Sunday, December 20, 2009

More about the Raleigh Twenty

Remember the Raleigh Twenty I got several weeks back? I've been riding around in single-speed mode using parts from other folding biycles.

My Raleigh Twenty

On December 13th, at Sydney Olympic Park there was a gathering of Vintage and Retro bicycles. We met up at the Armoury Wharf Cafe, at the site of the old Newington Naval Armoury site, chatted for a while and then we went for a ride:



Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gong Ride 2009


Yup, I took part in the 90km ride from Sydney to Wollongong through the Royal National Park. This is an official photograph somewhere along the last 15km or so rolling eventually into the Gong. This ride is a new personal best for distance, I covered a total of 95km (based on map measurements). I now wish I rode that extra 5km to make a metric century! My previous best was 47km.


It's a bit of a brave face. Climbing out of the Royal National Park was pretty exhausting. After those climbs were completed even moderate hills made me shift into the small (28T) chainring. Most of my ride training had been on fairly flat cycle-ways that follow the creeks around Fairfield City.


Crossing Seacliff Bridge. The bridge was built between 2003 and 2005 after a particularly bad landslip blocked Lawrence Hardgraves Drive so badly that it called for a permanent road closure. The bridge is a permanent solution for what was otherwise an unsuitable road location along the escarpment.


My total ride time was 7 hours. The bicycle you see in the picture is my expedition bicycle. It weighs 17kg unladen. Obviously not the ideal choice for the Gong ride. It's more at home with 4 pannier bags and camping gear.

Fund-raising continues until November 18th.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I'd say that most people are riding around on the wrong type of bicycle for them. Today's choices are basically the Road Bicycle, The suspension mountain bike or the hybrid/comfort bike. Whilst they can be adapted for use by ordinary people, they are not really ideal for the purposes of commuting and utility cycling.

Some of you reading this might remember a time when bicycles had swept back "north road" handlebars and a 3-speed hub, typically made by Sturmey-Archer. Today, hundreds of these old bicycles are being rescued from garbage clean-ups, tips, old folk's garages, etc because people have started to come to their senses and realise that they are practical and comfortable old machines.

Most people have been duped into buying a bicycle that they don’t really need or want to ride. Your classic roadster can only be given a few modern innovations and is otherwise perfect. There are only 5 major changes in design that would make them absolutely perfect for today:

1.) Alloy wheels with stainless spokes, kevlar Tyres
2.) 7 or 8 speed hub (wider range of gears)
3.) Integrated LED-based lighting system with dynamo hub
4.) Alloy stem, handlebars, seat-post and carry rack.
5.) Lighter-weight CRMO Steel frame.

But the bicycle industry has gone through the fads of 10-speed, BMX, MTB, and now they are just being re-invented with the suspension MTB, aluminium road bicycle and different styles of BMX.

Then we have the variations such as the flat-bar road bike and the hybrid bike. All they are really doing is going back to a few of the good old roadster’s features.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Raleigh Twenty!

Check out my new website:

I have been harbouring a desire to own a Raleigh Twenty. I did research and found that they were in production from 1968 to 1984 (folding version introduced in 1971).

The late Sheldon "Capt. Bike" Brown owned a number of them including one which had built as a fixed gear version. His fixed-gear Twenty later received an 8-speed Sturmey-Archer hub which a gear range of something like 33 to 101 gear inches - better than most 80's mountain bikes!

I managed to score one off the trading section of a bicycle forums I lurk around and it is currently in the post on it's way to my doorstep. I can't wait for it!

Anyway, here is a picture of it taken by the seller:


I have most of what I'll need to get it back on the road. I scored a set of alloy 20" wheels off council clean-up just around the corner from my house (an extremely lucky find!) and a while ago I bought a cheap folding bike for $20 off the internet, which is going to give up it's alloy stem and handlebars. I also have a Dahon Classic III with a damaged frame, so that may also yield some useful odds and ends.

A major advantage of owning this will be that Cityrail is running a trial where folding bicycles are not required to have a child ticket during peak periods any more. There are also a number of technical advantages, but I'll wait until I have completely road-tested them before reporting those here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Macquarie University's Sustainability Fair

MQ-BUG has a stand at the Macquarie University Sustainability Fair today and tomorrow. It runs from 10am to 2pm (I think). Anyway, we had a Xtracycle fitted with a blender attachment and made banana smoothies today, and here is yours truly pedalling. (The smoothies are free, it's just that you have to pedal the bike blender if you want one).

For those who are going to point out the lack of Tweed, I am wearing a Tweed cycling cap (courtesy of rocketfuel) and am wearing argyle socks. I still don't have the wool jersey or proper wool plus-4's that I want, but I'll get there eventually.

Marty, the blender cyclist - am I technically parked?

A well-posed picture of us showing a potential commuter cyclist the cycle-routes around the area. (That is an 80% wool jumper I am wearing)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Convert an old MTB into a Touring Bicycle

G'day All!

Wow! Its been nearly 5 weeks since I posted anything! There has been quite a bit that has happened which is why not much has been going on here, so I shall endeavour to give a good overview:

1.) I enrolled and started classes at Macquarie University.
2.) I had the flu and a chest infection for most of July, so no cycling.
3.) I attended my first monthly Sunday social ride with Western Sydney Cycling Network
4.) I made contact with the cycling culture at Macquarie University.
5.) I decided to keep my MTB and finish converting it into a Touring Bicycle

And point number 5 is the one I want to be discussing most heavily in this post.

Some time late last year (October or November - not quite sure) I bought an Elan X-Country 18-speed mountain bike from Western Sydney Cycling Network. It had been donated some time earlier and had been re-cycled. It was something of a "bitsa" because the left hand side had an integrated triple crank rapid shifter and centre-pull cantilever brake lever, and the right side had a friction shifter and a separate brake lever. Either the front or rear wheel is not original (different rims, but both alloy). and it had flat bars and best still it had a rear carry rack!

I modified it extensively, but the biggest upgrades came from a crash where I badly damaged my brakes and it forced me to upgrade to V-brakes, and also to get new shifters which were separate components from the brake levers. I got Shimano Rapid shifters, which had little indicators which told me which gears I had selected. Fully indexed system! I liked it. My second crash damaged the shifters, and I found that the riding position, even with the riser bars made me lean forward and was causing me pain in both my hands.

Because of this discomfort I relegated the bike to the back of the garage whilst I sought out parts for the Malvern Star Skidstar and that has since become my standard riding/commuting bicycle. 3 speeds is just right for most of my riding because I am not riding up steep hills any more.

I was contemplating selling the Elan X-Country, and looked at saving up for a Surly Long Haul Trucker. I discovered that the frame geometry of the XC and the LHT were very, very similar. When I discovered a sticker which proclaimed that the XC was made from TANGE Butted 4130 CRMO tubes, I realised that I had a real beauty of a bicycle in my possession and simple could NOT let it go.

However, my dilemma has been what to do to it to make it suit my new and more relaxed, upright and comfortable riding position. The solution came to me, after watching several touring bicycle film clips and seeing these strange handlebars. Further investigation revealed them to be known as either "Trekking" or "Butterfly" bars. They provided several different hand positions - ideal for touring, and best of all I discovered that BBB made them and they were in stock at my local bicycle shop!

I have not bought them yet (spent a lot of money on bits and pieces for my 3-speed, bought a "Golden Pigeon" and more bits for a "Raleigh Twenty" which I am going to re-build for university), however, they are $40 and a 1km ride to the LBS away.

I have also discovered that my LBS supplies Tektro, which make specialised brake levers which I am going to fit.

Oh, I have spent nearly $1,500 on parts and upgrades and accessories for this bicycle over the past 12 months, and chances are that at least another $500 in parts and upgrades are going to to be spent before I have finished making it the bicycle I want. The moral of the story is to do your homework, try lots of different bicycles and figure out exactly what you want before shelling out money. I am pretty sure that I could have bought the Surly Long Haul Trucker and kitted it out with the same gear as this Elan X-Country, and I'd have a better bicycle.

On the flip side of the coin, the Elan X-Country is a bit old, a little daggy on the paint job with a number of scrapes and scratches and the stickers are starting to peel off, so that may act as a theft deterrent whilst touring. I'm pretty sure that the handle-bars (with the 5 different brake levers, friction shifters, bar extensions, rear view mirrors and various other components added) will make it look like I am flying a fighter jet, and any potential thief is going to get very confused as to how to control the bloody thing if he tries to ride it away!

(Pictures will be added soon)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Some technical stuff with vintage 3-speed bicycles

G'day All!

I have not been active much over the past few weeks with my cycling. I had a nasty bought of Influenza recently, and I am in fact still recovering from it. However, I've been crunching some numbers and working out what modifications to make on my bicycles. For the purposes of keeping everything simple, I round the final number of gear inches to the nearest whole number.

My "Malvern Star - Skidstar" (Standard straight-framed version, not the distinctive curved-tube GT version) has received the 27" wheels that were previously in the "Universe". The gearing set-up has been a 46-tooth chain-ring with an 18-tooth sprocket. This gave gearing of 52"/69"/92". Rather high, and uncomfortable, unless you are riding in dead-flat country. A larger 20-tooth sprocket will reduce the gearing to 47"/62"/83". This gives a much more acceptable range of gears, even if it does curtail my top speed somewhat. I find that a gear of about 48" is good for climbing moderate hills.

The "Universe" is currently running as a single-speed bicycle with a 44-tooth chain-ring and an 18-tooth sprocket. This gives a gear of about 68" or 69". I have a Sturmey-Archer AW 3-speed hub which I intend to lace into the 28" rims when the opportunity arises (my first foray into wheel-building!) The use of a 20-tooth sprocket will give a slightly-lower gearing of 46"/62"/82" .

