Monday, 21 December 2015

Sydney again

Was a tough trip. Basic route was Southern Highlands then out to Oberon and back into Lithgow. The weather was kind - only a bit of rain, and small amount of hail. Few hot days, but mostly very pleasant. Lots of great camping was enjoyed. Bit hilly in places. Managed 93 km/hr on one downhill. Of course every downhill has an up. The slow climbs gave lots of time to admire the scenery.

With the return to Sydney, back into planning and action. The first step has been taken; my Surly Troll has been listed for sale on BikeExchange.com.au 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

We're all going on a summer holiday..

No sooner was the last blog posted, when plans developed for a trip about the southern highlands. Back on the bike again. So far, have spent ten days making 45km as the crow flies. Lots of strength sapping 30km days. Then resting in the shade of a gum tree. Not anyone could do it. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Sydney: Time for a change

where I'm walking

During the recent cycling I was doing a lot of thinking. I'm going to try a change; and not cycle to Cairns next year to see family. I'll travel there some other way- bus, train, or plane. I've cycled the route enough times now that the trip is becoming a drudge. Especially the section between Clermont and Charters Towers. It's worse when I leave it too late to head south and it's hot. Also, I want to go some places I can't take the bike.  A fair amount of my gear needs replacing at the moment. Since I need to replace stuff, the plan is to lighten and shrink up my gear load to fit in a backpack. I'd like to try walking for a bit. It will take a while to do this, as I haven't walked much in years. Why walk when I can cycle? The most I have walked is inside Woolies or Coles shopping; my walking muscles have wasted away. I need to build them up again.
Each day I do some walking exercise. At first my feet, ankles and calves ached terribly. I needed days of rest to recover. But it's improving. Soon as I can travel a reasonable distance repeatedly, I'll start adding weight to my pack. Then it will be short trips to check how it goes.
Lightening the load will have benefits even if I end up not walking.  My current bike gear weight is over 30kg and it all "seems essential". Even after taking out the bicycle specific items, what's left is heavier than I want to backpack. My aim is to get the weight down to less than 15kg, preferably less than 10kg.  That is the base weight:  the pack and everything in it, except food, water and fuel.
Obviously some hard choices will have to be made to achieve that.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Goondiwindi, North Star, Warialda, Bingera, Barraba, Wallabada, Scone, Sydney

Felt like a long commute heading south this time: Wake in the dark to beat flies, pack up, cycling before sun up. Stop for breakfast early, in the shade. Cycle. Snack. Drink. Cycle. Enter a town. Buy food if needed, fill up with water, cycle out. Look for the perfect sleep spot; the Hilton 5 star spot - an easy wheel off the road to get to, flat ground, no road noise, no animal trails, no high grass, soft leafy ground cover, no thorns, secluded, shade, no tall trees that could drop branches, no dead trees that could fall over, water near by, bushes to block high winds, but still allow a cool breeze off the water, no flies, mosquitoes, ants, ticks, or spiders. Get tired and settle on a "good enough" - none of those, but will be shady when the sun goes down in another few hours. Decide which is better: hotter sitting in the tent in the sun out of the flies, or standing in some partial shade and wave the flies away. Stand and wave the flies away. Eventually the sun sinks enough that the tent is in the shade, climb in, chase the flies out and eat a cold dinner in peace. Sun sets, stretch the leg muscles, sleep, to wake up and do it all over again.
A few variations: I stopped in Barraba for a day to visit friends and wash. Managed a 150km day after that, mainly because the planned stop had no shade at all, it was still early in the day and Wallabadah was only 70km away - how hard could it be? Six hours later, I could answer that. But all I remember now is how great it felt to get there. It was one of the rare days when I carried minimal water, because the towns are close, so I had to get there.
Rear tire was a bit soft a couple of days. Add air to fix. It got worse. Finally got tired of just added air each time, so checked it out. The rusty nail was a suspicious. Pulled it out and yep, that's the air leak. Fixing it took less time than all the time I'd spend putting air in.  Leave the wheel on the bike, pop the tire off the rim, pull the tube out, patch, push it back in the tire, reset the tire, add air. Done.
Scone - decided not to stay between the main road and the coal train line. So caught the train down to Sydney. Surprisingly with night trackwork, and busses replacing trains, the bus driver let me on the bus. Might had been because at 11pm there was not a lot of people wanting to get on - four of us on that bus. Back on the train again, and got off in Hornsby to start riding. Halfway to my sleep spot it started raining. I pondered how all the way down from Cairns with one brief thunderstorm overnight and I get rained on now 30 minutes from stopping. In bed at 2am slightly damp.

So now in Sydney again and surprisingly cold! Had two warmer days, but I'm in thermals/jumper most of the time. Feels like a Chinese curse - may you get what you wish for. I wanted cooler, I got it.


Monday, 26 October 2015

Theodore, Taroom, Wandoan, Miles

Never happened before, but always a first time. The librarian wouldn't let me charge my phone in the library. "It's not a service the council provides" she told me. Ouch. My 16w solar panel was only providing 1w - something wrong there, so phone charging wasn't happening when stationary. Moving I could still charge off the dynamo. 
Finally my parcel arrived, and I was off. Hot, humid days, with lots of small flies. Hard to laze about a camp in those conditions, so 120km days became the norm. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Theodore

Been hot and humid days, with a friendly headwind to keep me company.  Nothing much happening. Just days outdoors.

