Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Was feeling a bit down a couple of mornings ago when I started cycling for the day. Thinking of all the people I've known, stuff that they have done or not done, my hopes, wishes and dreams for them. *sighs*

This poem I think sums it all up.

Empties Cuming Back 

have you ever sat by the railroad track 
and watched the emptys cuming back? 
lumbering along with a groan and a 
smoke strung out in a long gray line 
belched from the panting injun’s stack 
—just emptys cuming back.

i have—and to me the emptys seem 
like dreams i sometimes dream— 
of a girl—or munney—or maybe fame— 
my dreams have all returned the same, 
swinging along the homebound track 
—just emptys cuming back. 

-Angelo De Ponciano

Croydon, Normanton

Sitting at the table in Croydon, having lunch, I spied another cycle rider in the distance. In the wavering heat it looked like he was hunch backed. I waited, but he stopped at the shop. Impatient I rode down to see who it was.

And so I met, who I'll call the Mad German. He looked a bit like Santa Claus, the thinner version, but after he'd been pulled on the sled through the bush, on a typically Aussie Christmas day. Bits of leaf, dust and salt matted his face, hair and clothes. He couldn't stop still; like a flea on a hot plate. He was also very busy with the camera. We talked for a few minutes. I got from him that he was doing about 150km a day, had ridden across the Barkley Tablelands, and wanted to get on to Canberra and Melbourne.  He had his holiday and was in a rush.  He'd also travelled a lot overseas. Then with a wave, he was off. I'd not even gotten his name.

German Cyclists Bike
The hunch back appearance in the distance was the backpack he had on. Not sure what was in it though. He carried 10 litres of water to my 24.

After he left, I had a look at myself in the bike mirror. Hmmm. We probably didn't look that different. To fix that I had a quick splash of water over my face in the toilet block, raked out my hair and washed out my shirt. It dried in less than 5 minutes. I felt better.

Now its a rest day in Normanton. When I planned to come out here it was a nice 25C max. Now as I look at the weather forecast, I think I've run out of cool weather.

Scrape and Bake

From Mt Surprise going west, a lot of road works.  Besides the currently worked sections, others have had what I call the "scrape and bake" treatment:

The edges scrapped back of all vegetation, and the black lane up the middle. Reminded me of a solar cooker. It feels it riding along.

Just outside Georgetown I got a flat :(  It had been a sleepless night with gusty winds. I'd started early, but then spent hours on the side of the road. The flat wasn't  puncture. I'd been told that I should run my tires at a lower PSI, so was experimenting with that.  I'll stick with higher pressures from now on. It looked like the bead of the tire was rubbing on the rim. It rubbed through to the wire, which then punctured the tube. It had been that way for a while - the wire was rusty and the rim tape was also stained. Closer examination showed the tube being slowly cut by the rim tape where the rust had stained it.

Lucky I had spare rim tape and a spare tire.

Except I couldn't get the tire to sit on the rim right. It would have a flat spot on it. That felt like a bump when cycling. Most uncomfortable.  Finally I worked it out. The old rim tape is about 17mm, the new one was 22mm. So I sat and cut with scissors 2mm off one side, and 3mm off the other side to narrow it down. Then the tire sat right.  No more bump or flat spot on the tire.

For all the time sitting on the side of the road, I still managed a healthy distance. The wind was still blowing, so propelled me along just nicely. The only downside was trying to keep cool; it seemed like I was cycling in still air.

On no, not another downhill

Left the coast angry and unhappy. Anger propelled me halfway up the range, but left me without worn out and tired the next day. A lot of walking ensured.  Usually when I'm up this way its wet and cold. That was not the case now.  Bright blue sky and baking sun. Oh for some coolness.

The range seemed to have grown from last time. For every up hill walk, there was a flying downhill coast. But that just meant another long uphill walk. Before long I was groaning with each downhill.

Just outside of Ravenshoe in the rest area, I met Geoff from Towoomba:

His Penny is from 1882, and travels with him. He was kind enough to give me a beer and a ride. Been a long time since I've sat on one, and I was glad to get back to my safety bike afterwards!

The next day it hit 32C. I suffered badly. Tiredness, headache, and then nausea feeling. It took a bit for me to realise that I wasn't drinking enough. Soon as I did, I was off the road, in the shade and force drinking.  Was a timely reminder to be aware of the conditions.  With the temps above 30C from now on, I decided on 30minute drink breaks. Been going well since then. Also toned down the effort so not sweating also.

Stayed a night in Mt Surprise. Met Shane - also on a cycle there. He'd started in Darwin. With a $10 a night camp fee for bicycles, I had to stay. Also ate four burgers and got to listen to Russels' snake talk.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Almost on the road again..

Well, tomorrow actually. So doing all the 'getting ready' stuff today.  But had to change a tube:

The tire was a bit flat, so I put the pump on it and added air. Seemed like it was leaking about the valve, but then stopped.  So I rode about for a couple of days. Then a few days later, it was flat again.  Thinking a puncture, I pulled it out, and was surprised when the valve come away in my hand.
Looking closely at the valve, it looks like it never bonded well. I can push the valve stem into the hole and it does a good job of sealing it - but must slowly leak. Wondering if I can clean the metal up and use some glue and reclaim the tube.