With any luck, both bicycles will be complete in time for the 2nd Annual Canberra Vintage bicycle ride in September. This does create a few problems for me. Assuming that both bicycles are ready, I would need:

1.) A way of getting them to Canberra (Free bicycle carriage only goes as far as Goulburn, and after that there are basically zero bicycle facilities on trains).

2.) A friend willing to be the caretaker and rider of the second bicycle. (thoughts turn to Michael, who is a good sport, and would dress up appropriately for the occasion).

Friday, June 12, 2009

More of the Sydney Tweed Ride - 2009

Ah, a lovely ride around some wonderful locations! Picture taken from the park under the southern approach of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney.

On the right this fellow took out the prize for best dressed gent. Picture taken at Mrs Macquarie's Chair, the Domain, Sydney.

Sydney Tweed Ride 2009 - Prize winner for "Most Retro" (best facial hair). Sorry, I cannot remember his name, as he was only known to me as "Mutton-chops" or "Kylie's Dad". A lovely touch is the Gladstone Bag held onto the rear rack with leather straps. Picture taken at Mrs Macquarie's Chair, Sydney.

In this picture we see Betty, prize-winner for best-dressed lady with her Pashley bicycle chatting to a fellow who has brought a vintage Moulton 16" wheeled bicycle. Picture taken at Observatory Hill, Sydney

Prize-winner for best ride was this Harry Quinn Cycles machine. In absolutely beautiful condition. I apologise for not being able to get a better shot. Next year I plan to arrive early and get participants to pose for portraits with their bicycles at the start of the ride. Picture taken at Centennial Park, Sydney.

A lovely young lady with a small-wheeled bicycle. This style of bicycle was introduced in the late 1960's, took off in the 1970's and became something of a cultural icon in England. Picture taken at Centennial Park, Sydney.

View the Complete Album on

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Sydney Tweed Ride 2009

Your's Truly dressed all dapper in with herringbone tweed jacket, argyle socks, standing in front of my Universe Roadster. You might or might not be able to make out the new mudguards which have black and red pin-striping on them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Vintage Ride

c.1950's Universe Gent's Roadster bicycle.

22" Gent's frame running on 27" x 1-1/4" wheels (frame designed to take 28" x 1-3/8" wheels). Unfortunately the only original parts are the frame, forks, seat-post and bottom bracket. It has been refurbished using a variety of second-hand or salvaged parts, including 27" x 1-1/4" wheels, 3-speed Shimano hub, gum-wall tyres, north road style handle-bars and a tall quill stem, mudguards, rear carry rack, brakes, etc.

I plan to put 28" x 1-3/8" wheels into it. I have a pair of wheels, but the rear wheel has a single-speed coaster-braked hub. I have a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed AW hub which will have to be laced into the rim. I intend to use good quality stainless steel spokes to ensure a long service life.

I'd like to also fit it out with a more period-appropriate set of lights and a pressed-metal carry rack. I've bought a set of alloy mudguards to suit 28" wheels to replace the rusty chromed steel ones currently on it. I'd also love to get my hands on a chain-guard to suit the frame as well, but Universe cycles in Parramatta have informed me that they are completely out and not sure when they can obtain new stocks.

How does she handle? Well, with a long wheelbase of approx. 44" (112cm) and a long offset on the forks she's very stable on the road. However, this does also mean a fairly wide turning circle. Stability is a definite plus - I can power up a hill in 1st gear with only one hand on the bars. I can also brake one-handed without compromising the handling (a cause of my second bicycle crash). Stability is ideal in a bicycle which will be used for commuting and hopefully touring too. I can see why North Road handle-bars were so popular in years gone buy - they have such a natural and comfortable hand position. My seated riding position is very upright and easy - the sprung leather saddle has been taken from my retro-fied MTB, which I now find very uncomfortable and will probably sell in the near future.

Anyway, I'll be taking this machine on the Sydney Tweed Ride on Sunday, so if you read my blog and recognise my bicycle, come up and say g'day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ban motor cars and they shall bike!

I hope that this embedding html works:

Chicago's Bike the Drive 2009 from Dottie White on Vimeo.

I recently saw this film clip on this blog:

Now perhaps it really opens up your eyes to how all these individual cyclists would have otherwise been a single person in a motor car and how the roads would have been clogged up! Perhaps its something of a Utopian pipe-dream, but it shows the reality of what is really possible with some investment in bicycle-oriented infrastructure. Most motorists out there believe that there is no practical alternative to private motor transport and that it is somehow abnormal not to have a motor car. As it stands in my life I can go everywhere I need to by public transport or by bicycle with a bit of planning. In fact, I find it far more convenient than driving, as I never have problems finding parking when I have my bicycle, and often the bicycle parking is in a much more convenient location than any car parking.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Update! Sydney Tweed Ride June 7th, 2009

G'day All!

Its been a while since I have posted on my blog - I am not sure if anyone reads it regularly yet - I have one subscriber that I know of. The reason for the length of time is because I rather unfortunately had two bicycle crashes (don't worry, they were both single-vehicle accidents). My first was when my wheel got caught in a little furrow/rut between the footpath and nature strip, and the second was when a small child stepped in front of me on the street. In both incidents I was the only one injured. However, I have been back in the saddle very quickly after both crashes and I am recovering well, though I am back on pain medication for a while.