Passed through Emerald, Springsure, Rollstone, Moura. Brief water stops.

Do most of my riding early in the day to avoid the heat and wind. Then shelter up for the day amongst the trees.  I've had the plan to move on in the afternoon, but it hasn't happened. Averaging about 40-50km a day.
Currently in Theodore waiting on a mail delivery.

Clermont

I had a plan. It said "day of rest in Charters Towers". But when I got there, it was a northerly blowing, and I couldn't let that go. Sadly it didn't last more than a couple of hours. Then it turned and the southerly keep me company every day.
Belyando Crossing was interesting. They wouldn't give me any water, or sell me any except the fridge bottles at $4.80/1.5L. I'd used about 20L getting there. 32C days, head winds. So was going to be expensive buying water. They said the river water wasn't drinkable.  But it was used in the kitchen. Also the ice was river water at $4.40/3.5kg. It would seem that it had to be safe to drink! If you stayed the night there was taps in the laundry. I got lucky and got water from a passing motor home. He had 400L so was okay to spare me some.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Townsville

Made it past Rollingstone. Yay. Easy day into Townsville. Decided to "take it easy". So planned out the next week of short 60km days. Leaves lots of time to sit back and read a good book :-)

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Rollingstone

Well back here again. Pretty much the same, but hotter. On the way here I did manage to pick up some road side items I had passed a few times already this year. That bottle of graphite powder. Finally thought of a use for it, and it was still there. How lucky is that?
The last few days have been a steady headwind and occasional showers. Just enough to provide some more humidity when the sun comes out. It's tiring to pedal in to the wind for five and a half hours a day, but that's the agenda for the next week.
School holidays start Friday, so I guess the coastal road is going to get even busier.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Cardwell

Monument to early settlement in the area? No guesses for who got the pointy end of the stick.
The weather has remained kind to me. After waiting about Townsville area for a week, I returned north for a bit.  Need a bit of rest and recuperation.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Strand, Townsville

Holey dooley, Townsville is going flat out!  Stopped for a breakfast on The Strand just on sun up and for a quiet spot of brekkie. But it was not to be. First was the guy with the whipper snipper. He left and noise was still settling down, when the edge trimmer strolled past. He was followed a short time later by the dreaded leaf blower. Peace now? No, the leaf sucker was next.

Finally some quiet?

No.

A monument to turtles of the past, while their smaller offspring are harvested in the background.
The turtle harvesting commenced on the beach. Once they were large, big enough for two men to pick up and carry away. Now they are a lot smaller, and it's faster to harvest them with machines. 


Australian Slang:
Holy dooley: Exclamation of surprise.
flat out: busy
Brekkie: breakfast

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Rollingstone: I won the cake!

So excited. -You beauty! I won the cake! And a six pack of beer, but who cares about that. I won the cake!
I'd picked up coins today on the road, and when I counted them had $1. The Lions raffle was on, and the couple coming around asking to buy tickets. Tickets were $1. I knew it was mine:- I'd found $1.
Of course I won, else I would be so excited, eating cake and writing about it! Still, it's exciting :-)

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Cardwell

Been slow to leave Cardwell. Bruises on my legs needed time to heal. The calmness and scenery have also played their part..
I won't miss the sand flies though. They are well fed now.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

On the road again, Cardwell

Well, 5 hours later, I'm back where I started in Cardwell.

The day before rode over a hill to see two cyclists on the road! Wow.. Need to catch them. And I did for a bit. But I think they didn't like my music, and soon pulled away. We met up again and spent the night at a caravan park in Cardwell. They are riding for Break the cycle campaign 2015.  Great stuff. We talked long into the night. Was really glad that we'd chanced to meet up.
We rode out next morning, but my destination was Long Pocket. Will and Safi were off to Ingham.  Unfortunately the "road" to Long Pocket closed in 1881, and is now a very rocky walking track. Never letting that stop me, I spent an hour pushing up hill before admitting defeat having covered less than 1km. Running out of water also, and pretty stuffed, battered and brused, I returned to Cardwell for the night. 
The lyrics from the Toby Keith song were running in my head;

'Now my body says, "You can't do this boy"
But my pride says, "Oh, yes you can
I ain't as good as I once was
Thats just the cold hard truth'

Maybe it wasn't a wise decision to have tried that. Now I'm bruised and sore. And will have to take it easy for a while to recover.  I've also reconsidered my plan to head to Charters Towers by a similar route, that would have involved much much more climbing. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Tourist time out west

Struth!

Outside Cracow museum
Not caught up on all my posts yet.  And I'm getting ready to shoot through.  Just been just off playing tourist for a bit in the past week.


Headed out west. Stopped to watching the Savannahlander pulling in at Almaden, the end of the line. 

Then onto Chillagoe for a walk about the rocks and ruins.  And a surprise catch up with Stuart and Thomas of baking fame back in 2012 on the Great Central Road. They were travelling with Robet. Bit of a shock for Thomas, yacking away in the beer garden of the pub, talking all about me when I walked in, sat down and heckled him.

Not surprising he didn't recognise me out of my cycle gear. He'd only ever seen me like this.  Impossible to know if I had hair, let alone style and colour.

