Monday, March 30, 2015


Below is a speech made by the Australian Author Tim Winton regarding the cruel treatment of refugees under Australian Immigration Detention laws.. I have spent time with refugees in the Darwin camps and I have seen the suffering our Country has caused.
 I have witnessed the wrong doing of my Government, it's policies and its agents and I reject them! 

Palm Sunday event Nightcliff Jetty (image courtesy of DASSAN facebook)

Until we are all free , none of us are free

" To those in power who say they're exiling and caging children for their own good, I say we've heard that nonsense before. So, don't do it in my name.
To those who say they're prolonging misery to save life, I say I've heard that nonsense before. You don't speak for me; I don't recognise your perverse accountancy.
To those in power who say the means will justify the end, I say I've heard that nonsense before. It's the tyrant's lie. Don't you dare utter it in my name.
To those who say this matter is resolved, I say no. For pity's sake, no. For the love of God, no. A settlement built on suffering will never be settled. An economy built on cruelty is a swindle. A sense of comfort built upon the crushed spirits of children is but a delusion that feeds ghosts and unleashes fresh terrors.
If current refugee policy is common sense, then I refuse to accept it. I dissent. And many of my countrymen and women dissent alongside me..
Because the secret won't hold. It's out already. There are witnesses. There will be testimony. We will remember. In another time, and very soon, I think, our common sense will be nonsense. And you'll have to ask yourself, was it worth it? This false piece of mind, this stopping of the boats. Was it worth the price paid in human suffering? You're not alone; the rest of us will have to face it, too.
We're losing our way. We have hardened our hearts. I fear we have devalued the currency of mercy. Children have asked for bread and we gave them stones. So turn back. I beg you. For the children's sake. For the sake of this nation's spirit. Raise us back up to our best selves. Turn back while there's still time."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What's so special about my long bike?

I keep posting about this bike because after 7 years of riding with the Xtracycle FreeRacial system attached to my bike I still find it an amazingly versatile and useful machine!

Xtracycle fitted
My Xtracycle back in 2008
Xtracycle have lead the way in longtail cargo bikes and various other bicycle innovations. The FreeRadical has undergone some changes since I bought mine and now it seems they've discontinued production but... are in the process of developing a new design called The Leap, (It seems MegaRack has been dropped). Check their website for some great videos documenting the history of the Xtracycle. HERE

 Here's Ross Evans CEO and designer of the Xtracycle to talk about production of TheLeap

If you want to see some Xtracycle longtail bikes in action check out Riding The Spine.
There are weaknesses in the design of the original FreeRadical and it does have weak points but I've never had any problems at all. I have carried some seriously heavy loads and have been a bit worried about the strength of the forward mount but it's held out so far.

I believe the main reason my rig has lasted so long is the frame I've attached the kit to. This 1990s steel Raleigh frame is a standard diamond design with the old style bracket across the chain stays which suits the FreeRadical kit design perfectly. I'd love to get into the nitty gritty of the versatility of this bike, how many kms I've done, how effective this bike is at carying loads commuting etc... etc... Maybe some other time...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

FreeLoaders welcome

Last year when I went to Melbourne to join the Great Victorian Bike ride I dropped into the Cargocycles store in Collingwood, where I met the owner and he showed me his awesome collection of electric cargo bikes and other useful stuff we don't see here in Darwin.

The reason for my visit was to get replacement bags for my Xtracycle, not many places in Australia stock them. I think the bags (called FreeLoaders) may have gone out of production. I would have liked to have tried to make my own but I haven't used a sewing machine in years, don't have a sewing machine and don't have the time so... I ordered a new set from Garry at Cargocycles and stuffed them into my crowded tool shed until the bike was ready.

Long bike with FreeLoaders attached

Now that I've got a new bottom bracket, the bike is ready. FreeLoaders attached. Ready for some cargo hauling action!

First ride with the new BB, Drive train is much stronger than before but I need a new gear shifter and cable.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Blog traffic spikes!

Blog stats.... specifically blog traffic stats... Some times I check them to see if anyone visits my blog... I mean anyone at all.

I'm not much into flattery or false hope or the 1,000s of other forms of self deception which comes from wanting the approval of others. I've just about trained the old Ego not to mind that I don't get too many actual readers here... but as I confessed, from time to time I do like to check if there has been any traffic. Unfortunately I'm beginning to wonder if there's any point to checking the stats on my blog. It seems each month my blogs register serious spikes in page views. 

Below are two screen shots one of weekly the other monthly page view stats. I won't embarrass myself by showing the number of views these represent, (It's not important OK!) just look at the discrepancies in volume.

