Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Culcairn, Walbundarie, Rand

Felt much better when I woke. Peaceful ride into Walbundarie. It's larger than I was expecting. I'm ravenous, eat my breakfast, quarter of a watermelon, a loaf of fruit bread and a handful of cashew nuts. Still I'm hungry, but decide to leave. Better to be a bit hungry than stuffed full.
A tail wind leaving, and it is good, until it moves to a cross wind, and strengthens.
I'm walking. The wind is roaring. Black clouds grow. I head down a narrow dirt track to get to a parallel road. But riding is impossible. Even walking is difficult. Just as rain drops hit, I find a bush to hide behind. There are other trees about, but none I trust to shelter under.
I watch the storm pass. Not enough rain to wet me. But the wind continues. Eventually I decide to find better shelter. More walking.
An hour later, I find it. A stand of Casuarina trees. I wait in vain for the wind to drop. Dust clouds are whipped up.
I watch the fire brigade speed past, and look anxiously for a fire. Impossible to tell with the dust. No smell of smoke.
As darkness falls, I'm not going anywhere. Still too windy.  A couple hours later it eases.
Next morning, in Walbundarie, I learn the fire was at Rand. But it's out now.
Rand, when I arrive it's a ghost town. Or maybe aliens have abducted everyone. I stop for lunch. Then riding around the town, still see no one. Slightly spooky. I head off towards Urana.
Later I see a ute driving up and down in a paddock. Is this what country people do instead of driving round and round the block? Nope, Jay is doing EM Mapping. Up and back, 30 meters apart, for the whole field, dragging the sensor. He tells me of fields that are 8km in length. Long uneventful days, just driving up and back. I guess it is a job that drones will replace in the future.

Holbrook, Culcairn

Old car, still used every day in Holbrook.

I stop for lunch, restock with food and water then leave.

Hannah, an older lady, not as spry on her legs as she once was, comes over to talk with me. When she was 18 she rode her bicycle through Sweden and Germany. Her eyes sparkled remembering the times.

On the way toward Culcairn, I'm not feeling the best. The helpings of roadside plums probably didn't help. I stop early. My stomach rolling, and dig several cat holes. By the time darkness falls, I've used them up. Thankfully, I fall asleep without further problems.


A spectacular sunrise over the valley.

On the road into Holbrook, I'm walking. The slope was gentle and I should be riding, but the energy wasn't flowing. I stumble along slowly.
A motorcycle passes, slows, turns around and returns. John was on his way to work, and wondered if I had mechanical problems. We talk for an hour about bicycles, bush, to many cars, the climate of fear in Australia and the country life.


Christmas has come! Crunchy peanut butter marked way down. Okay, expiry it's listed as 3rd Jan 2015. As if that matters. It won't last that long! I get the last two jars.
Manfred, on holidays from German invites me to have a coffee with him. We have a wonderful chat about life, holidays and the beauty of nature.
Back roads towards Holbrook. A farmer stops to see if I'm lost. As he says "don't see many of your type out here". I think he was meaning the bike.
I pass an old church in a sea of yellow. Then spend another peaceful night in the pine forest.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Or Tumba, as Australians shorten it to. Took the slow road from Batlow. Weaved about the logging roads, avoiding the showers and storms, and feed the mossies. Also avoided the dropping branches. Unlike the the park in Batlow, I did see branches falling.
Yesterday was the first fine sunny day in a while.  Was cool and windy, so I sat in the sun, read and knitted. Was near a rural fire building at first. But people stopped to ask if I was breaking in. What sort of question is that?  Would a thief have answered "yes"? Did my "no" convince them? I noticed other drivers slowing down and looking my way. I didn't like the attention, so moved on up the road out of sight.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Under the tree in Batlow

The sign meant no one else wanted this great tent spot!

Tumut, Batlow

A forestry road near Batlow, Tumut
Grrrr. Another midnight wake-up on the way into Tumut. Have people never seen a tent? Why is midnight the time to visit?
Tumut, nothing special. Food, water, then off towards Batlow. Given where I'm headed, there is a lot of up hill, without much down. Seem to be spending more time walking than pedaling. Narrow roads, lots of traffic. 4x4, logging trucks, semi trailers.  I bail off to have a rest under a tree. The day drifts into afternoon, then evening. I stay, watching the trees, clouds and butterflies. One night, two nights. Third night, kids turn up (again!) at midnight! Sleeping I don't hear them arrive, but yelling, car doors slamming, and music wake me. In the dark, they don't see me. I sit and listen to them. Lots of swearing; every second word. Is this how they talk all the time? After an hour, they leave and I fall back to sleep.
In the morning, with water running out. I continue on to Batlow.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Jugiong, Gundagai

Just happy days of normality. A stop in Jugiong to correct a new tire from the post office, then on to Gundagai.
Was no need to go into Gundagai. Would have saved myself considerable effort if I'd avoided it. But:

There's a track winding back
to an old-fashioned shack."
Along the road to Gundagai.
Where the gum trees are growin'
and the Murrumbidgee's flowin'
beneath the sunny sky.

So, I had to visit.

It wasn't what I expected. It's a small town nestled in the hills along the banks of the Hume highway..

Grenfell, Young, Harden

Hot, humid, windy and storms. But when the wind blows, and it's a tail wind, you pedal.
I didn't get rained on, but it was close.
Watched the top soil blowing away. Rode with it for a bit.
Over 100 kms, with only the last bit walking. The cross wind was to much to cycle in.
Had time to read, day dream, and feast on plums and cherries. Lots of plums and cherries! In the end, too many! Slept on my belly.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Nangar National Park, Gooloogong

A peaceful day was had. Quiet roads, cool sunny day. Bliss.

