Motorbike camping and rock climbing

This weekend I went rock climbing in the blue mountains and camped for one night to test out a new tent that I bought on Friday. You can see my photos here. This is my third camping trip from the back of a motorbike. I’ve tried to acquire some high quality hiking gear over a few years for this purpose.

The tent I bought on Friday is a montbell 1-2 person 3 season tent (link). I walked into montbell in the Sydney CBD on Friday to get an umbrella and they had this tent for half price; they were trying to clear out old stock. The tent was pretty easy to set up, it didn’t matter that the instructions were only in Japanese. I had a fair bit of room inside. My only issue with the tent is if the outside door is pegged down it can make the entrance a little narrow/awkward. It is a 1 person tent but there is plenty of room for 1 person + backpack/gear or a tight squeeze for 2 people who know each other pretty well. My previous tent was just the cheapest hiking tent I could buy (basically it was around the $100 mark) because I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy camping and didn’t want to invest alot then. I was looking for second hand tents off Gumtree but it wasn’t easy to find a 1 person hiking tent for less than $100. On Gumtree most people were selling larger tents or 4wd tents that take up more space/weight. My old tent’s poles snapped the second time I used the tent. I was pretty pissed off with this. Overall I’m pleased with my new tent and I’m looking forward to getting more use out of it.

My other gear includes a thermarest neoair Voyager hiking mattress with an R rating of 2.2, I bought this second hand from Gumtree. This roles up to an amazingly small space. My sleeping bag is a Denali 400 duck down cocoon sleeping bag rated down to 6 degrees that I bought half price at Anaconda a year ago.

Last night I slept in my motorbike gear because I couldn’t be bothered changing. It probably got down to about 6 degrees and I didn’t feel cold at all. Often with my sleeping bag I have a tendancy to overheat but I didn’t last night. The airmattress was pretty comfy, it does squeak a bit when I move around on it though. When I was a bit heavier I’d find my sleeping bag to be a bit too restrictive, I’m glad I don’t have that problem anymore.

I think my next camping gear purchase will be a pillow; I’ve just been using rolled up clothes and I wake up with a slightly sore neck. I don’t have any cooking equipment, someone on the camp site last night had a little gas stove with a multipurpose cup/bowl/mug thing and it seemed like a good light weight option to add to my camping equipment. I might also keep an eye out for some climbing rope and extra gear, I currently have a harness and indoor shoes. I need to get a helmet and maybe some outdoor shoes. I currently use a hiking backpack on the back of my bike whick seems to work well as long as I keep stuff light and to the minimum, I might look into some hard case side storage for the bike too. I ride in hiking boots, these will prevent my ankles from rolling if I fall off the bike but are still comfortable to walk around in when I get off the bike. Riding boots aren’t comfortable to walk around in and using shoes for dual purpose cuts down on space. My boots are a size too large so I might keep an eye out for a smaller pair.

Do you do any hiking/outdoor rock climbing/camping from a motorbike? Do you have any hints/tips for keeping things light?

Most. Stressful. Day.

Let me tell you a story about a stressful day that I had today. I think it’s the most stressed I’ve ever felt. This story actually started a few weeks ago. I was riding my motorbike from Sydney to Cairns. I get up there with no problems. On the way back on Friday the 30th of September I stop in the Gold Coast for a few days to catch up with my siblings for my brothers belated 18th birthday celebrations. I found a nice Airbnb in Miami, I got to my Airbnb half an hour early and I decide to go for a quick swim before checking in. By the time I get back to my bike, I can’t find my key  and I discover I’ve got a flat tire.

Panic starts to set in. I backtrack my steps but I can’t find it. I think someone stole my key from my jeans while I went for a quick swim.  I ask the local pub and surf club if anyone has turned in a key. No luck. I leave my contact details in case it turns up.  I then report it to the police.  I tried calling a few locksmiths but because it was a long weekend and they couldn’t help me until the Tuesday. I needed to be in Melbourne by Tuesday for a conference.

I end up deciding to tow my bike to the airport and park it there for a fortnight and come back later with my spare key. The tow truck guy was at least able to fill up the tire before dropping it off. I was hoping it was just a leaky valve because I couldn’t find a puncture.  At least I got to spend an extra day on the Gold Coast.

