Monday, 18 July 2016

Hot, humid with a very high chance of rain.


Went for a walk for a couple of days. Averaged 17km per day, which doesn't sound like much. I'm suffering big time in the heat and humidity. Middle of winter and it's hitting 28c with feels like of 30. Overnight lows of low 20s. Doesn't feel like winter at all.
Been doing 6km walks with hiking poles. That was all okay. Starting from the family home first thing in the morning. Got a cart to carry my gear, but the it had a faulty wheel. Only just received the replacement.
Feet a little sore, but it's to be expected. Was worried about blisters at the end of day one, but they settled overnight. I put tape over the likely spots the next day. Not sure I can carry enough tape though.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Baking with tea candles

My first loaf that I'm having for brunch. Four tea candles for 45 minutes. The bread is soft, but I'll experiment more now that I'm on the road and try for a crust.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Sydney - Cairns

I did leave Sydney with the K-Mart bike to head north.  The bike worked well. The front forks stayed rigid and showed no signs of movement. Gearing was higher than I'd like - so did a fair bit of walking. With all the walking, I started having foot problems. My feet were still not up to walking much. With most of the trip still to go, I decided to return to Sydney to recover.

The body healed with rest, but then there was a family incident, so I flew to Cairns with just a the essentials in a backpack - electronics, sleeping bag, clothes, cooking gear, tarp, bug net and miscellaneous items. I like to be independent. The original plan was to either fly back to Sydney or walk with the backpack. However, the walk from the airport had me thinking that some wheels might be better. So after much searching about, I found some.


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Sydney: More KMart Bike fixes.

After two council clean ups in the area - one awesome, and one disappointing. Or maybe the first one spoilt me. It was time to head north. Departure planned, bike loaded up, test ride down a hill. hmmm, front brakes shuddering.  Better fix that. 

The forks wear just looking at them.
More investigation found the shuddering was caused by the forks. They had a worrying amount of forward/backward movement. The brake grips the rim, the forks rock forward, the brake slips, the fork spring back. The brake grips again and on it goes.  Not ideal. 
Plastic bush pulled out. No so visible in this pic, but it has flattened out.
The cause was the plastic bushes wearing and flattening out. I knew this was going to happen and had wrapped the forks in plastic to keep grit out. That probably didn't slow the wear rate much. The forks on the Kmart Bike are the worst thing about it. The fix: convert to rigid forks.  Ideally, this would involve changing the forks. But the 'will this work' solution involved string, paper, hose clamps and epoxy resin.  Ideally, I wanted to disassemble them and change the spring in the base to a piece of metal pipe. But that needs a really long extension tool that I don't have. So with the plastic bush out as per the above photo. I wrapped string around the stanchion, and pressed it down with the bush into the fork. Checking with a piece of wire, I plugged any large gaps with paper, then filled the tube up with 5 minute epoxy resin. Before it set, I pushed the bush into it, so that resin was pushed back up filling all the gaps and channels in the bush. Effectively the top 60mm of the fork is now (hopefully) resin. Hose clamps went on the top of that, so if the fork does want to compress, they will stop it moving, or at least limit its movement. 

With the resin set, the forks are now rigid. Brake shuddering has gone. Time will tell how how travel affects the "fix". It might last months, or fail on the next ride. 

The KMart Bike adds excitement to each trip:)

I did check the wheel bearings. Well, at least the front ones. Heaps of grease in there. All good.  The rear, I realised I don't have the tool to get the cluster off, so they'll have to wait a bit longer. But grease is oozing out, so there is heaps in there.  The headset bearings also were well greased. 

Other work was adding water bottle holders. I made these out of some aluminium strips found in the council clean up.  I can carry 10 litres in 1.25L PET bottles; two on each side of the forks, two in the triangle, and two behind the handlebars on the top tube. I still have the basket empty, so could put another couple of bottles in there.  All the water up front will balance the gear on the rear rack.  Gear weight is about 15kg and mostly (see below) fits in my two large homemade panniers. This is down from the 30kg I carried on the Surly.  I'm still not on board with 'minimal' though, I'll be leaving with way too much food for my route.  One day I'll get this right. So I'll work at reducing the food I've got and not stocking up so much each time.

