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No shoulder to die on…riding in Australia

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

So my bike arrived safe and sound in Australia and after a long hard week of work I had the weekend to myself in and around Sydney. I had a triathlon on the Saturday evening and was planning a long ride on the Sunday but needed to make sure I had put the bike back together properly and that it was working so booked in a short ride in the early afternoon.

The Triathlon was west of the City at the Sydney Olympic rowing basin so I looked for rides around there. There was a short one called Bowen Mountain and something I did want to try out was some climbing while I was in and around the Blue Mountains. There were a few notes about it on the web and it looked good.

It was easy to find thanks to the GPS and having driven in New Zealand and the UK in the past wasn’t too hard to figure out the “wrong” side of the road driving thing. Soon enough I was parked, had the route planned out (about 20k) and off I went.

I instantly got a sense of Deja Vu!  The road is just wide enough for two cars to barely pass each other with little room on either side. When I was in England I find that the roads there were also very narrow and I didn’t feel safe at all. Eventually I had to find a really quiet off the beaten path route where cars were few and far between (although I didn’t expect huge horses!) then it was fine.

I was willing to give the UK roads in general a pass as they were properly laid down sometime around the time of King Arthur when cars were waaay in the future. But Australian roads were first planned and laid down in about 1950 it seems and at the edge of the road there was always a cliff it seemed and about 2-3 feet of nothingness where a shoulder could fit.

So here is my wide general statement on Australia. They seem to plan things around an English model.  While here in Canada we tend to follow American road planning in Australia they took the English model. While American roads tend to be wide with at least a bit of shoulder, English roads are narrow. There is plenty of room in Australia for wide roads, but that just wouldn’t feel like the home country.  I also found that anytime you compared Australia to England you got a mouthful on why that is sooo wrong, then they returned to their Cricket and BBC shows….

Anyways I digress. The road was narrow but interesting. See satellite view below.

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At about 10km there is a turn off to the mountain. At the top I turned off my Garmin as I needed a rest and I forgot to turn it back on on the way down. Too bad as I did get up to over 60kph..wheeee!  But I missed that little bit so that is why the map and elevation graph has a bit of a gap in it.

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Still gets steep towards the end and was fun to do that.  Soon enough was back at the car. The bike worked fine, except I was using my Mavic CXP 22s as I didn’t want to risk my pricey Eastons, and there were sluggish. 

With a successful ride behind me headed to the basin and my 5th tri of the year!!

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Categories: bicycling, Travel

Taking the bike to Australia

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

This year has been a bit grim for business travel. While in previous years I would head off to Europe 2, 3 or even 4 times and usually once to Asia thanks to the global slowdown travel was curtailed quite a bit by my company.

That was awesome on one side, I was able to reintegrate in a sense with the family unit and overall it has been easier. But I did miss the occasional adventure and my folding Dahon wasn’t getting a lot of action.

So when the opportunity to head down to Australia popped up I went for it.

I am writing this upon my return and I will update on that but this is just the first of a series of Australia entries.

As usual thought about a Triathlon. Now in the past month or so since I did the San Diego Tri and I haven’t been focusing on my training much. I was still doing the occasional ride and run, which a swim here and there but waiting for the post Christmas season.  But if there is a chance I can get one in I was going for it. I enjoy these even if I don’t do well. I found an interesting one and signed up. More on that later but this lead me to consider what bike to bring.

The folding bike is great for simple trips and some core training, but don’t think I would want to do a tri on it. So I decided to bring the Specialized bike down.

My local LBS has a couple of boxes and I was able to rent one for $50 for the 10 days.  I checked with airlines I was taking. Air Canada wanted $50, Cathay Pacific was free and Qantas was free as well. A bit disappointed about Air Canada and I have elite status there, but still for $150 return I could have my bike down there with me. So I brought my bike in and my LBS packed it up for me.

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Wheels go in first with the skewers removed.

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Then a layer of form then the bike, with seat, pedals and stem removed.

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Was a bit tricky to get all the parts in and fitted but it worked and off I went.

Was a bit worried about if the bike would arrive, but as I stuffed it into the oversized counter at the Ottawa airport I didn’t see in until later as it progressed from Ottawa to Toronto to Hong Kong to Sydney then on to Melbourne.

Was a bit worried but eventually it popped out and about 2 days after I left was cycling along Beach Road in Melbourne Australia!!

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There was a bit of paint damage where the chain had come loose, I figured that out for the subsequent use of the box.

More bike adventures were to come..stay tuned!!

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Categories: bicycling, Travel