Day 3: To Gladstone, Queensland's Toxic Town

From Mt Larcom into Gladstone. About 30km, and the weather has turned nicer. It's almost ideal cycling weather - overcast enough to keep the sun off and the temperatures down, but not raining and not looking likely to. But the road is still fairly damp and there are puddles any time I leave the sealed bits (yes, I'm fussy :) I rocket into Gladstone in about 2.5 hours, averaging between 10 and 15kph, just like every other day so far. My gear is starting to dry out a bit which is nice, so things should start getting lighter. I'm also getting things set up, so I know where stuff is and I'm starting to get an idea of what gear is extra junk that I can probably get rid of.

Arriving in Gladstone is a bit of an experience, first there's the cement and lime works (smells alkali and awful), then a trip across an estuary to the power station (huge, with many power lines leading inland), and over to the left is a giant pile of coal and to the right a collection of chimneys suggesting more industry. The town itself is apparently fairly compact, not that I'd know since I turns up a really steep hill at the first opportunity (there was a sign saying "library carpark", so I decided there was probably a library up there too.

Currently sitting outside the library with my gear spread out a bit, charging the battery and drying stuff off. At 12 I have a computer booked for an hour of (free) internet. Yay civilisation!

No supermarket within sight, and the cafes are pretty ordinary, so I'll have to wait for other riders to arrive before I can wander off and get food. Mind you, at 10:30am I really shouldn't need another meal just yet. Val arrived about 11am and wandered off to look for laundry facilities, then got back at 12 so I could come in and play on the internet.

Wow, 40 minutes to check email and paste in about 4 days of blog posts. Happy days.

Day 2: to Mount Larcom

Woke at 6am, it was (still) raining. Quite warm overnight, almost uncomfortably so. Got out of bed about 7am and kicked the rest of the group into life. Was on the road by 8, after doing my 20 minutes of baby minding for the day. It's surprisingly hard to pack up when one arm is occupied by a baby. And the baby was unwilling to just sit on the quad seat... too many dirty things to chew on within easy reach. So we had a brief struggle over which bits of the bike are edible, then I gave up and just babysat.

The weather remains poor for cycling, 10/10 overcast with occasional breaks in the drizzle. Anything you leave outside will be wet in short order so it's a bit hard on the new cyclists. So we're sitting in a cabin at a roadhouse just outside Mount Larcom while it drizzles outside. And I have mains to type up my blog :)

We're now knee deep in our second meeting. First we did about an hour of "are we going to keep riding or what", and the answer was no. Val has rented a cabin, so has Anna. Both are wet, cold and not able to do another night in the rain. I expect I'll crawl out of here after dinner and camp along the road a bit. Then it's straight into a strategy/planning meeting. For about two hours. I'm hungry and well over meetings by the time the meeting starts. An excellent time to pull out the laptop and start typing stuff up.

I wandered out about 7pm during a break in the rain and found a campsite up the road a little. Easy enough, I just wanted to pitch the hammock and sleep. Only real note for the night is that the hammock quilt thing is worthless, as soon as there was a breath of wind I felt quite excessively cold so I grabbed the thermarest and slept on that in the hammock. So there's $100 or so that I need to do much work on the make it useful. I've already safety pinned the cover to the hammock to try to reduce air circulation, and tried to make sure there's loose cloth so the air gab exists even when I'm in it. But I obviously need to work on that some more.

Day 1: Rockhampton to the side of the road somewhere

(25 June): left a park at 11am in Rockhampton after a blessing from a minister and rode to Different Cycles for initial repairs. We spent a couple of hours adding bits to our bikes and watching the shop owner try to make Evan's bike/trailer work properly. Ev took delivery of his new Kotzur bike and trailer the week we left for the ride so there's a few first-time bugs to work out of the system. Mine is working pretty well, I've got most of it set up properly after a month in Sydney. Adjusted the toe-in on the steering and now it's noticeably easier to push the quad along.

Rode most of the day through drizzle (well, the bit from 2pm or so when we were actually riding). We're on the Bruce Highway so there's an awful lot of really big trucks. And in the wet they throw quite a cloud of water as they pass. Comfortable cruise on the quad with a big load is about 15kph.