Stayed an extra day, eating delicious bacon and egg burgers made by Andy at the Chillagoe General Store and catching up. We had planned to meet and cycle up north together, but I couldn't wait for them, and arrived about when they set off from Charleville. Was hoping to still meet up with them and had emailed, but not heard back. Not surprising as reception being iffy out that way.

Before finally getting to the reason for the trip; a camp draft near Dimbulah.

Separate out the cow from the pack and keep it up near the gate.

Then chase it around the paddock.  Okay. Was a bit more to it than that. The cows conspired to frustrate the novices. The experienced riders made it look easy. Mostly. Sometimes the cow seemed to know that the exit was at the other side of the paddock, and made a beeline straight out the gate.  One didn't want to play at all, and jump clean over the fence.  

Lots of cowboy hats and boots, horses and cows. All well sprinkled with fine brown dust. 



Australian Slang:

Struth:  exclamation of surprise.
Shoot through: leave, usually to avoid or escape from someone or something.
Yacking: non stop talking.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Bush Poetry: Poor Old Grandad!

When seeing the dunny in the previous post, I couldn't help but remember this bush poem:

Poor Old Grandad!

Poor old Granddad's passed away, cut off in his prime,
He never had a day off crook - gone before his time,
We found him in the dunny, collapsed there on the seat,
A startled look upon his face, his trousers around his feet,
The doctor said his heart was good - fit as any trout,
The Constable he had his say, 'foul play' was not ruled out.
There were theories at the inquest of snakebite without trace,
Of redbacks quietly creeping and death from outer space,
No-one had a clue at all - the judge was in some doubt,
When Dad was called to have his say as to how it came about,
'I reckon I can clear it up,' said Dad with trembling breath,
'You see it's quite a story - but it could explain his death.'
'This here exploration mob had been looking at our soil,
And they reckoned that our farm was just the place for oil,
So they came and put a bore down and said they'd make some trials,
They drilled a hole as deep as hell, they said about three miles.
Well, they never found a trace of oil and off they went, post haste,
And I couldn't see a hole like that go to flamin' waste,
So I moved the dunny over it - real smart move I thought,
I'd never have to dig again - I'd never be 'caught short'.
The day I moved the dunny, it looked a proper sight,
But I didn't dream poor Granddad would pass away that night,
Now I reckon what has happened - poor Granddad didn't know,
The dunny was re-located when that night he had to go.
And you'll probably be wondering how poor Granddad did his dash--
Well, he always used to hold his breath
Until he heard the splash!!

by Grahame Watt aka Skew Wiff

To hear an Aussie reading it, here at the ABC.

Glebe Weir

Glebe Weir would not be one of my normal stops.  I prefer to camp where there is no one within cooee1. But, I was stuffed2, so stopped for a couple of days.

It's marked as a spot for grey nomads to camp. and gets a listing as a great fishing spot. Some are refusing to fish there now. During my time, no one was catching anything. The recently opened Woleebee Creek to Glebe Weir Pipeline was getting the blame. It will be discharging up to 100 megaliters of Coal Seam Gas (CSG) water per day into the weir for the next 25 years.

I wouldn't be getting the cozzie3 out for a swim in it.

Long drop
Just through the gates at the weir, you can't miss seeing the dunny4. Unlike the modern ones, it has a good long drop built into it to ensure no splash back.


Australian Slang

1. cooee: nearby
2. stuffed: tired
3. cozzie: swimming costume
4. dunny: toilet

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Aussie Rules!!! Go the Saints!!

While in Meandarra, thanks to my mate1, I rekindled an interest in Aussie Rules2. I'd last watch the 2010 St Kilda vs Collingwood Grand Final when I was in Stonehenge, that ended in a draw. I missed the next game where Collingwood won.  He was trying to get me excited about the upcoming State of Origin game between Queensland and New South Wales. He had Buckley's3 of that. I've never been interested in the rugby.  Even without knowing the rules, there was something about the players; their lack of necks, the 'sniff each others armpits' gatherings, running forward but throwing the ball backwards! And they always throw themselves at the ground. What is with that?  The players can't think at all; get ball, run straight forward to smack into another player, all fall down. Get up, and repeat. Like blowies4 at the window, thump, thump, thump, over and over again. The line from The Man from Ironbark always comes to mind: "Their eyes were dull, their heads were flat, they had no brains at all;"

My mate explained, there is Rugby League and Rugby Union. And when looking into the history, it all becomes clear.  Rugby Union started about 1845 at Ruby School, the oldest, most expensive boys school in England.  Soccer, also called football, was the game played before that. A game where only the goalkeeper can touch the ball with their hands. What happened was, one of the rich boys, not able to kick the ball, picked it up and ran. Maybe he'd also heard about the new game played out in Australia, but didn't know the rules. He couldn't kick a ball to save himself. Not being too bright, he ran straight into another player, and they all fell over.  His father, who gave big bikkies5 to the school, said his son was right, that was the way to play football. The school, not wanting to get in a blue6 with the father, and risk losing all the moolah7 he gave to the school,  gave into to him and agreed.  After that, everyone was told to play the new game. Thats what happened,  Fair dinkum8!

Rugby League formed in 1895 when some clubs split from the rest over an argument about players pay.

Where as, Aussie Rules had its beginnings in the early 1820's in Melbourne. With Melbourne Football club being the oldest in the world that is now professional.

So would you rather support an English game, created by rich school boys that can't kick a football, or a true blue9 Aussie game? No question there; Aussie Rules!!!

