Checkpoint! Newcastle


In the spirit of getting moving quickly this morning I skipped coffee. With everything wet and covered in sand it was slow going. So here I am taking a quick coffee pit stop in Newcastle and sorting out my next leg.

BOooom! Day one complete

Finished up with around 115km not making it quite as far as I wanted but needed to stop. I was frantically setting up camp with a massive thunderstorm approaching. I managed to have dinner nearly done before the crazy downpour. Ended up a bit wet do to bad hammock setup but not to bad. 806km to go.

Home stretch!

I arrived in Canberra late this morning after a bit of a difficult day yesterday. I thought I was going to have plenty of time yesterday leaving around 930 having 115km to do. I was more climbing still to do. I had been led to believe it was relatively flat, with about 300 meters of elevation difference. Turns out I did 873 meters of climbing and didn’t make it into Canberra.

I ran out of light 35km south of Canberra. I’ve had a tactic for a while to find a decent camping spot in these pastoral areas. Find a drive was, ideally where the house(s) cannot be seen. Ride up it until I hit the property line fence. There is almost always a path leading off one direction or the other. Find a hidden place to camp. This went really well last night. I was a bit close to the path but usually this isn’t a problem. one or two cars will usually drive in after work, I haven’t been notices so no big deal. There was an exception this night. Apparently there was a party going on this night and there where calls coming and going for hours. Normally I’d just join a party, but these folks sounded like…. no my type. Anyhow I wasn’t able to sleep and people where parking pretty close to me, yelling, pealing out in the gravel and generally doing what…. not my kind of folks… do. Once the neighbour (must have been a big fella) yelled at the top of his lungs “Shut the *FRONT DOOR*, people (like me) are trying to sleep!” the party died down. This didn’t help the sleeping situation as it was friggin’ freezing! I woke up to ice in my tent, frost on everything outside and generally cold ass misery. When I arrive at Tom’s house I learned it had been -3.8C! I cannot ever think of a time when I was in anything colder. Snow boarding in Tahoe? 48F. January in Karlsruhe, 0/-1C. -3.8C! I pushed on quickly so to get warmed up. Started riding around 9am (no alarm). Had some delicious pies and catching up on stuff and things now.

In just a couple of days I will arrive in Sydney. Around 300km to go. And with as much fun as I’m having I’ll be glad to be done. It will be nice to get some other things done and get back to playing polo. This will also give me the opportunity to document the whole journey and finally upload all my pictures. Another big post in less then a week. Brook, you at the beach with my beer? Sorry I’m late.

Tedious bits done

The last couple of weeks have been a bit on the nitty gritty side. Basically since leaving Port Augusta I’ve been riding on the highway. I decided on Sunday I would head east rather than back up north to Adelaide. I wanted to camp at the Gampians but the thought of going further from Sydney wasn’t a very desirable one. After I picked up a map of Victoria I discover huge amount of parklands to the east. East it was then. I’m in Orbost, Vic now and about to start heading north. Sadly the nice weather didn’t hold out and I will be seeing rain in the next couple of days. Maybe even snow at the top of the climb. Over the next couple of days I’m going to ride a meager 170km, riding short days then camping and hopefully some hiking. Next major stop is Camberra sometime next week.


Update from Ceduna

I’m up to day 15 now! After a couple of really trying days, followed by a couple more really trying days.

Days 8 (169.24km) & day 9 (107.53km)
The first troubles I ran into I touched on in my last post. Basically I kept getting flats. I think it was 7 the day before Norseman. Not punctures, that I could have dealt with. These where slight leaks all over the tube. Inside, outside, side walls, everywhere. I still don’t think I’ve actually had a single puncture beyond the blown sidewall on day 2. I took the day off in Norseman to calm my head before heading into the hard section of the start of the Nullarbor. Things started well but about 2 hours in the flats started. And kept going all day. I think 8 in total. I got to the point I would not even bother taking the tire off, just pump as high as I could and keep riding. I was ready to give up, jump on a train in Balladonia and call this one a failure. Luckily there was no train in Balladonia. I camped out maybe 80km from there and road in the next morning, arrive around 1100. Slowly, frustrated I started cleaning and repatching tubes. These things where toast. Only 2 out of the 4 I think where even able to be patched. After about an hour some bikers mentioned there was another cyclist behind me about 80km. Another tourer? Maybe with spares? My savior? Sorta. He was riding supported on a road bike so all he had was 23c tubes. But they where patchable. He gave me one with a tiny leak it in. I cut down a patch as small as I could to it would rip off and its held since! 958km without a flat! Its also meant I’ve been running low tire pressure to keep the patch from ripping off but that is better than a flat any day.

