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!