Hard lesson to learn

Well, this is a blog post that I didn’t want to write. I’m home again after a second failure on this bike tour, this time not the bike’s fault, but mine for rushing back onto the road with a new frame, confused? let me explain.

The first bike I rode, was my daily commuter, it carried extra weight and rode well and it had pulled the trailer before, but always 20’ish kilometre trips to work and it did this job but wasn’t up to the job of a fully laden tour, the extra weight caused a frightening wobble at the lower speed and especially when passed by heavy vehicles, so this was the reason for the first trip back home.

I ordered a new frame from Elite Cycles, who advertised the Surly Long Haul Trucker (a purpose built touring bike) but they put me onto a new touring bike just starting in Australia by the distributors of the Surly in Australia, Wayward Cycles, they have two touring models, the Cape York and the Nullarbor, so I ordered the Nullarbor frame and had to wait five days for it to be delivered to Perth.

I should mention that I have taken two months off work to do this trip, and planned to be back in Perth mid October so that I could be involved with the Centenary of ANZAC at Albany over the last weekend in October. I originally left home on the 01 Sep and planned to have it finished in about 30-40 days, but by 03 Sep i think I was back home, I re-jigged the old bike, moved panniers around, changed different size tyres, redistributed the weight, even tried leaving the trailer behind. The bike weighed a ton and handled like a brick, my wife drove me back out to Baker’s Hill (where I got to the first time) but back on the highway, the bike still wobbled, but didn’t seem to do it around the neighbourhood, so this wasted a few more precious days until I bit the bullet and ordered the frame, but they couldn’t order it till Monday.

So five days lapsed off my journey window, with nothing I could do but strip the old bike of it’s components and fix a few minor problems I noted with the panniers. I drove into Perth and picked up the frame and that afternoon was assembling the frame to look like a bicycle. Fastened the racks, wired up the dynamo, tested the brakes, rode around the street, repacked and loaded the panniers, rode around the streets again, seems to be all systems go. So let’s go already, I have wasted enough time building this bike and time is counting down.

Although both frames had similar geometries, there was a enough of a difference to prove problematic down the road. The bike didn’t fit me properly like the older one did and thinking that I was using the same components, there should only be minor tweaking along the ride to get the bike to a good standard (WRONG). After a couple of hours, my hands were becoming numb, and later on my knees would start playing up (all this is stretched out over a couple of days), Avril would get me through a day it was not something I wanted to rely on to do so. Decision made, next town that has mobile reception, I will see how far I can push a friendship and see if I can get picked up.

Spent 12 hours at the BP Merredin alone with my thoughts before being rescued by Mark and having the same distance that it took me 4-5 days being covered in 2 1/2 hours. Home at midnight to find I don’t have a key to the screen door. But that’s another story.

1 thought on “Hard lesson to learn”

  1. Hello mate,
    just found your site whilst flipping thru the net…..
    Ah, I have had a similar situation to yourself in January this year…….but not with your load.
    My problem was the heat. And I was carrying absolutely minimal stuff. My bike was 30 kilo’s plus water…..40 kilo’s..??
    The issue with bicycle riding in OZ is the distances between supply of water/food and the laser sunshine……too far, too hot.
    On arriving into Perth I set off to my sister in Wongan Hills, via the railway maintenance road from Middle Swan. Carrying only 8 litres of aqua was a very good indicator of what lay ahead.
    Anyhow, a long story short, it became obvious as the first day went by that I was not going to get across the Nullabor.
    So after staying with my sister for a few days to rethink the situation, I headed off down the Munda Biddi Trail, thinking perhaps it would be cooler.
    After 4 days on it, which was amazing…..I headed back to Perth and a week later, back to the UK.
    Luckily my turn around on the Munda was extremely timely as it all caught fire days after I pulled out.
    So, what does this say about bike riding in Australia…???
    Carry lots of water and prepare to perspire like never before.
    I hope you resolve your situation because it actually has nothing to do with failure. It is a seriously tough challenge that only comes to light when you have a go at it…..I’d love to do it again, on a motorcycle.
    Ciao Peter.

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