Day 27: Still working on Nz travel plan. Plus some nice quotes

Finally finished Kati’s journal. To my surprise, she even wrote me a comment thank me for linking to her log. Wow, how wonderful the internet is. Now, I’m starting to wonder whether should I continue reading other posts on cycling in Nz or take a little bit detour to read Kati’s USA Pacific Coast entry on her first long distance cycling trip from New Westminster to Mexico. Really love her way of capturing the inner feeling of a cycler. Hopefully that’ll give us some idea on what are the typical challenges for the first long distance cycling trip, especially when our own last one whole year long.

I found the following quotes especially interesting:

  • To live the day to day life with grace and meaning, and be happy with it.

  • You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes you just might find what you need.

  • Cycling in New Zealand was just a diversion, a treat, and a discovery of who I am at the core. Well, sort of…

Two others thing we manage to get done are 1) come up with a “wish list” so that one of our friends who has some connection with the manufactures could check out potential sponsorship opportunities for us. 2) meet with another freelancing job opportunities. It won’t provide a big check but still some nice cash to put into our wallet.

Day 26: Start working on the Nz travel plan

Millford Sound

One good news is Oz’s visa office called this morning: “Your material is ready and will be sent to you this afternoon”.  I was so happy at that time that I forgot to confirm “ready” means we have successfully got the visa or not.   Besides this, today is yet another day where everything is moving forward but I just couldn’t get a sense of accomplishment.

Spent most of today working on the Nz travel plan. First read through the Lonely Planet book. Given a 500 page book like that, the most valuable parts are less than 50, with the rest are mainly local business directory.  How I hope the paper book is searchable.   Kati Debelic‘s Cycling New Zealand 2001 is much helpful, especially for all the details like travel clockwise could take advantage of the southern wind from Antarctic; or the Millford Sound has a very high chance to have rain.  Get to Day 32, should finish it and probably a couple of others before I could grasp enough knowledge to work out my own.

Millford Sound and Lake Tekapo both sounds great. But the hilly road on the west side of the south island is a little bit scaring.  We’ll see.

Day 24: Try the bicycle out and plan the trip from Sydney via Melbourne to Adelaide

Since experiencing more diversified cultures is more important than covering more roads, Z and I decided to cycle from Syndey via Melbourne to Adelaide with the returning trip on train.  It could get us more time for rest and walk around.  The train ticket is AU$ 110 for 24-hours ride,  which is a bit high but acceptable. :-\

Spent the morning planning Sydney to Melbourne route.    Based on the route described in this journal: Sydney to Melbourne – Audax Australia RAID route, I had a pleasant and productive morning working out a 15-days plan for this part. Plus, the journal was very well written and fun to read.  The evening research on  Melbourne to Adelaide didn’t go well though. I first followed Victoria’s Golden West quite loyally until Chris the author took a bus to go from Hamilton to Adelaide.  There are a couple of others on crazyguyonabike website that I could continue my research tomorrow.

In the afternoon, Z and I went to check out our newly built bicycle.  Due to the annual Spring Festival railway crisis, the parts haven’t arrived yet.  So only mine was put together. I’m writing another blog entry in Chinese describing the bike in greater detail.  Don’t worry if you can’t read Chinese, just check out the pictures should be sufficient.


Day 25: Oz itinerary – How to plan a 30-day cycling tour.

Oz itinerary thumbnail Finally! After 80+-hour spent in book reading, region research, map shuffling and route picking, here is the 30 days Australia cycling route itinerary (PDF) for you to download. It contains a detailed town-to-town tour plan, with “from-to-distance” information for each leg, nice map and elevation graph. I’m pretty happy with this. Here are the steps to prepare an itinerary like this.

Step 1: City Research

  • Goal: List cities to visit. To get an good overview of the country, figure out you’d like to visit. Like almost all planning, this will be part of an iterative process since in later steps, you’ll always be forced to decide which route to give up .
  • How: Do a google search on australia tourism, read the wikipedia or wikitravel entry for the whole country and major cities you. Or buy the Lonely Planet Australia Country guide book and read the introduction section.
  • Example: For me, I feel Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin are all quite interesting to visit.

Step 2: Tour or Town Research

  • Goal: Figure out how to go to each one by cycling.
  • How: For a visitor, it’s always challenging to get some concrete idea on which route to take and what does that feel like. Crazyguyonabike is very helpful to get the ‘experience’ things right for you. Crazyguyonabike.com is a place to find cycling tour journals. Most journals are well written with nice pictures and distance information neatly sorted out. It’ll provide solid ideas of each trip, like the Princes Hwy could become quite narrow without any shoulders from Portland to Adelaide. Or, in March the temperatures of Marlee region could still get as high as 35C.
  • Example: A quick check told me that I will have to choose between “Sydney -> Brisbane -> Cairns” and “Sydney -> Melbourne -> Adelaide”. Darwin and Perth are just too far away to cover within 30 days by bicycle. It took a little bit pain to compare the two options and decide to go for the “Sydney to Adelaide” one. My route plan bought a lot from Sydney to Melbourne – Audax Australia RAID and Victoria’s Golden West. I also found that due to the wind direction, it might be easier to go from Adelaide to Melbourne rather than the other way around. (Similar thing if you go to New Zealand’s South Island and decide clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. )

Step 3: Day to Day Plan

how_to_avoid_highway_and_calculate_distance

  • Goal: To pull all information together to work out a plan with at least “From, To, Distance” information for each day.
  • How: Based on the step 2’s town research, use Google Map to get the distance from town A to town B. Remember to check the “Avoid Highway” in More Options so that we won’t end up riding on motorway.
  • Example: This route planning process made me realize that even a “modest” route like “Sydney to Adelaide” is still too long to cover within 30 days. After lots of reading and head scratching, I found that in order to cover Adelaide, I’ll need at least 37 days. It was painful but clear that I have no choice to cross Adelaide out.

