out the phone.
After all the rain - it isn't as unpleasent as you might think. It does make for some changes, like stopping earlier to give the inside of the tent time to dry, or taking longer to setup and take down the tent.. And when the sun comes out its so magical. Riding in the rain is easier in some ways - its cooler, and there isn't any water shortages :)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Back on the Road Again - Rosevale

Left Brisbane at 5:39am - the first train out. I had intented to use the Google maps directions for walking to leave Rosewood Station, but the paths and sometimes roads where not there. Ended up going down roads that turned into dead ends. Some had fences across them - suggesting that they might have been open once..
It was good being out in the country smells again - grass, gums, and cows. No road kill yet.
Checked out all the cemetarys I passed. Lots of dead people, passed awy, some are resting, others were "called" (Why do they answer?), some "gone to a better place" (What didn't they like about this one?)
The day was overcast, and warm. Spent three hours eating lunch and reading. Then started being more serious about getting somewhere. With a full stomach, it was slow pedalling.
Stopped for a drink at a fence gate, and one of the few cars I'd seen stopped. They owned the paddock and were going to do some fencing. We talked for a couple minutes. They offered that I could sleep on their property. So I cycled in after them and helped them with the fencing. As we were moving along the fence, I found the best spot to camp. Little stream trickeling in the background, lots of birds.
Woke up this morning to birds singing.

Pictures; Tried different packing strategies. The great outdoors!! A model of a church that once existed in the cemetry. (Wonder if the church had problems with snakes?) The morning tent view

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Brisbane

Still hanging out in Brisbane. Been doing some house painting- and old Queenslander. Also been waiting on a toy; a folding wireless keyboard. Lets me type blog updates on a real keyboard, rather than thumb typing on the phone. Still a small bit of painting to finish then I'm out of here and heading south.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Gold Coast

Hanging out with friends on the Gold Coast now. Been very surprised about the cycle paths about Brisbane. They have much better facilaties than Sydney. Good paths that go everywhere I wanted to go. Clear signage. Maps. So awesome.
Ditching the GoGetters for panniers. About 7kg weight there. Wow. Also loosing the wide loader bar. Caught my foot on it a couple of times on rough roads. The panniers hang higher, which is a bonus:better ground clearance.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Jondaryan

Wet and cool is how things are now. Decided to escape the 36C temps out west and get closer to the coast. Funny how now a bit of that sun would be nice to dry everything out.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Stonehenge, Isisford, Blackall

Last day doing things in Stonehenge. Was helping cut the law on the ride on. Never used one before. I managed to:
Find the bottomless pit (in fairness it wasn't marked, and was hidden in the knee high grass)
Cut the water pipe (plastic also hidden)
Am now in Blackall. Was a long hot ride from Stonehenge to Isisford. Rolled in on 7pm after leaving at 4am. There was stops during the hot part of the day, and lots of rest stops after that. Slept several times.
Isisford the river was over the bridge. Walked that pushing the bike. Lots of mossies and sandflies about right now.
Still having lots of hassles with bags. My blue waterproof bags are that, but getting them on the bike hasn't been as successful as i'd thought it would be. Thinking now that panniers, the tried and tested touring gear carriers are the go. My gear at the moment is held on with lots of straps and ocky straps. Looks big and messy, and is a pain to get on and off the bike and to find anything. Am sitting the blue bags in the yellow Go Getters. It the blue bags are upright, they tend to fall outwards. Lie them down and opening them without unpacking is hard. Tried putting different amounts of gear in them, and in the Go Getters. Haven't found a combination that works for me.
The fatter tires are way better. They provide some suspension, and track better on the dirt roads.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Rain and cleaning

It's been raining a fair bit out here. Most unusual for September. The weir is flowing.
I using the mop each day. Cleaning the pub. My favourite kitchen appliance is the dishwasher! Load, press the button. 2 hours latter unpack hot dry everything! If i can fit it in, it's going to washed by the machine. Still there are lots that don't fit. So hot water, soap, rubber gloves and scrub.
Oh for my wheels...

