week 59...
getting our gear off

Eden, Narooma, Moruya

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Overstepping cultural bounds yet another year...

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you are the weakest link... goodbye!
It happens to everyone, sooner or later. Read any cycling travelogue, read any sponsorship diary... there's always a moment on the trip when there's no amount of duct tape and zip ties that can solve your problem.

I mean, seriously, did you see that cog up above? Those little tips are supposed to be rounded off. Instead, you could probably cut drywall with it.

"Why don't you just replace the chain?" you ask. The answer is this: When a chain stretches, it begins to mold the cogs to its new shape. Therefore, when you replace a chain, you also have to replace the cogs. "Why don't you just replace the chain and the cogs?" Because my bike has four chains and eight cogs. "Why didn't you replace the chains earlier before they stretched?" Again, the cost of four chains, replaced every four to five thousand kilometres, you're looking at a lot of multiplication (though, granted, it may still be cheaper than a single steel-belted radial).

The Fixer-Upper Gang
Mark: Moruya's bike guru. Actually, the entire Southeast Coast's bike guru. If he doesn't have what you need, he'll make it himself.
Wayne: The brainstormer, quick-fixer and steering-rot detector.
Jeff: NRMA welder with the tools and know-how to fix our steering. Bet he's good at changing flats too.
Dino: The Narooma bike guy up at the fitness centre. He had the talent, but not the tools.
James: Merely a phone voice from the Dandenong Superstore. Ah, the power of stickers.
Sure, I can say, "maybe if it had broken in Melbourne when we had 2000km to go, but why here?" The fact is, it never broke, it just got weaker and weaker, until it was functioning as well as a shopping cart. We'd push it to the top of a hill, then jump on to ride down the other side. The truth is, we were in denial. We were sure they could make it. Well, they didn't. Now, we're realizing that perhaps we've left things a tad too long, because we're desperately hunting for parts that don't seem to exist in the Commonwealth. We need a bit of ingenuity.

Whenever your bike breaks on a long tour, it's not the right time. The most you can hope for is that you're surrounded by the right people to help you solve your problems. We always seem to be lucky in these situations. This week we've assembled what is probably the most imaginative, knowledgable group of bike folk in all of Australia to help us get these bikes on the road again. If they can't help us, there's no hope left.
Wonder of Wayne:
Age: 38
Occupation: Watercolour Artist
Main Subject: Australian Birdlife
Robert Bateman

Loves: Alex
Hates: Cricket
But Would Watch:
Blind Cricket. Apparently there's a touring group of blind cricketers. Neat!

meet wayne byard
He's one of Australia's most talented artists, he's one of Australia's most courageous adventurers, and today, he's all ours. Let's get inside of Wayne Byard.

We've labelled you as an artist and an adventurer. Any comments? There's nothing I like better than getting lost in the wilderness. Some of my inspiration for painting comes from what I see on these trips.

Where was your latest adventure? I joined my pal Huw on his City-2-City expedition from Perth to Darwin. I jumped in from Broome, so now I'm called Half-Way Wayne. We paddled, biked and hiked our way to Darwin, all off the highways.

Explain the City-2-City thing. Huw has this thing about using human powered transport, and for years he's been connecting all of the cities in Australia in the most difficult manner possible. Come to think of it, it's not exactly city to city, except for the fact that it starts at one and ends at another.

We know you like the outdoors, but what about the indoors? What's your favourite thing in your house? Besides my wife, it'd have to be the 1986 1100 Harley that I've just restored.

How would you describe yourself... in terms of food? I'm like Pavlova - crusty on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.

What does that mean? I don't know. I'm not sure I understood the question.

Buy a Byard Masterpiece!

Mr. Skinnylegs here, reporting live from the side of the friggin' road in Bodalla. Actually, I'm reporting half-dead from Bodalla. How could those Canuck Bastards do this to me? We were shooting down a hill at a reasonable speed for once (they were probably pissing their pants, they were so scared) and before I knew it - FWWWAAANNNNGG!