As for the State of Origin games; Aussie Rules had been playing interstate competitions were played from 1879.   Rugby games were played from 1908, but wasn't really known about till a couple of journalists, wanting to sell more papers, got the rules changed in 1980. It worked, so that is how it stayed.

For all the advertising for the State of Origin, Aussie Rules has higher average attendances, and highest Grand final attendances.

Anyway, what could I do; he's a mate, so I went to the pub to watch the first game of 2015 series. In the lead up to the game starting, watching one of the Queensland players beating his chest; it reminded me of a nature documentary I'd seen on gorillas.  Needless to say, the game was shit house10. Finally, Queensland, who hit their heads slightly less than the New South Wales side, fumbled the ball, accidentally kicked a field goal and went on to win by the one point. Amazing. Kicking is not something rugby players can do.

So the better game; Aussie Rules. Watch the big men fly11.  They can run, kick, jump, and have necks.

My team: St Kilda.  Go the Saints!

Recently I was able to watch St Kilda Vs Melbourne (STK Saints V Melb Demons) Round 11. A great game! Here's the last 2 minutes:



I'm currently on the family farm up outside of  Cairns. Yeah, way behind on blog entries. I'll catch up slowly.



Australian Slang

1 mate: a friend
2 Aussie rules: Australian Rules Football
3 Buckley's : no chance
4 blowie : blow fly
5 big bikkies : a lot of money
6 blue : a fight
7 moolah : money
8 fair dinkum : true, the truth
9 true blue : patriotic
10 shit house : of poor quality, unenjoyable
11 big men fly = A reference to Australian Rules Football, where players leap into the air to catch the ball (“take a mark”).

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Boggabilla, Goondiwindi, Moonie, The Gums, Meandarra

Arrrrgggh, it was cold last night. I managed to camp on top of a hill, but the frost on the ground told the story. A fair bit of standing in the sun, hands under my armpits, talking to myself like a pirate. This was to be the last cold night though.  Just outside Broggabilla, it was a balmy 8C overnight.
A quick run through Goondiwindi for shopping. Then on northwards.
Leaving Goondiwindi, I managed to miss the turn off, maybe it was enjoying the tailwind. I've been along the road too many times, something wasn't right. Stopped, checked the map. Yep, missed the turn off. Bit later, I was sure I was on the right road;  narrow, no shoulder, lots of truck traffic and roadside rubbish. Yep, going the right way now.
Blissful normality through Moonie to The Gums, when my trip north took a west detour to Meandarra to spend a couple of days with a mate1.
A sign on a creek walk said that  "Meandarra" is aboriginal for 'a place of water'.  Looking at the creek, all the irrigation pump tails in the water holes, the low water level, I'm not sure for how much longer. Even the bunyips2 have moved out.
Rubbish disposal in country - dig a hole, throw it in, burn it, and then cover.
A good time was had. With help, my charge system is back working. After years of outdoor use, a mini to micro usb adaptor, was rooted3.  Must be corrosion somewhere in it. Was still giving out 5V but zero current.  The mobile would ping to say it was charging, but then slowly go flat.  Ordered a new adaptor, and will improve my charging setup.



Australian Slang
1 a friend
2 An Australian creature that lives in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes.
3 Broken

Friday, 15 May 2015

Bingara, Warialda, North Star

My sleeping bag needs more feathers in it!  Been cold the last few nights. Just below zero, with frosts. Been wearing thermals, clothing, jumper and the rain gear, and it's still cold. My "winter" gloves aren't. My thick socks aren't thick enough. I sleep huddled up like a pill bug, trying new ways to get more layers of my sleeping bag around me.
But after the sun has comes up, it's all forgotten; beautiful sunny, warm days. Echo could want for more?
I've managed done dirt roads along the way. The old farmer that stopped told me I was lost. I wanted to believe I wasn't. I had suspected it was going to get interesting when the road became two wheel tracks. But as it as heading the right way, all seemed all good. Later I had to back track and return to the tar. Not bad, a 60km trek about the farm roads. Would have been only 20 km if I'd stayed on the tar.  But where's the adventure in that?

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Barraba

Ah, nothing like the smell of Roundup in the morning. A farmer spraying, and I get a misting as I ride past. No weeds on me!
I take the non direct route to Barraba. It takes a few days. The mining has expanded and the road has been closed permanently. I flag down a mining vehicle, and am told there is an alternative path around the closure. But the driver wasn't sure. The maps I have haven't been updated and provide no help. With no signs to guide me, I return to another route.
Along the way I pass the Rangari automatic telephone exchange. Would have been the heights of modernisation once..

Broggabri

Relaxing dirt roads. Blue sky. A gentle breeze. Next to no traffic. Who could want more?

Packing up next morning I found what looked like a scorpion. Didn't know Australia had any, but we do!

Pine Ridge, Colly Blue, Spring Ridge, Premer, Tambar Springs, Mullaley

Easy riding mostly. I was heading to Coonabarrabran, but the flat plains and head wind did me in. I turned for a tail wind and flew.
Small towns, slowly dying. Shops closing, buildings for sale. Won't be long before there will be nothing left but a locality sign.
Camping in the bushes I walk through a spiders web. Just were did the spider go?

Quirindi

Another easy day. The sun come out. Time to clean up and dry off. Five days of wet. Been a while since I've had that many in a row I think.

