02.18.09

Chinese Visa

Posted in Visas at 9:37 am by Administrator

Well I’m still struggling to get them to answer their phone at the consulate but I’ll hopefully have good news soon.

Out testing the bikes

Posted in The journey journal at 9:36 am by Administrator

This weekend the bikes will get their first run around the block on magnetic island. Yay for tropical islands to test our touring gear.

We Got New bikes!!!

Posted in Gear that We use at 2:16 am by Administrator

Well I figured that I better start getting down and dirty on this blogging thing so that I can keep up to date on how things for the trip have been going.

We picked up our bikes last night. They look and feel pretty schmick.

We have gone for a Long Haul Trucker from Surly. The frame is a dedicated touring frame with a long wheel base so that its more stable and a long chain stay so that my feet don’t hit the paniers with every pedal.

The complete bike set us back $1800 AUD each.

The only difference between the bikes is that Nic’s is a 52 cm frame and mine is a 54 cm and that her’s is green and mine is the wierdly named ‘Truckaccino’. Thats obiously code for light brown but I’m not that hip with the bike colour lingo. We wanted exactly the same set up so that we can interchange parts when I inevidibly crash or when Nic gets her fifteenth flat tyre for the day.

The wheels are 26 inch rims – I went these because I figure that mountain bike gear is easier to find in remote places.

The frame is steel. I went with that because a) its cheap and I’m a tight arse and b) because people that use it rave about it and people that don’t use it don’t really rave about what they’re on. (Kind of like the mac vs pc thing)

The shifters are simple, oldschool bar end shifters and the brakes are good old v-brakes. None of that disc or caliper nonsense for us.

The bike is designed to be as simple and hardy as possible and the bits that count, like the wheels and bottom bracket, are top of the line stuff. Even I should be able to fix it on the road. Although to help that I’m going to go and sit down with the bike mechanic and learn a thing or two before we head off. I don’t want to be trying to figure out which way to tighten a spoke to unbuckle my wheel on the top of a tibet mountain pass while a yak tries to get friendly with me.

The place where we got the bikes is pretty cool. The bloke is really helpful and trying to get us the best gear we can get. So if you are in Townsville drop into Off and On Bikes on Ross River road.

The funny thing about bike shops is that some of them have a good name but are actually really shit because all that they want to do is sell you the most expensive gear at a ridiculously inflated price. For example, I rang the blokes that import our bikes into Aus and sussed out all the details and how much they should cost and because of the wholesale vs retail thing I had to find a shop in town that would bring them in. I went into one shop and told the bloke all that I knew and the costs and everything and when he looked into it he still tried to charge an extra $200 on top of the recommended retail price. I laughed at him and went straight to another shop.

The paniers that we are going for are the Tioga dry bags. These are 42L each front and back and are cost $400. There are 2 other brands that we’ve found that are fully waterproof. They are Orleib and Topeak. The topeak ones were too small and a bit commuter oriented and the ortlieb ones were $660. The orlieb is supposed to be the bee’s knees of all paniers but I’ll let you know in future updates if saving the $260 up front was worth it.

We’ve now got to go out and buy our camping gear and get these visas sorted. The camp gear should be easy (a little expensive but easy) but the visas are a nightmare. I can’t understand why consulates refuse to pick up their phone and help me. Argh. but that is for another story so I’ll go for now.