My head came off. I'd hit the pavement, bounced twenty feet, barely missed a psychotic Holden driver and now I'm here. In a soggy ditch that smells like cow crap. Do you think they came back for me? Like hell. I think they were waiting for this golden opportunity. I mean, my friggin' head was flapping all over the place. You'd think they'd do something about it.

I know why, too. I could tell that they were getting sick of kids asking what the swollen lump of green goo was on the front of their bikes. I hope they're happy because now they've got a headless swollen mass to contend with. That should make the little brats puke up their Coco K-Pows.

Anyway, don't think you've seen the last of me. Consider me the on-the-spot reporter, except the only "-spot" I'm "on-" is the side of the Bodalla highway. Let's get started.

Tasty cheese? What kind of flavour is "Tasty"? I reckon that's crap.

Ha, still got it.

Be sure to read "I Reckon That's Crap" every week, only on Beimers.com!

*The opinions expressed by Mr. Skinnylegs do not necessarily reflect those of beimers.com. If you have any complaints, direct them to mrskinnylegs@beimers.com.
these are the people in our neighbourhood...

Jeff, Kate & Baby makes three
This handsome little prince charmed us at Alex & Wayne's place. I wonder if he knows he's going to be a big brother soon?
David & Val Byard
Wayne's folks came over for dinner one night and we got to know where Wayne gets his talent from. His Dad, David, is even more well known in Australia for his painting abilities.
Dana & Mark
Sure, they can fix bikes, but can they ride? Apparently so, since they met on a bike tour across the continent back in the eighties, and have been together ever since! Happy travels! Happy bike fixing!
It's another Japanese rider doing the Sydney to Melbourne route. There's so many of them, I think they're starting to wear a groove in the road! Don't forget your sunscreen, Taka!
wally's amazin' tips!
Long live the wombat! Of course I think all wombats should be protected from the forces of evil, don't you? But there's one wombat who needs even more attention than me. It's the Hairy Nosed Wombat. The little critter's on the endangered list!

This Week's Amazin' Tips: There's something else that needs special attention... your bike! Part of my job is to make sure Kevin and Aimee's bikes are running smoother than Skippy Peanut Butter. Extra creamy! That's why this week is Wally's Amazin' Tips instead of Facts! But all I know how to do is change tyres (I spell tyres with a 'y' because I'm from Australia!), so here's Wally's Tyre Typs! (I spelled typs with a 'y' because I can't spell very well.)

Tip #1: Wombats believe that a stitch in time saves even more time! That's why all good bike wombats use the thorn-proof tubes. This keeps out the goatheads!

Tip #2: Thorn-proofs aren't indestructible, so if you really want to keep the goatheads out, take an old, popped thorn-proof, slit it up the middle, and wrap it around a new thorn-proof before you put it in your tyre. Double your rubber, halve your punctures!

Tip #3: I've got one more super duper fool-proof trick to keep your tyres up and running... but I'll tell you next week! Trust me, you'll show those goatheads who's boss! Hee haw!

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!
Distance this week: 220kmDistance since Day 1: 14775km

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Day 407: Leaving Eden
Distance Travelled: 53.5km Temperature: 28
Time on Trikes: 8.0h Water Left: 7.0L
Terrain: Watch out for Bellbird Creek
End Location: Bega
the one gear wonder
There's an unwritten rule that as soon as you start fussing with something, it's going to get worse before it gets better. It's not Murphy's Law, since that's more like "stuff's gonna break whether you jiggle it or not." It's more along the lines of "if it ain't totally broke beyond repair, don't touch it."
   This applies to cars: the mechanic starts fiddling with your geegaw and before you know it, you're replacing your engine. It works with your teeth: as soon as you start flossing after a long floss-free period (usually about three days before your appointment), that's when the cavities begin to ache. It's especially true with computers: change a setting, find a patch to compensate, poke around in the registry, and pretty soon, "format C:".
   And it's certainly true for bikes. The grime was acting as glue. Now that they're squeaky clean, they've been nothing but trouble. The fact that Kevin introduced his derailleur to a very deep curb today didn't help matters either.
   After hobbling along for about twenty kilometres with a broken derailleur and the inability to shift gears, we decided that one gear is better than no gears. Off came the derailleur, and on goes the fixed-wheel. One loop, right around gear #2. Hey, if the BMX guy last week can do it, so can we.
   As a side note, even though we were a mere 6km outside of Eden when all of this occurred, we didn't even consider going back. We're not really "go back" people.

