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.