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Chasing the Dirt – Out and Back to Mt Augustus by Bicycle Tour

Burringurrah

Burringurrah (Mt Augustus) – The Destination

In July 2012 I had the opportunity to take three months long service leave and my plan was to use this time to challenge myself with a bicycle ride from Darwin to Perth via a mix of coastal and inland routes. Regretfully after only four days of riding through Litchfield National Park and having arrived at Adelaide River I had to bail to Darwin and eventually back to Perth as I had come down with a serious bout of influenza. It took me three weeks to recover before I was able to head out again, this time on a shortened ride of ~ 3,000 kilometres in Western Australia, the Chasing the Dirt – Out and Back to Burringurrah (Mt Augustus) by Bicycle Tour.

This page summaries the Chasing the Dirt – Out and back to Burringurrah (Mt Augustus) by Bicycle Tour, my equipment choices etc and a summary of the tour with links to the section pages.

Chasing the Dirt Bicycle Tour – Overview

I have broken the tour up into four legs to make it easier to get information on the areas that maybe of interest. With this tour I took a bit of a different route through to Geraldton, avoiding the typical coastal route often taken by cyclists. In summary the tour took 40 days and was 2,972 km in total.

Leg Number of Days Section Distance Overall Distance
Fremantle to Geraldton 10 days including rest day in Geraldton 661 km 661 km
Geraldton to Carnarvon Nine days including rest day in Carnarvon 679 km 1,340 km
Carnarvon to Mullewa 15 days 1,111 km 2,451 km
Mullewa to Fremantle Six days 521 km 2,972 km

Chasing the Dirt – Out and back to Burringurrah (Mt Augustus) by Bicycle Tour – Equipment List

Bicycle Set-Up

Surly Long Haul Trucker + Extrawheel Voyager

Surly Long Haul Trucker + Extrawheel Voyager taking a break in the Chapman Valley

My weapon of choice, the bicycle used on this tour is my Surly Long Haul Trucker. The Surly Long Haul Trucker was used to pull my Extrawheel Voyager trailer. The Surly Long Haul Trucker is set-up with Tubus Lowrider Tara front rack and a Tubus Cargo Expedition rear rack. Mounted on the racks and trailer where Ortlieb panniers. On the front was a pair of Ortlieb Sports-Plus panniers and on the rear of the bike and on the trailer, two pairs of Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus panniers. The last aspect of my the load carrying was the use of an Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Classic handlebar bag.

Powering my Electronics

PedalPower Super-i-Cable emergancy fix attempt 1

PedalPower Super-i-Cable emergancy fix attempt 1

The Surly Long Haul Trucker is set-up with a SON 28 Deluxe dynamo to power my lights and electronics. The SON 28 dynamo is connected to a PedalPower+ Super-i-Cable which I had planned to use to charge my Garmin Edge 800 GPSr, Samsung Galaxy S2 phone, Apple iPad 2, Apple iPod Shuffle and my Olympus XZ-1 camera.

Camping Equipment

My bicycling gear list is regularly changed and updated. That said I have kept an Excel spreadsheet detailing my equipment list used on ride (it has been updated based on my experience but still gives a good idea of what was taken and is taken on tours).

Life on the Chasing the Dirt – Out and back to Burringurrah (Mt Augustus) by Bicycle Tour

Sustenance – Water and Food

Ortlieb Water Bag - 10L

Ortlieb Water Bag – 10L in Use

Food: With a ride such as the Chasing the Dirt tour you are not pulling into a town at the end of every day and even when I did it was often coming in around 5:00 PM when everything was closing up and in my case I was not supported so carrying my food was my only choice. The nature of the ride meant that at one stage I headed out Caranavon with 20 days of food on board (turned out to be five days more than I needed). Given the outback and hence the remoteness of the ride and also allowing for the “whoa” factor, I think I will stay here tonight possibility I always carried at least one day extra of food for any one section of the ride.

To help with the shopping at the re-supply points on the ride, I did create a menu/guide to weekly food quantities [Excel spreadsheet] which I have posted here as a resource for cycle tourists. It might provide some ideas on food options.

Water: As with food, access to water was limited with the possibility that I would have to obtain water from billabongs and possibly cattle troughs. To ensure the safety of the water I did where necessary filter it using a Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter system.

