Cairns to Cape York Advice Sought

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Cairns to Cape York Advice Sought

Postby C2CY » Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:06 pm

Hi all!

My friend and I are riding form Cairns to Cape York and would appreciate input from anyone who has done the trip or a comparable journey which involves hundreds of kilomtres of unsealed roads.

First, I am planning on doing the trip on a Giant Talon does anyone have any input about the strength/durability of this bike on such terrrain or point to any vulnerabilities on the bike.

Secondly, does anyone want to throw up a list of spare parts that would be worth taking? I have one but want to see what everyone else thinks is necessary.

Thirdly, I would love any tip or comment on the trip which may just be something which saves us!

Can't wait to hear from you,

Cam
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by BNA » Sat Jul 19, 2008 8:29 pm

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Postby Crank » Sat Jul 19, 2008 8:29 pm

Welcome to the group "C2CY"
I can not help to much with were you are going because im over the other side of Australia,
Most of the things with touring is a personal preference i ride a Giant Cypress which is built for me and the places i have taken it ,it has not let me down also i pull a B.O.B trailer. :shock:
Also i can say is that do your home work on were you are going, make sure you have plenty of water because who knows what can happen around the corner.
Most of all you are not in a race take your time and enjoy....
There are plenty of other things / ideas which you can and dont do, but i will leave that to some other members of the forum for some of there input..
Let us know how you go... :D :D
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Postby Leigh_caines » Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:03 pm

Hi Cam
Sounds like a great trip you have planed
Mainly do road trips myself…. But thinking off road would be fun
Me I’d start with…
{Probably not telling you anything you haven’t thought of but…]
Bike fully refitted …[like new tiers and gables and chain and cogs]
I carry …spanner for every size on my bike… chain braker… Crank& cog remover… spokes and tool … spare tire and a few tubes…spare brake pads and gables for both gear and brakes… a few nuts and bolts of sizes that might come in handy. Zipp ties…tape…

I’d put Tire liners in [like Tufftys or Slimes} as I’ve found them great… in 3 Cornered Burr land they are more then necessary

Been un oldtimer I carry a chair [nothing like been comfortable in camp]
Plenty of food and water
And don’t forget the I-pod
And most of all…Have Fun
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Postby banjo » Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:05 pm

Cam, good luck for your tour. I haven't done any serious distance off road for many years. Last time was in Dec 89 riding Canberra to Melbourne thru Jindabyne and Buchan. About 300 km of it was corrugated dirt road from memory, possibly more. I road a Shogun Trailbreaker 3 MTB (no suspension). The other 3 guys I was with road 10 speed road bikes. One of those bikes was rusting and about 30 years old. The message there I guess is that you can ride anywhere on anything if you have enough heart and a dose of tenacity!

The main problems I remember were:

1. Water. We ran out as we didn't carry anywhere near enough and it was stinking hot and dusty. We suffered accordingly.

2. The guys on the road bikes suffered a few punctures and many broken spokes. I suffered neither on the MTB.

3. We travelled ultra light. Sleeping bag, mat and a bit of plastic only and of course we did get rained on.

I would recommend you carry plenty of water and know where your next supply will come from. Know how to fix spokes and carry spares. In my opinion your wheels will be the week point if any. Make sure they are 100% before you leave. My last tour (this year) was 800km mostly on road. I ride a Giant XTC3 and the spokes on the rear wheel were all at different tensions and starting to break one by one. I had the wheel rebuilt with quality spokes with load carrying in mind. Cost about $120 but I think it was money well spent. Had no troubles whatsover on tour.

As far as spares go, some others have already run throught the bits. I also carry cable ties, matches and first aid gear.

Have you toured before? I'm assuming you have panniers etc and are happy with the other gear you need.

Keep us up to date with your planning and with the ride itself.

I think you're in for an awesome ride. I envy you.
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Postby timbo » Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:28 pm

There are quite a few tour companies that do tours from Cairns to Cape York. These range from 4WD bus tours to motorcycle trail bike tours.

Alltrails is a bicycle tour company who did Cairns to Cape York recently, and you can find a riders report on that ride at www.alltrails.com.au/news.php
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Postby moosterbounce » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:22 pm

I drove the Patrol from Cairns to Cape York in '02 towing a Kimberley Kamper. Went up through the Daintree to Cooktown, then inland to Lakeland before heading north through Laura.

Did it in June and it was the hottest, most humid June they had ever had. It was 38 degrees with 90% humidity. In the walk from the carpark to the tip and back we each drank 2 litres of water - the walk is over rocks but less than 1.5km.

On the car, we broke the CD player and welds on a steel roofrack with the corrugations.

Is my trip related to cycling? Nah!! :wink: But it does show that even if you go in the coolest month historically, it might go pear shaped. You will ned to carry a lot of water.

There are some nice waterfalls and rivers just of the "main" road which are worth stopping at and, if you can, camping. Camping at the Laura campground is fine, are are the other petrol stops (names escape me atm). There is quite a distance between official stops though so be prepared for bush camping.

I am pretty anti Lakeland, but we may have just hit there on a bad day!! It was the day before the rodeo and the road into town was lined for about 1km with trophy boar. Yes, they were displaying wild pigs they'd shot. Stunned me. :shock:

Trip up through the daintree has a couple of river crossings that you may prefer to walk through. There are some pretty big hills too - it is all gravel except there is a very steep bit over the Donovan Range that is actually sealed it is that steep. Couple of hills around Laura and a couple of dry super crap river beds to cross :)

On the road to Weipa before the turn to the cape, it is often a race track. We saw some shocking driving and you may be peppered with gravel from speeders. It is a wide road, but it won't matter. The road is pretty sandy after the turnoff and bumpy and narrow. Because it is so bad, 4wds will do about 60-80km to ride the corrugations. This may make it dangerous on a bike so take care on the single lanes.