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Go-Getters and rain

I've been meaning to comment on using the Go-Getters for touring for a while now. Time to do it. They are huge! But, i think that they are not the best for touring. This is my experience so far:
They are not 100% water and dust proof. The lid folds over the bag opening. I've not been able to get it to a state that i'm happy with in dusty conditions, or that i'd trust it in driving rain. In rain i'm having important stuff in plastic bags. This is annoying.
Dust sticks in the weave of the fabric.
I think they might be mean't to be used with running boards and side boards. I'm not using either, and have found that the braze- on points, with button bolts in them are wearing the bags out. See the holes in the bottom of one bag in the pictures.
The clips are not easy to operate, if your taking the bags on and off daily. I have ended up using two hold points on each bag-the inside two. The outside two are used to attach the shoulder strap. The shoulder strap makes picking up loaded bags easier.
I find that i cannot stuff goods into them in the same way as using roll top bags. If i stuff them too hard, the lid has a larger gap which has me worried for water and dust.
My bags sit on the wide loader, which is lower than the wheel axle. This is good for center of gravity, but the down side is that i've scrapped the bags on rocks, stumps, and road kill. They now have tiny holes.
The bags are weighty on their own. This is more in comparison to roll top bags. The fabric is thick and should last ages.
Both shoulder straps broke the adjustment bit of plastic. Since this is one attachment point, both are now tied onto the bags.
I'll be getting some roll top plastic bags. Ortlieb make some. I'm considering removing the wide loaders, and attaching some core flute on the sides of the rack. The two bags will them be hung in a cloth sling on the side. This will place them above the axle.
I'll have to visit a larger town when mobile again to get the cloth, well probably canvas. I'll have a photo then. It may be easier to understand then.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Windorah!

More new jobs. Got to drive a bobcat for two days. Just like a playstation one guy said. Well i've never had a playstation, but the bobact was fun. Very intuitive controls; two joy sticks. Actually, its really called a front skid loader, but everyone knows the one brand: Bobcat.
Today was a trip to Windorah. I became a liquid waste management expert.
Okay, i drove a truck. Known as the "poop truck".
Yeap, i pumped shit. Tanks in the ground fill up, someone (me today) drives up in a truck with a large tank, and a pump. Put hose from pump into the tank, and pump until truck tank is full. Drive to a remote dump point and open value to empty truck tank. Avoid all contact with liquids, and stay upwind. Repeat until ground tank is empty.
Its a smelly job, but someone has to do it.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

New wheels!

Yeap. Thats my current wheels.How did that happen?
While sheltering from the wind and rain in the shade of a toilet block i noticed my rear rim had cracks! Lots in fact. Needless to say, i couldn't pedal on.
I'm going to get both rims rebuilt on wider and stronger rims. That will take some time, as i'm in the country. (There is a mail truck twice a week.) Until that is done, i've got a job: truck driving. I'm getting to see the road from up high.
Its an old truck. Patience with the gear changing is essential.
I'm moving sand at the moment; Drive to point A. The truck is loaded. Drive to point B and empty it out. Go back to point A and repeat. Interestingly i'm finding it peaceful work.
I've also been helping out with the usual computer problems, but truck driving is different.
It's stopped raining for now, and the temp is rising. Soon it will be "hot". Truck air-con is "keep the window open"

Friday, 3 September 2010

Isisford

Well time to move on. It has been really nice in Isisford. Wonderful people living there and travelling through.
The dirt road out of Isisford to Stonehenge was easy enough going. There is a lack of trees though when your at the Stonehenge end of the road. Lots of traffic at the moment on the way to Birdsville for the races this weekend. Rain is forcaste so that could make it interesting for them.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Another lazy weekend.:)

Lazyed about and read. Watched people leave and grumped at some that come close.
Will leave tomorrow or wed. And go to Stonehenge. Will be 100km of dirt. Been culling weight. More stuff chucked out. Still lots to go.
So do you have a route from Dalby to Brisbane?end of october, i was thinking of being further south. Will be warning up by then...