I say "mostly", because I have two sleeping bags for now and while I can get both in my panniers, it is easier to keep one out on top of the rack in a dry bag. I use the sleeping bags as quilts. I'm using a $15 KMart summer weight sleeping bag. Synthetic, rated at 11C-15C, weighing 850 grams.  I've used this one down to 7C wearing thermals and clothing to bed, but I'm expecting lower temperatures in Northern NSW. So I scavenged another bag from a bin. It is missing a zipper, is synthetic, and weighs the same, so probably the same rating. With both, I sleep toasty. When I'm in Queensland and no longer need it, I'll return it to a bin. I won't need two bags again until winter next year.

My previous down sleeping bag was rated to about 0C, and I'd used it below wearing thermals and clothes. It weighed about 1500 grams, washing and drying it was not easy and I constantly was worried about it getting wet or damp. It would get dirty and salted. I'd get it cleaned by an outdoor company in Sydney at a cost of $60 a time, usually every second year.  After the last wash, the down was still clumping, so it needed replacing.  I was initially thinking of a new down bag. But at hundreds of dollars, and then the special washing needs, it wasn't very appealing. Most of the time, the temperature isn't below 10C and is above 15C.  The KMart bag at $15 is half the weight, easy to wash and dry. Can throw it in the washing machine and dryer. Though, depending on the laundromat costs, that could approach the cost of a new bag. Or I'll just replace it with another one. For the few months of winter when I need warmer, I'll add a second bag. The Kmart bag is much better value. 

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Sydney: Changes & Maintenance

It might seem that I'm still doing nothing, but I have been out of Sydney for a camp. The main purpose was to test all my new gear out. It went reasonably well. As expected, there were some issues, and the trip was ultimately cut short due to dental problems. But it was enough time to be comfortable with some of my changes, and convince me that other things needed to change.
Principally I carried too much gear with me again. Part of this was as I was testing various items. Part of it was my old problem; just carrying way too much that is really not needed. Still working on this.  More in a later post on my new gear set.

After the trip, the Kmart Bike needed some work. Logged about 600km on it so far. Rear tire was bald by this time. I could probably get a few hundred kilometres more out of it, but the puncture rate would increase. No way would I get to Cairns on it. I doubt that it would make it to Tamworth. So far it hadn't punctured, but it was only a matter of time. The front tire holed as the rim tape had moved, or was never over the spoke nipples to start with. When I removed the rear wheel, the rim tape was twisted and not covering the spoke nipples that well either. So was only going to be a matter of time before that tube punctured.

Changes: Replaced the 9kg weight limited rack with a 25kg one found in a council clean up. A lucky find. Still in its packet, but missing the small mounting hardware. This rack is lighter and stronger than the ebay rack I purchased.  Changed the rim tape on both tires to Zefal cloth tape, changed both tires to Schwalbe Marathon Tour Plus.  Tires are consumables. But it still amuses me that each tire is almost the cost of the bike.  Added a Mirrcyle MTB Mirror as the previous one was just too dark to see well out of, and vibrated too much to be useful. Bar ends found in a garage sale for $2 completed the changes. 

Maintenance: The bottom bracket was a bit loose, so I pulled it out for a clean and grease at the same time. Was a surprising amount of metal shavings in there - probably from the frame. The bearing surfaces and bearings were still in good shape. Contrary to previous reports on the web, there was a fair bit of grease on the bearings. Still, I cleaned it all off and replaced it. There are no dust seals on the crank, and through the gap in the cups, you can see the bearings rolling around. I added my own dust seal on both sides. 
I wrapped a bit more cotton string around at this point. The cotton string was thinner and tightened up more. This should slow dirt, dust and water entry into the bearings.  The thick thread above is large enough to not travel into the gap between the spindle and cup, and so not get caught up in the bearing.  Smaller thread just holds this tight on the spindle.  I've not pulled apart the wheel bearings yet, but maybe I should. They have grease visible outside the bearings, so I'm hopeful that there is grease inside. 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Still in Sydney

Still about in Sydney. Not been doing an awful lot.  A lot of reading.  Some walking.  Sprained my ankle yesterday rock hopping, so definitely a lot more reading for the next few days.