Val has her baby Hope along and it's not enjoying the cold and wet at all. Towards the 40km-ish mark I somehow ended up out in front of the group with Val, and about 4pm she stopped to do baby stuff. I cruised on a little looking for a campsite. We ended up on the other side of the railway line from the main road, camping in a small band of trees. Trees and prickly pear. Anyway. We camped for the first time and cooked dinner as dark fell.

Covered about 30km in about 2 hours.

Day Minus One

We bludged pre-ride transport organisation from the Peace Convergence that happened at Yeppoon/Shoalhaven over the weekend 23/24 June. The ride starts tomorrow so we're in Yeppoon and heading towards Rockhampton later today. 40km or so, no big dramas assuming the rain stays away and we manage to leave more or less on time.

Georgie had only briefly ridden the recumbent before the ride started, and never with cleats on her shoes. So while we were hanging around the camp she decided to practice doing that. A certain amount of concentration is needed :) Gina rides

Did peace action stuff most of the day. There was the big Peace Convergence parade/march at lunchtime, then the open mic for another four hours. The parade had a lot of people and some quite well done costumes.

... it turns into a giant pineapple.

Somewhere between 500 and 1000 people marched - I was a little surprised at just how many people turned up. peace march

Radio interviews from 5pm to 6pm, then rode out towards Rockhampton. Most of the gear travelled in Robyn's boyfriend's troopy so we could go faster and therefore stay later in Yeppoon. Evan bonked really badly half way after towing the trailer for a while with a flat tyre - luckily the trailer was empty so the flat was just kinda annoying rather than completely tube-destroying. But we should have had dinner before we left Yeppoon, so instead Evan ate one of my power bars. They look like partly-digested ... um, bran, yeah, bran, that's it... kinda brown and fibrous. And don't taste much better. But he ate it anyway.

Once we got to Rocky we rode straight thru and thanks to help from Pete and Robyn in the car managed not to get lost. We stayed the night in a house attached to the Catholic Church (thanks to Evan working for the ANU), then met up the next day in a park for our official departure.


Preparations II

Once again, no photos. Sorry.

Changed the rear axle bearings in the quad on Sunday because they were making nasty noises. That took an hour or so of thumping things at Megan's place but it's done now and the quad is noticably easier to push. Martin also set up the front brakes properly at work yesterday so that helps too. But it's raining quite enthusiastically in Sydney this week so I'm riding BinBike today. I need to buy more stuff, so I'm up for my third trip to Bunnings today unless Phuong has an outbreak of generousity and does it for me. That would also save me money, because going into Bunnings and Coventry Fasteners is always an expensive experience.

Am also piling stuff up in Phuong's shed ready to go. Carrying the stove round to her place last night showed that the tap on the fuel tank tends to vibrate open while I'm riding. Which is bad - fuel all over the place. So that needs to be sorted out. I also need chopping boards, knives and peelers. So more shopping.

My hammock is up in Phuong's shed, so I will try sleeping in that tonight. Or perhaps tomorrow, it's supposed be "gale force winds and heavy rain" tonight.


Off on CANC soon

I'm getting ready to go off on Cycle Against the Nuclear Cycle III soon. Next week, to be precise. Much preparation still to be done. But I have the leave from work organised, and I have a new bike to ride on the tour (new tour = new bike, naturally). I was thinking of taking BinBike but was chatting with Ben at Trisled and got talked into buying his prototype four-wheeler (half way down that page).

The quad carries a bit less than BinBike it's a lot more stable and the load is all in one place. Three recycling bins plus four panniers is a lot of stuff, and that's pretty much what I took to Peats Ridge Festival over new year. That's what the bike will take, but I wimped out and only took one bin in the end I think (it all weighed about 80kg anyway). The quad just has one (big) bin, and that bin can have two recycling bins dropped into it but that still leaves me with four panniers left over. Hopefully this will reduce the amount of junk I end up carrying.

I'm doing logistics for the ride, and right now I have a stove (3 burner liquid fuel, 8.5kg fully fuelled compared to ~50kg for the same in LPG) plus 10kg of pots and utensils for it. Presumably at some stage I will also acquite food, but I have barely begun to think about that (see: stuff to do). I'm probably taking Maurice's wheely bin sound system solar panel and battery, hopefully with a laptop-powering attachment so I can run the laptop and charge stuff off the panel.

Meeting tonight!