This morning, these horses wanted to come with me.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Woke this morning to the birds singing in the trees. Looked out over the fields and breathed the cool morning air. Faint accent of hay. Peaceful start to the day.
120 km to get into Canowindra. I didn't take the short way. Will only stay a few hours before heading further south.
Weird thing leaving Orange; had a squeak. I thought it was the bags rubbing the plastic tubing on the rack. Eventually I decided to do something about it, and found to my horror that the rack was loose. Not just mildly loose, but really really loose. All the bolts holding it on. And the bolts on one side of the front rack. I checked everything then. Only the rack bolts, and only the one size Allen key. Someone playing a prank I think. They would have needed more than an Allen key to remove my racks. Only could have been the last night in Orange, as when I used the Troll during the day all was fine.
I'll check squeaks sooner next time!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A windy day in Orange

Woke in the night, the wind whipping the poplar trees. 40km/hr. Cool: 9C. Decided on another day of rest. Snuggled down in the sleeping bag.

Me on my Troll, leaving Orange the first time.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Molong, Gumble, Cudal, Orange

Thanks to the kind hospitality of Orange resident William, offering a place to stay. He had room inside, but I choose the back yard. I like my tent, my home.
A day of rest, then back out. William weighed my gear, 40kg back wheel, 24kg front wheel, and me. "Too heavy" was said. He was to wise not to comment on my weight, but did say he weighed less.
I think I influenced him though. He took his heavy bike for the ride out with me.
Not enough low gears though. He struggled to stay behind me on the hills. Had to rush to the top and rest till I arrived.
After William turned to return home, I continued to Molong.
The road to Gumble looked quiet, so off I went. And soon had problems. Flat tire. I couldn't figure out how, as it was a long cut in the direction of the tube, on the inside. Patched it. Got 10km, patch it again. New glue this time. Stopped for the night near Gumble. A locality now with only the community hall left.
Next morning all started good. Till another deflation. I changed the tube, and changed course to return to Orange. No other bike shops for a long time, so better to get a spare tubes now.
The new tube lasted 20km. This time I was sure it was the rim tape. Added duct tape over the top, and got another 15km before flat again. Never had I so much trouble with rim tape, tubes.
The last 30km into Orange was slow. Walk up hills, pumping the tube up, roll down. Repeat. It felt good when I arrived.
Bought new cloth rim tape, spare tubes, glue and patches. Hopefully it's all sorted now.
I couldn't impose on William again, so a night in the van park before I head out again.
Williams heavy bike
Once it was called a tap...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hill End to Orange

It was a slow trip to Hill End. Going via Mt Horrible and Upper Turon, meant it wasn't going to be flat easy pedaling.
Maybe the trip too Orange would be better.
I chose the Dixon Long Point track. 4 wheel drive only, with a river crossing 20 km from the start. Okay, it wasn't easy pedaling either. But it did delivered on views and low traffic.
An unknown was how deep the water crossing would be. I'd been told everything from bone dry, to waist deep. With the daily storms, it seemed no one knew.
Only ankle deep.

Lithgow to Hill End

A very early start out of Sydney. Hot, humid and hilly, but I've a grin from ear to ear. It's good to be out cycling again.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The new Troll

Was in a ride state by the Sunday, but then I spent four days working on a new chain case. The old one was white core-flute, the new is black polypropylene(?); from a discarded A0 art folio. It is thinner, as stiff as core-flute, and holds its shape better.  I have plans for more improvements, but, next year.
The clean and shiny look won't last long. I am returning to where I left off. The forecast for the next week; daily showers and thunderstorms.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mourning over: new Surly Troll arrives

Wow! That was a fast delivery! Surly shipped it express! How's that for service! I'm still blown away with how wonderful they have been to me.

I got the call yesterday morning, but had things happening, so couldn't get down until this morning.

Sleepless night.

By 9:30 I was waiting outside. Cheeky Transport opens at 10:00.  I didn't want to be late.

Time slows when your waiting. But of course, it does pass.

Maisey holding the recently deceased, Donny holding the just born.
Quick check and drool, then Donny got to work. Faced off the headset and bottom shell and cleaned the threads. Didn't fit the bottom bracket yet, but did fit the head set cups. Also did a quick check of the rear drop-outs for alignment; they are perfect. Then it was off to get some supplies before that first feed.  Lots of time to admire the paint, welds, braze-ons and stickers. Lots more braze-ons now!

It's been a warm day, just right for what I had planned: Care and feeding of your new frame.

She's now sitting in the kitchen on newspaper, oozing. Luckily I'm here alone, else I've a feeling we'd both be out in the garden shed. Feeding was messy. We both got covered. I won't need to moisturise tonight.  White Knight Rust Guard Fish Oil isn't as fishy as it could be, but its not completely odourless.  Maybe when it dries a bit more.  Just need to shoo the neighbourhood cats away until then.

There are a lot of rust preventative products about. But, think of this: fish swim in the sea all day, and they don't rust.

Well, sheep don't rust either, but the hardware didn't have Lanolin, so fish oil it was.

It's gone 36C here today, so so maybe she will be dry by morning for assembly.

Waiting at the station

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sculpture by the Sea: Bondi

Been a while since I've been to Sculpture by the Sea. Got there early to try and avoid the crowds, but lots of other people had the same idea. Also forgot that early is when the joggers are out in force.

Of the sculptures, I liked these ants best:

But then, I like ants. 

There were a couple of other interesting sculptures.  But of the remainder, some wouldn't have been out of place in a playground. And some, you would have walked over them if they weren't fenced off with a little plaque telling you it was a sculpture. 

I left thinking that overall, it was less than average. That this year, Sculpture by the Sea was relying more on the location for impressive than the sculptures. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Broken frame solved. Surly offers replacement.

I was still thinking about options for my frame repair, when an Anonymous poster suggested contacting Surly directly. I hadn't considered it, but thought why not. And they might provide information to help my decisions. I wasn't expecting them to offer anything else, given that mine was out of warranty.  No harm in writing, and nothing to lose.

