Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I'm not carrying a laptop or netbook - not because I don't want one; just waiting for technology to catch up. I want a screen that is readable in the sunlight, better battery life and low power usage - then it can be charged either from the hub or solar.

At present I'm using a Nokia 5800 as my main gadget. It works doing: gps, maps(on and off line), camera, web browser, email client,  ebook reader, mp3 player, radio, note taker,sms and lastly lets not forget, for phone calls.

So any photos are taken from the phone. Blog posts when not a PC are emailed though. Bit limited for the formating options, but one day I'll get a better phone, until then this is good enough.

Solar charger. $1 AUD coin for scale.
To power this, I'm using a small solar panel  It is book sized, and has two 6v 400mA panels that can be used individually, or joined for 12V 400mA. Love this. While there's sun, I've power. One day I will work at connecting the Schmitt hub up to a battery pack to gather more energy while riding. But for now, the sun is working fine for me.

I used to only put it out in the sun when I was stopped. Recently I've been ocky strapping it on top of the panniers. By keeping the phone in the pannier and rolling the top of the pannier losely, it keeps the phone out of the dust.

I can also play music from the phone while its inside the panner. Was doing this with the music on the phone speaker, but could use ear phones if I wanted.  I don't bother playing music when riding. Only used it when walking when most of the day was pushing up hill. Singing along seemed to make the hills shorter.

When I was in Brisbane, I purchased this small folding blue tooth keyboard. Its wonderful. Really love being able to type normally. If you look back on my posts, before Brisbane, they tended to be very short. With this little baby, I can type longer posts. Great for emailing friends or taking notes. Takes one AAA battery, and so far its still on the same one. Smart circuits to shut things down when its not being used.

I do have a battery pack (2000mAH USB connectors for charging from solar panel) than can charge the phone. But so far I haven't used it. I might not continue to carry this. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but practically, I use the phone most when its sunny, and when its raining, I don't get it out to avoid getting it wet.

Exped Auriga Mesh Tent

Exped Auriga Tent 3100gm
Exped Auriga tent footprint 350gm
Cheap Poly Blue 6x8 tarp 220gm
Cheap Poly Green 6x8 tarp 340gm

The blue tarp goes on the ground, then the footprint is placed on top of that. The tent sits on the footprint. Some of my tent sites have lots of sharp stones. The blue tarp is getting very thin now and has many holes. I'll replace it soon. The footprint also has holes. So far the tent bottom is not holed yet, but does have some thinner spots.

Soon after starting to use the tent I emailed Exped asking about UV resistance. The instructs say to "avoid prologed UV exposure". What is prolonged?.

Their reply was very fast: "When daily exposed to the sun the fly will have a live span of around half a year. The fabric than will be UV-damaged, easy to rip and dull color. To expand the span of life of your tent, pitch it up in a shady place take away the fly or cover the tent with a UV-proof foil, like a first aid sheet." I've followed this - covering the tent, moving it about in the shade, or even taking it down if staying somewhere for the day.

The tent has a 5 year warranty, and I had one claim on it leaking. Exped couldn't find where it was leaking, but seam sealed it again. They also said they were happy to look at the issue again if it leaked, and asked that I mark the leaking points. They also noted that they had not had problems before with leaking. I only found good reviews online.

A couple of months later it did leak again. I elected not to claim again, as I'd be without a tent for the time to send it to Sydney, get it tested, and returned. So I bought some seam sealer and covered the seams again. I also started using the green tarp to cover the top of the tent when it rains. Not sure if it is the seam sealer or the tarp on top, but I haven't had it leak since. And it has been in some very heavy rain.

I used to be very sore on this tent considering the money I paid for it. But now after looking at other tents and having used it lots of different locations and circumstances, I'm feeling very friendly towards it. I appreciate more now the features and quality in the tent.

If you think my tent is "heavy" like I was initially. Consider this: the lighter weight tents are lighter because of thinner fabric. Thinner fabric isn't going to last as long, and is more prone to damage.

One thing I don't like about this tent is the bag. You pack it in from the top like a shopping bag. There is no real closing for this - just a string across middle of the opening.

At the moment, I'm giving it a UV treatment and going to add patches to the thinner spots on the floor.