Megan
Xx

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Mud in Isisford

Made Isisford yesterday morning. The road here seems to be uphill all the way! I might even go back to Blackall just for the downhill coast.
Mail only comes here 3 times a week. The place is almost a ghost town, except for the grey nomads. $2 a night, $10 a week camping with a hot shower. I'm told some stay so long, they grow gardens. Cause when the heat arrives they all leave.
It was cold yesterday. I had to set up tent and get in to warm up. Then it started raining. A very reluctant post of rain. Not alot, but enough to dampen everything. When i left the tent, i made my introduction to the local mud.
I've known chewing gum that sticks less! I get 2 inch platform thongs walking ten meters. Thong straps are straining. Crickey. Haven't tried to ride in this. Going to stay here the week and hope it dries up. Birdsville track is closed- to much rain. So that rules that out for now. Need to see where next.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Sand surfing to Blackall

Got the itch Sunday lunchtime and decided to move on. After wavering a bit, i took the back road which ended up having about 60km of sand.
Some times were good. Cruising along on the edge of a sand ridge, sliding down slightly cushioning out the corrugations. Grab to much sand though, and its wipe out.
Mostly it was hard work. Walking, pulling and pushing the bike along. I was glad when the sand stopped.
There was some hard clay bits. A worry if it rained. Lucky it didn't. But the thought did keep me awake. Well the roaring wind probably did more. I'd camped in a ditch- that helped lessen the wind on the tent, but not the spot to be if it rains.
Here is a short video looking around when i got on the tar again.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Rest time

My home for the next few days in Jericho.

Alpha and onwards

Alpha caravan park wanted $20 for a tent site a night. Bugger that. Instead i ate up. Rested in the park. Chatted with some locals and tourists and then pedalled onwards.
Snows bakery really bakes! So yummy.
The road is very straight. 2.5 hours of slow, into the wind, gradual climbing. Who said out here was flat?
Woke about midnight. Thought i heard an elephant.the park at Alpha had a sign saying no camels or elephants. I know there are feral camels, but elephants? Whats and elephant sound like. At night, in a tent in the middle of nowhere it sounded like one to me. A few sleepless hours wondering, before i drifted off into sleep.
The lady at the shop in Jericho said it was likely a bull or deer. There aren't any elephants loose that she knows of.
Jericho is nice. Small and friendly. Going to stay here a few days for the rain to pass. And do voting here.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Alpha

Surprisingly lots of hills out here. Also lots of grey nomads. Some take there whole house with them!
Have ditched about 10kg of stuff and the bike is noticeably lighter now. Still more that can go.
Some grub has chewed holes in my tent! Hope it got a belly ache! Need to patch them as rain is forecast.

End of prospecting

Well that's over. Time to start pedalling again. Here are some shots from camp.
It was interesting. Not sure if i'll do it again. Its hard work. Either walking bent over to see the stones or digging and washing dirt.
In the end its all just colored glass to me. Bits of rock.
I didn't cull stuff yet, so have a big load still.:(

Friday, 13 August 2010

Prospecting

I'm prospecting from a top secret location, along with dozens of other people. Can't say its that remote, what with mobile coverage.
Prospecting is a lot like fishing. Lots of time in the sun. Nothing happening pretty much most of the time. Rare bursts of excitement. Its also like looking for a needle in a hay stack. Looking for tiny bits of glass like rock, amongst other rocks and broken glass. Yeah, there's a fair bit of broken glass out here of the beer bottle type.
I have found a couple of small stones though. To small for anything except to say I found them.
Unfortunately even out here there are generators running.
Most people are camped on the hill tops so the noise carriers. Being no a hill top also lets you find your camp again. Lots of gullies to go prospecting in. You can wander a fair way.
One thing that is missing out here is water. We had to carry all our water in. So our stay is limited to when that runs out. Probably this weekend.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

beach bum

Hanging out at the beach right now. Its nice here. But to many people. You don't get to sleep to the sound of waves. But to the roar of generators and tv's. All the caravan crowd.
Hoping to move on soon to somewhere more peaceful.
On fishing- i felt sorry for the live bait and was letting it go. Stopped fishing after that. Tried to talk some of the other people into letting their live bait go without success.
I'll eat beans.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

On the road again

I'm off. At Rollingstone now. Going fishing tomorrow.
Riding after so long an absence was tough. Way out of condition. Lots of sore spots right now.
The GoGetter bags are to big i think for touring. Too much stuff in them. To hard to handle when full. And there is the temptation to fill them. Will give it longer while i think what to do about them.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Wheel returns

Wheel arrived back yesterday. Wow. It took 2 weeks to get to Rohloff. One day for Rohloff to do their magic, and 4 days to return. (I can't figure out how Australia Post works.)  I didn't waste any time putting it on and going for a spin. With 75kg load - no problems. Didn't have a 120kg load handy to try with that, but I'm confident that its sorted.