So I wrote:

Broken Surly Troll Frame at the weld.

Megan WebbWed, Nov 5, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Hi Guys,

I'm a fan of your bikes. Lusted after the 1x1 for years. Then I got a Troll. Just want I wanted; rack mounts, disk mounts, mudguard mounts, horizontal dropouts with Rohloff adaptor.

Its spent most of its life of touring in Australia, seeing lots of wonderful places. Many happy times we've had together, and I was expecting many more. But now, disaster has befallen. 

My local bike shop, told me at 3 years, 8 months old, it's out of warranty. And so far estimates for repair are up to 3/4 the cost of a new frame, and at least a month, more likely several months wait.  They are getting quotes from frame builders.

My dilemma:

I thought steel would last a lifetime. If it did have an unfortunate problem - I was thinking "crash damage", it would be repairable - unlike aluminium frames. I haven't crashed my bike, I've just toured with it - loaded panniers, water and lots of bumpy roads. 

I'd be shrugging off this break if it was more years down the road, thinking I'd had a long use from it.  But its had less than three years actual use, because one year was off the bike.  Though, in those years, it has probably travelled over 20,000km.

What is a reasonable lifespan for your frames? 

People have suggested that my gear use isn't typical - everyday, loaded touring. Though, I can't see why it isn't. It is a frame made for touring. I do consider the terrain, and at times walk rather than ride as I want my gear (bike, racks, panniers etc) to last.  To date, I've not broken racks or mounting screws.  I think my use isn't unreasonable for your frames?

With the cost of the repair being not that far from the cost of a new - repairable isn't looking very cost effective. It was said that the chain stay might need to be replaced as a break there indicates a "chain stay problem". I'm at lost to understand why the whole chain stay would need replacing, but this no doubt this adds to the repair cost. 

With the repair cost not that far from a new frame cost, would I be better to consider a new frame, especially if the current chain stays have a problem?  But then if my use is more than the frame supports, or more than can be expected from the frame,  wouldn't a new frame break as well?

I realise that sometimes stuff happens, nothing is 100%, and that this break may just be that; unfortunate, but uncommon. And that another Troll frame would never break, and that with a repair, this frame might never have another problem again.  But it has happened now, and to get travelling again I need to find a solution that I can have confidence in. I was fortunate that this break happened close to Sydney rather than the more remote corners of Australia I'd prefer to spend my time in.

Without my bike, I'm stranded. Wondering if to repair, or to buy new? If new, which frame - another Troll, and ECR, or? Is one going to last longer than the other?  Or if unfortunately, Surly frames are not suitable for my requirements, if I should be looking at another brand all together.  

Can you offer any help for this situation?


Megan Lee Webb

Surly responded quickly:

Busted Troll

Alexander Zidarevich Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 10:00 AM
To: "Megan Lee Webb"

Hello Megan,

Thanks for contacting us about this unfortunate frame failure. Based on your type of use and what the troll is designed to do, you definitely should not have had this type of failure. I’m just glad you weren’t left high and dry in an even more remote area.

Do you have a local Surly shop that I can work with on getting you taken care of? Also, what size frame do you ride?

Thanks again for reaching out to us on this one!


Alex Zidarevich |Int'l & OE Sales Lead - Surly Intergalactic |
Sig Logo.jpg
"Two Possibilities Exist...Both are Equally Terrifying" - Arthur C. Clarke

I was very happy. My use wasn't a problem. I didn't know what the outcome would be, but was thinking suggestions on repair, or perhaps an offer of a discount on a new frame.

So I replied, putting them in touch with my bike shop.

Busted Troll

Megan Lee Webb Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 10:47 AM

To: Alexander Zidarevich
Cc: Cheeky Monkey

Hi Alexander,

Wow!!!  Thank you for getting back to me. And so fast too! 

This is great news. Can't say how relieved I am that its just an unfortunate event and I've been unlucky and that I can stay with a Surly Troll.

I'm in Sydney, Australia, and dealing with the excellent staff at:

Cheeky Transport 

Ph: 02 9557 5424
3a Georgina St Newtown (Map)

They have been my bike shop for many years, and built the bike up originally. Helped me out no matter where I've been about the country. 

Dropped the frame off there last Thursday and Maisey has been handling finding quotes. 

Frame size: 16
Frame number: M10094857

Thank you so much! 


Cheeky Transport had spoken to a frame builder on the phone when I dropped the frame off.  The pricing for repair was an estimate, frame unseen  - which was why I was waiting for the actual quotes to arrive.  Which was why I was wondering about what to do.

So was waiting for Surly and Cheeky Transport to converse and let me know the outcome.

Then this mornings email:

Busted Troll

Alexander Zidarevich Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 3:23 AM

To: Megan Lee Webb 
Cc: Cheeky Monkey

Hello Megan and Cheeky Monkey,

I want to send a new frame your way but I have a story and a question…

You see, long ago all of the Troll’s in the land held counsel under a bridge. While meeting and discussing many great Surly things they heard a clatter. Much to their surprise it was a dark and powerful prince on a quest to prove his worth. Now, everyone – even this dark prince – knows that you cannot simply cross a bridge with Trolls under it. You must first either do battle with the trolls or you must answer 3 of their riddles correctly. Now then, this prince was one of the strongest in the land and had won many battles in his day. His face was weathered and scarred from the battles he had fought. He was fearless. He was ruthless. He was destined to be king. Unlike many other princes before him, he was also very smart. He possessed a silver tongue that could weave the most intricate of webs in every single story he told. Point is, these Trolls had their work cut out for them on this day.

Each Troll took their turn trying to stump the dark prince but one by one, they failed. He was simply too clever and too smart. Finally the bravest of all Trolls challenged the dark prince to a battle. This troll, Orange in color, was thought to be one of the most ruthless fighters among all of his Troll brethren. Surely he would not be bested in combat by the dark prince.