Webbing and Ocky straps

I use two straps around my panniers to hold them in place.  The metal buckle is easy and quick to use, but weighs 56 grams.  Cut it off and use two cable ties like D-rings. 

Also cut off the extra strap that is not needed. Too long is just a hassle to keep out of the wheels.

EDIT: This doesn't work as well as I'd thought on the bike. IF you set it up and load the ends, it holds well, but pull the end to tighten the load and the cable ties roll, and then slip.

3-May-2011: EDIT: On the road, still trying to use this method, I found that if I tighten the cable ties enough, so the strap has to fold to pass through it, then it works really well.
The ocky straps have evil metal hooks on them. Evil because the little black rubber boots on the end of the wire soon comes off, then the wire hook punctures tents, panniers, and skin easily.

Buy shock cord from Bunnings and cheap clips from a $2 shop. Tie two knots to keep the cord from working lose. Shock cord is more elastic than the ocky straps, and you can make the cord exactly the length you need.

Chain breaker on a diet

Removing the handles saves 40gm. I use the shifter (adjustable spanner) on the body, and a 5mm allen key in on the screw drive. Also packs in my tool kit easier.

Bye bye Yuba

Changing your bike again!!!

Yeah, been a few changes over the past year. Each time I thought it was the "right" decision. What can I say - I make some bad decisions. But am learning :)

The Yuba definitely rides smoothly. Nice bike for cruising along. Also works well for carrying what ever you want. No worries about the strengh of the frame. Going to miss the solid no flex rack.

Am currently back on my old Aluminium MTB frame. The Yuba is on ebay and has offers so it will sell. Why the change? Number of reasons.

The extra length touring causes me problems. About town I can't get into some lifts, going through bicycle path squeeze points - it doesn't make it. I have to lift the back wheel up and move it to make it around. This also happens on the wheel chair ramps. The weight of my gear and the bike and the length don't make it easy for me to do this. Not I'm not in town that much, but the lifting and moving it affects me even in the bush.

Can't lift it over a fence easily. Noticed this more on the Lithgow trip with a friend on a standard length bike. Two of us managed, but I wouldn't do it on my own. (Actually, I can't lift the Yuba easily even when unloaded.)

I've no hope of getting it on a plane because of the extra weight and the length.

Yeah, the extra weight - noticing it more that I'm in Sydney. Places I've cycled lots. I expect to travel a certain speed and with the Yuba that isn't possible. Interestingly this didn't bother me in the country. So think its just I'm "back in the old places".

So after anguishing over it for a few weeks, its back to the MTB frame.

My old MTB without the wrapped frame.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


No not me!

While wandering about Sydney, I stopped to listen to Alex and Mish playing and singing outside of Broadway Shopping Center. Great music.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Well arrived in Sydney on the Monday, and then left to go camping up near Lithgow with Claire. We rode a track towards Newnes. Twas a nice track. Had to unpack the bikes and carry the gear and bikes past a few obstructions. Lucky for two of us - the Yuba is a bit heavy for me to lift on my own over some things - like fence gates. Also with two, we were able to lift the bikes over other obstructions without unpacking them. For a four day trip, I had a lot of failures in the footwear departmeent - my Shimano sandals and thongs broke. Both held together by cable ties quite successfully.
Now in Sydney - have started replacing or upgrading gear. Thermarest is in for a warrenty claim - its got a large bubble in the middle of it. Might go a lighter version or foam when or if it returns. Need to patch holes in the tent. Replaced the crank puller with the way lighter Shimano version. 5mm thick steel knife sharpener is being replaced with a 50gm version. Folding knife that doesn't lock shut is being replaced with one with a better lock so it stays shut when it should.
Aslo culling over weight items. 0.5kg of paper converted to pdf. 0.5kg bag of string chopped to just one piece for the clothes line. Clothes that are too worn but still carried are discard and replaced. "spare" clothes that never been used have been given away. Spare fuel bottle is gone. Keeping the 650ml bottle only. Blue Ortlieb bags are gone - cut down enouth bulk to shove everything into the panniers.
Had 26kg when left Brisbane - thats before food and water and includes pannier weight. Will see what it all weighs when I leave Sydney next. Will be about for couple of weeks.