Day 10 (162.28km)
Mostly uneventful day. Winds have started to change direction coming towards me but still mostly a cross wind. Made it to Cocklesbiddy where I met Jeff. Jeff helped me break several federal laws in a matter of moments. It was part of some holiday celebrating bunnies? And I thought American holidays where weird. Anyhow they said I had to order dinner to get a beer, but there was nothing vegetarian on the limited menu. But the pub was serving food…. okay… anyhow in the confusion Jeff sold me takeaways when he shouldnt have. I was grateful.

Day 11 (172.41km)
Accidently reset my computer this morning. Lost my odometer for the trip so far. Crap. It was at 1220km I think. This is another reason I hate timezones. I had to advance my clocks 45 minutes going into Central Australia Time and the button got stuck resetting the whole computer. Winds where heady today but not that bad in general. Until around 4 at least it really picked up. I stopped riding right before 5 as I was totally beat. Earliest I’ve stopped to setup camp yet. Sunset was just after 6 at this point with useful light up until about 630. It only takes me about 20 minutes from the time I put the bike down to having the tent up and the stove priming. I realized today my solar panel doesn’t charge the Kindle so I cannot read now. derp. I had a really bizarre dream this night, but I will right about that later in the detail post.

Day 12 (119.00km)
Fwump, fwump, fwump. There where Roos hopping around my tent last night. I peeked my head out a couple of times and couple see there silhouettes against the moon light. Big ol’ Roos. Think they where after my water…. Didn’t want to get up this morning, it got pretty cold last night. Coldest night for sure. Winds really started to pick up around 900 today. Hard to keep above 20km/h for more than a couple minutes at a time. After a long tiring day then there was the climb into Eucla, not much of one but with tired legs it was enough. Stopped at Eucla for some food, think it was around 2. Not much going on, bar did not open until 4. Jeffery, who I’d met in Cockles told me Border Village had the only draught beer on the Nullarbor. Only 12km past Eucla and reason enough for me to go. Just before Eucla was my first sight of the sea. I was hoping for a nice view from up on the range but the bush pushed out again quickly cutting a little of the wind making the short right to Border Village pretty easy. Grabbed a backpackers room here and headed to the pub. Best dinner in a while too, nice veggie lasagnas. Just as I was ordering my second beer, “‘ey Morgan, how ya going?” Jeffery and a couple of other come in. I think I may have, dare I say, drank a bit too much that night. I was feeling pretty crappy in the morning and got a bit of a late start. But I did get the best bit of info in a while from the bar tender. Ceduna has a bike shop.

Day 13 (188.27km)
I AM THE BEAST! I decided early on I was going for it. Nullarbor Hotel. 186km. Tomorrow was going to be the worst headwind of the week (according to the weather report in Eucla) and I was going to get the jump on it. I am not sure when exactly I realized this decision wasn’t such a good one but I feel it was at a point I was commited. Close enough to the end I should push through. Just had to stay above 15km/h and I could make it. With 4 hours ahead. It. was. brutal. Everything hurt so bad by the time I finally made it. But the calculation was dead on. I arrive 2 minutes after the sun dipped behind the horizon. The plan from here was to do a short 93km into Yalata, 140km to Penong, then 70km to Ceduna for a rest day.

