Latest Update from the Steven Walter Foundation

Steven Walter Foundation LogoI came home today to find a big update from the Steven Walter Foundation waiting in the mailbox.  I couldn’t wait to get it open and was surprised by the amount of work that has happened in the last month!  There was quite a bit of information but to hit on the highlights:

  • The itinerary has changed with a start in Tenterfield instead of Ballina.  This is mainly due to that weekend in October being school holidays and accommodation being difficult to source – not to mention expensive – in Ballina.
  • We now have accomodation costs to approve from Bundaberg around to Perth (rest to come soon).  I was pleased to find the amounts aren’t as bad as I was expecting with the average overnight stay around $100 although there is a couple $200 nights in some of the remoter areas.
  • There are 77 people going on the ride – a little over 50 bikes and the rest pillions.
  • Fuel and rest stops are mapped out at a maximum 200km through the entire trip.  With such long distances regular breaks to stretch and rehydrate will be of the utmost importance

This is all really starting to come together and I can’t believe how excited I’m getting about the trip, it’s going to be such an adventure.  I would also like to say a HUGE thank you to Allan McGuirk and Susan Walter of the Steven Walter Foundation for the unbelievable amount of effort they are going through in organising this trip.  Truly a herculean effort!

Technology Conundrum

What to do, what to take, that’s the question.  So here’s the deal, five weeks on the road will be a long time, and a lot of the days will be looong days.  So I’ll need some music- I’ve got a 2nd generation iPod which has travelled tens of thousands of kilometres with me already, it’s a bit clunky but fits in the vest pocket.  And no doubt I’ll want to take a picture or two along the way – I’ve got an older digital camera that I could have in a pouch off my belt (inconvenient) or in the saddlebags (a hassle to get quickly).  But what I really want to be able to do during this trip is provide updates to this website – even if there is no-one following me it will allow a daily diary of sorts and that would be cool.  Currently I don’t have anything I can do that with.

Does everything, at a cost...

Now what makes the most sense, at the moment, is an iPhone.  It hits every mark in that: it will provide my music, has a built in camera, has email functionality (WordPress allows post via email) and it has internet capability.  Hell, it even has some GPS tech which could come in handy at a pinch, and the 3GS version has a built in compass.  Oh and it’s a phone too… However, with the exception of the music the other features come at a trade-off.  The camera is limited in functionality, the internet plans for iPhones are pretty horrendous ($$), and typing anything for a length of time might be too fiddly for my liking on the very small touchscreen.  But ignoring that, the iPhone will do all the things I want it to do AND fit in my vest pocket taking up less room that my original iPod.

Laptop compared to a netbook
A laptop compared to a netbook

So what about a netbook?  A netbook is a small 10″ laptop, it won’t play music (while I’m riding), doesn’t have a camera and might not survive being rattled around in my saddlebags (unless I upgrade it to a Solid State Drive (SSD)), but I will be able to type much faster on it. Provided I’m not too exhausted at the end of a day’s riding, I would like to write decent commentary about the trip.  Mind you, how many different ways I can wax lyrical about chasing the white line down a black strip of tarmac for 14,000kms remains to be seen…

Well as I type this out the answer to my conundrum is obviously leaning more in favor of an iPhone.  At the end of the day the cost will be much of a muchness – the iPhone will cost about $800 (plus phone plan) and the netbook will cost around the same price with an SSD (and wireless internet plan).  Thankfully there are still seven months until journey start so I have a little while to make my mind up yet.  Decisions, decisions.

Participation Numbers – Update

Holy cow! We’ve received an updated recently and the final numbers are in – 50 bikes! That’s right, you need to count every one, 50!  Plus some 10 pillions or so!  And that’s not all; it looks like the Steven Walter Foundation is going to have us doing the trip as one group.  That is awesome!  I was hoping we would be able to do the journey together instead of being split into two groups with a day’s lag time between start and finishes. 

This doesn’t mean we’re going to be riding as one big group, that would be a bit unwieldy especially as fatigue will start setting in after a week or two into the ride.  No what it will mean is that we’ll all be setting off on each leg on the same day.  Riders will be free to ride at their own pace so I can be out in front if I get an early start, or somewhere in the middle if I want to linger over breakfast, or maybe bring up the rear if I want a bit of a sleep in.

What I think it will be is a logistical nightmare for the organisers; I mean talk about herding cats when you’re trying to get 50 bikes on the road.  But I’m sure they will be up to the task and remember this is the same group responsible for the Snowy Ride each year so they have a good amount of experience in project management (good luck all the same!).

Participation Numbers

Have been advised there are at least 40 riders (plus about 10 pillions) who have signed up for next year’s Ride Around Australia trip.  This is quite a large group so the likely outcome will be two seperate groups of 20 bikes leaving a day apart.  More information should be coming out soon, I know I’m personally very keen to see a draft itinerary!