Under a tree I pass often
Some stuff on the bike.

Pedals: The wooden pedals from last update didn't last long at all. Not only did they destroy the plastic pedals underneath, they kept getting in the way when pushing the bike. I like the idea, but it needs some more work.  Currently have a salvaged set of VP-559 flat pedals that work really well with my minimal footwear. They'll probably not last long as the bearings are on the way out. But until then...

Seat: Luckily I've gotten used to the saddle now. It can stay.

Rack: The ebay seller, gave me a 50% refund. Was okay with that. But notice, they (and other sellers) still have the rack advertised with 25kg (or more!) weight limit. Guess not many buyers complain.

Brakes:  Scavenged some better brake arms. And all is silent now. So happy with that. The original brake arms were just pressed steel plate - 2D. The new ones are cast - 3D. They also fit better on the brake posts - a lot less movement.

Now I'm up against the next limit on better braking; the plastic brake body on the handlebars. Its problem is that it bends. The lever is aluminium, but the body that it attaches to is plastic. Pull the lever, the brakes press on the rim, pull harder, and the body bends towards the handlebars. So there is a limit to how much pressure you can apply. But it will be okay. Just need to keep the brakes well adjusted.

Tires: Decided to get Schwalbe Marathon Tour Plus again. The rear tire is smooth already, after about 500km. I've had one puncture, and that is just going to get worse as time goes on. Decided I don't like mending punctures at all, so, going back to tires that I know and love.


Sunday, 7 February 2016

Barefeet? Then you need barefoot pedals!

Recently had a hmmm moment. I'd swallowed the 'clipless pedals are more efficient' line years ago, and not thought about it at all since then. With all the changes lately, I've been looking into the claim. And it doesn't hold up so well.  A lot of websites parrot the line, but hard science for the claim is not so easy to find. I found other riders also having trouble finding any evidence.  The studies I have come across like this: Effects of Pedal Type and Pull-Up Action during Cycling (full paper), concluded it didn't matter what pedals you have. Also interesting was that another claim of clipless pedals - that you can pull upwards and get more power; well, it reduced efficiency.  The study looked at submaximal cycling - so not flat out as hard as you could go, which I think is valid, as apart from track or sprinting, that is how we mostly get around. There could be advantages in those situations, but that wasn't examined.

A site that was interesting had The Flat Pedal Revolution Manifesto. It also covered another couple of points that I'm still researching: the pedal under the ball of the foot pedal position and rigid cycling shoes.  Still researching this, but it is looking like that a better position is midfoot or at least behind the ball of the foot, and that the shoes are only rigid because if you use a cleat for the clipless pedal, you need something for that to clip to. The small size hurts your foot, so the rigid sole was solution. Which these days gets spread as "you need stiff soles to ride a bike".

So, with all of this going on and riding the Kmart Bike, I've been finding the pedals uncomfortable on my thin soled shoes. Been experimenting a bit.

You need mudguards.

Had rubber matting wrapped around the pedals for a day, then foam pads, but found both of them uncomfortable from the spikes on the edge of the pedal. I ground the spikes off, but the hard edges of the pedal were still uncomfortable.  A bit of flooring, and I've a nice big comfortable platform now. It might be a tad too long, but it is comfortable to stand on. I'll try it a longer before shortening it.

Other activity on the Huffymobile:

Rack:  My original plan was to make a rack myself out of wood. But the attachment near the axle wasn't going to work on the derailleur side, so I was thinking of another option. Hunting ideas, an ebay rack seemed a quick solution - an acceptable weight limit, cost and delivery time.

It is now an unhappy $33 ebay purchase. False advertising. It was advertised as having a 25kg max load weight, but arrived with a sticker warning of a 9kg max weight limit. To rub salt into that wound, the sticker is visible in the photos, but not readable. Still in dispute with the seller over this. While very quick to respond to the sale, they are now glacial at answering any messages. I'd have to pay the return cost, and they won't refund until they receive it back. So I'm thinking the most likely outcome is that I'll keep it, look at ways to strengthen it, and give them a bad review.

