Day 22 - The "Shakedown" trip - 2 March 2013

What this I hear you say? Shane's given this trip a name? What, is he angling for a BBC TV show?


The fact is that I've learnt so much from this trip so far, that it is overwhelming. I clearly made the correct choice to not attempt the Nullabor and head back towards home early with a view of staying close to population centres, catching up with a few friends that I missed on the way down and then going home and implementing some of the things I have learnt.

Take today for example. Last night I spent the night at Anthony and Janet's place in Cavendish; whom I have met through Horizons Unlimited. Really great people and they plan to host a HU event in October which should be great. Met quite a few of the local and really impressed by the civic spirit. As I prepared to leave Anthony and I noticed something strange with the fuel cap. In gact the two screws had worked loose; one had fallen out entirely into the petrol tank and two springs that act on the catches had fallen out as well.

Eventually Anthony and I were able to fish out the springs but not the second screw and then put the fuel cap back together. I'll have to fish out the other screw with a magnet on a stick to stop the rattling. What did I learn? No so much learn, but an excellent reminder to check all your nuts, bolts and screws everyday. I will make up a checklist and put that on my tank bag.

Between Cavendish and the next town, Dunkeld, you pass the southern tip of the Grampians. It is beautiful to see and here is a quick taste.

It pas to be careful of the road signs as well. The winds along here are harsh and some road signs are either blown over or twisted. I came across one that was twisted 90 degrees and whilst I was running low on fuel this could have been a real problem. I stopped and double-check my direction by re-aligning the sign in my mind with the direction I had come from and that worked out just fine. Phew.

Back to the name change. Obviously calling it a shakedown trip, it means I will go on another, and another and so on. Here are some questions and answers about the future:

1. Am I heading home early? Yes, but that's no problem for me as I can see that both the bike and myself and not yet fully prepared for such a journey.

2. Will you try again? As for going right around Australia, I'm not sure. As for crossing the Nullabor, riding direct to Broome and other fairly epic trips, absolutely.

3. The original intention was to tent it as much as possible and you didn't really do this too much. What are the plans for future trips? I found that I can't stand being inside the smaller tent. I bought a smaller tent to save weight and space but I am confident that if I pack a lot smarter and also have my friend Barry make up a custom sissy bar that I will be able to use our Coleman 3-man tent just fine. I'll keep the little tent in case I ever do an overnight hike or school camp type-thing but ultimately a tent big enough to stand in, room enough to store your gear and is dead easy to put up is the way to go.

4. What would you not take next time? That's easy. I fact I have either posted home or thrown out over 10 kilograms of stuff and this includes:

 - Four cotton T-shirts. If you use synthetic sports shirts it is much better. Each shirt can be worn for two days without washing, packs down to two-thirds of a cotton T-shirt and dries in a short space of time and looks presentable without ironing. So three synthetic shirts will replace five cotten T-shirts just fine.

 - Air compressor. On an adventure bike I would keep the air compressor but on the V-Star  there is no way I would be able to get the tyres off and so that would be a "call for help" job and thus equipment for this is not needed.

 - Spare jacket. Much better to have the one comfortable jacket and let it air out everyone day. As soon as you've finished riding, take it off, turn it inside out and put in somewhere it will air. Whenever you can, wash it.

- Socks - Buy good boots such as my Alpinestars and you don't need super-thick socks.

 - Big atlas/maps. One book for camping I had was huge and cost $60.00. Once it got soaked due to my poor tent construction skills, it was useless and tossing it in the bin probably saved another 700 grams, perhaps a kilogram. There are a number of free or very-cheap apps for smart phones that do a better job. Also, much of the information is avaialble in the GPS maps. So I'll be keeping my GPS maps up-to-date, using the smart phone better and more importantly, stopping and asking people; especially at tourist information centres. I still have one small map book, B5 size that fits in the map pocket of the tank bag and that works well.

I've also got a few things that I haven't thrown out or posted home but will change and this include:

 - Denim/cotton jeans. Again, I will try some synthetic long pants as they roll down to about half the amount of space and are easier to wash and clean. The same with a single set of cotton shorts.

 - Laptop. I took my Toshiba Satellite i3 laptop because I had some work things to finish up and also wanted to edit some helmet camera videos. Next time I wont' have work things to do or if I do, that should be fairly simple stuff. There isn't any point trying to edit the helmet camera videos as you really cant upload them from just anywhere so it is better to shoot the raw footage and worry about editing and uploading later. Thus on the next trip I will either use the old Netbook or an Andriod tablet. These will be more than sufficient for updating blogs, uploading digital photos etc and will save a great deal of space and at least two kilograms of weight.

5. Is there anything that did work? Well yes, the above list of things that didn't work is quite large but actually many thnings did work well. The Dri-Rider soft panniers/throw-over saddle bags are quite good. The RJays bag on the seat is AOK, but will be better with an upright sissy bar. The rear bag on the rack works extremely well, despite starting life as a cosmetics case. The Moto-Dry tank bay is an absolute gem. Heaps of space, fits on well, it just works. The RAM mounts and Garmin Montana GPS are an excellent investment as was also the large National Cycles Streetshield EX.

6. Anything else to do different? If possible, I would arrange to ride with one or two others, but no more than a group of three. However if no-one else was available, I would still go alone; I think that having one or two others to share and discuss the experience also enhances it. More than three makes it logistically a bit of a headache with two many diverse opinions on where to go etc. I would also spread the net wider of contacts in places to visit a lot wider as meeting people with whom you have a connection, no matter how slight, is a good thing.

Ok, that;s enough words for now. Tomorrow I'll be walking around Ballarat with camera in hand.