last updated
18-Jun-1999 01:54
14-Oct-1998 The idea started last year when, studying for the crossing of the Nullarbor, I found out about the existence of the Warburton road. During the trip, while at a bike shop in Esperance, I was told that some cyclists actually have ridden that road, but in organised groups, and that there is even an annual even across the Simpson desert in much worse conditions. Now, while doing laps in the pool, I can't stop thinking about concquering those red sands and hot temperatures and the feelling of victory as I would reach Yulara (the village next to Uluru (Ayers Rock).
18-Oct-1998 Saw a picture of Gilles Meteorological station. Knew I had to do that road. Start to search about Warburton road on the internet.
04-Jan-1999 Received an email (Thanks Chris Olssen!) containing map of the Warburon road and known water sources along the road. These points are to be more reliable than those I extracted from the AUSLIG database.
22-Jan-1999 Received from Final Word in Australia paper based materials on the Warburton road. Entered information in a speadsheet. 230km is the magic number: max distance between two known water points. This makes my trip feasable, but represents a real challenge as on an unsealed and sandy road, this could take 3 days to cover.

But so far, no show stopper for that trip. The less glorifying aspect of this trip is that the Warburton road, although unsealed and with very few services along the road, is no longer considered a 4wd "adventure" destination because it is too well travelled. And that road is eventually going to be sealed as it is felt it would make for an important artery linking Perth to Alice Springs and onto Cairns on the east coast.

14-Feb-1999 Music from various 8mm tapes copied to mac. Will be using the mac to record all music from radio as well as this gives me freedom to place each track where I want. Recording at 22khz,16bit with 4-1 compression.
20-Feb-1999 Went to Canadian Tire to buy all the various cleaning compounds as well as various camping items and paints that need to be renewed. $132. (Big killer is three cans of Scotchguard). When I look at all the stuff I will be using to clean/prepare the bike, I wonder if cycling is really so friendly to the environment.
20-Feb-1999 Work officially begins on Bike #2. Bottom bracket purchased last year and which giving me problems needs to be replaced. Always interesting to see how the red sand from Australia finds a way to get into small cracks and stays there !
22-Feb-1999 Air Reservations made for CP to Australia. Departure one day after I had wanted. Will get to Perth on Friday afternoon which does not leave much time for business tasks such as obtaining permits for Warburton road. No free seats between Sydney and Perth which means I may have to purchase ticket for that leg. (Canada to Australia is done on points again).
24-Feb-1999 Called Western Australia Aboriginal Affairs in Perth. The person I spoke to gave no indication a permit would be refused on grounds of insanity. "We've given permits to crazier people than you" (Examples given were travelling by camel and walking).

The good news is that I will be able to enter the Cosmo-Newberry community which most of the documentation states is off-limits to tourists. (This means I can get water!)

25-Feb-1999 Since last november, I have done just over 140km in a pool. Tonight was the last night of doing laps and for the next 2.5 weeks, all my free time is going to be devoted to final preparations. Hopefully I will still be in shape by then :-) (Past experience shows that by the time I board the plane, I will be a zombie and will sleep all the way to Australia). Before I leave for such trips, I sometimes get a strange feeling that I will never see a place again. Tonight, as I got out of the pool, I got that feeling.
26-Feb-1999 Got a call from Canadian Airlines. Waitlist for departure 16th March is now confirmed and even better, there is a seat available on a continuing flight to Perth which happens to be an international flight to Harrare Zimbabwe.

The good news is that I need not clear customs at Sydney nor handle my luggage there, and I get a 747-300 to Perth instead of a 737 on Qantas (or more spacious 320 on Ansett).

Who knows, my seatmate on that flight might convince me of my next cycling destination :-)

26-Feb-1999 First stop to the bike shop. $250. Getting supplies not as bad as last year when distribution was over a month late due to ice storm.
26-Feb-1999 Contacted Iridium in Canada. Seems my expedition is not worthy of consideration. I guess I'll have to add a side trip to the top of K2 or Everest to mt next bike trip to get some consideration from Iridium. AT $45 per day and $10 per minute to call home, it is just too expensive.
28-Feb-1999 Paint touchup on frame. Headset cleaned and re-installed. New bottom bracket installed. Hopefully it will be much better than the fancy one I got last year. It will see a LOT os sand this year.
01-Mar-1999 It is fair to state that there will be significant snowfall between the 14th and 16th of March in Montreal. Cycling to airport has involved snow on all trips since 1995.
01-Mar-1999 Completed maintenance on saddlebags. Added a few straps to hold extra tires up front. GPS bracket re-installed. Scotchguard formulka changed again. 2 bottles were enough. Still need to finalise water carrying techniques. Added more velcro to hold map holder. It had a tendency to fly off with passing road trains :-)
01-Mar-1999 Return date finalised. Cairns to Sydney on friday 7th, Sydney-Montreal on Sunday 9th. Only ticket I will need to buy is Darwin-Cairns, so no need to bother with an airpass this year.
01-Mar-1999 Got my air tickets. Took a long time at the airport because they couldn't price the itinerary. In the end,it cost me a whopping $31.51 in australian taxes to get to Australia and back ! I also got the bike bgs for air transport.
04-Mar-1999 Modified amplifier and power supply. Added a volume control in an easy to access position as the one on the walkman is very hard to get to. Also rerouted a few wires away from an inductor. Had to replace fabric on one side against which the end of the zoom lens is held.
05-Mar-1999 Third and hopefully last visit to bike shop. Got 4 Michelin Cyclo Cross Sprint tires. Am all set for tires:

Sealed roads: Specialized Armadillos, kevlar belted 700*23 tires with a foldable Michelin Bi-sport 700*23 as spare.