One thing which is really cheering my up is the up-coming Sydney Tweed Ride! After reading about similar events in the UK and USA, I wanted to get one happening here in Sydney, Australia. Thankfully, someone else beat me to it and got a ride organised, thought it is an un-supported ride and participants are responsible for their own safety and for obeying all relevant laws.

Sydney Tweed Ride Poster 2009

I must also squeeze in here a little plug for RocketFuel who produce vintage-styled cycle caps and other fashionable cycling items locally in Sydney from a variety of re-cycled and vintage materials. I am really quite pleased with the cap I am now wearing. In fact I have a problem with hair - I'm half-Asian and have very thick and unruly black hair. I find that wearing this cap of a morning on my commute at least flattens it down a little to something manageable and if I put it on straight after I shower and brush my hair it keeps it all nicely set for when I am going out. Not to mention it does prevent the lumpy look of helmet hair.

I have no financial relationship with rocketfuel, other than I won't mind forking over some more cash for more of their stuff! The caps are seriously good-quality, and they fulfil my preferences for buying local and/or recycled where possible. Oh, and a bit of good retail therapy helps you get over not being able to ride for several days after a crash!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Honey, I retro-fied the MTB!

It has been a little while since I posted anything here, and I thought it was time I gave a general update on my cycling.

A while ago this was what my ride looked like:(Click to view larger)
My Bicycle, rigged up for Commuting and Touring

And this is how she looks today:(Click to view larger)
My Bicycle April 2009

The main changes are:

1.) Removal of front carry rack (I really only use it when touring anyway)
2.) Addition of second bottle cage to front handlebars
3.) Transfer of lights from front rack to handle-bars (Twin LED headlights work wonders)
4.) Addition of stainless steel mudguards
5.) Addition of rear derailer guard (to protect rear derailer)
6.) New (better) pump mounted onto frame (old one's valve gave up the ghost)

This whole process has given my bicycle a rather retro look. It has really become a wonderful all-purpose commuting and touring bicycle. However, it seems a shame really, because I do want to have a vintage Malvern Star or Raleigh instead. I'll have to move out to my own place in order to collect the bicycles I like.

Do I want to modify it further? Most certainly yes! I'd like to put in a taller quill stem, north road handlebars, mud-flaps, 8-speed Shimano Nexus hub, chain-guard, brooks saddle bags... PLENTY TO DO!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sydney Tweed Run Route Survey

Don't worry, you haven't missed it! Today was a route survey of the Sydney Tweed Run, and I just had to join in to ensure that I could participate, and that I could faithfully tell my friends that it is a really easy route and it'll be a real fun day out.

The Assembled Survey Team, Sydney Town Hall
The Assembled Survey Team, Sydney Town Hall

Bicycle Insurance
Me, with my insurance policy.

Heading Down George Street
Sussing out the Route, George Street (I think), near Circular Quay

Possible Bottle-Neck Here
Hmm... Possible Bottle-Neck Here

Centennial Park 29-03-2009
Ah... That's Better. Now you can see my Argyle Socks. ULTRA LYCRAM AD ELEGANTIAM

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Safety and Awareness Videos

I thought I'd share these safety and awareness videos that I have seen on YouTube. They are specifically for Australian roads, which is great, because most bicycle safety stuff online is American.

Dealing with Intersections

Bicycles and Heavy Vehicles

Dealing with Car Doors

Bicycle Visibility

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Fine Vintage Day!

After encountering a large number of lovely vintage bicycles in a day I had to post up my pictures:

This Gentleman didn't speak English, but he understood I wanted a picture of his bicycle. He removed the plastic bags from the handlebars and put his helmet on for a nice pose. He is riding a Lady's Repco Traveller, in Roadster Style with 27" x 1 1/4" wheels.

Lady's Apollo Capri Roadster. 27" x 1 1/4" wheels, faded yellow paint, which has become a rather attractive pastel shade. 3-speed Shimano Hub gears. I refurbished this bicycle personally, and took great pride in the detail, polishing the stainless steel mudguards, using kerosene to remove every speck of dirt I could and ensuring that the shifter was in perfect working order. I took much joy in giving it a test ride. The feel of the 41" wheelbase, makes me excited, because my Malvern Star has a 43" wheelbase, and I cannot wait to complete that restoration.

Antique Lady's Viking Roadster 28" x 1 3/8" wheels. Dating from the 1930's. Belonged to the wife of a man who donated 3 antique bicycles which have now gone to a museum for conservation. Largely in original condition save for the saddle. Single-speed coaster hub brakes, a very desirable antique bicycle, in spite of the fact that it is a female bike (male bikes are rarer and more valuable). Interesting is the archaic 32/40 spoking of the wheels.

This roadster has the same wheels and brakes as above. Belonged to the gentleman's father-in-law. Handlebars and saddle not original, missing original fenders. Possibly an early Malvern Star - has 5-pointed red star on headtube.

This bicycle belonged to the gentleman. Sadly both male bicycles are missing their original fenders. I have doubts as to whether the handle-bars on this bicycle are original, but interesting is the Australian-made Bell leather saddle - a collector's item by itself. Most unfortunately this has been repainted by the owner's son a number of years earlier, and so it has been impossible to identify this bicycle. Perhaps the characteristic lugging will yield some clues eventually.

A closer look at the Bell Leather saddle. It is complete and in original condition. It only needs an application of proof-hide to soften the leather a little. It is still servicable - the tensioning nut under the nose needs to be tightened. These saddles were made to last and they often out-last their riders!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beware of bad drivers

Perhaps I just had an unlucky morning with my commute to TAFE today.

Truck registered AE-43-UA (NSW) Nearly clipped me as it passed dangerously close in front of Wetherill Park TAFE College.

NSW Road Rule 144:

144 Keeping a safe distance when overtaking
A driver overtaking a vehicle:
(a) must pass the vehicle at a sufficient distance to avoid a collision with the vehicle or obstructing the path of the vehicle, and
(b) must not return to the marked lane or line of traffic where the vehicle is travelling until the driver is a sufficient distance past the vehicle to avoid a collision with the vehicle or obstructing the path of the vehicle.

Report bad drivers at

Monday, March 16, 2009

Going Retro

On Saturday I went into the city to see the Royal Australian Navy's Freedom of Entry Parade. I then went down to Darling Harbour and took a look around. It is a nice place to go for a slow bike ride and sight-seeing. Coming back across the Pyrmont Bridge I saw some people riding along and heading towards a cycle-way which lead into the city. I thought I was try this cycle-way and find a train station to head home. Unfortunately I got lost (didn't have a map of this area), so two people riding vintage Raleigh bicycles lead the way and helped me get to Circular Quay, where I then got the train home. They allowed me to take a picture of their bicycles, which I thought were absolutely fantastic. The male bicycle is a 1977 vintage Raleigh and the female bicycle is a 1967 "Superbe" which was one of Raleigh's top-line models.

1977 Men's and 1967 Lady's Raleigh Roadsters
A his and hers pair of vintage Raleigh Roadster Bicycles.

They were quite enthused to see my Raleigh "Utility", which I had recently acquired. We had a marvellous chat about vintage bicycles as we rode along through The Rocks in Sydney. There are quite a few very good urban cycle-ways in Sydney, which I ought to explore.

My Raleigh Utility at Circular Quay
My Raleigh "Utility", a non-folding version of the later-styled Raleigh "Stowaway". I believe this to be one of the lesser-known members of the Raleigh Twenty family.

I sent them an email with the photos I took, and invited them to the Sydney Tweed Run.

I have acquired an old Malvern Star Skidstar Standard - the straight-framed and slightly nerdy version of the more popular Skidstar GT. It is largely complete, but with a horribly mangled rear wheel. I had to cut the last few unbroken spokes because their nipples had rusted on solid. I have saved the rim, and will have to try to turn it back into a circle and braze the cracks that have developed. If worse comes to worst I will have to acquire a new (hopefully original) rim.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Some of my Trip-Planning Tools

I thought that I should share some of the tools that I use to plan trips with everyone and anyone who cares to read this blog: is a good website which helps you work out distances and is good at suggesting possible routes to travel. If you plot out a trip, it will automatically reate a cue-sheet with relevant distances listed in it. However, it gives no clues about hills, and often provides very little other useful information. has a useful feature in street view which can be used to assess the condition of the roads that you are planning to take. It can also help point out the location of shops and service stations if you are lucky, as this information is often scarce or non-existant. is the website of "The Map Centre" in Parramatta, NSW. 1:25,000 topographic maps are usually about $9 each, and are invaluable for many country trips. There is no excuse for not having an adequate map! They have everything you would ever need in the way of maps, street directories, etc and the ladies who work there are extremely knowledgable. Just explain what you are after and they'll have it for you within minutes.

So there are my three main internet-accessable sources for trip-planning information. Many local government areas also have a tourist information website, and other travel websites contain snippets of useful information. Of course, other online tools such as and can help provide background information about towns, national parks and some camping areas.

Local tourist information centres or stands are also good for gaining local knowledge. I was lucky in that the centre in Picton was staffed by a cyclist who knew the local roads very well and was able to provide much useful commentary about the roads and hills and make recommendations of how to get to the various places on my trip. He even invited me to the local BUG's social ride!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Campbelltown to Buxton and Back 2009

Campbelltown to Buxton via: Menangle, Picton and Thirlmere


I rode down to Fairfield Railway Station and caught the train to Campbelltown. I was running later than expected. I had wanted to get onto the 8:10am train, but ended up on the 9:10am train. I slept in just a little. I got to Campbelltown Railway Station at 9:46am. There is a train at 9:54 which goes to Macarthur (it comes via the Airport and East Hills Line). I got off at Campbelltown to go to the camping store in the spotlight centre. It's gone. A pity, because years earlier when I was in the Navy Cadets I used to get a lot of gear from there.