Now this is where my stressful day starts.  Before flying to the Gold Coast today I had a pretty tough conversation at work that left me in tears for quite sometime, so I was already emotionally worked up.  I get to the Gold Coast airport and I start walking in the wrong direction for the parking.  I call the parking guy and it turns out my tire is still flat and there’s a guy in a shuttle bus waiting to take me to the parking.  Here starts my second wave of uncontrollable tears.  I eventually get to my bike and the shuttle bus driver was really helpful, he was trying to offer suggestions and what not. I decide to wheel my bike out and have a shot at some roadside assistance.  I give my insurance a call and it turns out, I’m not covered. I start crying on the phone. The insurance lady was lovely she offered to help me with Googling businesses  and what not but it was something I was able to do with my phone and most of the local businesses would be shut anyway, this was around 5pm Queensland time and 6pm New South Wales time.

I’m feeling lost and stranded in the Gold Coast. I panic and I end up giving a random Tinder Gold Coast guy a call that I had gone on one date with 2 weeks ago when I was last in the Gold Coast. I then start googling some near by motorbike repair stores and trying any number I can get my hands on. No luck. Then I hear another motorbike startup, turns out the workshop next to the parking was still open and a guy was starting up his dirt bike. He gives me a bit of air and we discover a puncture. It’s leaking air. I had enough air to ride it to the nearest motorbike store, the store opens at 8:30 tomorrow morning and I hope they can help me. I’ve checked into a motel in Tweed Heads and at least I’ll try to sort something out tomorrow. I know I had family that I could have called but I was already a blubbering mess and I really don’t like crying in front of people, especially people I know.

I guess I have another travel story to share now, this one isn’t that pleasant though.

3 things that pissed me off while riding my motorbike from Sydney to Cairns

Let’s have a whinge about travel, I feel like everyone loves sharing the good bits but hardly share the annoying bits. Let’s celebrate all elements of travel.

I’ll tell you 3 things that have been pissing me off the most on my most recent motorbike road trip (I rode my motorbike from Sydney to Cairns and back):

1) having an itchy ear underneath a helmet and not being able to scratch it without stopping, sometimes it feels like a bug is crawling around in my helmet.

2) this heat. I’m just not use to this warm weather. Last night the air conditioning in the hostel automatically switched off at 10pm and switched back on at 7am, probably to save power but it meant I slept fitfully waking up constantly in my own sweat. Heat + fitful sleep make me a not so happy camper.

3) bugs; them hitting my helmet at 110km/hour sometimes shocking me like a bullet would and leaving smears of gunk on my helmet visor. I find myself flinching at butterflies because they are really loud when you hit them, they never seem to get out the way quick enough and you see them before you hit them. Most bugs you don’t see until you hear them smash against your helmet. And bugs hitting exposed skin, I don’t have much exposed skin but I’ve been hit on my neck just under my helmet and when I’ve had my visor up for airflow I’ve been hit on the checks and forehead. It stings like a {insert appropriate swear word} and makes me flinch something fierce, I can even feel the stings under my jacket and thick riding jeans

So it’s not all sunshine and lolly pops like my previous posts would lead you to believe.

Here are my other annoyances on this trip (in no particular order of annoyance) :
4) highways that aren’t the most fun to ride that seem to stretch forever

5) a noisy helmet that feels like I’m causing damage to me ears (fixed with a scarf or earplugs but the earplugs contribute to the itchy ear and have contributed to a mild ear infection)

6) a glaring sun that gives me a headache by the end of the day (I left my prescription sunglasses at home, I got a cheap pair of sunnys from a pharmacist that I’m wearing over my normal glasses)

7) feeling like I have to constantly go to the toilet because of keeping my fluids up

8) Feeling a little socially isolated but that comes with traveling alone and it’s by choice, I did want some me time

9) Getting sunburnt on the small of my back between my motorbike jacket and my jeans because of my sitting position on my bike

10) Shoulders aching from the days of riding (got a massage in cairns to help release some of the tension)

11) What felt like RSI developing in my right wrist from holding the accelerator on the bike (the 2 days rest in cairns helped)

12) Traffic because damn it, I’m on this trip to be on the open road

13) Road works because damn it, I want to feel the wind and not crawl to a stop in the sweltering heat with all of my motorbike gear