As the sun began to set in the Western sky, the battle for the bridge commenced. Through the dark of night they fought. Exchanging blows in a driving, stinging rain until morning came. At sunrise, it was clear to see the scope of their battle. The landscape around both man and beast was decimated. The other Troll’s looked on in horror as both fighters continued to relentlessly attack each other.

This epic struggle carried on for 3 more days and nights. At the end of the 4th night, both man and beast, exhausted from battle declared that there could be no victor. Both were simply too strong and too determined to be defeated.

Proud to have finally met an adversary worthy of such a battle, greed began to set in. You see, an idea is sometimes the most dangerous weapon of all. This idea of theirs would drive them to the ends of the world. They vowed to travel together seeking all the power and riches of the world. They would never sleep, never eat, and they will never stop their relentless campaign of pain and intolerance. Once enemies, these two warriors now embark together to claim what is theirs….

And that’s where the last 16” Orange Troll disappeared to.

So, I will gladly send you another troll frameset but, it would have to be wither black or eggplant (see below). Please let me know which you would prefer and we’ll get one sent out to you.



How awesome is that! I'm getting a new frame!  And I loved the story.  When I stopped jumping up and down, punching the air in excitement, rather than just a quick, simple reply of thanks, gratitude and colour choice, I thought to get into the spirit  and write a bit more.

Busted Troll

Megan Lee Webb Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 6:08 AM

To: Alexander Zidarevich
Cc: Cheeky Monkey

Hello Alexander,

My joy knows no bounds. 

After reading your story, I'm saddened to hear that the race of 16" Orange Trolls is no more.

Mine was born like all others. Through the seasons, it grew experienced and wise. Questing across the vast lands of Oz, over hill and dale, the vast planes of the outback, through weather fair and foul. It has been a faithful and loyal companion. Its absence leaves an empty place by my side. Sorely will it be missed.

While my heart grieves that that colour is no more, a Black Troll has been elected in its stead. Together, we will sallying forth, adding new deeds to the wandering chronicles. 

Thank you so much!!! I'm so happy!


ps. maybe its just my eyes or the screen (or both), but the two pictures look the same colour to me. Even on your website, I don't see any difference in black or eggplant colour options.  I have seen eggplant in store - at Cheeky Monkey though. 

I will miss my Orange Troll. While I wasn't that keen on the colour originally (then, I wanted black). Over time, it grew on me. I got to like it, and given the choice would have it again.

Oh, I'm one very happy Surly owner this morning. Excellent service from Surly. I never expected that they would replace my frame. How can you say "thank you" enough?

I'd like to thank the Anonymous poster who suggested contacting Surly. Without that prompt, I probably wouldn't have done it, and still be sitting here thinking about what to do.

Also thanks to the crowd on Facebook in the "I love my Surly Ogre/Troll" group.  I did get to see the link after the admins of the group helped. Because my Facebook account didn't have much on it, and most of that was private, spam filtering tagged me, and I was blocked. All fixed now. I might try and use Facebook a bit more now after the help from people.  Just have to figure out how to use it with my travel, power budget and Internet plan.

On trying to get the frame repaired. Several people had said to just press the weld back into the break and get it welded. No need for a frame builder, or to fuss with alignment.  The reason against this is that I run a Rohloff Hub. (Rohloff also have fantastic service btw). I had an annoyance once with it leaking oil out the drive side seal. Yeah, it can run without oil no problem. But I liked to keep it inside the hub and had time to get it looked at.  Quantum Bicycles are an authorised repair agent by Rohloff.  They put in a lot of time and effort into trying to find why my hub was leaking. New seals leaked within a week. In discussions with Rohloff Germany, the German engineers suggestions included checking frame/drop-out alignment.  Rohloff hubs don't like being twisted. They do not have a solid axle through the centre. With the drop-outs not aligned, bolting up each side applied a twist to the hub. Only a tiny amount, but enough to affect the wear pattern of a part inside the hub and then the seals. It took time for this to occur - I'd ridden 1000's of kilometres by then. Rohloff replaced the internal part and seals for me - they didn't have too, as the cause of it was the drop-out alignment. With straight drop-outs, no leaking.

With where the break occurred on the frame, I didn't want to risk the drop-outs not being aligned and leave me with a problem down the road, all for not checking the alignment at repair time.

In case your wondering, like I was, about a Rohloff weight limit.  I wrote to them asking about limits, and this is a bit of the reply:

the SPEEDHUB has limits as to the primary transmission ratio that is used. This is to make sure that the input torque to the hub is not too high and therefore damaging. There is no actual system weight limit as such, but if you require a lower gear ratio to get the large mass in motion, then this may not be permitted.

Surly and Rohloff, both excellent customer service.

Can't really say enough about how grateful I am to Surly stepping in with this offer of a new frame.  A huge weight off my mind about what to do. Can look forward to getting a new frame, and getting back on the road again.

Thank you Surly.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Orange, Sydney - broken Surly Troll frame :(

Was a hot day; 37C. So was hoping to get finished by lunch time and find some shade. But with hills, a full load of water and a full belly of food and water, it was well past lunch and I was crawling along. After a short downhill into a dip and starting to pedal up out, I noticed a tapping sound in time with my pedalling. Don't remember that before. Bottom bracket? Pedal? Rack bolt? Was going to ignore it, but then thought I should have a look. Might just need a tighten, or worst case, need to think about order parts. Started poking about, but could find anything. Moved off, yep, still there. Hmmm.. Had a longer look. 

Arrrrgghhh.. This is a problem!

Chain stay had broken right through where it was joined to the rear drop out. Darn!

