03.26.09

Our House Has Arrived

Posted in Gear that We use at 6:30 am by Administrator

We’ve just got our new home for the next year and a bit. Its a tent from Wilderness Equipment and is apparently so good that they invented another season for it. Thats right its a 5 season tent. I think the fifth season is supposed to be the monsoon but who really knows.
The tent weights 3.5 kgs and fits nicely in the paniers. Its supposed to be a snug 3 man tent but they have to like each other lots and lots if they were to share this tent. It is easily big enough for the two of us but three blokes is a bit of an ask.
The tent is a First Arrow with a siliconised fly for extra water resistance and light weight. The cool thing about it is that you can take down the tent part of it while the fly still stands up and so if its raining the tent itself doesn’t get wet even when you’re packing up or setting up.
Its a nice mat green colour so that it will blend in with farmers fields nicely and they won’t chase us off when we’re camping.
Ooh and my favourite thing is that it has a clothes line built into the inside of it to dry off the bike shorts as we sleep.
It has about forty five thousand zips on it which means that you can open it in 96,000 different ways but that basically boils down to the fact that I’m going to get taggled in a zip at 3 in the morning on my way to the loo and I’ll pee my pants at least twice on the journey. However, at non desparate moments the zips really help ventilation so there will be a plus side.
We’re going to test it in the wild soon and I’ll post photos when I do.
Tc

The tibetan part of the journey

Posted in Uncategorized, Visas at 6:12 am by Administrator

So I have found a tour guide willing and apparently able to take us from Kathmandu to Lhasa and beyond.
The itinery that he has proposed is

Day 01: Kathmandu to Kodari border (Nepal/Tibet border)
Day 02: Border to Nyalam
Day 03: Nyalam acclimatization
Day 04: Nyalam to Beyound Thong La
Day 05: Beyound Thong La to Tingri
Day 06: Tingri to Rongbuk
Day 07: Rest day at Rongbuk and hike up to EBC
Day 08: Rongbuk to Tingri
Day 09: Tingri to Shigar
Day 10: Shigar to 5-km N. of Gyatso La
Day 11: After Gyatso La to Lhatse
Day 12: Lhatse to After Tso La
Day 13: After Tso La to Shigatse
Day 14: Rest day at Shigatse
Day 15: Shigatse to Gyantse
Day 16: Rest day at Gyantse
Day 17: Gyantse to Before Karo La pass
Day 18: Before Karo La pass to Nagarste
Day 19: Nagarste to after Khamba La pass
Day 20: After Khamba La pass to Lhasa
Day 21: Lhasa
Day 22: Lhasa
Day 23: Lhasa
Day 24: Lhasa to after Ganden monastery
Day 25: Ganden to after Rutok
Day 26: Rutok to Sumdoka
Day 27: Sumdoka to Gyamda
Day 28: Gyamda to Beba
Day 29: Beba to Nyintri county
Day 30: Drive to Rawu Lake
Day 31: Pashu to Pamda
Day 32: Pamda to Gyalthang
Day 33: Drive to Lijiang

He will be driving near us in a land cruiser and carrying the gear. I originally thought that this might be a bit of a woose out but then I figured that just riding over the Himalaya was probably achievement enough without the gear.
Its not exactly the most sustainable way of transporting stuff but its seriously the only way that I’ve found that even looks promising to get through Tibet. I figured that the overall benefit of the ride would outweigh that slight addition to pollution.
Other people are also very welcome to come along for that section and if you contact me I can let you know the costs involved (not the cheapest but pretty fun) and all the more hairy details involved in getting you there and to see Everest Base Camp.
I’m pretty stoked that I’ve found this guy and hopefully the Chinese will open Tibet soon and we can make sure that we get through.
Yipee

03.07.09

croatia

Posted in Nics notes on the things that we should be seeing at 10:34 am by Administrator

Geography
Area is 56,542km (that fits 160 times into Canada) with a population of 4,453,500.
currency – kuna
Capital Zagreb,
Broken into 5 regions
-Istria and Kvarner Area
-Central Croatia
-The Northern Counties
-Slavonia and Baranja
-Dalmatia
Its place in the world is Central Europe,

The country is 40% mountainous (sucks for bike riding) and its wildlife consists of bears, wolves, wild bores, Aussie tourists, lynx, badgers (see badgersbadgersbadger.com), foxes, roebucks and chamois. The bits that aren’t mountainous are nice plains and there they farm goodies like maize, wheat, soya, wine (mmm wine) and nasties like tobacco and things that Interpol would love to know about.
The coastline is about 4800 km long and is pretty. They grow lots of stuff there like olives, lemons, vines, lavendar and broom.

Languages
The official language of the country is Croatian but there are three dialects of it. Without the use of an appropriate keyboard they are really hard to write but we’ll make the best effort that we can with a dodgy English keyboard.
The dialects are
Stokavski – southern and eastern Croatia
Cakavski – Istria and Dalmatia
Kajkavski – Zagreb and “The North”

Arts
They are pretty big in the sculpture scene in Croatia but they have some nice architecture because they are in the middle of the eastern and western European influences. There’s a big melting pot of influence in there. That’s about all the stuff on art we could stay awake to note.

Culture
They Croats love their religious festivals with lots of traditional costumes and traditional drinking. As with most of Europe these are packed into the summer months (yay we’ll be there in summer).

