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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.