Bicycle Lane on Menangle Road, Macarthur.

I rode down the Hurley Street to Macarthur Square and made a right turn on Bolger Street then a left onto Menangle Road. I thought that things bode well for me initially, as I was surprised to find a cycle lane and then a cycle path which ran parallel with Menangle Street for some way. Unfortunately, this was not to last, as all too soon I was riding on the verge, which was quite a good quality and width for bicycles. I found most of the next 10km or so into Menangle had a good verge for most of it's length, and I only needed to ride on the roadway proper for short sections.

Nepean River Reserve

Just past Menangle bridge I found Nepean River Resevre which conveniently had a public toilet. A good time to apply the 3B cream to my nether-regions, which I had neglected to do earlier. There was only one bit of a climb which wasn't too difficult and the ride was fairly pleasant into Menangle, where I arrived at 11:00am, and treated myself to a meat pie and an isotonic sports drink. I explained my trip to the people sitting in from of the local store and they had a look in their eyes which I discovered the meaning to later on. They even suggested I ride to the railway station to catch a train to Picton! On my way out of Menangle, I saw that there was a Catholic Church there. I resolved to do some better research so that I could fulfil my faith requirements on a future trip.

"The Store" at Menangle

Out of Menangle there are a couple of scary-looking hills. In fact there are about 5 big climbs over the next 20km or so which took a lot out of me. After about 2 or 3 of these hills was a very long downhill leading towards Douglas Park. I sailed past Camden Road at about 50 km/hr or so (I dread to think what sort of panic I would have been in if I had a speedo to tell me exactly how fast I was going). On my trip back I saw that there were a few local shops on Camden Road, close to the Railway Station, so if you are seeking refreshment, there is a place to get it in Douglas Park. Once I sailed past Douglas Park, I was committed to Picton. There was no turning back!

About 3 big climbs and downhills between Douglas Park and Picton. By the time I reached the end of Menangle Road, I was in high spirits, but my legs were not. I turned right onto Picton Road and made the slow ride with jelly legs into Picton. I made it onto Argyle Street, and I pulled over, and sat down in the shade for a while. A local asked me where I was from and I explained the trip I had just undertaken. He was amazed that I hadn't had a heart attack! 1:10pm I was in Picton, so I did a good job getting there. I mentioned wanting an electric-assist motor on my bicycle.

The end of Menangle Road, and the start of the road into Picton.

Further down the road I saw another Catholic Church and enquired about services at the neighbouring convent. The Sister who answered the door was very generous and offered me a cold lemonade which I eagerly accepted. I then went all the way to the Corner of Menangle Street and Argyle Street to visit the local tourist information centre. The guy there turned out to be a member of the Bargo BUG and was very helpful in explaining the hills around the area and offering advice on the best ways to take. I was there about an hour finding out about accommodation and places to go and things to do.

From Picton I headed to Thirlmere along Argyle Street. DON'T TAKE THE THIRLMERE WAY! It has a very nasty hills which made me almost feint just looking at it. I headed further along until Bridge Street which was mostly uphill, but very gentle. About a kilometre out of Thirlmere, my water supply ran down very low. I was fortunate in a local resident filling up two of my water bottles for me and having a short chat, letting me know where the shops were in Thirlmere. I proceeded down to the end of Bridge Street and turned left onto Thirlmere Way. There is actually a Cycleway which takes you to Tahmoor if you wish to follow it, but this wasn't part of my planned trip. It was already late in the day (about 3:30pm) and I wanted to get to my camp site before dark. I turned right at the round-about, crossed the railway line and turned left at the next round-about onto Barbour Road, which heads straight into Buxton.

The road from Thirlmere to Buxton was the hardest section. Not that it was a steep climb or anything, but after 35km with several steep hills to wear me out, I was thoroughly exhausted. Barbour Road turned into West Parade, which parallels the Picton-Mittagong loop line. I came to Couridjah and rested a while before proceeding into Buxton.

In Buxton I stopped at the local newsagents and bought 500ml of milk to cook dinner and help me sleep (as though I needed any help!) I then went all the way through Buxton and turned right onto Boundary Road. This street has a curve at the end and a small road heading down, which is listed in most places as Government Road. I followed this to the end to a locked gate. Beyond the locked gate is the Nattai National Park, where you are permitted to camp for free as long as you follow hiking camp minimum-impact techniques. If your bike isn't too heavy you can pass it through the gate frame (you'll figure it out once you are there). I camped in a spot down the path onto the right. Don't go far, because there are steep drops around. It looks like one part used to be a quarry years ago.

Dome, Sweet Dome Tent, Nattai National Park, near Buxton

You would never have known that I was there - the art of stealth camping.

Water in a big hole near my camp site.

