Oct 26 2009

This week’s Tweets: 2009-10-26

tim

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Oct 19 2009

This week’s Tweets: 2009-10-19

tim
  • Got a new number plate for the motorbike this morning. First three digits are IE7. There's nothing that isn't wrong about that. #geek #fb #
  • Just watched my girlfriend speed off in a blaze of blue and red. She'll be back… just wait and see… #fb #
  • Latte, and Lindt Chilli Chocolate (slavery free, and half price at Wollworths right now)… life is good… #fb #
  • RT @USSC Mum, Dad: I'm Gaelic. #medievalbumperstickers #
  • RT @Colvinius: Thanks to my punaholic friend @LEIGHSALES for alerting me to this headline. http://bit.ly/3Iyhp8 #
  • Found out tonight that it's possible to spit mandarin seeds out a sunroof while driving #fb #
  • Just watched "Proof" (the Australian film… nothing to do with equations) #fb #
  • trackside at the MotoGP with Lachie #fb #
  • camped out at turn 11, praying for sunshine. #motogp #fb #
  • Lunch: Amanda's mexican chicken soup. Mmmm… #fb #
  • RT @geoffmatheson: Balloon Boy's Dad: "Feel like doubling your allowance boy?" – http://tinyurl.com/yjqxpzv #
  • RT @geoffmatheson: Son of a Teacher Man post: Web 2.0 at School – http://bit.ly/3Xk03I #

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Oct 12 2009

This week’s Tweets: 2009-10-12

tim

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Oct 5 2009

This week’s Tweets: 2009-10-05

tim
  • gearing up for another 600km ride today. Home in a few days! #fb #
  • just had my can of coke stolen and finished off by the cocky at the Barringen Tatts Hotel. #fb #
  • stopped in Cobar for lunch #fb #
  • just rode into a dust storm outside Hillston NSW. Pulled over before it could blow me off. #fb #
  • In Griffith, NSW. Heading home today! #fb #
  • Google Maps:
    Driving directions to Mt Evelyn VIC 3796
    493 km – about 7 hours 7 mins #fb #
  • coffee and cake in Alexandra. Almost home! #fb #
  • Amanda’s bird stole part of my earring… Grrrr! #fb #

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Oct 5 2009

This week’s Tweets: 2009-10-05

tim
  • gearing up for another 600km ride today. Home in a few days! #fb #
  • just had my can of coke stolen and finished off by the cocky at the Barringen Tatts Hotel. #fb #
  • stopped in Cobar for lunch #fb #
  • just rode into a dust storm outside Hillston NSW. Pulled over before it could blow me off. #fb #
  • In Griffith, NSW. Heading home today! #fb #
  • Google Maps:
    Driving directions to Mt Evelyn VIC 3796
    493 km – about 7 hours 7 mins #fb #
  • coffee and cake in Alexandra. Almost home! #fb #
  • Amanda's bird stole part of my earring… Grrrr! #fb #

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Oct 3 2009

Day 26

tim

Mt Isa to Augathella
I’d been a little suspicious about my back tyre pressure since changing it over yesterday. I’d pumped it up, but hadn’t checked the pressure with a gauge. I gave it a kick before bed, and it seemed to be the same pressure as earlier, so I assumed it was OK. Naturally that was a bad idea that was bound to come back to bite me.

We rode into town this morning for fuel, and I noticed that the tyre pressure was not what it should have been – 2PSI, to be exact. I pumped it up, but it was a reasonable bet that it was not going to hold pressure for all that long. I picked up a can of Slime from Repco, hoping that that might at least see me out the day. While I was in the store, a guy outside started talking to Marco and looking at the bikes. He had a KLR of his own, and he also had a mechanic’s workshop across the road, and offered me the use of his facilities. If you’re ever in Mt Isa and need to hire a 4WD, make sure you talk to Graeme Drew at Sargent Four Wheel Drive Hire. Top guy.

We stopped for fuel in Blackall, about 240km down the road, and a few kays out of town the back tyre gave way. I’m not sure where the original leak was, but by the time we stopped, the valve had torn loose from the tube. Within about 15 minutes we had the tools out, had the wheel off, and had a new tube in place. It seems that you shouldn’t leve the valve nut on the inside of the rim, even though that nut had been there for the past 8000km. Lesson learned.

We’d hoped to get to Charleville tonight, but it was always going to be a stretch, and with the amount of wildlife appearing in the evening shadows, we decided to stop in Augathella. Mandy and Marco have got themselves a motel room for the night, much to the amusement of the rest of us.

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Oct 3 2009

Day 25

tim

Mt Isa Work/Rest Day
Considering all that had gone on and gone wrong yesterday, we decided that we’d stay two nights in Mt Isa, and try to get a few things sorted out.

Andy sourced a new axle, and spent much of the day fitting that to the trailer, as well as doing some work on things like trailer wiring and the like. He worked all day, but looked as though he was in his element.