Was totally lost for a bit. The tapping was gap opening and closing.  Did some thinking. Decided not to keep riding. Needed to find a town and get repairs, or failing that, as I was not that far from Sydney, return there. Okay. Back to Wellington - were the XPT passes through and not that far from Dubbo, where might be able to find a welder.  Thought about going into a farm house and asking for help - some metal, drill a hole in it, bolt it threw the axle, and then hose clamps. But decided not to worry - just walk back for now. 70km.  Should take three days. That would work well - get there on Monday.  Okay. Start walking.

I'd only just pushed off walking when a lady I'd talked to back in the last small town stopped to ask how I was doing. 

"Badly! Frame just broke."

Turned out she lived near by and was on the way to pick up the kids.

I ended up staying with them for the weekend. Helped out on the farm - got to work with sheep. Trying to herd them into pens was interesting.  I had thoughts about their brain power. But are they dumb, or smart enough to know what was going to happen? Sheep are far smarter than previously thought The lambs were getting some treatments.  

Sunday, there was a scheduled power outage at their place. So rather than sit about in 38C heat, they dropped me in Orange and went shopping. Lovely family. Was fortunate to meet them.

Stayed at a caravan park, then Monday hunted the bike shops and engineering firms to see about a fix. 

No joy with the bike shops.

Engineering shop. Grrrr.. Even less joy. Least the bike shop would say they couldn't help. The engineering/welding shop; I'd explained that its thin steel tube, the hub is important to me, and alignment of the drop outs very important. They have to be parallel. Rholoff hubs don't like being bent. But this didn't seem to be heard. I'd be told "its not that important, close enough will be fine."  Argh.. I'm paying and I don't want "close enough". It's an engineering shop! They make components to within ±0.001 mm. Why do people think it doesn't matter because its a bicycle? Why don't they listen to the customer? One guy started levering the chain stay up using a screw driver, levering off the hub shell. I stopped that in a hurry. Just what I needed, the shell to break - needing a wheel rebuild. Then he reached for a hammer. I left. 

Back to Sydney, stripped the frame down and gave it to a bike shop. But waiting for the quote now from a frame builder. I've been told it will not be quick - nothing less than a month, and price could be up to $600 to $700. 

Waiting for the real quote, as I find that upper limit estimate hard to believe, and said so. 

New frame is about $1000. Gone up, not down from when I bought mine. Mine is 3 years, 8 months old - out of warranty by 8 months. Not much point getting a steel frame if a break on a weld is going to cost a significant amount to repair.  A new frame - and if it breaks at the same spot?

Waiting for the real quote. But also thinking about getting a jig made up to check the alignment and then trying another engineering/welding firm. Set it up in the jig, and then tell them 'weld this up'. And then I confirm the alignment. 

Thinking about options, and waiting for more information.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gulgong, Wellington

Could hear the car coming up the street; music thumping out and echoing off the buildings. Then it pulled into the park. Someone got out and went into the toilet block. Music stayed on.  I could see the driver was still there, so, summoned up my courage and started walking over. As I did, he got out; six foot plus - I had to look up a long way past the tattoos various body and facial piercing.
"Errr, that music" I started to say.
His arm started stretching out...
"Noooo, No.. No.." I cried.  "Done turn it off!!! Do you know the band?"

We chatted for a bit. I was hopeless with knowing the TV shows the singers had appeared in. I found the a couple of the songs on  Ol'55: On the prowl  and Ol' 55 : Two Faces Have I

Later I rode out of town again to camp. Spent half of Monday trying to find a Dentist. Lots of calling, leaving messages on answering machines. A problem for me as I kept missing the call backs - being out of mobile reception when they called back. Played a fair bit phone tag. But then got lucky. Called a dentist in Wellington and spoke to a real person and booked an appointment for the next week, with the option of sooner if someone cancelled.

Over a couple of days headed back towards Wellington, and then someone cancelled.

The dentist was wonderful. I'd stayed in town one night at the caravan park so that I didn't need to leave my bike and gear out on the street. Needed to go back the next day. And again the dentist helped by fitting me in. Even got a spot to leave my bike inside while I was getting repaired so I didn't need to stay in the park another night. So teeth all fixed now. The dentist cycles, so he suggested a route to see a bit of the "Animals on Bikes" art.

It was a good suggestion.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Wow. What a lovely day. Somehow today everything seems sharper; the light brighter, the air more fragrant - pine scents, and tens of flowers, warmth from the sun and cool breezes. Maybe I'm drugged. Everything is dreamy.
I've been hanging about in the area, but this morning decided to come into Gulgong to get more water.
Tip: If your GPS suggests Perseverence Lane as a route. Skip it. Lots of sand.
After making my mind up to skip the road kill for now, this mornings ride in had dead everywhere; roo here, lizard there, bird on the side, snake off the edge (people really really go out of their way to run over snakes!), another bird, a second roo. So many dead animals. I rode past them all. Bought a jar of peanut buttter instead.
Bit of indecision happening. Yesterday a tooth started aching. What to do. Weekend; so nothing open. Need to wait for Monday. But I could cycle somewhere before then. But where - Mudgee, Wellington, Dubbo, Sydney? Will wait till tomorrow and then decide. Today it feels a bit better. I tell myself this is good - pain decreasing means its going to heal up. Hahaha I can hope. It will need attention sometime. I'm getting a theory that exercise helps - why I cycled into Gulgong today, and will cycle back out again later.
But for now, the day is so gorgeous! Going to lay back and let it soak in some more.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tanning hides