Going to hang for a few more days. Promised to fix a laptop and am now waiting on a hard disk to arrive. It should arrive Monday (fingers crossed) so that I can leave here by the end of the week.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Advertising and Perceptions


Road side stall, in the middle of banana fields, selling: bananas.  You think the bananas are from the local fields? Nope. I, and I wasn't alone, was thinking they where, but I arrived early one morning and met the guy restocking. Not so local bananas after all. He has a route restocking several road side stalls each day. Ripened bananas from the store room. I recall that he said the bananas did come from somewhere in the Far North Queensland area, but not the near by fields.

Still, your getting better value than the large supermarket stalls. I wonder how it pays though; The bananas sell at $2/kg. He has to buy them from a farmer, pay transport to get them to the store room, the store room running costs, costs of driving around stocking the stalls. How does this work to be economical to sell for $2/kg?

Bicycle shorts: I don't use padded shorts, but the el cheapo KMart 'cycle shorts' also called gym wear. Recently was forced to actually buy a new pair, rather than finding a second hand pair. Lots of stickers on the product: "Moisture wicking fabric". Cynical me, checked the labels of the new versus the old; both the same  95% cotton, 5% elastane. Marketing!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Tensioner arrives, wheel departs

Rohloff Tensioner arrived today. Its a much stronger item then my last tensioner, and it gives a lot more chain wrap around the sprocket. My last tensioner feels like a tired rubber band compared to the Rohloff one. The Rohloff tensioner comes with spacers to adjust the alignment; so the wheel on the tensioner ends up directly in line with the sprocket. Two new SRAM 9 speed chains, bit of playing with the length to get the jockey wheel in the right location according to the docs, and I was done. Short ride about all is good. Throw 120kg on the rack and same problem.

I had talked with Rohloff Australia about this before, so packed up the whole wheel and posted it off. Lots of bubble wrap around the hub, with tape to keep it on. The wheel was left on also to help the rim. I was surprised Australia Post would would handle it. Glad they did. If the item is too large to sent via AusPost, your in for a job finding someone to send it. I found that none of the courier companies up here - TNT, IPEC would just take a parcel off you -> you need an account first. Obviously your not going to have one unless your sending parcels regularly. One guy suggested checking with the buss companies. Yep, buss companies handle freight. With an extra $9.90 for courier delivery at the other end. So if your stuck - check out the busses.

Since I'll be sans bike for a few days, got the spray can out and touched up the paint job from my brazing efforts.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Sorting it out

Got a helpful body to sit on the back rack again, trying to see if the chain tension is a problem. Got him to put his boot on the tensioner to really tension it. Did this or the oil change help? Nope.

Talked with guys at Cheeky Monkey to see if they had any further suggestions on the plan of attach, and to give them the heads up if didn't have any joy after trying on my own.  I also talked with Maria at Rohloff Australia  She was very helpful; suggesting what to look at that have caused people problems in the past; chains, sprockets, joiner links, overly tight or loose nut tensions,  etc.

The slipping I'm having only happens with heavy load on. It didn't happen when I had the hub in the MTB touring. One reason I'm still going to change the tensioner and look at chains and sprockets. On the MTB I didn't run a tensioner- having slotted dropouts, so could move the wheel back. Load on the MTB rack was probably in the 40kg range. I figured my two loaded Go-Getters were in the 60-80kg range. My helpful body load is over 100kg. He wouldn't say how heavy he is, but was socked when I asked if he is  less than the 200kg Mundo rack limit. He assures me he is :)

Result: I'm going to try all the easy stuff first; changing the chain tensioner to a Rohloff one. I'll  get two new chains,  no half or joiner link, and new chain ring and sprocket. (well swap them around). If that gives no joy, then will send the hub back to Rohloff to have a look at under warranty.

