Old dog learning new tricks
Planning for extended one week or one plus week bike adventures are not that uncommon for me as I have ridden 15 plus RAGBRAI one week supported events, raced track bikes nationally and internationally for over 10 plus years, fully supported. Generally camping for RAGBRAI, comfy accommodations at Airbnb’s, hotels, but nothing like my August adventure in Australia. Past adventures, I always have been conveniently located near to the normal daily shops, food, mechanical repairs, anything needed while away from home, all close enough to just be easily useable.
I’ve been to Australia before and thanks to my friend Chris Bushell (“Bushy”) I’ve been able to see a lot of the country, but all on the east coast. Just one minor road detour touching on the edge of the outback, Broken Hill Silverton area. A glimpse of the flat and not very inviting desert area central to the continent. This year, that will change. A drive to Western Australia destination Perth from Goulburn on the east will let me see the bike route. Once in Perth, we unload, and Scotty and I start the bike ride back to Sydney along the same route we drove. Bushy will handle the support van role and ride when he can, maybe every other day for a bit from east back to catch up with us and then back to the van and hopefully a roadhouse for food and an overnight in lodging of some sort. I’m not sure what to call our overnight accommodations, hotel, motel, bar, restaurant, all the above maybe, Bushy calls them roadhouses.
I’ve strayed off course already though. As I get closer to leaving the USA next month (July), I have been trying to think through all the gear I will need to successfully accomplish the goal, Perth to Sydney via bicycle. Luckily, I’ve been able to watch some documentaries about other endurance bike riders who have done even more extreme versions of this ride. It’s given me a chance to compare what I have prepared with what they had on hand to complete a big ride like this without any significant towns or population centers available. Spares and redundancy are what I’m working at. Is everything that moves and can fail been checked, replaced with new, have a backup on hand, and been tested. Parts on a bike that I have never doubted like pedals, saddles, brakes I need to service, rebuild, and check. Plus, parts that are likely to fail like tires, wheels, axles, etc. I need to be prepared. I’m pushing into new territory for me with wheels and tires that are tubeless ready, meaning no inner tubes, just tires mounted on tubeless ready wheels and then filled with liquid sealant to keep them from failing. Hydraulic disk brakes, learning the bleed procedures to keep them in good condition. Adjusting the brakes so they don’t drag on the brake rotors and cause me to work extra hard. Spare wheels that use thru axles instead of the old standard of wheel skewers, spare thru axles. Extra bike shoes so if one pair makes my feet feel bad, I can switch shoes for a day or two and move the stress points around. This kind of planning feels like one of my strengths however, so I am happy to do the organizational part.
The next challenge is getting all the required gear and support supplies packed carefully so as not to exceed size and weight restrictions for airline travel. I’ve got bike box options available to me from past travel. Best bike bag for ease of travel and lightest weight may have to be sidelined in favor of a large hard case box so I can pack the bike and extra wheels and supplies. No matter which option, it is always “awkward” moving through airports hauling large sports cases that may or may not require additional fees.