Lately, I've been havesting road kill for hides. I wanted to try out brain tanning. It has been an interesting exercise. While I've learnt a lot, I doubt I'll keep going. Why? In short, its a lot of work, a lot of gear I need to carry, I need to change my travel to fit in the processing, and I've no use for the hides anyway.
The process:
I find a fresh road kill, then string it up and start skinning. (People driving past slow down seeing me do this.) I then salt the hide so I can process it later. I need to make sure I have no cuts or scratches on my hands before I start. Afterwards I wash my hands with soap and water. The salted hide goes in a plastic bag. For a small wallaby I needed almost 1kg of salt. The water, is water I'm carrying for drinking.
Check the hide daily and add more salt. Make sure the edges are done, and that the edges have not roll up and miss out on salt. Wash hands after touching.
Stay somewhere with access to clean water. Flesh the hide. I did this with a knife and a piece of water pipe I found.
Rub in the tanning mixture. I tried eggs, but didn't like the the smell of working with them. So switched to soap and oil mix. Also easier for me to carry. Eggs kept breaking, or I'd eat them and not have enough to use on the hide. Work the mix into the hide. I'd spread the hide out and layer with oil, then rub in the soap with a bit of water. Eventually the hide goes white. While it is damp and until it is completely dry, keep pulling and stretching the hide. If it isn't completely dry, don't stop. If you do it will go hard. This will take a few hours. Any hard spots afterwards can be moistened and worked dry again. At the end of this - one tanned hide. Still needs smoking to finish it off, else if it gets wet, it will need all the stretching again to soften it. I've not smoked any yet. Places I've stopped have had no fire rules.
So for me, I have to make sure I've no cuts or scratches on my hands. With setting up camp, taking it down, finding spot in the bush, I do get small scratches or nicks. When I do - no playing with hides. I could get gloves - but then another thing to carry, and more rubbish to carry afterwards.
I need to carry salt. At least 1kg of it. I'm currently carry 2kg to ensure enough. Salting is important, as it stops the hide rotting before its processed. Not enough salt, and it rots, or the hair starts to fall out.
I need to use water for cleaning the hide, and washing my hands. This is water that I had planned on drinking - so have to watch how much I use, and get to somewhere with more water if I'm going to run out.
Carrying the salted hide - its bulk and weight. Also need to not break the bag.
Fleshing needs time. And no cuts, nicks on my hands, and water.
The tanning process is time consuming. I have to be camped somewhere with water for a couple days to finish it. It also needs to be reasonably fine weather. I could do it in showers, but its easier in fine weather.
At the end of it I have a tanned hide.
There is a limit to the size hide I can do. Small wallabies, rabbits are about it. I think a large roo and I wouldn't have enough salt to salt the hide. I could flesh it immediately and dry it. But it would be awkward on the bicycle with a dried, stiff hide.
What am I going to do with the hides when done? I don't know. One is not enought to make a pair of gloves - not that I need fur lined gloves. Would take a lot for clothing - but I like my current wear.  So I've no use for the end product.
Been fun learning though.

The hide in the photo, I trimmed. Lost bits to damage when it was killed, and not salting the edges enough. 

Mmmmm chicken!

Well, it looks like chicken. It's small; not much bigger than a quail. Organic? No way. With all the farms here; pesticides and herbicides abound. Free range? Most definitely.

Fresh. No broken bones. It was in good shape, so I plucked and gutted it.  A wash to get the blood out, and done.

Boiled, with veggies, lentils, fresh peas,  pasta and a touch of curry.

My meat cooking is improving. This was very tender. Almost falling of the bone. Then it was a young bird, and I didn't cook it long.

It gave a slight flavor to the pot, or maybe I imagined that. Not much meat. The breasts had the most, with the legs next. Though not even a mouthful all up. Lots of sucking on bones really.

Was this worth it? 

Probably not.

Washing the carcass, knife and hands used 1.5 litres of water. The clean up of the cooking gear used more water than normal to get the oil/fat off.

Two plastic bags to keep it till I cooked it. Both have blood on them, so are now rubbish.

If it was a quail, it would have provided at most 200 calories. Most estimates are less and work on about 100 grams of meat after removing bones. I think I had less than that.
A quarter cup of sultanas is 145 calories.
A tablespoon olive oil is 119 calories.
A tablespoon of peanut butter is around 100 calories (depends on brand, and how heaped the spoon:-)
A medium apple is about 100 calories.
So it's not providing major calories. Not major anything really as its to small to contribute much. 

Doing not a lot, the average person needs about 2000 calories a day.  Ten birds and it would make their basal calorie requirements. Exercise, and that increases. I pedal between four to six hours a day. I'd need a whole flock.

Since it was showering here, I'd think no spraying recently, lowering the birds recent pesticide/herbicide intake. If there was a lot of spraying happening, it could have high levels if it was feeding in the sprayed areas. Impossible to know how much your eating.

All up, for the time, effort, water and calories, there are better choices to be had.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ponto Falls Reserve, Wellington

After sitting about all day, doing not a lot. I decided not to go to the reserve yet. My hand was quiet sore, red and a bit swollen. I worried that it was getting infected.
By the next day it was clear that it wasn't. So I headed out. Nice day. Top of 31C, warm enough to brave a swim.
Lucky  I did then. Later in the day it clouded over and the temp dropped.. Been quiet nippy since then. Cloudy, showers, wind. Cold snap. Was 2C this morning when I woke, and I was on a hill.
With that sort of weather, I lay about alot. Didn't do much. Watched the the traffic go past.
Worrying sight: father driving 4x4, with daughter(?) sitting on bull bar.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Reluctant to throw things away, I spend a lot of time mending.

My normal task is sewing patches in my pants. They wear just in a few spots at first; where the seat rubs. Later, as the fabric starts to fail, patches sprout all over. Even patches on patches. Until, I have to concede defeat. I try to salvage some of the fabric for patches, but usually it's not worth it. The combination of sun, sweat and dirt is the end of the cloth.

Lately been darning my socks. The heels and the toes wear fastest. Right foot faster than the left, or maybe that sock is older. Not sure. All my socks are black. They don't stay in pairs, so the current right could be newer.

As you can see, my work is functional, with an arty look.

