Conclusions - A treadling Hyohakusha - CycleBlaze

December 12, 2017


What, if anything, did he learn?


Well, you'd hope that given the length and difficulty of the ride that I would have learned something from the journey.

It's a big country: 

It's a bloody big country (about the size of the continental US), especially if you cut across it diagonally on back roads and outback dirt tracks... I knew before I started that it would take many months to finish, but knowing is not the same as doing. Riding alone for that length of time across that type of terrain - it changes you: both physically and emotionally. I think this may be a good thing, but it is hard to gauge. It also can change the way your "significant others" view you. I think you have to be prepared for potential consequences of both of these outcomes. 

It's a long way between drinks: 

100 km between water points is a long way for any cyclist: 300 km between water points is an eternity. I needed about +20 litres of water to travel 300 km and at 1 kg per litre, that's a massive weight to carry on off-road dirt tracks. Add food to that...

You need a good bike: 

Well, I guess you could attempt a ride like this on a cheap secondhand bike, but why take that kind of risk? Over these distances and these conditions, the bike will suffer, so it's best to start with a bike that is built for the conditions you will encounter that is in good, if not perfect order. I started with a good bike: the frame is a 1987 Kuwahara mountain bike - lugged steel and it performed flawlessly and could do it again. The parts.... well, I did have problems with the wheels and the bearings. My back wheel was built on a Mavic rim and it split near the valve hole about the time I got to Alice Springs. I rode it split all the way to Kalgoorlie, but suffered numerous rear wheel flats along the way. At Kalgoorlie I had my Perth bike shop (Quantum Bikes) build me a new heavy duty wheel on a Sun Rhynolite hoop on an XT hub with 36 heavy duty spokes. Now the back wheel matches the front. My bike shop told me they see many failed Mavic rims. I picked up that Mavic wheel in Chaing Mai and had it built by Triple Cat Cycles. Nu built me an excellent wheel, no problem there - it was the cheap rim that failed. I also ground out the bottom bracket bearings and wore down the cassette, chain and crankset to the point that they all needed replacement in Kalgoorlie.

The perfect bike for this run: 

A new or near new and completely overhauled off-road bike. Front suspension fork, but rigid back end. Top quality front and back racks. 2x10 running gear with a 22 x 34 crankset and 11 to 40 cassette. 27.5 or 29 wheels running tubeless tyres. Deore or above hubs and derailers. 

You need good tyres/wheels: 

I started with new Maxxis Overland Elite tyres. They were pretty good, but susceptible to flatting from road debris. I put my Schwalbe Mondial on the back and that was the end of flats at the back (until the rim split). I also switched to a Schwalbe Nobby Nic on the front for the dirt tracks, but like the Maxxis Overlands, it too suffered from flats. So, in Alice Springs I bought a 2.2" Maxxis Crossmark II for the front end, and that was pretty much the end of flats at the front. And it's a darn good tyre for the Auzzie outback dirt roads. I picked up a matching tyre for the back end when I built the new back wheel in Perth. So I rode Crossmark IIs into Perth. A pair of Schwalbe Mondials would have also been just as good.

I rode 26" wheels on a rigid frame and although the smaller wheel size is stronger it is also more difficult to control and harder to stay upright when riding through deep corrugations and rough ground when carrrying a lot of weight. Next time it might be a 27.5" or 29" wheel on wide rims and fatish tyres (2.2" to 2.6").

Go Tubeless: 

The RynoLite rims are wide enough to convert to tubeless and the Crossmark II tyres are tubeless ready, so when I finished the ride I converted the wheels to tubeless. It took a bit of figuring out how to set it up and several weeks experimenting, but I got there in the end. I've just finished a +300 km ride, fully loaded on a combination of paved & dirt roads and the system is performing flawlessly. I can run them on the dirt at 20-30 psi and on the road at 40 psi. It's a different (much nicer) ride - lighter, better grip in the soft ground, easier rolling and a softer ride over rugged terrain... and hopefully, the end of slow leaks and thorn punctures - Go Tubeless if you can.

Dingoes eat tents: 

Babies and tents and anything else that they think might be edible. Don't ride into dingo country carrying beef jerky: I reckon that's what they were after when they ate my tent - the beef jerky in the pannier inside the tent. It's a known fact - Dingos don't eat vegans. Next time I'll go vegetarian and it will be lentils and cous cous. They have also been known to carry off pots and pans, smelly socks and shoes, etc...

Travel the north of OZ in the winter: 

My goodness the weather was sublime. In Southern and Central Queensland, it seldom went below freezing at night and days were sunny and mild. Apart from three days of rain at Tobermorey, there was no rain until I got to Kalgoorlie. Yeah, 5 months of cycle touring without rain ;-)

And travel the south of OZ in the spring or autumn. I started the Alice to Kalgoorlie stage a few weeks later than I should have and paid for my procrastination with hotter weather than I needed. And I'll ride overseas in the summer. There, I've got the next 10 years sorted...

Now Jeff has so kindly ported this journal from Crazyguy I'll add some photos in the coming days. More to come...

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