Day 14 (128.73km)
Parts of this day will get an in depth post of there own as part of the social observations I had where extraordinary. That’ll be later..
So apparently I crossed another timezone and no one had bothered to put up a sign. I think from now on I should keep to North/South tours. On top of an already late start, I was actually an hour behind because I didn’t advance my clocks. derp. So started riding at 1000. Weeee. The wind was blasting. Full. Blown. HEADWIND. This in a section called the Treeless Plain too. Doing about 13km/h. Quick math…. nope. I couldn’t even make my short 93km if I wanted. Luckily things changed about an hour and a half in. I saw something I love to see on a windy day. HILLS! When ever a discussion of hills vs wind comes up my statement is the same. I’ll take a hill over a headwind any day. You can see up a hill. They don’t change on you have way up. They don’t get steeper, then shallower, then fuck off steep just to piss you off. And…. They block wind. I also started riding a lot smarter today to, using my triple a lot more. Was cruising up hills at about 15-16km/h, winds on the crest where pushing me down to about 12-13km/h (1 minute tops) and was frequently doing 30km/h down the backsides and trough the trough. Ended up having a really good day. Yalata though turns out does not have a roadhouse anymore and I (thought I) needed water. I didn’t think I would have time to make Nundroo before sundown to get more water as I was down to about 1L. This might not be enough to cook and get into Nundroo in the morning. Talking to a guy he said my best bet was to go into the Yalata Community and ask if I could buy water from their shop. Ended up using up and hour 15 on the endeavour. Shorty after being back on the main road I ran into Mike from Japan. I had ended up in the unique situation of having too much water. I had about 11L at this time and it was heavy. Mike and I chatted a bit and bitched about the poor water available. Well Mike you are in luck. I offered him some of my water, he was hesitant at first but when I told him there was nothing at Yalata and the community shop was closing in 10 minutes he was grateful. I have him about 3L. We where both quite happy with this. A few minutes after starting to ride again I noticed the sun was quite high in the sky, especially for sunset being in 45 minutes….. oh forehead slap. Fraking timezones! I could have made Nundroo without any problem. In fact I could have refreshed my water and done 10-15km beyond! Sunset was at 7 now! I kept riding and camped about 40km before Nundroo.

Day 15 (145.77km)
Pretty average day. No more hills, so the winds kickin up again. Getting into the farm lands now which will be presenting a problem with selecting a camping sight. The fences are close to the road. Some places as close as 15m. With very little cover from the road noise. Stopped in Penong for lunch, the pub didn’t have much so I ended up staying longer than expected after going to the cafe across the street. When I left around 345 I thought for a moment I might make Ceduna that night. The winds disappeared the the beers had invigorated me. Was sailing along at 25+ for 45 minutes. BBBBBBooooooooossssshhh! The headwinds came back furiously. Nevermind on Ceduna. Ended up stopping just before 7, less than 30km from Ceduna. With a really shitty road side camping spot. I finally had my first little mousy visitor. I baited with with some peanuts to try to get some pictures.

Day 16 (so far)(32.76km)
Rolled into Ceduna slowly this morning. Slept like shit. Trucks blasting by most of the night kept me awake. It was calmer in the morning so I decided sleeping in was a good idea. Rolled into town around 9, found the bike shop, got some breakfast and had my front hub repacked. Been at the visitors centers since working this all out. Booked my flight to Christchuch for the Winter Whack in June. Started putting my team for Melbourne together and looks like I’m on target to get there in plenty of time. Next I’m going to grab lunch and figure out where I’m going to stay tonight. Looking for a backpackers, hostel, roadhouse or such. Cheap and with a shower basically.

Now that I’ll have full pressure tires things are looking easier ahead. Cannot do much about headwinds but I hope once I turn south things will be a little better. Will get to Adelaide about this time next week, then Melbourne the following for some POLO! After that I will do no more than 80km a day. I feel like I’ve missed an amazing amount of things riding this fast. I feel this way because I have. I’ve thought a lot over the last week about how I tour. I have these left over ideas in my head from how I used to tour. No camp gear, minimal food and water, needing to hammer so I could get to a hostel or end up sleeping in the cold. I am self supported now. I do not need to hammer to my destination. Only reason I will continue fast now is to make the tournament. In the future I’ll be planning tours differently. Plan a block of time. A big block and nothing else will change my schedule. Anyhow, still having a blast. Off to the beach for a swim.

AHBPC 2012 – Part II

Wow. DOG SOCCER! Seeds 4th place overall? That is because we have the Dog Soccer. Saturday was a good day. Me, Tom and Brook played quite well together. I had never met Tom before last Tuesday so I didn’t know quite what to expect. I knew Brook was a top player and barring some weird conflict we’d play pretty well together. The suggestion to play with him actually came from TDR Ollie while we were in Tapou last November. Thanks for the tip bru.

Day two was a double elimination with a sort of seeded losers bracket. The bottom half of the group would play each other with the losers seeding the losers bracket and the winners playing the top half teams in a normal top-v-bottom* bracket.
* This means the first place team plays last place, second plays second to last, etc.

Stress and nervous tension are now serious social problems in all parts of the galaxy and it is in order that this situation should not be in any way exacerbated that the following facts will now be revealed in advanced: The city in question, is, in fact, Perth. The bike polo tournament shortly to be discussed will merely result in a referee being yelled at, and the untimely ejection of DOG SOCCER! and the goal stacking that led their opposing team to a championship. In order that some sense of mystery should still be preserved no revelation will yet be made concerning which referee was yelled at. This fact may safely be made the subject of suspense since it is of no significance whatsoever.