Tracked down a torque wrench and spent some time this afternoon checking bolts that I've touched on the external gear mech, OEM adaptor plate, and axle nuts. Found I had everything too loose. Wasn't that surprised on the smaller bolts - I was worried about doing damage making them too tight without the torque wrench. The axle nuts - I was surprised how tight they get done up. I've had problems with the nuts working loose before - so guess now they are tight. Will wait for the tensioner and new chains before trying a heavy load again.

Also had a go with the oxy - and plugged up one leak in the frame. What's this about? I put all stainless button head bolts with washers in all the braze-on's on the Mundo - to stop water entry.  There are lots of them, which is really handy. As I was doing this I squirted some light oil in the frame. I noticed that it leaked out of two on the rack. It looked like that when the weld went around the tube, they missed by pin prick meeting up to the start of the weld. A drop of braze to plug it up. I put some more oil in after this, but found I missed sealing one of them. Will do that one again tomorrow.

Back to waiting on parts to arrive, before testing it all. In the mean time - time to go riding.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

And back again...

Well, it was up, up, up, then down, down down. Yep, day one was all uphill. Second day was coasting back down again. The escape was probably doomed for a several reasons. Mainly for lack of fully loaded practice ride I think. Problems started from lack of planning;

The danger of the large Go-Getters is that you can fool yourself into leave packing until the end, thinking that you can throw it all in the bags. And you can. However, the packing doesn't get that much scrutiny with this method. On checking during the inevitable repack on the road I found that I had things that should never have made it onto the bags in the first place -> metal files, spray tins of paint, large squirt gun tubes of glue, saws, more than once set of some tools, rolls of leather, etc. There were bags wrapped in plastic, that I wasn't game to open, for fear of what I'd find inside them.

With such large bags, everyone feels that you have space to carry - well everything. I had planned to take some back roads, figuring on about 4 days between towns. I had some pasta, soup, dried peas, sultanas for this. I stopped and repacked when it started to shower - as I'd just left bags sitting on the back rack. I ended up with over half of one Go-Getters filled with food! This is an insane amount for one person. Not only that, but some of the stuff was straight out of the fridge - damp - wrapped in plastic, in panniers, in the sun (when it appeared - always when creeping upwards), was making for a soup. I consumed way more than I wanted that night and next morning, trying to avoid mould, and to free up space. I don't think you can claim lightening of the load, when you eat it... I still had stuff that went back in the fridge when I returned.

The sun when it was out - I had a thermometer, it hit close to 40 before I noticed and put it under cover. Humidity was up there - I was a mass of sweat. The day was a mix of showers, sun, showers. I didn't bother with wet gear - was wet enough from sweating.

I think it is the chain tensioner which is causing problems. It had been behaving without a problem in test rides, but it didn't play well with the loaded bags. Something was slipping/jumping. I don't think it is the hub - as it has never skipped before, and has 3000km on it. If I pretended I had a single speed - the chain would not skip if I was travelling slow enough, no matter what the gear. Chain skip occured more in the higher gears than the low. The low gears, I had to be spinning crazyily to have it happen. My thinking is that at the faster speed, the road bumps gave the chain that bit more bounce, to press outwards just enough enough to jump a tooth or two. I've taken the chain guard off to see better what's happening - but that far back, its hard to see. I tried to simimulate the problem pedalling with the front brake on - but unless I go fast enough, there isn't a problem.  So, going to change the chain tensioner to the two wheel versions. This will cause the chain to hang lower, destroying my nice chain line, but such is life.

Update this morning: I went for a ride with the usual ride stuff on and had no problems - much as I tried. Returned and had someone sit on the back and watch while I pedaled, then we swapped. Me pedaling,  it would skip. Hard to tell what it is though. When I was on the back, it only happened a couple times. Neither of us could see the chain jumping  - but it is hard to tell. Feels like and sounds like its jumping a link. I do have a half link and a joiner link, but it can happen too often for it to be those two links - which are at the same spot. Need to be moving to have it happen. Going to change the tensioner, change the chain - remove the half link and the joiner link, change the oil in the hub. See what that gives. Hope it isn't the hub, but still think that it can't be - its given 3000km of trouble free usage, though admittedly, I've probably not loaded it with 80kg plus of weight.

