Monday, November 29, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Has anyone got any idea of what I could do next. Suggestions? I am always on a budget, so no going to the moon and back! Why not leave a comment!
In 2012 I am planning to walk the 750km El Camino de Santiago Trail in Spain.
Safely back home I can now do my sums. Every day I tried to record the daily high and average and maximum speeds. I rode for 27 days, an average of 52 kilometers per day and covered 1370 kilometers.
The money spent on the trip was approximately $65 per day including repairs, preparations including some bicycle gear and the boat home for me. It did not include the airfare to Canberra which was done using frequent flier points. Total amount spent was $1797, and was much more than I had imagined, but realistically this is not bad. Don't forget that in many small places where we stopped the vegetable range in the shop was limited to onions and tomatoes and there always seemed to be a pub available with hot meals which always ended up averaging $35 per person for dinner. Even doing a quick BBQ was an expensive operation as we couldn't carry many of the basics and had to buy the whole kit and caboodle each time. I did safe a lot of money by carrying home meals which I had dehydrated before leaving. I carried about 10 meals for us both, which saved us significantly and provided wonderful meals.
Cycling from Sydney to Melbourne was easy for navigation, plenty of signs and good free tourist maps. There was a wonderful free tourist publication specifically available for driving from Sydney to Melbourne along the Pacific Highway, and there was phone coverage pretty much the whole way.
I used the iPhone maps to find my way and choose routes and calculate distances. It made it a lot easier. Looking for a campground was as easy as typing the word on the map and the icons would appear on the screen, and a click later you could call their phone number.
Blog was kept up to date via the iPhone as well, and all the photos I took I took with the iPhone. I used the iPhone to post the photos on FaceBook (become my friend to see them). The $400 cap and the 500MB data limit was enough to see me through.
When Ree came with the support vehicle we used Google Latitude to see where we both were, and occasionally emailed positions to each other. The photos I made with the phone were also geotagged so I could see where I took them. Technology was wonderful. And did I run out of batteries for the phone or find it a problem to leave it plugged in to charge in a public place? No worries there, I had an external battery charging cover. It carried a full charge for the phone and all you had to do is use it as a phone cover and it would charge the phone. The charger itself did not have a phone and was not terribly valuable or likely to get pinched.
Monday, November 22, 2010
That's the Spirit
The last morning to wake up in a tent :(
I love my tent, but I do love to go back to my own bed... And so after a hearty cooked breaky I left with the bike... on the back of the car to find a nearby bikeshop to fix my tyre.
'Gonna be a bitch of a job' I was told by the young mechanic in Frankston once he had the bike on the stand in the workshop. 'Do you know how to take the wheel off?' was the next question. I was not filled with confidence. I had just asked them to fit a new tube and a Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyre, and tighten the loose spoke please while the wheel is off...
Ree and I disappeared for an hour and a half as was requested, using the time wisely by visiting the local Aldi store for last minute bargains (we don't have Aldi in Tasmania). When we returned to the shop it was all fixed, miraculouysly. 'Was a bastard of a job...' the mechanic told me as I left. We mounted the bike back on the car and drove for a lunch spot on a nearby beach before I had to head off on my final ride into Melbourne. At the lunchstop Ree noticed she could still open the hatch of her car even with the bike rack on. A minute later she slammed the hatch shut and I heard this almighty groan... She got hit by the bike rack in 12 different places from head to shoulders. Whoaps.
And the joyous time of mounting the bike for the final 30 kilometers arrived. I jumped on the bike and rode a few hundred meters before realizing the gears weren't working properly. Having earlier noticed a bikeshop around the corner I called into the Mordialloc Bicycle Centre where I met Mark. Before getting into the bikeshop Mark had traveled around the world for many many years and in benefit of several great causes, collecting some serious $$$ from sponsors. He fixed the gears, told me how to do it, tightened the loose spoke, and did not charge me. He was a very inspirational man who was full of words of wisdom and seemed a highly competent bicycle mechanic. Great man to meet!