Marco headed to the hospital for an x-ray on his foot, and took his bike in for service and repairs. As of tonight we haven’t heard back from the doc, so it looks as though things are all clear there. The local Honda/Kawasaki/Suzuki dealer serviced the bike and organised for the radiator mounts to be welded back on. Marco was very impressed with the service and the price, and was happy to have his bike back. Rather than fix the ignition key, he bought a simple switch and installed that. Fortunately you still need the key to make it run.

I replaced the tyres on my bike with the original road tyres, since the trek home will be all bitumen (did I mention that we’re skipping the Birdsville Track now, for the sake of the vehicles and trailers?), and the nobby on the back is completely shot. I also changed the oil and cleaned the air filter.

Tonight I cooked the long-awaited Pumpkin Marsala. It seemed that every night we tried or planned to make this, something would happen that would make us late to camp. But tonight it was going to work. We hadn’t been anywhere, so we couldn’t be late, and we had a well decked out campers’ kitchen. It was a little spicier than I expected, but (if I do say so myself) it was delicious!

After tea we headed to Cold Rock, which we all conceded was a complete gimmick, but which we all seemed happy to part with our money for!

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Oct 3 2009

Day 24

tim

?? to Mt Isa
As usual, Dad got up at some ungodly hour. Only this time he’d woken even earlier than usual (and changing from NT to QLD time didn’t help matters), and decided that rather than roll over and sleep for another half an hour he might as well get up. Others in our party heard him moving about, and before long most of us were up.

We packed in record time, and the roads turned out to be narrow tracks through beautiful country, and the guys on the bikes had a great time. I did what I could to surpress my jealousy. To our own surprise we got to Lawn Hill on time!

The canoe ride up through the gorge was just beautiful. We had an odd number of paddlers, so I went in a 3-person canoe with Mandy and Marco. I was able to paddle (good exercise for the shoulder), but didn’t have to all the time, thankfully. This also meant I got the opportunity to take photos and video along the way (though I’ll save photos for a gallery page now, I think). The gorge is fed by a small but fast-flowing stream which cascades into the deeper, wider waters of the gorge, where it slows down. Some other paddlers were swimming at the falls, and the water looked lovely. Some of our party also saw a croc (at last). Not sure if the swimmers saw the croc, though.

After lunch we pressed on, along more of the same narrow tracks. Not long after, we met another Discovery with a blown-out back left tyre. This one was stuck with a security nut with a failed key. Andy was able to help him out fairly quickly, and we were on our way again. Not gaining greaat respect for the Discovery as a 4WD.

As we got on to more major roads, the surface got worse, particularly for the bikes. They kept a good distance ahead, but there were patches of sand and thick gravel which didn’t help them much. Occasionally we hit patches of bitumen, and soon we got to the start of THE bitumen.

Andy, who’s really had enough of riding, gave me back the reigns almost as soon as we hit the tarmac. Jane jumped on the back of Nick’s bike, and we took off. 500m later the gravel returned, and my heart sank. I’m ready for hard surfaces, but the way my shoulder reacts when I flinch or tense up, gravel is still out of the question. It turned out to be a short stretch, and a few minutes later we were on a sealed, if somewhat patchy road.

It was so good to be riding again. Before long we came to the Barkly Hwy, heading toward Mt Isa. I was in front, but I could see Nick’s headlight behind me. A couple of times I passed road trains going the other way. Sometimes the turbulence from a road train can almost knock you off the bike, so I made a point of slowing down and pulling to the side. Shortly after passing one road train I realised that Nick’s headlight was no longer following. I slowed, and eventually pulled over. When I still saw no sign of him, I turned back.

I found Nick and Jane on the side of the road, safe and well, but not going anywhere. Marco’s bike had started coughing, and shortly after had stopped altogether. After a bit of fiddling we found that the ignition would turn on and off at seemingly random intervals. We tracked it down to something connected to the handlebars, as we could trigger the fault by shaking them from side to side. Unfortunately we also managed to make the problem worse by doing that, as the ignition would no longer start even intermittently. It tuned out that the wires had come off the back of the key switch, and by holding them together it was possible to start (read hotwire) the bike. While we were hunting we also found that the radiator was falling off, with all three of its mounting points apparently broken.

As always, cable ties and gaffer tape would be our savour. I radio’d the convoy to see how far back they were, so I could get the bits we needed to get Nick and Jane back on the road. Marco answered. He said that they were on the highway not far behind us, and that they weren’t going anywhere. He said that the wheel had fallen off the bike trailer, and that everyone was out looking for it!

I rode back to the convoy. The passenger-side wheel of the trailer had fallen off, hub and all, when the bearing had collapsed. The axle had hit the ground at about 80km/h, and Marco had wrestled the car and trailer to the side of the road.