As mentioned the top half of the group received a buy. In the first round Samurai Polo Cats played Rejected Polo Monkeys. Samurai Cats took it and we faced them again in the next round. We took them 5-1. Next round was TDR after giving it too Hall ‘n’ Scrotes. TDR is on my checklist. I REMEMBER TAUPO! Sadly I did not get my revenge today. DOG SOCCER off to the not winners bracket.

There was a lot of debate going on over the weekend about where the next championships will be hosted, who will be there, and what exactly is this championships anyhow. Nationals? Australasian Championship? Dog Soccer Cup? What ever you want to call it, it was awesome having Kaohsiung Taiwan fielding a team. I had the pleasure of meeting Mark and Lee Yu (sorry if I have that wrong!) last August in Tainan. Great guys but we still had to send KBPA+ off. 4-3. HOJO HOJO HOJO!

TBA came next with the double lefty bullshit of Ray and Vive. Every time I hear some bitch about playing against lefties I have to laugh. Ever problem a righty has playing a against a left they have too. Use it to your advantage. This is especially true with a team that plays 2 lefties up. The end result was us 4-1 and TBA on Team Beer Break.

Things were staring to get pretty tense at this point. I was totally baffled (baffled) by how well we’d done already and things where just getting harder. Speaking of hard our next challenge was MPS. I cannot find the score but we won, I think 3-2 or 4-2.

Now that things are heating up we worked our way into a little Sydney on Sydney action. DOG SOCCER vs LSV. This was one of our toughest matches of the day. We went up 2-0 within about 5 minutes. Luckily we’d agreed at the start to play a 10 minute match rather than 15 due to time constraints. The heat was really starting to get to me and I was having trouble getting back into the game or keep on the ball. They ended up score and equalising over the next 5 and time ran out. We got a 2 minute breather then back to the joust. I lost the joust, the ball went loose, picked up a pass from Tom and stale breaded V in the first 5 seconds (think that’s how it went). I am so glad that game didn’t didn’t drag out.

Next we really messed up by not taking a long enough break even though I don’t think it would have made a difference. We played against Perths NASFWG. I think that stands for Na, Stacked Full With Goalies. I don’t know the score on this one, it was 4-1 or 5-1, it wasn’t good. The goal was stack, they had 2 keepers almost all the time and 3 when it wasn’t. How tired we where was starting to show. We quit talking and where shooting on the keepers rather that breaking up the blockade. We where done. But extremely happy with our success. 3rd fucking place. Qualified for the Worlds. Going to Geneva. Dog Soccer.

The final was TDR vs NASFWG. Goal stacked, Perth took it.

This was a great weekend and the Perth crew did a fantastic job. I have to thank Wall (who’s computer I’m on right now) for putting everyone up on Thursday night and me again before leaving on tour. Mattie for organising all the hardware (shitty about the barriers) and Henry for running the brackets. Its a good sign when your organisers are not running around with the eyes bugged out.

Thanks Perth! Thanks for the good time. Off to sort out a courier for my polo bike back to Sydney, head down to the beach for a dip and enjoy my last day in Perth before riding back to Sydney.

Double dose of meh

Being that it rained all this week, getting stuff done before leaving has been a bit difficult. I had a lot of shuffling thing around going on. Waiting on people to pick stuff up from me, making sure the touring bike was in proper working order. When I came off the mountain Thursday morning my head was filled with concerns of these things and getting final work on my touring bike done and packing it. Sadly in the rain and the cold what was not thinking about was the poison oak I saw outside my tent Wednesday night. I am really allergic to poison oak. More than once in my life I’ve been swollen and oozing head to toe. In recent years I’ve been good about keeping it in check but only when addressing it right away. That was not done this time.

To make matters worse I didn’t get the touring bike pack Thursday night and had to do it Friday morning, but not before pinching a nerve in my back. Growing old before my time. In the end we where only an hour behind getting on the road but my mood was none too good.

A grumpy couple of days later I had mostly resolved to not ‘race’ the crash race but just roll it. But the magic of skeeball, air hockey and several beers finally righted my mood.

The race was great as usual but my gear ratio (46×17) was far too small. Oh well. Thanks a ton to Wolfpack for the years of great races.

Hopefully I can now check in 8.5 hours early and get a cocktail.