Again I joyfully jumped on my bike and headed North to Melbourne! I followed the road and rode on a few walking/cycle paths here and there and eventually got onto the great track past StKilda Beach. The riding here was lovely. Gentle tail wind, people playing in the sun, surf kits, roller skaters, bikes, babes, everything. Enjoying every bit of it I made my way towards Port of Melbourne. Passing the historic HMVS Cerberus shipwreck just off Black Rock was pretty cool. Everything was cool, even approaching Port of Melbourne and seeing the Spirit of Tasmania docked there. A wedding on the beach a stone throw from the ship, people everywhere.
Fellow Hash House Harrier HellenBack came to welcome me and had a beer with us before we got on the ship. I was lucky to get on as I was due to sail with Hans the following night, but Ana from the Spirit of Tasmania's reservations was able to squeeze me on this boat. And so I sailed away in the sunset bound for Devonport Tasmania.
All good things come to an end, and in actual fact I am writing this from the comfort of my home, already been to work (on my trusty Dutch bike of course), and back in the swing of things. Saw several bandicoots, went fishing with a mate, paddled in my kayak, seen various eagles, walked on the beach,.. I do so love Tasmania.
Now, what shall I do for my next adventure?
-- The End of this adventure --
(watch this space!)
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Waking up in a great campsite is wonderful. Fresh air, sounds of birds, camp coffee,.. why leave Franklin,... And so in good spirits I headed up Arthurs Seat, 20 kilometers along a scenic road gently winding its way up to the 305 meter high lookout. The day was warm and sunny with a friendly hint of a tailwind. After I whispered a few words to friendly horses in a paddock along the road I discovered I had a flat tyre. It was the third puncture on the same patch! Nothing sharp was spotted except a tiny blemish. This time I also patched the inside of the tyre.
Views looking down onto Mornington Peninsula were stunning from the top (see picture). But hungry for lunch I headed down to Dromana where I was expected for lunch at the renowned Fork to Fork restaurant. Flying down the road I came across a few intersections, but on my map it seemed I just had to follow the main road down. When I finally came to an intersection with confusing road signs I actually checked the map and realised I was heading down the mountain in a wrong direction somehow. Many extra miles and several hills later I came close to where I had to be, except I was on a freeway and if only I could turn right 100 meters I would be there...
Alas, La Trobe Parade, where I had to be was a fly-over bridge and there was no getting off the freeway here. I had to backtrack a fair way to an exit and by the time I reached La Trobe parade again but it looked like I still had a fair way to go uphill. Blood sugar level and energy were way down, it was 3pm. In a cranky mood I locked up the bike, called Ree and got a lift for the final 300 meters up the hill. The food was magnificent and I was fully recharged within the hour. The restaurant made a fair donation to my cause as well, which was incredibly thoughtful. Thank you Fork to Fork.
At 4pm I left for our final campsite for the trip, the Big4 at Frankston. Cycling below Mount Martha along the blue seas and white beaches of Mornington was excellent, winds still reasonably favourable too. But then I got onto the highway. Obviously getting closer to Melbourne now, lots of peak hour traffic. Very noisy and smelly cycling along the busy road. Not so good. Not so good at all when I got a flat tyre again! This time the European valve on the tube also broke. I had no tools to take the Dutch wheel off, to change the tube I actually need to take the gear and brake cable off too, clumsy arrangement. I called Ree and got rescued. She too was frustrated in the traffic and was not happy to be so close to the big smoke of Melbourne. Together we arrived at the Big4 Holiday Village in Frankston at 730pm where we were well received by Jake before setting up our tent for the last time.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Winds have continued to steadily blow in the wrong direction for me, but with most of my gear now in Ree's vehicle I dare not complain! As we have a few days up our sleeve we decided to detour past Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne's summer playground, where the population here doubles from 125000 to 250000 people in summer.
The landscape was pretty much flat till I got to Tooradin on the Western Port area, a swampy area east of the peninsula. Ree arranged a budget cabin for us there. The next morning I cycled down the western side of the peninsula. In Balnarring for lunch we found lots of
Boutique shops and great food in the trendy shops where we had lunch in an Italian cafeteria with the best coffee and friendliest managing partner. Even the other patrons in the cafe were extremely friendly. Ree bought organic veggies for a stirfry and we visited the local wetland area regenerated by the local primary school as an ongoing project.
It was under 20kms but pretty hill to the bushy Flinders Caravan Park where the owner offered us a free night under the trees. We were warned not to be alarmed by the koalas growling noise at night and he gave us eggs from the happy chooks wondering on the grass nearby. A fellow cyclist camped next to us and we invited him over for dinner.