Sparks from the axle had started a grass fire, though that was out by the time I’d got there. Dad had organised a line search, which had to that point found nothing (and was no longer in a line of any sort, much to dad’s frustration). I helped with the search for a few minutes, then started gathering the bits I needed to get Nick and Jane mobile.

Once the bike was patched up, Nick, Jane and I returned. Brad had found the wheel and hub in a paddock to the side of the road, and Andy was in the process of removing the remains of the old bearings from both axle and hub. Jane started working her way back up the highway in search of the axle nut.

Andy got the wheel back on the axle, despite the fact that it had been ground to the shape of a javelin on one end. The axle nut was never found, and wouldn’t have had much to screw on to anyway. Andy used a battery terminal clamp and a large washer on the end of the axle instead, and this did a remarkable job.

Once again, light was failing as we headed off again. The highway had random cattle, roos and emus wandering across it, making it treacherous for bikes in particular. Nick and I went on ahead in the direction of Mt Isa, still 90km away, to look for a caravan park, while the others nursed the trailer in to town. A few minutes later Nick signalled that he was out of fuel, and would have to wait for the convoy, so I headed in to town alone.

At some point I was struck by the irony that at one point today the only one of us on the move was me… on a motorbike, of all things.

I found a town map and located a few options. I radio’d the others and decided I’d wait for them to get to town. One car went to look for supplies (read alcohol) while the other followed me to the caravan park. When we arrived we found the office closed, and a sign saying that no new bookings would be taken after 6:00pm… which was some time earlier. Marco started to turn the car around, when the other wheel fell off the trailer!

So we were stuck, with the car and trailer blocking the main entrance of a caravan park that refused to take us, unable to move, enter or leave. I called the manager on his mobile and started to explain the situation (not easy to do, as you can appreciate) and he soon came out. He was fine, and let us make camp and sort things out in the morning. Andy replaced the bearings in the other wheel and limped the trailer into the park.

Jordy and Katy took orders for KFC and headed back into town. They returned a while later with news and random chicken. It turned out that KFC closed at 9:00pm, a few minutes before they arrived. Jordy (being Jordy) knocked on the door, and managed to get every piece of chicken they had left, and at a very good rate. It wasn’t the best meal of the trip, but none of us really cared.

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Oct 3 2009

Day 23 (by the new count)

tim

Maria Lagoon to…
There doesn’t seem to be many days that we get to where we intend to, or get there at the time we expect. Today was no different, but it was rewarding in its own way.

After our normal 2 hour pack-up we hit the road. The roads were variable, and none of them were particularly interesting or quick, particularly for the bikes. The landscape was less interesting than it has been, too. We stopped for lunch, and managed to start a grass fire, though I’ve been asked to leave the details out by the persons involved. Ask me about it, though… it’s a good story.

We pressed on after lunch, but realised we weren’t going to make Adele’s Grove at any reasonable hour, so we started looking for alternatives. Kingfisher Camp (signposted in red and white as “KFC”) was closer, so we started heading for that.

Shortly before dusk we came across two young German tourists who had a flat tyre. They’d purchased their second hand Land Rover Discovery in Brisbane (from a Dutch used car salesman, who clearly saw them coming), and two days later the left rear wheel fell off. Naturally they’d lost the wheel nuts, and they’d also managed to damage the alloy wheel, which in turn flattened the tyre. The spare wheel was held on to the back door of the car with random nuts, which didn’t match the rest for size, and weren’t even wheel nuts at all. They’d somehow fitted the spare and had continued on their way.

When we found them, the spare had blown out, and they had no other spare and no way of getting the wheel off. Andy, mobile mechanic and good samaritan that he is, got the tyre off the original wheel and repaired the damaged rim, then added a tube and inflated it. He had a shifter large enough to get the odd nuts off, so he got the tourists to remove the wheel, and take one nut each from the other wheels to use on that corner instead.

By the time all that was done, it was all but dark. We made camp on the side of the road, and invited the tourists (Manual and Philip) to join us. Marco chatted to them in German for a while, and one of them picked up Andy’s guitar.

After tea, we talked about the plans for tomorrow. We still have some distance to cover to Adele’s Grove, and the roads today have shown us that we can’t rely on an average speed much over 65km/h. We’ve decided we’ll get up at first light and break camp, and try to make it to Adele’s Grove (well, Lawn Hill, technically) as early as we can. If the roads are bad and we’re making poor time, one car will skip the canoe trip up the gorge and press on to Mt Isa. If the roads are good, we can decide on the spot whether we all stay and paddle.

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Oct 3 2009

Lost Days and Catching Up

tim

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. Sorry about that. I’ve been back on the bike (more on that to come), which has left me pretty tired at the end of the day, and there’s also been some late stops and early starts, which hasn’t helped. I’m determined to get at least some of the story done before I get home, though, so stay tuned.

Also, I’ve realised that my day-count got screwed up somewhere, courtesy of NT-time. I should have just used dates instead… oh well.

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