Construction. Ongoing. Finished. Mostly.

After writing the previous post a while ago – almost 2 months now – I had hoped to have done some decent test rides and maybe even a micro weekend tour to test all the gear but alas, “the build” has turned into a Days-Of-Our-Lives-wannabe and is still ongoing.

I was going to go the DIY headset install route but the local bike shop is closer than Bunnings so it won out. $20 later I had a frame and fork ready to go.

So it’s a nice sunny Saturday morning and assembly is well underway, brakes are on, front and rear dérailleur attached and wheels have some nice Marathon XR rubber on them.

Que a friendly visit from the JW salesmen. I trumped their religious rhetoric with my globe trotting plans and they stared on in awe and soon let me be. Sidetracked, I forgot to aline the inner sleeve correctly before installing the left half of the bottom bracket and managed to chew it up pretty badly installing the crankset. Not a fatal error, but frustrating. You can’t buy the sleeve separately so a whole new bottom bracket is now on the way. I’m sure the spare bearings will come in handy at some point.

Turning my attention to the handlebars it was here I came to discover what would still keep me waiting to this day. Jumping back for a moment I had ordered a 58cm Surly Long Haul Trucker frameset. When it arrived the store had somehow forgotten to send the fork. The box had been opened to add the front rack I also ordered so I guess it was a simple enough mistake. No matter, a quick email and a day later the fork was on the way. A few days later it arrived and I opened the box for a quick look. It was black, with Surly stickers, “sorted” I thought.

Back to the build. I had estimated 4-5 spacers would be needed to get the handlebars to a good height. I was somewhat confused when I found I could barely squeeze 1 spacer in with steerer tube to spare. Quick Google later and Surly’s own site had the answer. Wrong fork! So for the past month and a half I’ve been in a shitfight with the store I bought it from – yay for international e-commerce – but so far with no resolution.

In the meantime I completed the rest of the bike, mostly. Brake levers, shifters and cables. Will wrap the bars once I the bar gel arrives. Installed the chain and even went for a careful spin down the street with my super low bars. Add some slick tyres I’d blend right into a road race peloton.

With no progress on the replacement fork I’ve been looking elsewhere but not much luck as of yet. They’re a rare piece of kit. None available here in Australia, can’t find any overseas with a store willing to ship internationally.

Frustrated, I decided to contact Surly to see if they could point me to some stock. After explaining my situation I was somewhat stunned when I read the reply asking for my address so they could send me one free of charge. I graciously accepted but was stunned again when 5 minutes later I received another email stating my warranty replacement fork was on the way. Not wanting to put Surly out of pocket needlessly I turned down their offer, kudos to them.

A week later and here we are. I spent this afternoon finishing off the build. Installed mudguards, front and rear racks and made some adjustments to the cables. Cutting gear cable housing is a bitch! Ended up borrowing an angle grinder which made short work of that; surprisingly clean cuts too. Just need to cut down the steerer tube and add handlebar tape but by this evening she was complete enough to take for a spin. Will be good to get her loaded up to see how she handles but feels good so far.

Looking back I’ve rambled for far too long but its too late, its written now. In other news, my flat mates finally got engaged. Feels kind of rushed after 7′ish years :). I guess I should hang around for the engagement party so I’ll be leaving – fingers crossed – on the 10th January now.

Posted by Aaron K Hall in Australia, Cycle Touring, 0 comments

Ready for assembly

The lucky last package – well, at least, last critical package, I’m sure there will be more/other non-critical procurements made yet – finally arrived courtesy of Velo-Orange. Handlebars, stem, headset (that’ll be fun installing!) and a few other banal but shiny odds and ends.

Borrowed a bike stand from friend which should come in very handy and stocked the fridge up with Löwenbräu.

So now I just have to do is to get this….

To look something like this…

Posted by Aaron K Hall in Australia, Cycle Touring, 1 comment

A Long Journey Begins

Since leaving London in July last year and returning to the Gold Coast I had been planning my escape, back to London, as the starting point of what would hopefully turn into an epic, trans African journey to Cairo via Cape Town. Many an hour was spent researching visas, transport options, interesting places & events along the way as well as reading countless other travellers’ own experiences. Unfortunately a couple of months ago the shit hit the fan and my planned travel partner bailed on me having been wooed by some young, eligible bachelor.

Somewhat dejected by this turn of events and having just started reading The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa, I began pondering alternate plans. Having been a avid bike commuter during my time in London (faster, cheaper and a whole less crowded than catching the tube), the idea of merging travel and bike soon emerged and led me to the holy grail of cycle touring, Crazy Guy On A Bike. With 6000+ journals from weekend getaways to lifetime adventures CGOAB has given me all the inspiration and ideas to set off on my own crazy bike adventure. So come January 2012 I’ll be setting off with a planned route looking something roughly like this.

I’ve just ordered a Surly Long Haul Trucker frame and will shortly begin a crash course in how to build up a bike. I could have ordered a complete bike ready to go but that’d be taking away half the fun. The build up process should hopefully leave me with a somewhat more intimate knowledge of the various parts of my bike and the ability to fix anything when it fails which something inevitably will.

Posted by Aaron K Hall in Australia, Cycle Touring, 0 comments