What a lovely spot here on the southern end of the Mornington Peninsula.
Today I ride across the peninsula to Arthur's Seat for lunch, the biggest hill on the island at 305 meters above sealevel. Apparently there is a chairlift!
Tonight will be our last night as Ree is on Saturday night's ferry to Tasmania. Hans and I are on Sundays sailing but I hope they will let me in with Ree. Ether way will be OK.
Hans is on nearby Phillip Island where the grand prix is held every year, and home to Australia's most popular penguin colony which is in peak swing at this time of the year.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Power to the People
The iPhone directed me up a farmers yard, and I had to bravely travel on the M1 Pacific Highway shoulder for almost 10kms towards Warragul. Ree followed the bicycle route to Warragul using her TomTom and had no hiccups. I did find a geocache on my route, an Aldi store and the haunted hills of Moe which I climbed up on, all the way to the Moe graveyard, before descending into Moe for lunch.
I can tell Melbourne is nigh not only by the traffic volume but also by the big power stations of the Latrobe Valley - one being the Hazelwood brown coal plant which was to be decommissioned many years ago, but is still going strong. It was built in the 1960s and is alleged to be the most polluting power-station in the western world according to www.aboutcarbon.com.au/fossil-fuels/hazelwood
The Latrobe Valley is a coal rich area and generates 85% of Victoria's energy needs.
Monday, November 15, 2010
World Peace and Random acts of Kindness
Today we had a look at the Gippsland Plains RailTrail. It is not quite finished yet but the first part was great. The rest kind of needed a mountain bike. As we had a good headwind we ended up riding on the adjacent road. Ree got lunch ready for us which was a great luxury. We had a wheel fall off Hans's trailer this morning, which for me is not an unusual event. I've had a bicycle wheel fall of after I had the bike in for service myself, had a car wheel fall off my car after getting wheels fitted once, saw a wheel fall off a boat trailer once, had a wheel rolling into me in Moscow whilst waiting for a bus and had a random rolling wheel run into my car in Canberra whilst driving on a main road. So a trailer wheel was nothing to me.
Today we also had gas bottle fires from discounted Kmart gas bottles and we ran into the Sri Chimoy World Peace running relay team - www.worldharmonyrun.org. I held the flame and made a globally beneficial wish (to make CF stand for Cure Found!).
To top off a long day of riding (we didn't get into camp till 6pm) we were welcomed with a complimentary campspot in the luxurious Traralgon Park Lane Tourist Park where Ree was busy preparing gourmet carboloading spaghetti Bolognaise.
Tomorrow we are riding on the M1 for a day of quick riding towards the Western Port.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
The art of resting
and maybe the tent, and...
Lovely day today, almost too good to not ride, but hack our muscles need a day off perhaps. Sigh. I love my riding.
Ree tells me I have lost weight. I will make up for it now that she can cook for us!
Last night we ran into Molly's aunt and uncle. Molly is a young lady with CF who goes to Melbourne's Monash CF clinic. I will mail her a copy of Walter and the Mucous Monster when I get back to Tassie.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
morning, not cold, just much better than yesterday's heat. We leisurely ate our muesli and drank our coffee, got our Internet fix at the 7 star camping and left 11am. We had 75 kms to go to Stratford where the next railway trail is waiting for us.
Today's ride was cutting through a rural area using minor roads. Loads of cockatoos and several swooping little piwis and one measly magpie made a humble attempt to swoop as well. Few hills and little traffic, with no towns in between.
Now that my glasses are not as accessible I decided to ask for directions instead of using my iPhone (much to Hans's enjoyment) and we had friendly people stopping for us when we weren't sure of which road to take. Winds were mostly favorable too but there was some light drizzle which turned into rain just before we arrived at the Statford Top Tourist Park.
Tongue in cheek I asked the lady at the 4 star tourist park about their luxury units and then humbly asked for the usual unpowered tent site.
Rehydrating tandoori chicken now, which I am cooking up with peas, a carrot and noodle soup in one big pot for us. Hans might complement it with a noodle dish.