As access to water on some sections of the ride was pretty scarce. My planning was on the basis of requiring four litres during the day and three litres overnight, so seven litres per day if I was camping out. This meant carrying a maximum of 38 litres (38 kilograms of water). I carried my water using three Ortlieb 10 litre Water Bags. I would have used some MSR Dromedary bags but MSR’s anti-competitive behaviour (US retailers cannot ship outside of the US) and pricing in Australia (close to double US price) meant I went with Ortlieb who treat their customers with respect, i.e., are not into price gouging them.  Another option which I have since become aware of is the Sea to Summit Pack Tap.

Communication and Blogging

Computing in the tent with an Apple iPad 2

Computing in the tent with an Apple iPad 2

To record the Chasing the Dirt tour for subsequent posting to this blog I took with me an Apple iPad 2 which provided reasonable battery life allowing me to write-up my notes on the road. I also maintained a basic progress journal at Crazy Guy on a Bike for family and friends to follow.

Network Access: I made use of a Telstra Elite Mobile modem which provide me with Telstra Next G network access when wi-fi was not available. Of course this only worked in towns and on highways where there is a Telstra network. For my mobile phone I made use of a Telstra Next G pre-paid SIM card as my provider Vodafone is pretty hopeless outside of the metropolitan areas. In fact for a tour such as this, Telstra Next G is really the only option. Telstra have coverage maps to give you an idea of what you can expect.

For emergency use and to keep the family up to date on my progress and location on the Chasing the Dirt tour I made use of a Spot 2 GPS Messenger with the tracking option (added cost of US$164.95) and the Spot Walla website.

Resources used for the Chasing the Dirt – Out and back to Burringurrah (Mt Augustus) by Bicycle Tour

Maps

With respect to maps I did purchase a number of Hema Map products particular for Western Australia but tended to use the Streetsmart maps. In hindsight I think that I should have used a Hema Outback map book and copied the relevant pages so I had more details.

The maps I used where:

StreetSmart Touring Map – Gascoyne Coast

StreetSmart Touring Map – The Mid West – Outback Gascoyne-Murchison

Hema Maps – Mid West Western Australia Including the Gascoyne & Batavia Coast

There are other StreetSmart Touring Maps covering the remainder of the Western Australia and these can be purchased online from Landgate.

For Perth I just make use of Google Maps and my Garmin Edge 800 maps. Landgate has some free maps and links to more detailed maps which can be purchased online.

Websites

In terms of websites and guidance on outback riding, and in particular iconic outback cycle routes I suggest reviewing extensively GJ Coop’s Cycle Trails Australia. Then go and read his journals at Crazy Guy on a Bike. GJ Coop has two of relevance here, the first is titled Adelaide to Darwin and beyond and the second one is titled Zig zag across Australia. I also maintain a list of blogs and the like that describe tours in Western Australia.

8 Responses to Chasing the Dirt – Out and Back to Mt Augustus by Bicycle Tour

  1. Paul October 24, 2012 at 7:16 PM #

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve just finished reading the Perth to Geraldton leg (but where are the photos). I’ve been looking up the places you mention on Google Earth as I read.

    • Aushiker October 25, 2012 at 9:49 AM #

      The Fremantle to Geraldton leg went live yesterday prematurely. I have now finished and added all the photos and republished it. You should be able to find it here. Thanks for your interest and I hope you enjoyed the completed write-up of the section.

      • Paul October 25, 2012 at 5:24 PM #

        Looks like I was too eager! I’m going to have another look now. And, yes, I did enjoy your write-up – makes me want to get out there and do something myself.

        • Aushiker October 26, 2012 at 8:33 PM #

          Look forward to hearing how it goes :)

  2. mrcharly November 8, 2012 at 9:07 PM #

    What was your total weight, water+food+camping gear? Sounds like an epic journey.

    • Aushiker November 9, 2012 at 7:52 AM #

      This was not a light tour, even though I did try to keep the gear weight down and could have left some clothing behind as I didn’t need all of it. Anyway the gear weight including the bike and trailer was 48 kg. So at the peak weight period I had 20 days of food (I guess around 20 kg) plus a few days later I had to load up with 38 litres (38 kg of water). That was the peak, it dropped off and varied from there, but I often carried two to four days of water.

  3. Ted EW Hughes October 26, 2014 at 10:05 AM #

    Fantastic resource thanks

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