Weekly stats spike on a single day
Monthly stats with spikes at around the same date across two months
 I used to get occasional spam but they dropped off when I started moderating the comments. But now I'm wondering if these are bot attacks or... something else that's weird. Definitely looks like some kind of spying behavior. What do you think?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Four days out

Back into the air....

One week back from Alice Springs and I was on my way again! This time across to Bali.
This may sound crazy but I have a perfectly legitimate excuse for a 4 day jaunt to Indonesia, I simply couldn't afford Not to go! Why?
Well the thing is that years of self abuse have caused me to have not so good teeth. Yes teeth... And what's this got to do with the tropical paradise Island of Bali? (OK it's not such the paradise it used to be but hell, once Bali gets under your skin you just can't shake the place!)
At home I can't afford to see a private dentist so I tend to go to the public dental clinic when I have a problem with my teeth. I get pretty good treatment there by student dentists but they cannot do major work.
I had a broken molar which needed a crown ($1,500 - $2,000 AUD) the only option I thought I could afford was to have it pulled at the clinic, leaving me with nothing to chomp with on my right side. I had to find another option I could afford. This brought me to option C... Indonesia!

Palloma Hotel

To cut a long story short, I found some very cheap tickets, booked them and flew over last Sunday night. I arrived in the new Ngura Rai airport at 2am (It's fricking huge!), got to my hotel in pretty good time (low season 2am is the best time to travel!) and headed off to Denpasar with a local friend in the morning, after a few hours sleep.

With only 4 days in Bali I was quite dubious that I would succeed in having my tooth repaired. Rocked up to a couple of reputable dentist surgeries without an appointment and amazingly got myself booked for the treatment I needed within my 4 day timeframe!

The job was done in two visits with a root canal and molds taken of my teeth on the first day and the prosthetic attached two days later! Amazing!

I can't believe it! Just a couple of weeks ago I was worried that I'll have no teeth and now I'm planning my next 'holiday' to Bali with a perfectly legitimate reason for going! Who'd have thought bad tooth care could have lead to this!

Melasti 2015
 Back in 1996 I sold all my stuff, (including the caravan I intended to live in when I got back) and set out to travel the world. I spent a month in Bali and Lombok and had a plan for returning there to live after I'd done traveling. Somehow life caught up with me and I only made it back as far as Darwin, got married and the rest is history. On this trip I felt so at home, that part of me was re-awakened. I know I can't go back to those old plans but I'm thinking a few trips for dental work might satisfy my hankering for dining in warungs and the scent of clove cigarets.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Long bike rescue. Pt3. Job Done

Back to the bike and the spanners.

Over the past several years I've been doing my best to keep my bikes maintained essentially using bits and pieces scrounged from the tip shop or by cannibalizing my old bikes. Of course there are times when it's not possible to find what I need on the re-cycle heap in the time that I need it (everything turns up eventually) so I am forced to purchase new stuff.

Tip Stockpile: Not much to choose from lately

Thankfully since I've owned the long bike I have managed to keep her rolling on mostly re-cycled parts. However I have had quite a bit of trouble with the second hand bottom brackets. I think I've gone through three of them so far. They're one of those items which are doomed to wear with use. The cheaper bikes come with such poor quality bearings it's not worth using them at all!

As you could see in my recent posts about the long bike, it appeared that the bottom bracket had completely stripped its thread in the frame. I was sure my frame was stuffed and have been searching for months to find a replacement. Nothing I have found has been suitable, so I bit the bullet and went to the bike shop for some advice. They suggested that if the thread was stripped they could install a special bottom bracket which didn't require a threaded frame! Cool!

I stripped the bike down to just the frame and forks and carried it over my shoulder on my commute to work, thinking I'd have to leave it with them for a few days. The master mechanic took one look at the frame and said it'd be fine and a standard sealed bearing bottom bracket could be installed. It turned out that all the pressure I'd applied to the crank (carrying super heavy loads) had cause the cup to split and separate from the thread, or something like that.

Oh to have such a workshop!

He had the thing out in a matter of seconds, cleaned up the thread in the frame and installed a lovely brand spanking new sealed bearing unit! In 20 minutes I was riding to work with my precious frame complete with new bottom bracket slung over my shoulder and a grin on my face!

Sealed Bottom Bracket installed and ready to go
Yesterday I threw a tarp down on the pavers in the back yard and in 34 degree heat and 90% humidity put my bike back together. I sure wish I had a sheltered place to work! By the time I'd finished I had a sunburned neck and my shorts were about 500 grams heavier from the sweat! But the long bike is back on the road!