Tomorrow Ree, sailing from Tasmania right now, will be meeting us and we will have gourmet meals from then on as well as a support vehicle! Oh, and she is good company too! I hope she finds us for breakfast.
Oh, and due to popular demand, here is a koala bear photo taken on Raymond Island yesterday.
Friday, November 12, 2010
How much can a Koala bear...
|100 kmph till you get to the T-intersection in 100 meters...|
What surprised me today was that when we got off the highway and cut through some minor rural roads the speed limits were still posted as 100kmph which is ludicrous on these sections of a few hundred meters at a time! If they advertise that they are speed 'limits' and not intended as a 'challenge' then why post the sign 100 meters from a T-intersection like in this picture? Anyways, now I got that off my chest I can breathe easy and try and sleep in this 30 degree heat (could be much hotter here!). Tomorrows forecast is rain and we hope to cycle about 70kms. Keep fingers crossed, we are slightly behind my predicted schedule.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
East Gippsland Rail Trail
|Old Tressel bridge on the East Gippsland Railtrail|
All on our own on the gravel trail we passed a most magnificent historic railway bridge before reaching Bruthen. Bruthen, where we had lunch amongst the old people in caravans ad campers, is on the road to Mount Hotham where the road goes up to 1860 meters above sea-level. I am glad we didn't make a wrong turn there.
We had 60kms of blissful riding on the old transformed railway track made perfect for cycling or walking. Especially after lunch it was mostly downhill, still no people or traffic, and we got into Bairnsdale about 5pm.
Along the way today we again met many magnificent mosquitos but also a range of other much nicer wildlife. Amongst the Silver Wattle and the gum trees we saw Blue Wren, Pee Wees, Kookaburras, Crimson Rozellas, tortoises, rabbits, double winged Dragonflies, Gallahs and Cockatoos, magpies, echidnas, whip birds,... and many other birds I don't know the names of. We heard a Tawny Frogmouth too.
On arrival in Bairnsdale we raided the local Safeways Supermarket and bought about 3kg of steak for a barbie. The pharmacy sold us Bushman's insect repellant and gave me free insulin needles and then to top of this great day, at the Mitchell Gardens Holiday Park we were given free accommodation as well! We ate all the meat, plus everything else we got for the barbie! It made up for a skimpy meal I had last night.
Tomorrow we have little distance to cover as we are going to Raymond Island for a rest day.
What is your poison?
|Nowa Nowa campsite - a great place!|
As idyllic the campground at Marlo was, we could bot ignore the Mosquitos. Millions of them. Even in the tent. And so it came that Hans was packed up at 630am and me at 730am. We made breakfast and left in a most efficient manner.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Maree from www.mareebiketouroz.blogspot.com is just one of then She is touring the country and checking out all the scenic little spots along the coast. Relying on free campsites and great views she has the best ever time. Leaving her IT career and her stable city life she now enjoys each day to the fullest. Not setting speed records or anything she just plans to head north to her parents and further North towards Cairns in the dry season. Onya Maree!
|Hans passing a dead wombat...|
During our afternoon nap Maree from http://www.mareebiketouroz.blogspot.com/ arrived. The three of us had lots to talk about and we all had dinner in the hotel. My medicine bag safely stored away in the cool room and Hans's resolution to not drink alcohol was broken with a nice bottle of Cabernet.
Shortly after dinner the locals came in and I was the 8th person in the Euca competition. Beginner's luck kept me from embarrassing myself.
Full of good recommendations we headed for Cape Conrad in the morning. It was pretty much all downhill, and once there enjoyed both the great views and a second breakfast.
By 1am, with tailwind, sunshine and no hills of significance we arrived at the nearby Marlo Ocean Views caravan park where pets were allowed, complete with wheelchair facilities, and according to Hans the most beautiful place he had seen on the East Coast. They allowed me to put my medicine in their shop fridge. My medicine bag is increasingly becoming slimmer and lighter, and now has space for beer and chocolate!
Tomorrow we really plan to cover more distance, but due to perfect weather and scenery our plans may be foiled again.
One disadvantage of going slow is the number of campsites and meals we need to pay for. As cheap as a cycling holiday seems, it does make you ravenous and one pub meal per day can cost you an arm and a leg. Hans at the BellBird hotel had to order two dinners to get satisfied. Buying food in the few little stores along the way is also really $$$, and limited (here in Marlo the shop only had onions and tomatoes for fresh vegetables!) and to buy ingredients for a simple BBQ (when available) from these shops is as expensive as a proper pub meal.
