Preparations

In addition to tackling the road from Melbourne to Darwin with just a backpack to carry my equipment I’d also decided not to take a bicycle with me. If you’ll pardon the pun I wanted to recycle what I could in Australia. In Melbourne there are a few good bike stores which stock good quality seconds and there is a community project called CERES which endeavours to encourage sustainable living. At CERES there is a bike shed which quite a large amount of unloved bicycles and parts waiting for a new home.

At CERES I picked up quite a bit of what I needed, I got a good Reynolds 531 frame and forks(27″), headset, a decent stem, narrow 41cm alloy bars, seatpost, cabling and a few other bits. After ‘misplacing’ some suntour superbe cranks and some shimano calipers my friend Greg came up trumps with some Sakae cranks and Chorus calipers. At this point my total outlay for a bike that is to take me on a trans-contintental adventure was only $14. Not bad going. Wheels was where the plan to re-use fell apart. There were no really suitable rims available and eventually I decided to splash out on some good new rims.

My friends at Human Powered Cycles in Melbourne sorted me out with a really good deal for rims and double butted spokes. I also picked up a bit of extra thick puncture resistant inner tube for some extra padding on the bars to put under the bar tape. A simple and free way to a much, much more comfortable ride. Due to the frame I found having been designed for 27″ wheels there was a problem with clearance with the calipers. Some modifications worked for the rear but the really large gap at the front meant that I had to plum for some old school Dia-Compe kindly given to me by my new mate Val. Thanks to good friends, sweet deals and some small amount of recycling, all told the bike has cost me $326 dollars, or about £150.

On the front, I am putting the rack that served me so well the last time out. I discovered some nice software for some of the Canon Powershot range of digital cameras. This alternative firmware called CHDK allows the user to boot an alternative firmware which unlocks all sorts of additional features like increased ISO sensitivity, shutter speeds and my personal favourite – the ability to run scripts. So I picked up an older model refurb camera on eBay, some memory cards and rechargeable batteries. With the ability to run scripts via the CHDK firmware, mounted onto the front rack, a humble £70 digital camera can be turned into a time-lapse movie making wonder device. It’s got the potential to be a very cool way to document the entire trip. Finger crossed it turns out as well as I hope.

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