"I'm pedalling! Look at meeeeeeeee!"
- Kevin, post-modification.
Day 408: Chain of Fools
Distance Travelled: 57.1km Temperature: 29
Time on Trikes: 7.5h Water Left: 9.0L
Terrain: The hills get bigger
End Location: Cobargo
one gear years
The McGyver brainstorm of making Kev's bike a recumbent BMX wore out its welcome quickly. At first, we were thrilled because Kev's chain was no longer skipping as much. Not at all, actually. That's because when Kevin reset the chain yesterday, he wedged it on so tight it practically played a high-C when he twanged it. The chain was obviously too tight.
   So we tried to move the chain down a gear and take out a couple of links. About four chain-breaks later, we had a system that somewhat worked. Except, now Kev's bike was locked onto the fifth gear rather than the second. Not much of an improvement, since it was too high to go uphills anyway, but at least he could keep up on the flat roads. Not that there were any flat roads.
   In fact, all of these repairs occured on the tiny patch of grass on the side of a very curvy, dangerous road. What else could we expect? We're daredevils! Rowr!
   In compensation, we managed to crack our top speed ever... 72km/h! Double rowr! Not that it does us much good when we climbed the hill at 2km/h. Stupid gears.

"That certainly proves that we can do fifty kilometres on any day."
- Kevin.
Day 409: Dino, Dino, Fix My Machine-o
Distance Travelled: 38.1km Temperature: 27
Time on Trikes: 5.5h Water Left: 4.5L
Terrain: Enough!
End Location: Narooma Caravan Park
gear up for indoors
That's it. We've been done in. The only thing we're laughing at now is our inane ability to make corny 'gear' puns. And this one's not even that funny, unless you're from Thunder Bay, and even then.
   We admit that we need professional help (keep the snappy comebacks to yourself), so we've pushed our way into Narooma to find it. Narooma has a bike shop. Sure, we didn't really expect to find it at the squash court, but we'll take it as it comes. We're in no position to argue.
   The guys at the Narooma Bike Shop really have to be commended. They've gone where no man has gone before: in-into the rear clusters. Those things haven't left the bikes since the beginning (and like we said, neither had the chains), but Dino was the first to crack the seal with a lock nut.
   Consider the boys at the Narooma Fitness Centre to be your General Practitioner: they've got tongue depressors and stethoscopes, and can correctly analyze your symptoms. But our bike wasn't a matter of "take two and call me in the morning." We needed a specialist...

"Don't hop off yet; we've gone 3.8km without pushing
and I'm shooting for a solid 4."
- Kevin.
Day 410: The Old Grind
Distance Travelled: 1.3km Temperature: 27
Time on Trikes: 0.5h Water Left: 0.0L
Terrain: Still had to push
End Location: Wayne & Alex's, Narooma
in the right direction
In an effort to help us with our woes, we've been taken in by Alex and Wayne, a couple of adventurous sorts who know a good charity case when they see one.
   The first matter at hand today was to report to the bike surgeon: Mark at Moruya Bicycles. We couldn't bring the whole bike, so we merely brought a wheel for a diagnosis. What did the doctor say? Well, he had good news and bad news. The good news: the cluster is compatible with Shimano. The bad news: what the hell is a Surly 16-tooth track cog? But that's a story for tomorrow.
   In the mean time, Wayne gave the bikes a full physical, and found out that our steering was a baby-step away from total disintegration. If you can just picture us flying down a hill, heaving the lever on a left turn, and, in true Hollywood style, having the lever come off in my hand. It would be almost funny if it happened to someone else, like, the Coyote, or Rob Schneider. Luckily, Wayne called Jeff. Everybody needs a friend like Jeff. He has an angle grinder and a welding torch.
   Sidenote: So far this week, the following tools have been used on our dear bikes... angle grinder, welding torch, chain whip, giant adjustable spanner, vice, chainbreaker, hammers (traditional, sledge and ballpein), and the entire range of allen keys.