Tonight I am making the last of the ten or so dehydrated meals that Ree made for us and which I carried with me. Carrying anything that is non dehydrated takes up too much space on the bike. Everyday we carry a loaf of bread, muesli bars, cheese, salami, tuna, carrots, nuts and chocolate... We have porridge for breakfast with sweetener and powder milk, so you can understand a pub meal always sounds inviting.
Life on the road, cycling between Sydney and Melbourne is awesome though, and as you now understand the problems we face have little to do with Cystic Fibrosis!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Yes we Cann
Hans thinks the hills to date have been 'nothing', including today's hilly 50km. Tomorrow is likely to be longer and higher, but shhh don't tell him.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Then we found the best little pub in Victoria I think, the Genoa Hotel run by Dave and Jean: Reasonably priced, friendly management, friendly customers and good food. This must be the reward for reaching our half way point between Sydney and Melbourne!
Health is A1, bike doing well too. I know my health is under control when I am not constantly forgetting things like my medications! Even managed to get ready to go by 8am and do breakfast for us this morning.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Eden and Merimbula
We are getting media attention here and will star in the local paper as well as in the radio. The journalist that took the above photo came to see us at the campground.
In Eden at the campground, where we just arrived, the lady put my big medicine bag in the fridge. The office is closed from 6pm-830am which means I am hoping for a cool night as I will put it in my tent at 6pm. Campsite fridges are pretty important for most campers. Time to check out the famous Eden whale museum.
Tomorrow we really will cycle into Victoria!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Dangers of traveling
We left the campground at Tathra, and as per habit bought a loaf of bread. As I usually do I stuck it under the rain cover of my panniers where it doesn't get squashed. However, when belting down a hill at high speed it slipped down and somehow managed to get the raincover and the loaf itself jammed up into my wheel, under the mudguard and bending it right up. The bicycle skidded from 70 to 0 in one very scary minute!
Just shows you that the challenges of traveling are more likely related to the activities you do.
Perhaps it is my inattention to detail that caused this. In the morning I even had trouble unscrewing the lid of my fuel bottle and then screwing in the pump straight. Hans was watching me fumble with frustration and took over - and immediately took the opportunity to teach me how to screw tops on bottles correctly. Mornings are just hard for me when my body operates on low oxygen levels, or whatever it is that causes me to not perform simple tasks.
Having a rest day in Merimbula! Repair damage and re-supply. Mum Connie and good family friends are here and are treating us like royalty!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
National Parks instead of Melbourne Cup
Whilst Australia stood still for the Melbourne Cup we rode up and down many hills in the Mimosa Rocks National Park where Hans told me I was losing my Mojo and made me stop to eat our last half a bread roll and banana. Hans sure keeps a good eye on me, I picked up straight after and full of energy arrived in Tathra around 5pm.
Today we saw an elderly Belgian couple cycling in the opposite direction, carrying all their gear, and we also saw a Chech man in his late 40s! All foreigners having the fun here in Australia, including me being Dutch and Hans being German!
The friendly management of the Tathra Beach Tourist Park offered us free accommodation for the night on hearing we were riding for Cystic Fibrosis. There is a young man in Tathra who also has CF and he will be given a link to this website! We set up the tents with a big smile.
The campground office at dusk:
Monday, November 1, 2010
Well deserved seafood platter
It was a big day for us today and we rode 75 kilometers or more to Bermagui. Hans got swooped badly (3-4 times) by a magpie who decided he was a threat to his territory. In Sydney I got attacked too. Courageous all there creatures taking on us humans.
We saw two road cyclists with support vehicles ridge for a cause of sorts in the opposite direction. We all waved at each other enthusiastically for the three seconds of being within sight.
We rode till 6pm an found the camp office closed already. The pub was open and the bistro they made us the biggest seafood platter ever. We ate it all. Sugar levels are still way too high despite insulin. I never had a meal like that I guess and will take more insulin next time I pig out like that!
Raining steadily and the tent is dripping inside. Big day again tomorrow. We want to get to Merimbula where my mother might visit. I need to sleep!