Mudguards: A quick build as it was raining. Used corflute. Very wide at the moment, but I'll wait till the rack is sorted out before trimming them down. Also would like to find some stainless steel for the struts, as the wire coat hangers will rust.

Bike lock: I wanted a cable. All the research on this come to the same conclusion. Cable locks are no better than string. Too easy to cut with easy to carry pocket tools. A D-Lock provides better security. Problem for me is that a D-Lock is often not big enough to go around a post. So I bought a OnGuard D-Lock with a cable.  If I can lock the back wheel and frame to a post - great, I then use the cable around the front wheel for something to do with it.  If I can't, I still lock the back wheel and the frame together, and use the cable around the post. The front wheel is not quick release, so it stays without a lock.  I very much doubt a thief is going to go to the effort to cut the cable, carry off a Kmart bike and then still have to cut the D-Lock off to ride the bike. Lock so far is the single most expensive item after the bike.

Front forks: The rubber boot with cable ties didn't work. The fork actually does slide sometimes, and the boot would stick at its top point, or the cable tie would slip off. So I've wrapped the whole area from the top of the fork to below the rubber boot with plastic.  Held on with cable ties and duct tape. This will do better at keeping the dust out. Might accelerate rusting though. Time will tell.

I thought to remove the spring and replace it with a piece of pipe to make the forks rigid, but don't have an extension tool long enough to reach the bolt to disassemble the forks. So that will have to wait. Another option is to put hose clamps on around the sliders. But will wait on this for when the bushes start showing play.

Other:  Gear changing is crunchy and uncertain at times. Some of this is expected new cable stretching, part of it is me, not used to derailers after years of hub gears. I do miss the fast, easy, change gears when stopped. This catches me out and especially on hills. Need to keep up enough speed to change.

Brakes: The front brakes squeal. The brake arms are thin pressed steel plate and the attachment to the fork has some play. The fork even with the fork brace, flexes easily. Cleaning the rim, the pads, adjusting toe in, helps. I have silence for a day, but then slowly the squeal returns. One side pad and rim is wearing as I'd expect. The other side, the pad and rim are not. The pad seems to melt, and polish the rim, leaving a gummy residue. Clean ups and sandpapering the pad and the rim so far have been temporary solutions.  I'll keep persisting with it, for now.

Seat:  The saddle is 165mm wide. I prefer narrower. On shorter time in the saddle, it hasn't been a problem. With longer time, the seat started to be uncomfortable. For the time being I'll adjust the front/back position, but longer term - it might need to change.

I've known people that have lost their seat. Why some would take a seat I don't know. Vandalism? Seat theft happens.  No matter how expensive the bike, a seat loss would be hassle. The Kmart bike for some crazy reason, had one quick release clamp: the seatpost clamp.  I like slow release; so used a bolt and nut to replace it. The rack also clamps to the seatpost, but is bolted on the frame - so more of a deterrent.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Who needs a ute?

Specially when you have the Kmart Bike - which I've taken to calling the Huffymobile, because "Huffymobile" rolls off the tongue easier than "KMart Bike" or "Tourexmobile".

Helping a friend with a guttering job. Picked up a ladder, guttering and other bits from the hardware. Wasn't the fastest trip, but easier than carrying it by hand. 

I raised the seat, so the load is flat. Tied it down firmly onto the seat, and closer handlebar. The far side was looped around the grip, but not tied.  I could pull on the rope across the load to hold the load on, and to turn the bars to steer around corners.  If it had been tied down firmly, no turning would be possible. 

We spent two days to complete the guttering job. Mainly because the afternoon thunder and lightning storm interrupted us just after lunch on day one. By the second afternoon storms it was all done, and we could sit back and admire our effort and bask in the feeling of a job well done. 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Sydney: New Bike!!!

Didn't last long without wheels, so gave in to the urge and went shopping.  I had a criteria list and after careful consideration, I settled on this potentially high performance touring machine. 