I cooked dinner on an army hexamine stove (69-cent coles pasta mix). Apparently it needed butter - oh well I just made with water and milk and it turned out okay. I chained up my bike against a tree (force of habit), climbed into my tent and rested. After dark I needed to go to the toilet - great! torches and head-lantern out. Walked some distance away, turned over some dirt and did my business - covered it over with dirt, washed my hands with some disinfectant wash, drank some water and went to sleep (9:00pm).


I awake at about 7:00am. 10 hours of sleep. I gave myself a disinfectant wash in my vital areas and then applied the 3B again. Muesli bars for breakfast. I packed up my gear and made sure that my previous night's business was properly covered. I took some pictures of my camp site, and once I was packed up - you'd never have known that I was there save for some disturbed direct, footprints and tire tracks. A local resident was up and kindly let me dispose of my rubbish in his bin.

The ride back to Thirlmere was easy. It's basically downhill all the way, with a few small climbs out of the dips. "Every uphill has an equal and opposite downhill". In Thirlmere I met up with some colleagues from the Australian Air League and discussed things with them and told them about my adventure. Yes, Menangle Road is hilly. No, I'm not doing it again in a hurry. No, I'm not going home that way either. I rode around Thirlmere enjoying the sights and sounds of the festival. I didn't have much money left over, so I figured I should just enjoy the best of free things in life. The highlight was the gala parade at about 1:30pm.

My steel steed and me, at Thirlmere.

At about 4pm I decided it was time to head home. I took Bridge Street back into Picton, turned right onto Prince Street and then found my way to Picton Railway Station. I arrived just before 4:30pm and had a good chat with the local station staff and a couple of other blokes who were on the station with their bicycles. One fellow was from Engadine and he also loved getting around on bicycle - he didn't own a car any more. He as very impressed when I recounted my travel story. 4:55pm I boarded the train home. Changed trains at Campbelltown, train to Fairfield and a short ride back to my home. Mother was glad to see me. I was glad to see her, a nice bath, home-made dinner and glass of white wine.

Locomotive 3642 of the NSWR at Picton.

Now that I am laying in my bed, typing on my laptop, I think to myself was it worth it - YES. Would I do it again tomorrow - HELL NO! I'd wait until I had lighter-weight gear and had money so that I could buy most of my food at my destination instead of carrying it there.

My advice to anyone else who would attempt this trip:

1.) Be a weight-weenie and save as much as you can. My 3-man tent weighs 3kg's. A Mosquito camping net and fly sheet weigh about 1kg.
2.) Buy your food there. There are shops about every 10km.
3.) Carry Lots of water - I had 7.5 litres, and almost ran out before I got there.
4.) Check the weather. It was over 30 degrees on the Saturday.
5.) When you see a scary hill, don't give up. Once I was past Douglas Park I was commited to Picton, no matter what. On some hills I stopped several times to rest and catch my breath. I made it eventually!

Now that I have completed this trip, I won't moan at the hills on local Brenan Street any more. They are ant-hills compared to what I found on Menangle Road.

According to the whole trip from Campbelltown to Buxton was 46km - which is what I would normally ride over the course of about a week!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My set of wheels

Here are some pictures of my bicycle. It was a re-cycled 26" Mountain Bike I got from Western Sydney Cycling Network. These people save old or redundant bicycles and re-cycle them into useful machines again. The bicycle you see is being used to commute to TAFE, 3 days a week and is ridden to visit friends, go to church, going shopping and also being ridden for the sheer heck of it.

Martin's Bicycle (front view) 22/02/2009

In this front view you can see the Blackburn MTH-1 Front rack with a Tioga Rack bag on top. Alloy riser handlebars give me a more upright riding position - about 75 to 80 degrees, so not quite a true 90-degree comfort bicycle. The gel seat is from Tioga. It's quite good for short rides, but your backside can get sweaty on longer (+2 hours) rides. More breathable shorts will probably help, but the ultimate would be to get a Brooks Leather saddle. Just visible is my front light - the original plastic mounting was rubbish and took a couple of weeks to disintegrate. Now it is just cable-tied to the handlebar and stem. The two-prong stand was an investment. When I got the bicycle, it didn't have a kick-stand. The weight of the panniers and other equipment would make it impossible for this machine to use an ordinary lean-to kick-stant. I am told that this is the same type as what Australia Post uses on their bicycles, which are required to carry up to 45 kg's of mail. I can vouch that they do what they are supposed to.


Tioga one-piece rear panniers. Definately NOT an up-market item, but I have successfully taken all my TAFE books and clothes in these the 6km each-way commute in them. The rack is an alloy touring model from Tioga. The light on the rear rack is a Blackburn Mars 2.0 - in my opinion the best rear light. It has two bright yellow LED's which flash side-ways. Whilst these are mostly hidden by the panniers, the extra lighting is useful for being seen at night. I also wear a hydration pack whilst riding, which carries two red flashing lights available from Dick Smith Electronics for $5 each. The seat-post mounting is rubbush, but they can be worn on your belt, pants or (as I do) on your hydration pack, which they do beautifully. From the rear I am lit up light a Christmas tree, which will hopefully mean I won't get run over whilst on the road!