14) Not having enough time to do all of the exploring that I want to do

15) Losing my motorbike key in the Gold Coast – grrr this was annoying and an expensive thing to fix

16) trucks; either getting stuck behind them or the shock of their tail winds as they rush past in the opposite direction

17) Camping and getting eaten alive by mosquitos

18) Not being as well rested as I thought I would be and having high expectations of travel

Despite all of these annoyances though this trip has still been totally worth it, I should write a post of what I’ve been grateful for after this

//end rant

On a side note, I can argue that all of things are both positive and negative because they are all related to the experience of traveling

When traveling, what has pissed you off the most?

Roadtrip to Melbourne – Day 1

For the ANZAC day long weekend, I decided to ride my motorbike down to Melbourne. Why, I hear you ask? To see how hard it it would be, I reply. My partner woke me up at 5am on the Saturday because he was flying down there. He didn’t want to sit on the back of a bike for that long – fair enough, I say. For me it was about the journey and not the destination. I have more fun with corners on my own anyway. So I got up at 5, this was after staying out till 1am the previous night singing karaoke with my boss on her final day at work and after an injury on Thursday which made me think I wouldn’t be able to ride to Melbourne. Oh and I had developed a mild cold.

Sydney to Melbourne

Melbourne is nearly 900km from Sydney

I thought, “fuck it, let’s see how far I can get, I don’t have to get to Melbourne”. So by 7am I had packed my camping gear, food, clothing and winter riding gear and was on the road. My first stop was in Menangle.

menangle

I was freezing by this point and really needed to go to the toilet and I was only 40 minutes into my trip. I stopped at a rest stop and was very glad I had packed my winter gear. I pulled out the winter gear, lined my jacket and put on my thick riding gloves. Then back on the road.

With the camping gear on the back, I had to be more delicate with the way I got on my bike, I had to step on the foot rest, balance my weight and get my right leg over the luggage. I was concerned it would fall over while my leg was halfway over but it never did. Getting off was the same process but in reverse. Curbs and flat roads were my friends for this trip.

I was still getting cold from the airflow coming up from under my helmet, I didn’t have a scarf, there was much sadness until I thought I could use my spare shirt as a scarf. Genius. The only problem that was plaguing me now was an insistently runny nose. Let me tell you, you do not want to sneeze inside a helmet with the visor down. Not a pretty sight. I did not have any way to blow my nose either. The only thing I could think to use was to wipe my nose with my glove. Gross.

I ducked into a maccas along the way for breakfast, I believe now that Maccas and fuel stops are the main source of work along highways. I swear I saw a maccas every 50km and a few times I saw two facing each other off, one for each direction of traffic.

My first fuel stop was in Yass around 11 am, just north of Canberra. Yass is a quant thriving highway town, I browsed a few shops and had a coffee. I thought I was making great time and I thought I’d be in Melbourne by 6pm.

The next leg of the trip was challenging, when I was a 100km away from Albury my left hip started to cramp up around 1:30. I pulled over, walked around a bit and it seemed to go away. Got back on the bike and I thought it was ok but it started to cramp back up in 10 minutes. I tried not to move it at all but I think that made it worse. I was thinking I wouldn’t make it to Melbourne, I was thinking I should just get to Albury and find a camping spot there. I think the last 100km to Albury was the most challenging part of the Journey.

I arrived in Albury around 3:30 and I had to fill up again, as I got off and walked around, I thought, “I’ve made it this far, Melbourne is only a few extra hours away”. My new eta in Melbourne was 8pm. I had a new strategy for the cramped hip, lots of movement. I was standing on the bike, doing bike squats and bike squat butterflies. A bike squat butterfly is where you raise your bum off the bike seat a little and move your legs out and in quickly. I don’t know what else to call them. I filled up fuel again in Seymour around 6pm and actually arrived in Melbourne by 7:30 pm but it took me 20 minutes to get through the CBD to chinatown where I was meeting my partner and a friend.

Turns out, I had parked my bike almost directly outside my partners hotel room without even knowing where he was staying. We hadn’t coordinated this and it was great how it just happened. We had Yumcha and I was exhausted. It took me the better part of 12.5 hours but I had done it, I had ridden to Melbourne in a day.