There's no denying it was a heavy load. For instance, with all the food only in one Go-Getter, I could not pick it up one handed. Thats before adding on the tent, tools, junk and water. The bags fully loaded - were a struggle to even pick up. But I wasn't out of space to stack more stuff on if I wanted to.

How did it handle - like a dream (not the nightmare ones). Yes you could feel it was heavy - I used low gear lots - just sit and spin. Skipping chain helped with this - I had to resist my temptation to push harder gears. It bounced happily over railway lines and pot holes I didn't manage to avoid. It didn't feel unstable. There was no flex - standing an pedalling was - well, just like standing and pedalling on your bike. Better than my MTB with rack and gear - the rack used to sway. No sway here. Downhill speeds of just over 50km/hr didn't present any problems either - stable at speed.  A benefit of the weight I think is that semitrailers and B-doubles didn't blow me about.  The upright seating is a real bonus - much easier on my arms and shoulders. Though, for only two days that isn't saying a lot.

So, in the end I had the choice of pushing on for a small town to sit and wait for a different chain tensioner, or retuning to base (so to speak). It seemed a better idea to return.  It was it was downhill, I could off load the stuff on my family for them to use, and the local council helped with my choice. They were spraying from the camp ground up the road. I spent some time waiting for them to get away, but after pedalling up for a bit, I caught up to them. Then they stayed just infront of me.  I didn't want to breath poison spray all day following them. So turned downhill.

One nice thing - riding along, looking over the side into the water - saw a platypus swimming along.  Only got to see it as I was going slow along the edge of the road. No chance of any motorist seeing it.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

And I'm away...

Finally, heading off later today. I could do more stuff on the bike - but to impatient to get going. I never intended to stop here this long.

I'd like to say that I'm well organised, and everything is ready to just pedal off after breakfast this morning, but I'm not. This morning will be the quickly throw everything in to the Go-Getters. Fill the water bottles - not that much. Going to peel a few coconuts that are here - only thought of this last night. Say goodbye to family. Endure the usual - why don't you catch a bus/train/fly routine, etc.. I expect to get on the road by mid morning. Later than I'd like - but things to do.

Today is down as mostly fine - but all the forecasts have showers from tomorrow for further than I'll be travelling in the next few days.

The road ahead is pretty much all up hill. Heading up the Palmerston highway towards Ravenshoe. There will be detours on the way, so not expecting to get there super quick. Unless my detours don't exist. Yep - Google maps isn't 100% accurate. Telling my brother the back roads I was planning on taking yesterday - he let me know that they don't exist any more - bridges gone, roads fenced off, or plain no road to start with. Actually this last is true - looking about here Google maps shows roads that I know aren't there. But we'll see.

More updates from along the way...

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Just about done.

Just about finished building.  Did some riding in the rain (again). Slash guards worked well. Will keep them on. Much cleaner feet at the end of the day. Cleaner bike also.

Decided not to use cloth around the Go-Getters. That would involve a lot of sewing - edges and eyelet holes. Although I've a 5000m of thread. I don't want to wait about here to get all that done. In a moment of thinking - bought a small tarp. Cost less than $4. Promptly doubled its value by putting a few more eyelets around the edge. Its big enough to go over the rack, down the sides, and up a short way on the outside.  There is also a bit to cover the ends. I'm thinking to run a string through the eyelets and use some ocky straps across the top to hold it all together.  I haven't tried it with the bags yet (tomorrow), but it looks like it will do the job of keeping mud of them. I can also use it as a rain shelter when not riding. When I ordered the frame and got the Go-Getters, I did think about using a tarp then - kind of like the Xtracycle Freeloader bags. Wasn't sure, and the Go-Getters were a great price, and they are huge!!.  I like being able to open the top and dump Stuff in. Shut the lid and its  water proof. The Go-Getters are well thought out - with buckles, and bits of velcro in the right places to pin extra strap up off the road.