Warburton road: Michelin Cyclo Cross Sprint, 700*30 tires. Got 4 of them at $50 a pop. (Will carry 2 spares). They are wider than the 700*28 tires I had used on the Dempster highway and are an ugly green colour that doesn't match my bike.

Upon arriving home, I ensured that once mounted, there would be enough clearance with the brakes and frame. Glad I specified long-reach brakes when I had that frame built.

Regular summer tires are 700*20 and inflated 100-110 psi, these are 700*30 and inflated 35-70psi. They have big threads. Hopefully they will provide better lateral traction in sandy conditions. (Because of weight of luggage, forwards traction is not a problem even with narrow tires)

07-Mar-1999 Second to last weekend done. Work on bike progresses, but not gone as far as I would have wanted. Biked to pharmacy during snow storm to purchase the cosmetics for trip. Traveling on the dry snow reminded me of what's to come. The warburton road will probably require all of my concentration to constantly read the road and deal with soft spots. I probably won't get to play much music during that stretch. Recording of music started, but am 2 casettes behind what I would have liked to doo. 18 hours of music left to record.
09-Mar-1999 One week to go. Lots of work remains on bike. 20% of music recorded. Must spend at least 2 hours per weekday to get all casettes recorded and 3 hours next saturday and sunday. Not many radio stations can claim 20 hours of commercial free, no interruptions and especially not a single song being repeated.

I still need to get ghostscript working so I have have dynamic map showing my progress.

Stress levels will rise.

Got my visa for Australia today. And I managed to pre-select seats on Qantas seats even though Qantas refuses to allow this (but since they are part of one-world, they have to provide same levels of service as other one-world airlines !).

Found out first batch of business cards had a mistake, so I corrected them and printed some more.


10-Mar-1999 Wednesday morning or tuesday night ? Computer work has greatly delayed preparations. Am getting worried. Will prpbably start alternating all-nighters until I leave.
11-Mar-1999 Most of the heavy duty work on bike which involves cleaning with solvents and polishing is done. Progress on hardware is much more gratifying than progress on support software and logistics.

Have started to load saddlewbags. 7 hours of the 20 now transfered to tape. So far, 105 tracks recorded out of a list of candidates of 287 tracks. (Yes, this is on computer, as I have to be very careful not to repeat songs.)

Am still stressed and tired, but progress on bike has lessened the stress of not seing quick enough progress.

Received some supplies from the Co-op oin Vancouver 2 days early.

12-Mar-1999 Friday morning, 05:30. 50% of music recorded. Back on schedule for recording. Received one of the 2 permits for the Warbuurton road by mail.

Bike progressing. Hope to have it functionnal by friday evening, and final work over weekend. (installing wiring, fine tuning etc).

Will also need to measure wheel sizes for the 3 types of tires I will be using during this trip to calibrate the bike computer.

Web site mirroring software seems to work fine.

Hoping to get a decent night's sleep on half thew nights until departure.

13-Mar-1999 Saturday, 02:00am. No progress on bike. Rebuilt external power cables. Same design as last year (which was the first year without power cable problems). Coax microphone cable and RCA phono jacks are used.

12 of 20 hours of music now recorded.

Got the 12 rolls of film, batteries and travel insurance.

Saturday and Sunday, I *MUST* work one last big shot to get all hardware ready.

14-Mar-1999 As of Sunday, march 14th, 17:00 Eastern Time, the bike was lowered onto the floor in the bike maintenance facility. Only minor cosmetic and adjustements remain.

Final loading can now begin. This is when I fill up the rubboish bins due to all the overpackaging of materials from shampoo to emergency light sticks.

15 hours of music out of 20 now recorded. I am missing about 20 minutes of music for the remaining 5 hours. Hopefully radio stations will have good music tonight and tomorrow.

14-Mar-1999 21:30. 33 hours to go before departure. Lack of sleep can no longer be used as an excuse to get some rest. The trip is quickly changing from and planning to execution status. Luggage is being loaded for real now, and I have started tasks tyhat will enable me to continue to work while away.

I was hoping for a (last) good night't sleep but not until I am satisfied of my progress. I still have 5 hours of music to record.

But bike is looking very good, all shiny, walkman working fine (and power bus plugged into the mains for recharging.

Monday will be very difficult. I will have to resort to Joilt to keep me awake. I was hoping to avoid this, but like previous years, the next good sleep I'll get is on the plane.

15-Mar-1999 It is now nearly 04:00 am, Monday. Expect to get 4.5 hours of sleep :-)

There are still many many tasks that remain to be done, but they are mostly all small tasks that are easy to manage at the same time as other tasks.

17 hours of 20 now recorded. Have enough music available to fill the gaps.

Have begun waypoints extraction tests.

Packing well under way. But there is still some maintenance to be done on some items (notably stove).

Fixed inflatable mattress. The patch kit they now sell is hi-tech and requires boiling water to melt the glue and ensure bonding. Not quite practical in the field. So I guess I will have to stock up on tyre patches to also fix punctures in my mattress.