Our Route takes us through
Central Croatia
It’s the least touristy region and has been a meeting point for loads of ancient dudes over the centuries. We’re most likely to stop at Zagreb, Sisak and Glina. We’re hoping to have a look around the Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb as it’s renowned as one of the most beautiful spots a dead person can be in the world.
We take a quick duck through Bosnia and then back into
Dalmatia.
That’s the most touristy because it has lots of awesome coastline and people say that it has an Italian feel but without all of the Italians. We’ll probably stop in Dubrovnik, Cavtat and Konavle. Apparently Dubrovnik is pretty swish if you avoid infernos night club and it’s a nice medieval walled city.

03.03.09

Taking the pedals off of bikes

Posted in tips and repairs at 12:42 am by Administrator

It took me ages to figure this out. It probably shouldn’t have but it did cos I suck.

If you are taking pedals off then make sure that you have a proper open ended spanner for the job. I used to use a tiny little shifting spanner but it kept slipping and I stuffed up a few pedals. So I went out and got a proper, thin profile, 15 mm, open ended spanner. Who would have thought that the right tools for the job would have made things easier. Derr!!

Any once you have your spanner fit it to the pedal right next to the crank. To figure out the way to turn it to undo the pedal, try to turn the nut in both directions. The direction that turns the pedals in a backwards direction (the non-drive direction) is the right one to undo the pedals. Then put your foot on the pedal to hold it still and turn the spanner. Presto, the thing should loosen up. Then repeat the process on the other side. Its the non drive direction thats the key to knowing which way to go.

Also when putting pedals back on make sure that they go on the correct side or you’ll really stuff your bike up and cost yourself lots of money.

Hope that helps someone out there.

Tc

Travelling with bikes

Posted in Gear that We use at 12:32 am by Administrator

Rated M (this one has a few rude words in it)

There are lots of people that are shitscared to travel with their bikes or they think that it’s not possible.
Well it very much is possible as I’ve done it bloody heaps.
The first thing is the packing of the bikes and the packing medium.
I know of 3 things that you can pack your bike into

1. The good old and simple, cardboard bike box. The kind that the ‘brand spanking’ new bikes turn up to the bike shop in. They are available free from all bike shops. Well unless the bike shop owners are real tight arses. I have actually had a guy try to charge me once but I laughed and went to another shop down the road.
To prepare your bike to travel in one of those you need to take off the front wheel and remove its axle. You’ll need to leave the back wheel in place but remove its axle. The pedals are pretty important to take off and chances are you’ll need to make sure the handle bars are off and only attached by the cables. To do all this you’ll need your fingers for the quick release axles, a set of allen keys for the handle bars and a suitably thin, open ended spanner to get off your pedals. (See the soon to be posted tips on taking off pedals for which I’ve only just figured out a surefire method) Make sure that the pedals, nuts and axles are tied up tight in a placky bag so that they don’t fall out of the holes that inevitably form in the box during travel. I also duct tape a bike shoe under my front forks to make sure that they don’t punch through the bottom and I wrap the rear derailleur in foam or soft goodies and I stick something protective under the front gear crank. You can then pack the rest of the box with all your other gear, as it fits, but make sure to wrap it in placky so that it doesn’t get grease and crap all over it. Nic prefers the bike box method (comment veto used by nic on what I was going to say) The box does offer a fair bit of protection for the bike and the chuckers (or luggage handlers as they call themselves) tend to treat a box with at least a smidgen of care. Also if you put a nice strap around it then it is much easier to carry. One problem is that you need to use a mountain of sticky tape to seal them up and if you fly through the US the arseho.. I mean.. customs officials tend to want to rip them open then in their lovely manner, not seal them up again which leaves your possessions free to explore as many airports of the world as they can.

2. Bike Bags. This is the current way that we are getting our bikes on and off of planes and I think that they are the schniz dingle. We bought a soft, padded bike bag each for $150 CAD. They can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 and the quality can vary greatly. Ours are a little on the lower quality end (and as such, I got a great deal on them) but with a padded base, special wheel pockets and other pockets for all the goodies they do pretty good. The process to put the bike in the bag is to just take each wheel off and remove the axles from each and then slot it in the bag and zip it up. The shoe duct taped to the forks and some extra padding around the rear derailleur are recommended (Nic’s copped a fair knock on one flight). There is loads more room to put all of your extra junk in with the bike bag and with both wheels being on the side of the bike it means that the whole thing fits within standard airline luggage size requirements and so you don’t need to pay excess baggage for it (well provided that it doesn’t weigh a ton with all your crap wrapped around it). It helps to make sure that the bag is covered with fragile stickers and has “THIS IS A BICYCLE” written all over it as my back wheel recently endured a pretty nasty buckle from the wonderful staff at jetstar when they mistook it for normal luggage and stuck it on the moving belt in Townsville.
The bike bags are mainly good because they pack down into a sack that you can carry with you. As such we can now ride to the airport and put the bikes in the bags in the departures area and then go and check in.

3. Proper bike box. This is the way that will most protect your bike but it is also the most expensive. These little beauties will set you back at least $400 (some are over $800) but your baby should arrive undamaged. (Your bike will be ok too). I’ve not travelled with one but I’ve seen them being trollied and pulled around airports and they seem all the go if you are willing to outlay all the cash to get one.

Also if you need packing tips on how to get the rest of your gear into your hand luggage then please see the marvellous tips presented by couchsurfing guru, polyglot and good bloke Benny http://www.irishpolyglot.com/travel/how-to-take-as-much-as-you-like-in-your-hand-luggage/en/