Wellington, Ponto

Well, took three days to get to Wellington. Lots of dirt roads; hills, sand, head scratching. GPS and paper maps didn't agree, and at times neither matched the roads. So did some exploring. Was all fun.
Unlike the angry young man from Binnaway, the young men I met were all very friendly. Guys driving somewhere - stopping to see if I'm okay, or needed anything. That is the way it normally is.
From Wellington, decided to go to Ponto Falls Reserve. GPS shows two routes. One on back roads over a large hill, the other along the highway.
I take the hill.
I could see the river in the distance. Met a farmer, and yeah, I'm on the wrong side. He showed me the river. Yep. 50m north is where I want to be. To get there is going to be another 40km - back to Wellington and then out on the other route. He lets me camp on his land. Though, just on dusk, after moving my tent twice, I moved out to the road side. His cows kept getting spooked seeing the tent and running around. I didn't think I'd sleep too well with that. Was worried they might walk over me.  But as it happened, I didn't sleep to well anyway.
After dark, all the irrigation pumps started. Fuel motors. Run all night until about 4am. Probably was louder near the river. I was about a kilometer away. Also during the night, I spiked my hand on something sharp under the tent- that wakes you up in a hurry. Can see the puncture marks this morning. Also have needle holes in the tent bathtub to fix sometime. Think it was just dry grass stalks, as didn't find anything spikey under the tent.

So it will be a day of just relaxing in the sun, instead of all the jobs I was going to do.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mendooran, Dunedoo

Just on dawn a small shower drifts in. Just enough to dampen the ground, and the tent. But oh, the smells it brings out. The air is alive with smells; soil, dust, hay, wet blanket (paddock of sheep nearby), and others unidentifiable. Want to keep inhaling, to not miss out.
30km to Dunedoo, 10km to Mendooran. I go to Mendooran. The oldest town for something. But it's a dying town. Cafe closed and for sale, shop for sale, houses for sale. You guess that no one is buying. The helpful NRMA man doesn't know about the road my GPS is suggesting to Wellington. The area is a swamp, could be a fire trail there he says. He suggests an alternative that he knows exists. Off I go, but, another change of plan. Down a dirt road, and then into Dunedoo after all.
Dunedoo surprises me with Neptune. I thought I was done with the solar system.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Coonabarbran, Binnaway

It's the end of school holidays. Parents with kids abound. But the parents aren't really present. Kids on the play equipment, parents, attention glued to their phone. It looks wrong. What message does that give the child? This phone is more interesting than you?

Heading out of town, I unexpectedly encounter Saturn. I'd missed most of the solar system! It's childishly amusing to see that I'm heading towards Uranus. I won't see it though, as I'll be off on a dirt road before then. Uranus, the  seventh largest planet, the only one named from Greek mythology, rather than Roman. It's only been visited once in 1986 by Voyager 2, as it flew past on the way to Neptune.

Eating breakfast in Binnaway, I watch a magpie swooping the kids. It doesn't go for me. Maybe it spies the tanned, dried feet hanging off my bike, and suspects it could end up like that if it comes too close. Maybe it likes kids as they are smaller. Later it does take a few swoops at me, bouncing off my head. So much for that theory.

I ignore the angry young man, who threatens to run me over. Though, I do wait until he has driven off north, then I continue heading south. My dirt road waits for me. Later I chat with a couple of farmers. Amongst other things, they tell me the turn onto a road I was planning to take doesn't exist any more. I'd been a bit iffy about that bit too, suspecting the GPS might not have the right info. But that's ok. It had been an enjoyable ride so far. With all the talk, the sun is sinking. After we part, I camp a few kilometers further on in some trees.

Baradine, Coonabarbran

Pleasant days. Baradine is a lovely little town. The temps are good. Scenery easy on the eyes.I linger in the bush, reluctant to leave. Twice I'm back in town to get more water, my camp is on a ridge and the creek below is dry. I read and make a net from builders twine. I watch the birds, ants, beetles and occasional roo as the sun swings its arc overhead. Must I leave?
When the water runs out again, I ride into Coonabarbran.
A Woolworths! So much food. The man setting up the garden section sees me and says where to lean my bike, and that he'll watch it. So helpful and friendly. I buy way to much, not having had breakfast yet..Never shop when hungry! A lesson I know, but ignore.
I find the clocks have changed. "Daylight savings" has started/ended. The day light looks the same to me.. I wonder what happens with the savings.
Now sitting in the park; eating.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Time for a wash. Pilliga has a public hot spring. Actually it's a bore that empties into a pool.
When I arrived, the park was busy. Lots of caravans, motor homes and campervans. Well a lot compared to how many I'd seen recently. I rode up, took my sandals off and walked into the pool. Figured my clothes needed a bit of a clean also. The water comes out of the bore warm, and with a salt content. I was hoping it was less than what was on my clothing. Only stayed in a bit, then out to dry off.
Temps have been trending upwards, so it didn't take long to dry. I interacted with a few of the visitors. Apart from one couple, parked noticeably away from everyone else, people were not happy. Grumpy would describe them. Not sure why.
I was happy. Fine day, a wash, food, water. I didn't stay. While there was a lot of room, a spot on the first was already reserved for me. Off down the dirt road towards Baradine I went.

Burren Junction

I found breakfast on the road this morning. Courtesy of the semi-trailer that went past earlier. The bird was definitely fresh road kill. Didn't get much off it; two bits the size of oysters. I'd have thought it would have been tender, having been hit by a truck, and being a young bird. Maybe it was my cooking technique. It was a tough chew...
It didn't add a lot in calories either. Need to find bigger road kill.
Burren Junction is a dead town. The shop closed last Friday. The servo had shut. Only the pub is left. I only stopped at the rest area out of town to cook breakfast, then headed towards Pilliga.