Assembled enough to wheel it back to the lair for further work.
66cm (26 inch) Tourex Mens Bike

With 18 speeds to choose from, this bicycle is fantastic for you or your teenager. Great for simply getting from A to B or incorporating into your fitness regimen for cardiovascular exercise. Featuring a sturdy steel frame, Shimano derailleur, front and rear V brakes and a quick release seat position.

Suitable for ages 14+ years

Features: 18 speeds, Shimano derailleur, steel frame, front and rear V brakes, quick release seat position
Minimum height: 157cm
Wheel size: 66cm (26 inch)
==

I liked the colour - blue. It edged out the ladies bike that was cream coloured. Also, I thought the top tube might be marginally stronger than the lower height step through frame on the ladies bike. For my intended use, any advantage on the strength is needed.

The basket was an $12 impulse buy. Handy to put stuff in. I think that along with mudguards, front baskets are an underrated and overlooked accessory. 

The bike was bought sealed in its box. I assembled it enough in the shopping centre to wheel it back here to finish assembly. This gave me the chance to check that nothing was damaged or missing while I was still close to K-Mart.

By this time, some people will be screaming - buy a real bike! Its junk, a clunker!  Certainly the online forums are full of such advice, or suggesting getting a second hand bike. But there are some voices of reason amongst them. A cheap bike has its place, if you know what you're getting involved with and can work on it yourself.  

For the new rider, there are a lot of advantages to dealing with your local bike shop:
- you get expert advice to find a bike that fits you and suits what you want to use if for.  K-Mart bike there is no advice from anyone in the store. What is written on the box is all there is. 
- fitting options.  K-Mart bike is one size only. Unless you can find an assembled bike on display, you have no information about if this bike is a good fit for you.
- fully assembled and correctly adjusted bike. K-Mart bike is in a box and you do it yourself. For a novice, this can cause problems with incorrect adjustments and fitting, leading to unhappy cycling or injury or death.
- the bike will be suitable for its use. K-Mart bike can't be taken off road even though it looks like a MTB.
- swapping out of parts is possible. K-Mart bikes you get what is in the box no options.
- usually a free first service. K-Mart has no bicycle service offers at all.
- a knowledgeable professional will always be there to offer help, advice, complete servicing and repairs. K-Mart bike - your on your own, and given the low price of the bike, bicycle shops will be reluctant to help as the low quality components have limited adjustment ability and the cost of any work and parts will quickly exceed the cost of the bike.  It may not seem like it, but they are doing you a favour by not working on your cheap low quality bicycle. 
- you get a longer period before gear wears out. K-Mart bike has very low quality components.  Cheap low quality metal, plastic and poor quality seals and bearings, mean a short lifespan before requiring attention.  

But still, a cheap bike has its place.

My criteria had: MTB like, new, cheap.  The K-Mart bike met all those and it edged out its nearest competitor the Target bike, by being $50 cheaper.  There could be good deals to be had on the second hand market. I had a quick browse of the offerings, but wondered about proof of ownership.  Are you really going to check who owns a sub $100 bike? Is that sub $100 good deal, really owned by the seller, or are you just aiding the bike theft market?  And then thinking about the need to factor in travel to inspect, passing it up as too damaged,  repairs needed on an acceptable bike, I decided it was going to be hard to beat $99 new for ease of owning, and certainty with what you get. 

What you get is a very cheap, very low quality bike. It's not to be denied, it has some short comings.  Nothing on K-Mart says the bike is a MTB. It just looks like one.  You are warned not to take it off road, or try stunting.  



Not sure why not to ride at night. Maybe because it doesn't come with lights. I did read the owners manual and was surprised to learn that the frame has a 5 year warranty! How many high end frames have that sort of warranty?

The quality of components isn't great. The fork boots come with manufactured in sag. 


The rubber boot does not grip the fork slider at all.
Just to catch and add dirt and grit to wear these bushings out.

Nice soft plastic bushes. Reckon they'll last?
For the moment the forks kind of slide, and no slack is detectable there. I don't expect that to last long. To put that off a bit longer, I used cable ties around the rubber boots to keep them against the fork sliders. 