I also wanted to get off the main road. I'll stay a night in the  Quirindi Caravan Park. A hot shower. Been a long time since the last one.

Talked with a lady about horses. She was telling me I should ride a horse rather than pedal. Besides knowing nothing about caring for a horse, I doubt they would make it between water points these days. I was assurred they would as "there's water everywhere".  It amazes me what people believe.

With the clear sky's, the night temperatures have dropped. Riding past the cotton fields, it looked like snow.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Burning Mountain

I woke to the steady sound of rain on the tent. Then patched a rare puncture: steel wire just punctured the rear tube.  Loaded up and cycled off. My clothes haven't been drying and my skin is softening.  After I warm up, I ride without my rain jacket, hoping the water will wash me off. All that happens is that I feel cold and wet. Days like today, I find no takers for my life outdoors.
I'd wondered if I could have gone to Bylong without extra food. But today I know the answer; I would have suffered badly if I did. I'm tired, hungry and not feeling very energetic. I call a short day and stop at Burning Mountain.
Lucky for me, I have the whole rest area too myself.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Near Scone

The best made plans, soon go out the window. I rode the back way into Denman from Jerrys Plains. Longer, and less traffic than the more direct route. Unfortunately for me the yearly festival was on, and the IGA was closed for the day. I was planning to go to Bylong to escape the rain, but needed food. The caravan park in Denman was $25 a night. Way to much in my opinion. So I turned towards Muswellbrook and then north towards Scone.
After 80km, I called it a day, and cooked up the last of my food for dinner. Another day and night of rain. Tomorrow, shopping in Scone.

Near Denman

Awaking and packing up, I've legs of steel. Though, it's not strength that I'm thinking of. They' feel heavy, unbending and dense.
I have a free breakfast, when some volunteers wave me into their "breakfast for shift workers" stand. They run the stand to help the miners get home. After a 12 hour shift, some are driving a couple hours to the coast. Sometimes they don't make it. But if they stop, they might wake up a bit.
More land around Bulga is being prepared for mining. Scrapped back to bare earth. Then the digging will start. The bush I'd seen in previous years is all gone.
Sadly I ride on into the rain.

Broke

Wasn't much better today. I'm tired, and the showers continue. Least there isn't much wind. The road I was on was narrow, with a lot of truck traffic. Not ideal.I wanted to stop at Wollembi, but the camp ground is too close to the creek, and still had water pooled on it. With more rain forecast, it was on to Broke.

Out of Sydney

It took another attempt to leave. But finally I made it out. The first attempt, the trains were not running well, and I had a "did I turn off the stove" moment. Rather than spend days wondering I went back.
Finally I was off. Standing in the rain, cold, I was hoping for better weather. It did ease up later in the day. but I struggled with lack of fitness. After 40 km, I called it a day and set up camp.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Farewell Sydney

The weather is cooling, the rains have come and my patience is done. Time to cycle away north. This visit has been longer than I'd anticipated. It has been starting to feel like a bit of a joke as each week I plan to leave, farewell friends, and yet remain. 

What has been keeping me here is my dental problems persist. Frustratingly, I didn't have any problems when I went for a visit for a "clean and check". But that found that some fillings needed replacement. After having fillings replaced, a tooth started aching. It has then dragged out. Maybe just irritated from the filling. Sounds like the root is dying. Root canal needed. Maybe not needed. Lets wait to see if it gets worse. 

I'll keep my fingers crossed that the ache goes away, or at the least, don't get any worse.

I'm riding out on a fine day. But after that, the rains will return. But it will pass..


Sunday, 29 March 2015

Yoghurt and Sauerkraut

More food!  Been a big week. Bread, yoghurt and sauerkraut.
Home made yoghurt. Made with powdered milk. I'm onto the second batch now, this only lasted two days before being eaten.  Kept well, considering no fridge - kept it in the shade during the day after making it.

Making it was easy. Mix up the milk, add some vanilla, then boil it.

An important step. Not only does it sterilize the milk, but some reading says that the heat changes the protein, to help it 'set' later (if all goes well). Other people say it doesn't matter that much for commercial milk. Not sure how much heat is applied to powdered milk, but I need to boil anyway to sterilize the water.

Wait till it cools to blood temperature, then add in two tablespoons of Jalna Low Fat yoghurt, and mix it well. Then keep it warm for 6-8 hours. I wrapped it up spare clothes.  Made it in the morning, and found it set the next morning when I checked.  It may have set by the afternoon - but I didn't check.  Keep two spoons to make the next batch.

I used Jalna low fat yoghurt as that is what I had. I like Jalna yoghurt; Australian and simple. No thickeners, gelling agents, nothing artificial, no colours, no preservatives, no stabilisers or emulsifiers. But any natural yoghurt would work to provide the culture.

I'll try making yoghurt when travelling - will be a bit more messy as the best time for the temperature will be during the day. But then it will shake about on the bike. Probably will not 'set' in that case. But hopefully will still be 'yoghurt'. Thinking a bag might be better - then can force the air out and it will not splash about.

Also have a two batches of sauerkraut fermenting. Ideally they should stay a few weeks before being done. But since I'm leaving soon, I'll eat one later this week. Might try the other in a bag on the bike also..

Looking forward to being mobile again.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Bread and flour definitions

Mmmmmm Hot Bread!

