Monday, November 23, 2015

Sydney: Time for a change

where I'm walking

During the recent cycling I was doing a lot of thinking. I'm going to try a change; and not cycle to Cairns next year to see family. I'll travel there some other way- bus, train, or plane. I've cycled the route enough times now that the trip is becoming a drudge. Especially the section between Clermont and Charters Towers. It's worse when I leave it too late to head south and it's hot. Also, I want to go some places I can't take the bike.  A fair amount of my gear needs replacing at the moment. Since I need to replace stuff, the plan is to lighten and shrink up my gear load to fit in a backpack. I'd like to try walking for a bit. It will take a while to do this, as I haven't walked much in years. Why walk when I can cycle? The most I have walked is inside Woolies or Coles shopping; my walking muscles have wasted away. I need to build them up again.
Each day I do some walking exercise. At first my feet, ankles and calves ached terribly. I needed days of rest to recover. But it's improving. Soon as I can travel a reasonable distance repeatedly, I'll start adding weight to my pack. Then it will be short trips to check how it goes.
Lightening the load will have benefits even if I end up not walking.  My current bike gear weight is over 30kg and it all "seems essential". Even after taking out the bicycle specific items, what's left is heavier than I want to backpack. My aim is to get the weight down to less than 15kg, preferably less than 10kg.  That is the base weight:  the pack and everything in it, except food, water and fuel.
Obviously some hard choices will have to be made to achieve that.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Goondiwindi, North Star, Warialda, Bingera, Barraba, Wallabada, Scone, Sydney

Felt like a long commute heading south this time: Wake in the dark to beat flies, pack up, cycling before sun up. Stop for breakfast early, in the shade. Cycle. Snack. Drink. Cycle. Enter a town. Buy food if needed, fill up with water, cycle out. Look for the perfect sleep spot; the Hilton 5 star spot - an easy wheel off the road to get to, flat ground, no road noise, no animal trails, no high grass, soft leafy ground cover, no thorns, secluded, shade, no tall trees that could drop branches, no dead trees that could fall over, water near by, bushes to block high winds, but still allow a cool breeze off the water, no flies, mosquitoes, ants, ticks, or spiders. Get tired and settle on a "good enough" - none of those, but will be shady when the sun goes down in another few hours. Decide which is better: hotter sitting in the tent in the sun out of the flies, or standing in some partial shade and wave the flies away. Stand and wave the flies away. Eventually the sun sinks enough that the tent is in the shade, climb in, chase the flies out and eat a cold dinner in peace. Sun sets, stretch the leg muscles, sleep, to wake up and do it all over again.
A few variations: I stopped in Barraba for a day to visit friends and wash. Managed a 150km day after that, mainly because the planned stop had no shade at all, it was still early in the day and Wallabadah was only 70km away - how hard could it be? Six hours later, I could answer that. But all I remember now is how great it felt to get there. It was one of the rare days when I carried minimal water, because the towns are close, so I had to get there.
Rear tire was a bit soft a couple of days. Add air to fix. It got worse. Finally got tired of just added air each time, so checked it out. The rusty nail was a suspicious. Pulled it out and yep, that's the air leak. Fixing it took less time than all the time I'd spend putting air in.  Leave the wheel on the bike, pop the tire off the rim, pull the tube out, patch, push it back in the tire, reset the tire, add air. Done.
Scone - decided not to stay between the main road and the coal train line. So caught the train down to Sydney. Surprisingly with night trackwork, and busses replacing trains, the bus driver let me on the bus. Might had been because at 11pm there was not a lot of people wanting to get on - four of us on that bus. Back on the train again, and got off in Hornsby to start riding. Halfway to my sleep spot it started raining. I pondered how all the way down from Cairns with one brief thunderstorm overnight and I get rained on now 30 minutes from stopping. In bed at 2am slightly damp.

So now in Sydney again and surprisingly cold! Had two warmer days, but I'm in thermals/jumper most of the time. Feels like a Chinese curse - may you get what you wish for. I wanted cooler, I got it.