Wheels are fairly true. The rear could do with a bit of a touch up but will leave it till I've clocked some kilometres and do it then. Tires are nylon and rated for maximum of 90kg. I'm expecting this to be the first upgrade that will happen. No maximum bike load is listed in the owners manual, so these  will be the limiting factor. Being just nylon, they will suffer easy punctures compared to the Schwalbe Marathon Tour Plus tires I'm used to. Gear changing isn't lightning fast, nor slick. Slow and steady is the go here.  Brakes adjusted, do the job of stopping. Pedals turn, chain to rear cluster. All the normal bike stuff. I've still to check how much grease is on the bearings. I've seen multiple online reports of 'not much', so probably is worth looking into.

Bike weighs in (with basket) at about 16kg. Not too bad considering the lump of metal that is the front suspension forks, the side stand and the steel frame.

For all the low quality gear, the first ride brought out the cycling smile.

What next? I need to find some bits to build a rack.  The aim is to keep the bike low cost, so a Tubus rack is out. I want the rack to mount my backpack on - so it has to be a custom creation. I'll go scavenging for materials.

Bike lock. My last lock was Abus Granit 1000 Steel O Flex Cable Lock. A hefty 1.55kg. But at $100, its more than cost of the bike. I was going to get a $15 K-Mart combination lock. But quick research shows that is easy to break the combination. The K-Mart U-Locks have the barrel keys. They fail with a Bic pen attack. I remember when Kryptonite replaced all their locks when that attack came out.  So need to find something else. The trade off between lock cost and bicycle cost.

Mudguards. Will find some core-flute to make a set.

Pedals are plastic. I'll increase the platform size for foot comfort, since I'll not be wearing the Shimano sandals.

Mount mirror on handle bars. I found a small make-up mirror on the side of the road. Just need to make up a bracket to hold it in place.

Tires/Tubes. Undecided still on thornproof tubes or Tuffy liner or just wait and swap them for better tires.  Schwelbe tires front and back will be worth more than the bike but could be a useful upgrade. Who likes patching punctures?

Then,  load it up with my gear and head bush again.

So, why I'd get this bike?  A few reasons. 

I wanted a bike that I don't have to worry about. I want to do walking, but most of the places are not easy to get to. So will need to ride out to them and then leave the bike there while I'm off walking. It could be days before I return. I never got over leaving the Troll out of my sight. It always seemed "wrong" leaving several thousand dollars of bike locked to a bush or a street post, and then wander off and leaving it.  I couldn't do it and this affected my travels; by not going places where I had to leave the bike, or by being overly worried about it when it was out of sight. It should have been easier when I was off in places with hardly any people, but I never managed it.  The Troll was never a bike I could walk away from. I was too attached to the bike. 

This also affected catching the train or bus. Too many bits that I didn't want broken or bent on the Troll because of the cost, inconvenience of repairing them, so was super cautious to the point of not travelling on trains or buses to avoid the worry.  This year, heading north, I'll not cycle all the way up. So there will be some bus or train or plane travel. With the K-Mart bike, it's not a worry.  Depending what happens, it might be better to leave the K-Mart bike somewhere and collect it on the way back down.

Increasing the sense of worry for me has been the lowering cost, and increasing power of battery powered angle grinders. For less than $100 you can buy one at Bunnings now. No lock is safe from an angle grinder. And it is faster if the thief is after just the parts.  The frame isn't hardened steel like a lock.

So a lot of angst about the Troll because of its high quality and costly components. None of that with a $99 K-Mart bike.

Having a high end bike does buff the ego a bit, and it does feel nice to ride - no denying that.  But is it that much better to ride?  I spent a lot of time walking with the Troll. I'll do the same with the K-Mart bike. No difference doing that. 

The very cheap bicycle isn't for everyone. You will certainly need some bike maintenance skills to keep the K-Mart bike on the road. It would not be cost effective to have your local bike shop build or repair this bike. But I think that within its limits it can be a great buy.  

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Sydney: A milestone.