Bits of bike on my home workshop floor

Coming together

All rigged up and ready to go

Now, sinice the bike is fully functional again I've decided to install my new Xtracycle freeloaders (I'll tell more about them in another post). Looking forward to some dry season riding!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Anatomy: written in the first person...

I am David's carbon footprint drifting majestically from the deep blue sky.

Over the weekend I traveled to Alice Springs for work. Alice is about 1500 km from Darwin, I flew there in an airplain!
This year I have done and have planned way too much air travel! Too much flying around in carbon emitting jet planes for me! 
Damn! I ride my bicycle most of the time and avoid driving so I can reduce my impact on the planet... and because I actually like riding my bike because bikes are fun and cool! But it's just so easy to book a cheap flight in a jet to the opposite side of the country and it's part of my job or sometimes just so tempting to go somewhere and off I go again and Boom! A whopping big 'Vapor trail through the empty air...' tons of carbon ejaculated across the sky! 
That's millions of years of sequestered sunlight and CO2, mixed with the oxygenated air we breath, burned in a furnace to produce thrust enough to force a tin can full of apes into the air like birds, propel them beyond the peaks of the highest mountains at speeds bordering on interstellar, across seas and deserts and mountains and time zones in less time than it would take me to ride my bike to Katherine!

I wonder if you could represent a person's carbon footprint by measuring the distance of an airplane vapor trail from horizon to horizon, how much of the sky would mine take up?

Alice Springs was nice. Whenever I arrive there by plane it takes me an hour or so to adjust. I don't know why. There's a very different aura in the Desert and it has some weird effect on my brain and my eyes. I literally can't see properly when I first arrive. The sky is to big or the air is too clear or something. It's like you shouldn't really just turn up there out of the sky. Maybe in the desert we should only arrive slowly on foot or by camel?

Male Zebra Finch
A Wren (Female, didn't have time to ID at the time)

I don't like to be the one burning the carbon, but how else would I be able to see these beautiful desert bird species in a weekend and be back with my family in 3 days?!


Monday, March 09, 2015

Long bike rescue... pt 2

OK I changed the title, Big deal.
I've decided to post the progress of fixing the long bike here on account of I want the Rickshaw Way blog to be focused more about utility bikes and rickshaws in action... not all being pulled apart. 
(Is blogging about what I'm blogging about just a little too boring? Ha!)

Back to the bike.

Progress so far.

This morning on the way to work I dropped into the bike shop and had a chat with the master mechanic. He reckons it's too much hassle to try and re-cut the thread to suit a french style thread, because it's a bit of a gamble and he doesn't have any bottom brackets to suit anyway. But apparently there's some other bottom bracket thing that slides in and is fixed by external mounts... No idea what it's called or how it's going to work or if it will even fit but it's time to do something and make a decision so I figured I'd strip the bike down and take it to the bike shop to see what they can do.

longbike deconstruction begins

 I started stripping her at dusk but had to help the kids with homework and found myself dropping nuts and bolts in the dark. So I took the whole mess inside. No my wife wasn't home... yes there is now grease on the floor.

I got most of the stuff off it except all the bits that were rusted on.
Just an old Raleigh frame with a bung bottom bracket
No turning back now!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

A possible upgrade

If you're into the history of the Xtracycle brand then you've probably heard of this fella Kipchoge.
He and a bunch of his musician friends had a crazy idea to ride their Extracycles from Northern California to Belize performing music powered entirely by human and pedal power everywhere they stopped along the way.
OK I'm still waiting for my copy of the film 'Ginger Ninja's Ride Mexico' or 'Stuck on Earth: Going where no band has gone before.' (As promised via Kickstarter 5 YEARS AGO!)

No hard feelings about that by the way, but I'd really like to at least see the damn film whatever you decided to call it in the end!

Anyway back to what the post was actually about. Kipchoge has just posted a video on Youtube which features a bike a bit like what I ride and an interesting story about a fella who charges his electric powered bike using solar power.

The point of my post is to consider if I want to install an electric motor on the Long Bike and would it be possible for me to charge it via solar panels.

Seriously Kipchoge I don't care about the kickstarter stuff, I'll buy a copy of the film... I just want to see it!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Rescuing the long bike

It's time for another rebuild on The Long Bike.
I'm not sure how far I'll go with it this time but I have a dilemma about how to deal with a stripped thread on the bottom bracket. I would like to keep a log of the life of this bike and am a bit unsure of where it will be kept. See HERE for now.

Long bike

Busted Bottom Bracket

I may wind up posting on my other blog Rickshaw Way. Hopefully my repairs will be more decisive than my record keeping!