It’s all about the bike

So here she is the little beauty! She doesn’t have a name yet but I’m working on it…

When this crazy idea popped into my head and I researched routes and bikes and logistics (and yes, I did do a lot of research) I gave myself a £1000 budget to get the bike and all the accessories that come with the bike. 

It turns out cycle touring bikes are expensive! There are a few big names in the cycle touring world – Surley, Trek, Soma, Vivente World Randonneur – with the cheapest one being around £3000, and that’s before you’ve added all the accessories. These bikes come with racks and mud guards and good tyres, but you still have to add the rest. 

I looked around on Gumtree and eBay and there were a few reasonably priced bikes on there. But the problem was I don’t know sydney and I don’t know where any of the locations of the sellers are, and travelling to look at the bike, and not really knowing what I was looking for, seemed like too much of a hassle. I also posted in a couple of cycle touring groups on Facebook. I got a couple of good responses, but they were more than I wanted to pay. 

So my research brought me to Omafiets bike shop and I found this article which gave me hope that I would be able to get kitted out within my budget. I decided, as I don’t know anything about bikes I would be happier with a new one, and at least it would be under warranty. 

When I got to Sydney I went to see them, it’s a great little bike shop just a few minutes walk from the city centre, easy to miss as it’s tucked down an alley! I was helped mostly by a guy called Alex from England – what are the chances! They discounted all my accessories by 10% and fitted everything for me free of charge. 

I drifted in and out of the shop over a few days, test riding, loading the bike with all my kit and test riding again, and fine tuning everything I needed. 

This is what I finally came away with: 

  • Bike: Jamis Coda Sport 17″ (AU$749)
  • Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres (AU$140)
  • Topeak Super Tourist rear rack (AU$71.10)
  • Ortleib classic waterproof rear panniers (AU$197.10)
  • Lights (AU$71.99)
  • Topeak mini morph Pump (AU$44.96)
  • Limar 540 super light helmet (AU$53.96
  • Multi tool (AU$18)
  • Chain tool (AU$22.48)
  • Tyre levers x 3 (AU$6.75)
  • Puncture repair kit (AU$7.20)
  • Odyssey slugger u-lock (AU$44.95)
  • Kryptonite cable (AU$17.96)
  • Aluminium bottle cages x 2 (AU$18)
  • Security Skewers (AU$27)
  • Quad lock iPhone mount (AU$35.96)
  • Bellwether Criterium paddedshorts (AU$89.99) 
  • Accessory strap (AU$9.86)
  • Kickstand (AU$31.50)

Total cost AU$1,657.75 (£993.85 at today’s exchange rate of 1.668 dollars to the pound). I’m quite pleased with myself! I know I may need to change and refine things as I go, but it’s a start. 

As I cycled away from the shop, owning more things than I was comfortable with, I wondered why they were letting me go! Are you sure I’m allowed to be in charge of this thing! The guys in the shop were all so nice and really enthusiastic about my trip. 

The first goal was to get to Bondi beach where I planned to stay for a couple of nights to sort myself out. Here are some things I learnt along the way:

  • Cycling is so fast! 
  • I can’t judge speed or distance. Walking, I know what I’m talking about. Cycling, I know nothing. I did a lap and a half of Centenial Park because I overshot my exit!
  • When the bike is fully loaded it’s difficult to get your leg over to get on and off. My first attempt was a near disaster, I almost fell over but I styled it out, I think! I like to swing my right leg over to get on the bike and I like to swing my left leg over to get off the bike. I’m assuming this isn’t normal. The problem is, the kick stand – which is totally worth it – is on the left hand side of the bike. Annoying. 
  • The wind. This is going to be my nemesis, I can already tell. The 3 seconds of tail wind I got were wonderful, but not so wonderful was the constant head wind. I guess I just need to get used that. 
  • Hills. The smallest incline is really hard work! Thankfully I still have a few more gears to go down into yet. Downhill on the other hand is an absolute dream
  • The back of the bike is heavy. Really heavy. 
  • I have so many possessions to worry about! Hiking was about my body and my bag. Cycling is about my body, the bags and the bike. I own a key for the first time in a while and the panic about where it is, is constant. The lights, the helmet, the lock, the pump, the tools…so much stuff! Also, when you lock the bike up somewhere you have to remember where you left it!
  • This cycling thing uses a whole different set of muscles! The thigh burn is real. And the bum is a little sore (but not as bad as I imagined, which is good) 
  • Walking is easier! 

I think it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. At the moment I’m finding it quite stressful with all the change and all the things I have to think about and remember. I came very close to being taken out by a car door, so I’m looking forward to getting out of Sydney! And while the bike handles ok when I’m on it, it’s got a mind of its own when I’m not on it. While trying to manoeuvre it I dropped it and when I tried to pick it up (it’s heavy), I stabbed my leg with the gear thingy, so I have four stab wounds on my shin. Hopefully I’ll get out of this thing alive! 

I initially thought it was a she, but I’m more inclined to name it a boys name because it’s such a pain in the arse! 

As for the rest of my kit, it’s the same as my hiking kit, apart from a few new bits of clothing. New top, new – very expensive – sports bra (I realised the one I had I have been wearing for 3 years, almost solidly, and needless to say it was quite gross and lacking elastic!) Today the zip broke on my beloved blue puffy. Not happy about that at all! 

Bondi to Coogee

So Bondi is nice! I decided to do the Bondi to Coogee walk while I was there, back to my walking comfort zone! It’s a lot colder than I was expecting it to be, I know it’s winter here, but still, this is Australia

All along the coast it is of course gorgeous view after gorgeous view. There is a bit of a detour in the middle, because of some storm damage, which takes you through Waverley cemetery. Now I’ve not visited hundreds of cemeteries, but I’ve seen a few. This one took my breath away. The photos don’t show the scale of it. It was huge. And the headstones were so elaborate. It’s worth detouring from the coast for. 

I dipped my toes into to sea, decided that all the people swimming in the pools were completely bonkers as it was freezing, considered wheeling my bike down to the sea to dip the wheel like a lot of cycle tourists do, but quite frankly it seemed like too much hassle to drag the bike through the sand, and I settled for standing here instead: 

And so the next adventure begins…

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

I continue to raise money for Just A Drop – they bring sustainable clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects to communities around the world. 

663 million people across the globe are living without access to clean, safe water. That’s 1 in 10 people. A child dies every 90 seconds from a water related disease. One third of the worlds population – 2.4 billion people – don’t have access to adequate sanitation. 

If you have enjoyed this blog, please consider donating a few…pounds / dollars / euros / yen… and together we can change lives.

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9 thoughts on “It’s all about the bike

  1. Good luck Alex! If you are not already carrying them, suggest carrying some spare spokes and a spoke wrench as you are likely to get some breakages with thr extra weight from the panniers.

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  2. Nice to see it’s possible to get a good quality touring bike without paying the premium from the well known names! You’re going to have an amazing adventure…looking forward to reading more!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How exciting! What a different experience for you and a rewarding way to go! Your bum and lady parts will ache in ways you never imagined possible until they adjust, but it’s not unbearable. Yes winds can be the bane of your existence as a cyclist. I once had wind so strong it literally stopped me in my tracks! I was already frustrated and there were tears and curse words, but once the wind stopped me dead, I laughed uncontrollably. It was a much needed break in the day. Tail winds are a gift from the Gods!
    I wish you well on this new journey and can’t wait to read all about it. Safe travels! 🚵😀

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