Today, for the first time in over 15 years, I don't own a bicycle. Not just one less, not a temporarily separation but getting back together later, but really none. My beloved Surly Troll, that has been with me on many adventures is gone. It has moved out to a good home. It's going to settling down with a partner of similar attributes. They'll have Sunday rides, raise some kids and go on family adventures.

Just a memory now.
Meanwhile, my paring back is continuing. The tent has been re-seam sealed and is ready to move on. Down sleeping bag went to Vinnies, as will some of my excess clothing. Personal Locator Beacon, deregistered and sold. The Whisperlite International stove and Ortlieb Panniers are off having new adventures. I dare say the stove is seeing a lot more daily use than I ever gave it. After maybe one meal a day, it's probably quite shocked to be doing breakfast, lunch and dinner, with morning and afternoon coffee. A solar panel, water filter, and bunch of other stuff, that a day later I couldn't remember exactly what, and so showed how important it was, is off to another friend. Some other things, worn, but not quite worn out yet, or oh so joyfully discovered in rubbish heaps, or on the side of the road; I've hardened my heart, and placed in the bin.

Yes, in between bouts of procrastination, progress is going really well. I can see the end in sight.

Then, a friend mentioned that I had a bunch of papers at her place.  Twas quite a surprise to me; I'd completely forgotten the old filing cabinet contents from years ago. Given into safe keeping, but perhaps it was more "I really want to get cycling now, and don't want to deal with this - can you hold it. I'll be back for it soon." Six and a half years later, I'm dealing with it. The folders where chockablock1. Thankfully with the passage of time, most of it can easily be binned; decade old receipts; from which I learn't that things cost a lot less than today, airline tickets and boarding passes, hotel brochures and old photos of parties, in which I was very happy and very cheerful with lots of people whom I haven't a clue who they are now. Stuff that seemed terribly important at the time and needed to be kept, now quickly moves to the trash.  Some papers are more troubling; the "official records". Some I bin. High school and university semester results, certificates of attainment and old tax and banking records. But others, while I wanted to bin them, confident that in this day and age, no one requires paper, the reality isn't so simple. True, some institutions have moved with the times, and will accept electronic copies. But perplexingly, others really do want that piece of paper that looks like it come out of an 80's dot matrix printer with a blurry and fading stamp on it. And if you don't have their piece of paper, you're in for a lot of time, hassle and expense to get a new one, or come up with an alternative. I wonder if a new one would still look the same? Still considering if this really needs to be kept. Or if, at this time of my life, that I'm not likely to need it any more.

Not to stop with just physical stuff downsizing, I'm also culling and organising my digital world. The free storage offers, have just encouraged keeping files, purely for the sake of keeping. Like the cupboards in the house, that you hide stuff away in to not think about, so it goes online. But I'm onto it.

Music files got deleted. The tracks that were so truly awful that you can't bear to even hear them; they went years ago, but others that aren't that bad, but by the same measure, aren't that good either. Been holding on to them as 'they might grow on you'. Deleted them. If they haven't grown on me by now, they're not going to in the future. Without them, I they will not have the chance to grow on me, so that solves that. Can't miss what you don't have.

The ebook collection lost hundreds of titles by the simple measure of 'might I read this?'. For a surprising amount of books - no. I've been guilty of hoarding free books, or falling for the "collection sale on now" tactics. You know, where you buy 10 books for less than the price of one, to get that one book you might, perhaps one day, if you've nothing else, maybe like to read, and nine others that are absolute rubbish, that no one wanted and they never sold. So bundling them in as a collection is the only way to move them.

Photos fortunately wasn't a much of a cull - I already have a small collection there. I still recognise all the people. Better keep them.

And so it continues. Still trawling through the records digitised when I started on the road. Like the filing cabinet folders, there is sure to be plenty in there to bin.

There's something satisfying about cleaning up, having less. A sense of achievement. Nothing lurking in the corners, or hidden way, forgotten or undealt with. Knowing exactly what you own.  A feeling of freedom.  Go on, give it a try.

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Australian Slang
1. chockablock  - full, full up, can't get another thing in.