Also decided not to cover the chain any further. If I put a disk on the chain ring, there will only be a couple of inches of chain free at the rear cog.

Used a piece of water pipe found on the side of the road to stop the fork swinging right around and bashing the light. Its cut so that the wheel can be almost at right angles - something that shouldn't happen riding. The spring under neath keeps the wheel straight when the bike is on the center stand. Still having problems with that spring - the extra long hoses push the wheel slightly to the right - no much, but precludes hands off riding. Changing the location of the hoses helps - but will wait until I can shorten them before playing with the spring again.

Found a Red Bull can on the side of the road - used that to make some sleeves around the seal on the pedal. Red Bull cans are very thin. The join is is made like this:
        _______________
         \
           \  \
______\_\

When squashed flat - its secure against popping open. Cause to take the pedals off - it has to be pulled off. Tins are common along the road side. Use scissors to cut.

The chain guard does a great job of keeping mud off the chain. All this would have ended up a grinding past on the chain.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Greasing Pedals made easy

Fitted grease nipples to the pedals today. Just before I started, I thought about another idea - just drill a small hole in the cap, and use a syringe to force grease in. A variation of this is what John describes here on his blog. I like the nipples with the ball bearing in the end - blocks water and dirt entry.

I've Shimano 324 pedals - SPD cleat one side, flat platform the other. I removed the cage around the pedals first. Drilled a hole in end cap 7.5mm wide. Used 8mm right angle grease nipple - and just screwed it into the hole. Refit the cage, and there is about 1mm gap between the cage and the nipple. When the grease is pushed in, the cap wants to pop off - but hits the cage 1mm later. I'm leaving it there. The whole job took less time then I've spent in the past trying to force grease into the pedal. Greasing the pedals is now soo much easier.

Added slash guards to the end of the mudguards. That bucket is coming in handy. Front guard, I'm not sure yet of the attachment - at the moment its hanging on with two bits of wire. Will see how it works riding before probably using cable ties.

Tried also to make a disk for the outside of the chain ring out of the remains of the bucket - but the curve of the bucket defeated me in the end. Need a flat piece of plastic. Still one piece of bucket left.

All the excitement yesterday on the Corflute - and decided today not to use it. The sign is thick, has more weight than I'd like, but mainly it will interfere with access to the hub. Instead of this, I'm thinking to get some nylon type fabric. This will not hold water, should be lighter than the Corflute, and let me be creative with where it is placed. By tying it on in a few places, I'll still be able to access the hub without having to undo bolts. The main aim of it is to reduce mud splashing onto the Go-Getter bags, so they're not as filthy when I take them into the tent at nights.

Made another 'h' spanner today and put a length of chain on the handle for a chain whip. Not 100% happy with the chain whip part. But used the two spanners to tighten the head-stem nuts - so proving that they work.

Action shot time:

Drilled hole in pedal after the cage is out of the way.







Blury picture of the grease nipple fitted. Didn't totally remove the cage - just the two outside bolts, and loosened the other two to swing it to the side. I left the nipple pointing slightly forward and is up towards the cleat side of the pedal. The cage is lower on that side. I wanted to use the platform side, but then there isn't much room to get the grease gun in.




Got enough grease in there now. If I can find a road racer tube, I want to see if it will go over the seal end of the pedal. That seal isn't the best on these pedals. Any help it can get would be good. Will hunt about for a length tomorrow when I visit the not so local bike shop. A thought I just had now, was to use a bit of coke can aluminium. Might try that first - coke cans are common, and means I don't have to take the pedal off.



Front splash guard showing its bucket origins. It can swing on its attachment point. Not sure yet if it will swing too much when riding at speed and be useless. If so, will weight it a bit. Also want to check if it will be a problem when going through pot holes. A piece of truck tube might be better here.




 Rear splash guard - not so obviously a bucket bit. My rear guard is just a bit short, and the light gets coated with mud. Not good. The splash guard should stop that. At the bottom is a piece of 19mm water pipe inserted in the end of the Mudo frame. It plugs the holes, and I have a vague idea of using it to attach a piece of  Corflute to - to extend the mud guard all the way down. I need to find a thinner sign first.