I got access to a stove, so rather than making my usual flat bread, I decided to bake bun. Haven't done this since was on the Great Central Road.

But, while doing this, I read the self raising wholemeal flour ingredient list: "Wheat flour, Coarse Bran, Acidity Regulators (339,341,450,500)".

I'm not that keen on the acidity regulators now that I look them up, but 'Coarse bran'? Why is there coarse bran in wholemeal flour?

I had perhaps, naively, assumed that "wholemeal" meant what the dictionary said it did "...made from the entire wheat kernel... " .

But, no. Foolish assumption!

Hunting about led me to Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code - Standard 2.1.1 - Cereals and Cereal Products

Extracting out bits:

"flours or meals means the products of grinding or milling of cereals, legumes or other seeds."

"wholegrain means the intact grain or the dehulled, ground, milled, cracked or flaked grain where the constituents – endosperm, germ and bran – are present in such proportions that represent the typical ratio of those fractions occurring in the whole cereal, and includes wholemeal."

"wholemeal means the product containing all the milled constituents of the grain in such proportions that it represents the typical ratio of those fractions occurring in the whole cereal."

What is the typical ratio of endosperm, germ and bran?

Looking about, found on Wikipedia that "Wheat consists of approximately 83% endosperm, 14.5% bran, and 2.5% germ by mass."

Over on Australian Food Standards website, they state "Ingredients must be listed in descending order (by ingoing weight)." Seems to me that the flour isn't wholemeal as per the standard as it is missing the 'germ'. Since it has 'wheat flour' as the first ingredient, and bran as the second.

Looking at Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council picture of the parts, and the section "Identifying Whole Grains" it says "When checking to see if a food contains whole grain ingredients look for these words in the ingredient list:" and then, shows that "wheat flour" is not a wholegrain.

Looks to me like false marketing - calling the flour "Wholemeal flour" when it isn't.

Also note, nothing says they have to add in the same part of that grain back in. So, start with the grain, remove the germ, and bran, and then mill the endosperm. Ship the three parts to different factories. Each factory adds in their own stock of missing parts, maybe from overseas sources, and then calls it 'wholegrain'. And that is ok.

I cannot find a definition of "coarse bran".  Looking about the supermarket, the one other "Wholemeal" flour I found had the ingredients as "Wholemeal wheat flour" - which is more like what I wanted - having all the parts of the grain.

You cannot trust any words written on the front of a packet.

Edit: fixed weird formating. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Detoxing naturally

The weekend is over and I'm feeling shiny! Nothing like a good detox and cleanse to revitalise you for the week. Yep, had a honest and authentic detox happening Sunday. Out with all those toxins and pollutants. And today I'm feeling fantastic! The difference is amazing.

Mine was not one of those wimpy celebrity detoxes.  No days of just drinking juices. No lists of allowed foods or forbidden items. No special meal plans. No costly books. No special shakes. It didn't cost a cent. And, no willpower required at all! During my detox, food was the last thing I was thinking of.

But wait, there's more!

I lost a bit of weight. A modest amount, not just the water, but definitely fat. The detox process included a full body workout. True, it was tough and tiring working out. Every muscle is exercised, even the ones I didn't know I had. But the result speak for themselves. All that sweating like a pig; you could just smell the toxins oozing out, and feel the calories burning up.

I'll admit, that there were times when all I wanted was a long hot shower and some sleep. But with no hot water on tap, it wasn't to be. Boiling a litre at a time wasn't going to cut it.  And I thought my usual cold wash might be a bit too bracing under the circumstances. Can only cleanse so much at once. Be nice to your body. Best not to over do it all at once.

If I had my choices, I'd have run the detox during the day, rather than starting after sun down Saturday night. But once started, there was no stopping it. You just have to keep going till you're out the other side. Expelling toxins takes some effort. This detox needed a full 24 hours to run its course, though only the first 12 hours were really full on.

Arh, the joys of it all. Nothing like a 2am rushed stagger to the pit to know your still alive. When your colon's going eight rounds against the duodenum, it's such a relief when they both pass out. Keep up the supply of fluids though. It might feel like its just flowing straight through, but really, its cleaning. Flushing out the toxins and pollutants. If you've ever tried cleaning up a dirt spot with just paper, you know you need water.  Hot is better if you have it, but any clean water will do in a pinch. And don't be shy with it. Drink plenty. Add a bit of salt, and sugar to the water. With all the cleansing happening, you'll need some salt.

By sun up Sunday morning, the bulk of it was in the past. The rest of the day was catching up on sleep, and some gentle eating - plain boiled brown rice and sweet potato.

Unfortunately I'm not sure what triggered my detox.  But I'm not going to worry about that. It shows that my body is working at peak efficiency. It knows when to start detoxing.  No effort from me required at all.

Aren't I lucky?
 












Thursday, 12 March 2015

Sydney, a longer trip in the Blue Mountains

Just back from another trip about the Blue Mountains. Started badly with an unhappy City Rail Guard. Just minutes before it departed Central, he was telling us we shouldn't be on the train and threatening to get the Police onto us for not obeying him. All his talk and threats of police came to nothing in the end, but was a worrying and unsettling trip and completely unnecessary.

After that, blue skies, lots of road side fruit trees, and some very lazy days. Back to Hill End for a visit, then over to Hargraves, Mudgee, Rylstone, Glen Alice and Glen Davis before returning to Lithgow for a non stressful trip back down again.  In contrast to the trip up, the guard on this trip was very friendly and helpful.  Biggest day riding was just shy of 100km - Hargraves to Rylstone with a tail wind. Shortest day was just 12 km.  So lots of lazing about, reading was done.