"If I don't hear a sizzle, I'm not getting up."
- Kevin.
Day 411: Granny Gear
Distance Travelled: 0.0km Temperature: 27
End Location: Wayne & Alex's
Except, in an operation like this, the scrubbing comes afterward.
   We've determined that the rear chain has worn away at about four times the rate of the front chain. The chain bends almost as easily to the left and right as it does forward and back. The rear cluster has sharpened enough for use in a Grade 8 woodshop class. And it wiggles.
   But, thankfully, they come off at the base, and a Shimano slaps on where a Sunrace once occupied (Sunrace? what's Sunrace?). The cluster is easy, the chain is easy, but what to do about the track cog?
   A brainstorm from Wayne saves the day. Penninger thought ahead by making the thread of the track cog equal to the thread of your everyday BMX bike (see? We are slowly turning into a BMX). What could have been a $50 part shipped from America (for an extra $100, no doubt) became a $16 BMX freewheel hub. Screw, screw, screw, fixed! That's a dollar per tooth, thanks!
   And now, the bikes are good as n-- well, let's just say they're good as. By the way, here's what they looked like after all the modifications were completed.

"Put the chain guage down and step away from the left side of the bikes. Aimee, drape a rag over the right chain. That's right, nice & easy."
- Kevin.
Day 412: Which Way to the Leftorium?
Distance Travelled: 0.0km Temperature: 27
End Location: Wayne & Alex's
one armed bandits
We've talked about them, now let's meet them. This is Wayne and Alex. Alex has a broken right arm. Wayne has a broken right arm.
   It didn't happen at the same time. Alex fell off her horse a few days ago, while Wayne had a landscaping accident chucking a big fat rock out of their garden almost a month prior. In any case, these poor clumsy suckers are getting harassed every time they go out in public. (Hmmm. Sounds familiar.)
   Harassed? How? Well, the same unoriginal dork-wads who like to tell us we're not pedalling are asking them who cuts their meat. They try not to go out at the same time for fear of hearing the same tired jokes over and over. (That does sound familiar!)
   Think you're more clever than the average dork-wad?

What would you say to Alex and Wayne?

Wow, I'm clever!

"Sorry, but did you guys have an arm wrestling accident or something?"
- Kevin's attempt (actually quipped back on Wed night).
Day 413: Better than a broken leg
Distance Travelled: 70.1km Temperature: 29
Time on Trikes: 7.0h Water Left: 6.0L
Terrain: Hilly, but manageable, thanks to Moruya Bicycles!
End Location: Batehaven
going for broke
There have been many days on this trip that I've considered the benefits of breaking a limb instead of continuing on. I see now that it would have been pointless.
   We gave Alex a go on the bikes this morning and even with a broken arm, she put me to shame. She pedalled faster, sang louder and she practically beat our speed limit - all single limbed. To top it all off, she was even mistaken for me when a car pulled up and the passenger jumped out yelling "Are you Aimee?" Not knowing if being me was a good thing or a bad thing, she denied it.
   I'm starting to think that I don't need to break a limb at all, I just need to quietly walk away while Alex keeps on pedalling.

"I feel like I'm sleeping in Picasso's basement."
- Aimee.
granny gear: (sl.) the absolute lowest possible gear on your bike, the one where your feet spin faster than the wheels, allowing you to climb a sheer cliff with veritable ease.
"Sure, we can climb this. Just pop 'er into granny gear!"

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© 2003 Kevin & Aimee Beimers. A serious case of clusterfun.