In saying this, you might not see a car :) We were pretty early in the season I believe, so traffic was pretty light, but we saw enough. Prepare for the traffic but don't count on it in an emergency.

If you make it 20km from the top, you cross the Jardine River. Big wide thing with a ferry that transports you. When we did the trip, it cost $100 to make the journey (they throw in the return for free). Not sure of the bike price, but it will be way too much. Apparently, you used to be able to cross a little further up from the official crossing, but the locals dynamited the river to force people to take the ferry :?

Most importantly, take a fully stocked first aid kit and make sure everyone knows how to use it. You just never know. Also be prepared for heat exhaustion - just in case.

Sorry this hasn't been cycling related, but I hope there is a bit here that you can use. :)
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Postby Wollemi » Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:15 pm

Sorry not to see this earlier.

What Moosterbounce said.

In October 1994, I cycled Cairns to Cape York alone. Several remarkable things happened everyday. Rode a cargo ship back from TI. Cooktown to the 'tip took 17 days with no rest days.

I had to hitch back into Laura when both sides of the rear rack broke on the massive corrugations; perhaps have the racks strengthed near where they connect to the drop-outs. I was told the best time is May, just after the Cook Shire Council grade the road.

A stick got caught in the rear derailleur and partially broke off the derailleur hanger. I had no spare. Later it waggled into the back wheel and buckled the back wheel severely after braking severl spokes, chain and itself. Fortunately that was the last day...

Very pretty, very remote.
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Postby Tale » Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:45 pm

Leigh_caines wrote:Been un oldtimer I carry a chair [nothing like been comfortable in camp]

That's awesome. What kind of chair? On the back rack?
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Postby il padrone » Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:05 pm

Wollemi wrote:I had to hitch back into Laura when both sides of the rear rack broke on the massive corrugations; perhaps have the racks strengthed near where they connect to the drop-outs.

I can recommend Tubus racks, German-made out of tubular cro-moly steel. Lightweight, but very strong.They're not cheap at all, but well worth the expense for such a trip.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Postby Leigh_caines » Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:44 am

The red bag is the chair :)



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Cairns to Cape York Completed

Postby C2CY » Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:12 pm

Hi All,

Just thought I'd report back. The trip went extremely well. Cairns to Cape York, via the Bloomfield track to Cooktown then via Lakefield National Park to the tip in 12 Days of riding. This included three days of less than 70 kilometres.

The roads were in reasonable condition and much better than they are often described. The most challenging sections were the thirty three kilometres from Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield, Battle Camp Road and the Old Telegraph Track in acending order of difficulty. Main issues were deep sand, although there was not alot, creek crossings and corrigations. On the whole trip we probably only pushed through the sand for about 2 kilometres amongst 1100 odd. I don't want to overstate the difficulty because it is a perfectly do-able ride for anyone. The creek crossings were not a problem; water resaonably low in mid-August. No problems posed by crocodiles whatsoever. As for corrigations- whenever I'm bumping over them I try to be glad that I am not riding in deep sand. The greatest hazard is probably the traffic, seeing a 4wd travelling at 140 kilometres p/h on a dirt road is not uncommon and Road Trains kick up a lot of dust. If you listen and look then there will not be problem at all. Some traffic will even slow down for you.

Water Issues on the ride are not as difficult as you may imagine. The furthest distance between a good water sources on the entire trip was 130 kilometres and the most water I ever carried at any time was 9 litres (although i was prepred to carry alot more). Plenty of creeks to refill at where the water is good although I never had to rely on water from creeks. I had had amazing luck in so far as bicycle went. I did not suffer a single flat tyre and the word things that happened was my overloaded pannier clip snapped, which was easly fixed with a few zipties. My mate had two front punctures and some problems with his front pannier frames related to the stress from corrogations.

The most suprising sight of the trip that was almost the most impressive were the millions of bats that flood the sky over Coen each night and return each moring before dawn. The generosity on the road was universal...So many beers shouted...a three course meal cooked for us by fellow travelers at the end of our 175 k day...Another highlight was smimming at Fruitbat and Eliot Falls. Stunning. We met two other groups of cyclists on the way up; a couple riding from Rockhampton to the Cape over a period of seven months and a japanese man who was riding around Australia in a year. We shared a camp one night and exchanged food. The best aspect of the ride is its incredible remotness. I miss riding in the early moring cool.

Returning home is relatively easy: take ferry from Seisia to Thursday Island then further Ferry to Horn Island where you can get a flight to Cairns with Qantas for as little as $89.00. You could also take the Barge back from Seisia to Cairns with your bikes for a scenic return.

If anyone wants to know anything more let me know. Planning a ride in Ethiopia for August-October 2009 if anyone has ever been and has some advice or if anyone is interested in coming along get in touch.

Later,

Cam
Last edited by C2CY on Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Wollemi » Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:21 pm

Well done. That's a good read, too. 175 km in a day!
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Postby Tale » Tue Sep 09, 2008 11:10 pm

Great write-up, well done on completing the trip. That remoteness on a bicycle would be something to experience.

I was reading too fast in the middle and my brain did a double-take when I thought I read: "No problems posed by crocodiles whatsoever - whenever I'm bumping over them I try to be glad that I am not riding in deep sand." :)
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