Managed to return with only 10 kg of apples this time. Made a special detour to go back to our favourite tree.

Apart from the day through Sofalia up to Hill End which was very hot, we had a 5C overnight in Rylstone.  Sadly my home made chain guard, that handled 42C last year, didn't survive. The cold night cause it to warp badly. Not sure if the heat really did the damage, and the cold finished it off, or it didn't like the cold, but after a day of hoping it would straighten out, I had to pull it off and bin it. Running without a chain guard for now.

Without a chain guard, I'll have to pay the chain a bit more attention. Lube is good, but commercial stuff is expensive. I like the dry wax lubes - like White Lightning or Rock n Roll. Decided to have a go with a homemade formula. I dissolved candle wax in some Shellite that I use for my stove. The Shellite evaporates, leaving the wax on the chain. It doesn't last long though - flaking off too fast. I get about 50km before it sounds dry. Going to add in some beeswax to the mix, which should have more "stick" to it.

Another casualty, was my ebook reader, a Sony PRS-T1. Fortunately it lasted until I was back in Sydney, before half the screen faded out. It has been a faithful companion for many years. With Sony no longer making them, I'll get one of the Kobo ereaders. Reading is essential.

Will be about Sydney a few more weeks yet, before heading north. The cyclones up there are making the place very wet. Also heard there are swarms of mossies about. I can wait.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Sydney short trips; How do you like apples?

Been in and out of Sydney the past couple weeks going away weekends with friends.

The first trip on the Australia Day long weekend, I was challenged to take just my two small panniers - which are really the large Ortlieb panniers. It was hard to trim down to that level.  I'm so used to having everything with me. Had to really think about what to leave behind.

The trip was a bit of a wash out. The plan was to spend two nights out. The campsites would be dry, so needed to carry water.  The camps were up high, not quiet on the top of the ridges, but close.  The first night we just got the tents set up before the storm rolled in.  We were not short of water. Wind, rain and lightning. Some of the strikes were so close. With more storms forecast, and high winds on the way, no one wanted to stay another night. Next day was heading back.

It was lighter pedalling with less gear. But I missed my usual gear. I missed knowing where in my panniers everything was. I found it slightly frustrating having to pack those two small bags so carefully to fit everything in.

Last weekend,  I was back to four panniers. I did leave a few things behind. Still caused me problems. This time the panniers were too empty! But found a solution to this on the last day. Apples! The trees were all fruiting this year. Couldn't go past without sampling them. Would have been criminal to leave them behind, so we filled our panniers. Since I had the largest panniers... When we got back I weight the apples I carried - almost 20kg!

The plan was four nights out. Food was shared with a plan of who brought along what. We made up for the washout the week before. The first day was easy as it was mostly downhill, with water, and a luxurious hot shower at the end. After this it was a lot harder, uphill, dirt roads, and carrying water. There were no more showers. More interesting was the food planning; not enough calories for continual days of six hours hard pedalling. We were good for the first two days, but after that, we were all started suffering. But we did have a good time.

We also ate a lot of apples.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Forbes, Eugowra, Cudal, Orange, Lithgow, Sydney

It would have been better to have skipped Bogan Gate, but least Forbes was downhill. It was drizzling still, so I kept going. Eugowra, then back onto dirt to get to Cudal. Found another road that the GPS offers as a route, but isn't there. It was a pleasant 15km hill climbing detour to sort that out.

Stayed in Orange the one night, then set off to Bathurst early the next morning. Arrived in Bathurst early - sat around reading, eating, sleeping. It had gotten very windy so I wasn't keen on moving, but then at 3pm, the wind dropped a bit, and changed direction. Now it was a tail wind. Hah. Can't sit still for that.

Finished the day with 120km on my legs.  Wasn't an enjoyable road. Lots of traffic, minimal or no shoulder in places. The drivers that pass without much clearance.

I could have gone into Lithgow, but stopped at Lake Wallace, Wallerawang to check it out.

Big mistake.

I arrived late - just on dark, so rushed to set-up camp. There was a bit of a crowd - back packers, campervans, etc. Not a place I like to stay, but it was late. Wanted to check it out for friends that had asked about staying there. Only one night.

Terrible. Terrible. Not sure which group it was, but they drank, yelled, argued till the early hours of the morning. Young sounding, I suspected the backpackers, but it could have been locals partying. The grounds are close to Lithgow and housing areas.

Lithgow Tourist Information had told me in the past that camping is allowed there. What they didn't say is that the toilets are locked overnight.  I've dealt with this in the past - bottles and bags, carry it out. Not a problem.  Others dealt with it by using the ground.  In the morning there was used toilet paper blowing about, and fresh faeces scattered about. Icky! Icky! Seeing the gardens in the light - this was not a once off affair. The gardeners there must be saving on fertilizer costs. Feeling dirty angry, and disgusted, I packed and left.

I stopped to complain at the Tourist Information Centre. They said that it had nothing to do with them, wasn't their problem, and nothing they could do.  They still direct people to stay there.