Since these pictures were taken, I have bought a rear frame bag from ALDI. This was a great little bargain, and now it holds my tool-kit, and I plan to use it to carry a spare inner-tube too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It never hurts to ask...

Well, I have been to TAFE for two days so far, and the bicycle commute is working out well. The ride is only about 5.5km, and it is easily undertaken in 35 minutes. Time for a quick shower at the campus, breakfast and into classes at 9am. Asking around, I was shown a shower in the men's toilets in the second building away from my main classroom and the building I have my classes I found a locker-room attached to another set of men's toilets and even was given permission to use the lockers! Just goes to show that it never hurts to ask.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Going the whole 337km

Well, my bicycle tour has now taken on a life of it's own. The whole trip is approximately 337km from Campbelltown to Canberra with overnight stops in: Bargo, Moss Vale, The Pauline Monks Monastery, Marulan, Goulburn, Tarago and Bungendore.

The whole journey is 8 days (7 nights), follows mostly secondary country roads and if Google maps provides any useful satellite photos, it appears to pass many farms and rural properties, which hold promise for some beautiful country scenery.

I am already excited about it, I need to remind myself that this will be my first bicycle tour, and perhaps a more modest ambition to go to Bargo, camp and enjoy the area for a 4-day trip (ride there Friday, ride home Monday) will probably be an ideal proving ground for my capabilities.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Once you get started on a good thing...

I have just shocked and amazed myself. I went through and Google maps to plot out a trip, which just kept heading south. Before I knew it I had plotted it all the way to Marulan and then Goulburn! Yes, a 205km bicycle road trip! Of course, better details about places to see and facilities in the area need to be researched one stage at a time. It can probably be done in 4 days if you overnighted in Bargo, Moss Vale and Marulan. However, details will get blogged as they are discovered!

Mad Marty's Blog of Bicycle Adventures!


I'm Marty, also known as ~Mad Marty~ for often having rather insane ideas, and being even more insane by planning out and attempting some of them! I am involved in many seemingly-unrelated things, some of which you may find interesting.

Today I am writing about Bicycle Touring.

Now, bear with me for a little while as this is my first blog, and I'm still getting used to all the features and functions.

At the moment I have started planning two possible tours to take via bicycle. viz:

1.) The Bargo Tour

Naturally because I want these tours to be as safe as possible, whilst I start out, Bargo is the more attractive tour. Firstly stays close to a major railway line, and you are never more than 20km from help. Keep a clear idea of what the name of the road is, and how far you are away from each town. If worse comes to worst, call 000 or 112 for emergency services in the area. Legs 1 and 2 on their own could be considered the Picton Tour I suppose. I intend to use this tour as the first part of a longer Southern Highlands Tour - possibly even to go from Sydney-Canberra. I'll let you know when I have conjured such a thing up.

1st Leg: (13km)
The Bargo Tour starts at Campbelltown Railway Station. The tour follows Menangle Road. At about 13km into the trip you come across Menangle. I don't actually know what's there. Since thre is a Railway Station, I presume that there must be some sort of shopping area. Hopefully at least somewhere to pick up some food and most importantly, water.

2nd Leg: (17km)
Back on Menangle Road, head shouth towards Maldon, where you make a right turn into Picton Road into the town of Picton. Now I know for certain that there is plenty in Picton. Perhaps this is a good place to stop, lunch, do touristy stuff and make a spectacle of yourself when you explain to any local or passer-by that you have just come by bike from Sydney (well, you fib - actually from Campbelltown only 30km away),

3rd Leg: (15km)
From Picton, follow the Remembrance Driveway, which takes you straight to Bargo. This section is about 15km I have been told anecdotes that there is a good verge on the Remembrance Driveway, and possibly even some cycle lanes, although don't take my word for it until I have actually completed the tour and have some photographs to show you. I have found that there is a caravan park where you can pitch a tent for the night (or two or three), and if you pay a little extra you can get a powered camp site.

The Heatcote Tour

Now this one is a gem. This is one between two railway stations again, however the distance is a little greater at 22km. You start at Holsworthy Railway Station, go through the car park, turn right and then head south-east on Heatcote Road. When you get to the Princess Highway, turn right and you willsoon find yourself in Heathcote. PLEASE NOTE: Everything to the Western side of the road is military reserve, and it is an offence to be there without permission. LIVE FIRING is carried out there, and you don't want to be in the path of any stray fire. Everything on your left, I believe is crown land, and might even be national park. If you need to pull over this is the side you should do it on. Beware of traffic, as this road is a 100km zone in many parts. Ride predictably, and stay out of the way of any Trucks you meet. I have driven down this road many times (in a car) and the traffic is always light. You'll be surprised to see more than 3 or 4 cars in a row there. This is definately NOT one to be doing at night. I plan to use this as the first leg of a longer South Coast Tour one day.

Phew! That's a hefty blog post which has given me much to think about and research before I post again. As I have said, I havn't done any of these tours yet, so please don't ask me piles of questions expecting expert knowledge.