A steady cycle along the dirt road into Collarenebri. Given it was Sunday, not much was happening. I did stop briefly at the aboriginal cemetery. Looked pretty western to me.
Collarenebri is a dry town, as in no alcohol. The cemetery is out of town.
I didn't stay long, headed out towards Burren Junction.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Mungindi, the only town straddling a border in the south hemisphere to have the same name on both sides.
It's a small town, but has two police stations, one in Queensland, one in New South Wales.
I noticed the signs going south about fishing licenses required in NSW. That explained why all the fishing was happening on the QLD side of the river.
But keeping rabbits, is way more costly in QLD!
Not sure if it was state rivalry or not, but was told I could only get water on the Qld side. Since I needed to go that way, I didn't argue. But I do think they were pulling my leg.

Friday, September 26, 2014

St George

Arrived early, after a night of thunder, lightning, strong winds, and a little rain. Found out later that I'd missed most of it; 25mm had fallen in town. This was to cause me some problems when I wanted to leave.
Wandered in to Unique Egg, thinking to look about the sports gear, and found it was a tourist attraction on its own. 60 years of hand carved emu eggs. Spent time talking with Steve Margaritus about his life in Australia, and the eggs he'd carved. Was very interesting. Might go back and talk more with him another time.
St George was smaller than I'd though it would be. I didn't stay long. Food then water, and headed out.
St George has the water systems: rain water, bore water and river water. Mostly people drink rain water, wash in bore water, and water the plants with river water. Yes, some off the taps give out river water. Noticeable from the muddy color.  I declined to buy bottle water, and eventually found a drink fountain near the river to fill up at. I suspect it is bore water, but had signs up saying it was drinkable. It is!
I'd planned to take the dirt road to Dirranbandi, but after the rain, and locals saying it was probably all mud at this time, decided to stick on the tar. In the end it didn't matter. At the turnoff, the wind was blowing so strong, I decided to have an easy time, and not ride into a head wind. Stayed on the road towards Nindigully.
Stopped off just before the Nindigully Pub, and sheltered from the wind. A peaceful night was had.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Surat was a lovely town. Rolled before lunch. Showers from the overnight had eased, but it was still cloudy. Sun trying to peak through.
I used the time to find some water and wash the mud off my tent and ground sheets. Also washed my sandals and socks. The mud out here is very sticky. Clogged up the tires also. I took to carrying a stick to scrape it out. I would have washed in Roma, but I couldn't find a tap at all. Even getting drinking water was hard. Didn't like Roma much - too big, lots of mining traffic, everyone in high-viz gear. And traffic lights!
Two locals in Surat went out of their way to come and tell me about the camping options and free showers in town. How sweet is that!
Cause I didn' t use the showers - I'd washed in Charleville.
I went to look at the camping. It was a very nice site near the water. But, lots of caravans about. I've been spoilt: too much camping on my own. Loaded up with water and headed out. Found a lovely spot just for me later that day.

Mitchell, Roma

Nothing to exciting heading down the road to Mitchell. Lots of traffic, compared to what I have had. At Mitchell, I have a weekend to spend before getting to Roma. So I take the scenic route. Dirt roads with no traffic. Much better.
I stopped Saturday afternoon just sort of the tar again. Went back up the road 5km to find a sheltered spot. Showers were forecast. Could happen,  might not.
Turned out it poured. All Sunday. My spot was sheltered, but the amount of water coming down, and the dry soil. Had mud running under the tent. Water also dripped in in a few places also. I don't think the Hubba Hubb Tent is a wet weather tent. More like a fine weather, with chance of rain tent. Used spare plastic I had to keep the sleeping gear off the floor.
Mondays ride into Roma was also very wet. Mud everywhere. Glad I went back up the road, the spots close to the tar were underwater.
I did spend Sunday cleaning up my bags. Found the usual amount of non essential stuff. Was happy to be able to reduce my load by a kilo. But since then picked up more stuff from the road supermarket. Currently carrying a whole roll of pink marking tape, and a full packed of giant cable ties. Both look useful, but I don't think I need them.

Charleville, Morven

Washed everything. The new poison smells good - no smell or taste. Still watching the ticks die as they try and climb up the tent or my leg.
The caravan park was $24 a night for two person site, but since i was on my own it was reduced to $20. Hmmm not much of a reduction.
Ate lots and then headed out to Morven. Stopped and took a picture of the Kero Hut. Made from old tins, during the depression years. Lots of families lived in these type huts. Wouldn't happen today..

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Headed out the old Charleville Road to Charleville of course. Not a road that is well advertised. Not a road that is maintained either. You start by going through some closed gates. Then you need to keep you sense of direction turned on. It appears to take a bend and cross a creek, but a bit later, alarms should be ringing, it turns further west. Time to go back. The bend before the river, has a small track that continues straight ahead. You want that. Follow for the next 30km, avoiding cows.

And finally join the Mitchell Highway, 20km outside of Augathella. Sure the highway would have been quicker, but no where near as scenic or as much fun.

I decided to stay the night in Charleville. The sheep dip taste in my water and food was getting to me. I was going to ignore it some more, but then talking with a guy outside the IGA, he mentioned there was a strong sheep dip smell, and that I was the cause of it. Soon as he said 'sheep dip' I knew it was me. Bought some more soap, and went to find a caravan park to wash in.  Really annoying actually, as the poison is odourless and tasteless. Its just the "flavour" that gives it the awful smell and taste. Why can't they make it strawberry or banana? So the agenda for the day was wash everything - tent, bedding, clothing, ground sheets, water bags, bags, bottles, etc.. Yep, everything. The stuff didn't have any smell on my clothes when dry, but when wet, the sheep dip smell was back.  Finally got everything smelling , well, not of sheep dip. A definite improvement.

Then hunted up food, and more poison for the ticks. This time, I did the smell test before buying.