Step 4: Map Making

  • Goal: Plot the key towns onto map and use elevation graph as a double check.
  • How: Calculate the distance and elevation up-and-down for every single day to make sure that you haven’t pushed yourself too agressively. This used to be quite tedious and time consuming. But with bikely.com, it has become much easier.   Go register an account and start drawing, click each town in the order you have worked out in step 3 and the service will automatically fill out the rest route details for you. By the end of the process, you’ll end up with a quite nice route map and elevation graph like the one showing above.
  • Example: Here are the two maps I’ve created: Sydney to Melbourne and Melbourne to Halls Gap via Great Ocean Way. I have tried to plot the map using Google Earth, but bikely is much more simpler when you have the needs to generate the elevation map, whereas in Google Earth I just couldn’t find a way to do so.

第21天:自行车预览

今天下午3点钟约好大师,去他店里看正在组装的自行车。一进店门,就看到我的车子立在那里。最重要的部分如框架,前减震叉,轮毂,辐条,座垫已经搭好。趁着这个机会给它拍张照片。
选择“跑长途”的车子,不要求轻,但是必须结实,跑上几万公里,不能出大问题。 当然,由于这个车子要被空运到全世界各地,太重的话飞机票就要多出不少托运费,所以也不能太重。整车大约12公斤吧。 此外驮上五六十斤的东西上下坡不能有问题。 这个绝对是技术活,光是车架,据说就挑了很多款才最后选中这个捷安特的,主要原因是车架上有孔可以搭车架,放驼包。

车子的飞轮是金黄色的。配上黑色的车架,很酷。

车架大梁的横界面是倒三角,所有的焊路都是螺旋焊,漂亮。

在等待装车的时候,微风和我发现店里的猫很是可爱,尤其她喜欢自己独占一个椅子,不喜欢挤在人群当中。
微风突然说:”这只猫的耳朵如果藏起来,一定很像老虎“。于是我们两人合谋,给猫眯留了张照片。
怎样?是不是很像?

装上飞轮,变速器,脚蹬后的局部。

装上变速线和刹车线后的前把。注意蓝色的旋钮,是调整前叉软硬程度的。 山地时要软,跑长途要硬一些。
此外,轮胎的宽度也很有讲究。由于主要路面是公路,选择了”光头胎“,与山地车的胎相比,摩擦小,骑起来会轻松不少。

准备国外旅行的”长途车“,除了部件结实以外,很重要的一点是零部件的”可替换性“,要求到任何一个国家的任何自行车店都能找到配件。否则,要出了问题,一下子就要换一整套配件,价钱可就海了~~~ 
对于刹车系统,最终选择的是V轧,也就是常说的线轧,而没有选择碟轧。主要原因就是从”可替换“的角度考虑的。

手把选择了宽型的,据说这样一点点微弱的改进就可以让”跑长途“时的手和小臂轻松不少。

最后,装上脚蹬子。

裸车装好了! 后架,驼包,车载小电脑和其余的附加配件过后装。

我和微风都试骑了一下。

漫长的准备过程,又向前走了一步。

Day 23: Ready for another week

Another day in rest. Book reading and relax. The technician, who is responsible for designing our tour bicycle, just messaged zephyr.  Said that her bicycle is ready for a test. Will go to the shop and give it a try.  There are quite a few responses in the phred.org mailing list, people volunteering suggestions on our route planning. Should keep them waiting for too long.  Will spend some time to come up with another version of cycling route plan tomorrow. (Photo credits to Cyclemania. )


Finger crossed.

Day 22: Good rest

Had a fairly good rest today: enjoyed a fine dinner,  finished a science fiction book, watched an interesting movie and had some interesting phone conversation with friends.

The book is Double Star.  By telling the story from the mouth of a professional actor, it not only shows the inner thinking of an actor, it also opens a window into interesting politics between earth and mars citizen. It’s so true when people said: “All great scifi novels have some deep links to reality. “.  If you have one weekend afternoon to spend, try this.  ( BTW, try to compare the cover of the original book and the Chinese version.  I can bet that the Chinese publisher hasn’t really read this book carefully. )

The movie is The Queen.  It captured what happened in Britain in the first week after Diana’s death. Mostly from both the Queen’s perspective and Tony Blaire’s.  The relationship between the Royal family, especially the Queen, and the government surprised me.  The whole topic of Constitutional Monarchy, the dynamic between the permanent King or Queen and the elected government leader is *just* intriguing. Although it might be something people in UK, OZ, NZ or Canada have been quite familiar, it’s just so foreign to me, someone in a country where the world history was focused in rebellion rather than political changes.

Last but not least, the phone call from friends. One of them strongly suggested us to take the trip from French all the way to Istanbul. “Just to get experience of culture diversity”. Also the shorten the stay in US “since it’s culturely unified”.