Sunday. Trains.  Track work :(

I could change trains five times, and take almost six hours to get to my destination.  Wasn't going to do it. Change at stations without ramps or lifts - lots of carrying bike up and down stairs. Sunday, there would be no staff about. Finding the right platform and train to catch would be an added challenge. I decided to wait till Monday - two trains, three and a half hours.

Caught the 4:16 train out of Lithgow. Not many people on it at that time. But it filled to standing room only as it progressed down the mountain.

So now back in Sydney for a visit before heading north. Will be a here on and off for a few weeks. Friends with holidays wanting to go cycling and camping. So I'll be out of town a bit.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Condobolin, Bogan Gate

With lots of looking at the weather, the map and the weather again. I planed a route to Condobolin that would have taken two days. Some of it was to be on dirt roads, but when I arrived at the first one, it didn't look promising; standing water, sticky mud, and signs saying "Dry weather road".

I stayed on the tar and arrived by lunch time.

The old telephone poles. Easy height for horse back?
So, on to the next town. I had to be in Sydney by the weekend, so needed to pedal more. But..

Australia has a few fences. The Dog Fence, and the Rabbit Proof Fence. Where they cross roads, there is a gate. Australia has a slang term "Bogan".  So, when I saw the town Bogan Gate on the map. I had to go there. Sadly it was disappointing. No fence. No Gate. No sign. No Bogans. Nothing. I met other travellers later who were just as disappointed. There is a small town there, but no one about when I stopped. Thought there would be something to cash in on the tourist appeal of the name.  From the Wikipedia entry, the residents in places with the word "Bogan" in their name have lobbied to have a name change. They don't want to be associated with Bogans.

Was nothing to do, but ride on in the showers. 


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tullibigeal

Claws on cement. I call out, thinking it's a dog. "Get away", "go on". The claws continue. Rolling over and looking in the half light, it's small. Possum I think. Then I wake fully, too low for that. It keeps coming towards me, reaching the tent.  I scramble for the torch. Arrrrrggh!!! Echidna! Now I'm rushing to open the zip, and stop out before it tries to push underneath. I stop it on my door mat. It "digs in" Phew.
Discarding my "no intervention" ideal, I move it, on the mat, around my tent, onto the grass, and go back to bed. Saved!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Tullibigeal

An underappreciated pleasure: warm dry clothing. It's a cool day and I'd just washed myself and cloths, when the showers start. Not wanting to get another set wet, I squeeze as much water out as I can, then put them back on. They'll dry faster with a heater in them, even if the heater doesn't enjoy the sensation.
Quiet day after that, listening to the rain on the zinc roof under a picnic shelter.
It showers, drizzles or rains during the night. When I wake, it continues. I fail to leave.
I find out the locals have all been talking about the poor woman in her tent at the picnic shelter. When the fourth person comes over to offer somewhere out of the wind and rain, I give in. More to ease their worries than from concern about the wind and rain. I move to another larger shelter, out of sight. It's also more peaceful, people wise. Empty sheds nearby, roofing iron clangs in the wind makes a memorable night.

Narrandera, Barellan, Weethalie,Tullibigeal

Meet up with Tim the Tourist in Boree Creek before going to Narrandera We first met up Far North Queensland last year. Kept in touch on email. First time I've met another traveller in two states. Hung out, ate too much, drank too much, did some chores, and had an enjoyable time. Also avoided riding in the 42C days. Ended up staying longer than I'd planned as the temps stayed high. But eventually, it was time to go.
I was glad to get away from the caravan park. Had the idea the owners hate having people there. Bins not emptied, lights not working, taps leaking, coin BBQ swallowed coins, and failed to start, toilets without paper, toilet block locked. And the constant, 24x7 elevator music. Arrrgggh. Not one I'd stop at again, even though it was near the lake and town swimming pool.
Riding; start early in the day while it's cooler (25c), stop by lunch time when it really heats up (38c). Sweat lots in the heat and humidity. Batten down for the passing storms.
Pass through small dying towns each day. The buildings closed. Weathered and fading signs showing the business that once existed there.  The servo is going as well. No people needed. Replaced with a credit card browser.
Had a moment walking into a shop yesterday. Something has happened somewhere and the morning tv show was in full overblown emotion showing. The serious, shocked, outraged looks on the presenters. The shop staff clustered around the tv, not to miss anything. TV flashes to photos of men with beards and headwear.  That is when I walked in, still covered up, to order a burger.
Need to keep track of the days better. Tullibigeal. Nothing is open on the weekend. And today I just found out is Saturday..

Edit: Not true. I was to early for a weekend. The Tullicafe opens everyday. They make a great burger. 
There should be a lake behind that sign. Been a bit dry lately.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Urana, Boree Creek, Narrandera

It was quiet when I rode into Urana. Ok, it was early in the morning, but it didn't change as the day lengthened.  I stayed in the park, until after lunch, when a bus of young guys arrived. Well lubricated, they were having a good time, and wanted everyone to know it.
I headed out towards Boree Creek and found a camp. Very quiet; only saw one car pass by.  Needless to say, my NYE was very peaceful. The weather was dry, with no wind. I left the fly off the tent, and went to bed early. Woke a few times to watch the stars.

The ride into Boree Creek had me wondering if I was on a road, or just going through a farmers paddock.


There is a sculpture in Boree Creek of a swaggie. Very well done I thought. The same artist also created this at Morundah:


With a couple of 42C days forecast, I decided to spend a few days resting at Narrandera.