I had a chance to reel out 260km between Cooloola N.P. & Lake Mackenzie on Fraser during the week. This was mostly on river-bed rock roads in Cooloola and sandy 4WD tracks on Fraser, but did include some black-top. My bike received lots of comments from 4WD'ers on Fraser. The effective 29'er wheels and 4" 'bag' ate up and spat out the harsh rocky and sandy terrain. There was no limiting where I could take this bike.
This ride was a bit of a learning experience for me with securing loads to bikes (without use of trailer). For any harsh off-road terrain, the occy straps I used for my 10lt water bladder just didn't cut the mustard for the speeds I wanted to travel at. I had to slow down and brake on down hills. Now that's just not cricket!:) Proper tie-down straps with infinite adjustment will be the go. Anyways, it was a good test and I learnt a couple of valuable lessons which is terrific ahead of my 10 deserts cycle epic.
A second lesson is that I'll need to secure things to my trailer. If things bounce off 313.67km beyond the termite mound on the left side of the track, I'm going to be none the wiser with all the shake, rattle and rolling on those harsh 4WD tracks. Velcro, climbers cordalette, steel tie wire (using coachmans hitch), steel banded cable ties and duct tape will be my best friends if things do go wrong "out there".
If worst comes to worst, I may have need to resort to some bush-man stick welding if really required. I'll need to call for help for use of my fathers' 4WD batteries for this though. This eventuality would reduce my ride to a "supported ride", but I'd rather finish in this manner, than not finish at all.
My trailer is still being built and panniers still on their way from Poland. It's cutting it a little fine, but we'll get there. I've received my terrific single person Mont Mondance-1 tent. It's an independently standing structure, so I can easy move it to follow restricted shade if I'm trying to hide from mid-day sun. Also it could be a valuable fly screen to keep my sane during rest-stops. You'll see lots of photos of this from the track.
My father has entered all the way-points for my reliable water bores along the Canning Stock Route, and the couple of navigation co-ordinates for the Simpson desert. Most of the rest of the route will be easily navigated.
This coming week I will be sending off my first and biggest parcel to Halls Creek, in advance of leg 2: CSR. My family will forward other food caches ahead at pre-organised times.
I also receive my solar controller this week. My Brunton solar panel is terrific, but produces too many volts, and of variable output (understandable for solar). The solar controller will regulate this to about 14V which will prevent frying my batteries. I'll be testing all my solar powering this week, for all devices. I love solar power:) This solar charger is of real benefit to this expedition. Night travel where it is required will allow me to reduce exertion, and increase the distance I can cover with my maximum water load. With up to 645km between water stops on the Anne Beadell Hwy on very rough 4WD trials including many, many sand dunes, I'll need every bit of assistance I can muster. This would not be possible if I could only travel in day-light hours. Effective travel at night in the desert due to power restrictions for lights has always been impossible in the past, but not now:)
It'll be a busy week prior to flying out to "the Alice". I'm looking forward to a little sight-seeing before starting my big ride. I'm excited to get going now. It's all very exciting. I don't think the enormity of it all will fully set in till I load up my trailer ahead of the Canning Stock Route; the first of my "big 3". I'll have three weeks of food, all my equipment and spares, and water supplies varying with distances between bores.
Here are a few random pics from my ride Wed & Thur: