News Single

11.04.09 17:41 Age: 9 yrs

Quikey in pieces and ready to go

By: Roger and Megan

With two parcels on the way to Kazakhstan, and the Quike in 15 pieces, we're just about ready... nearly...

We picked up the final completed Quike the other day, and it's beautiful!  We have had quite a few amendments to it since out last trip to the Victorian desert. First of all, we had a steering mechanism installed, which allows us to haul the Quike from out front with chest and waist harnesses, much like a sled, whilst still maintaining the ability to steer. Second, we had some aluminium tool boxes built to fit perfectly on our front lower rack, built to hold their full volume in water (70L), and thus easing the load off the rear wheels onto the front wheels. Third, we've had additional side racks mounted that can carry some large Crosso bike panniers. Next, Paul did a marathon effort to install 11 S & S stainless steel couplings, which will allow us to really break the quike into tiny pieces for shipping. And finally, Quikey was painted a very serious matte black, which means business.

Our departure date is getting closer and closer. We've already sent 2 parcels to Kazakhstan and are about to send 2 more. Due to some strange customs regulations, this postage dilemma has been an adventure in itself. You see, if the quoted value of a parcel posted to Kazakhstan is over $1000 USD, then it will incur a $400 USD charge! So, to be safe, we have to value all our $1000 + parcels of gear at $500 USD (and thus have tens of thousands of dollars of expensive equipment only insured for a fraction of its value!), and each parcel to a different person (finding so many different people to send them to was a problem in itself!). In the end, the packaging and padding of the parcels would've constituted about 10-20% of the weight of each parcel, but that was the only insurance we could afford. Vitaliy from Avalon Historico-Geographic Society has provided invaluable assistance, support and advice throughout this whole process. He has linked us up to people and resources wherever humanly possible.

As part of the packing process, we had to work backwards with our "free" luggage, which is what we wear on the plane + what we carry on + what we check-in. Now check-in luggage has a fixed weight of 20 kg, so our freedom and creativity will have to be expressed in what we wear and carry on. So, the best way to maximise "free" luggage is to wear as much as possible, and carry on as much as possible. We worked out that each of us can wear (going from inside to out):

- 3 pairs underwear
- 2 pairs socks
- Skins
- Nzo merino thermals and shorts
- heavy nordic thermals
- Australian Geographic T-shirt
- Mountain Hardwear cargo pants, safari shirt, fleece jacket and compression pants
- Down jacket
- Macpac eVent waterproof jacket and pants
- Hiking boots
- Buffs (2)
- WileyX sunglasses

This totals to aboout 8 kg of free, worn luggage onto the plane. But boy is this hot, all this fleece, thermals and down!

And for carry-on luggage, we found that our airline carrier excludes camera bags, laptop bags, briefcases and jackets from their 7 kg limit. So, in turn, we discovered that most of our electronics could be classified as either "camera accessories" or "laptop accessories". That puts our grand total of check-in plus other luggage at only about 120 kg for 2 people. This would cost a pretty penny if we were to take it on the plane as check-in luggage, so our other option is to post our gear ahead. This is how we came to be sending parcels to Kazakhstan.

Disassembling and stripping the Quike in preparation for shipping took quite a few hours. The Rohloff needed to be drained of oil, the Schlumpfs needed to be packed down so they weren't such an awkward shape to pack, and the disc brake hoses and calipers needed to be drained of fluid to be shipped. But by far, what took the most time was packaging everything safely, securely, and well padded into cardboard boxes for the beating they'd endure on the long trip to Astana.  Our Leatherman came in VERY handy for these purposes!

Pulling apart the Sclumpf gave us an opportunity to test out our improvisation skills. We had the special socket to drive the bottom bracket nut, and a long arm 1/4 inch driver. But this didn't seem to have enough torque on it to loosen the nut as it still required 140nm of torque. So we had the idea of roping a piece of long quike tubing (that was liberated by the S&S couplings) to the driver to get extra torque. This did the job rather well.

Another complication along the way was with the brakes. The sharehouse where Roger lives, and where the Quike also lives in the garage, is a rather social house where house parties are a regular occurrence. At one such party, there was a request for a quike ride, and it was politely explained that we can't afford to go letting other people ride the quike, as if there are unfortunate damages, then we have no time to fix it before we have to leave. They understood, and all was fine. The next morning however, one of the Germans followed Roger into the garage where the quike was kept, and started pumping the brakes. Unfortunately, the wheels weren't attached at the time, so due to the hydraulics, the brake calipers clamped on to themselves rather tightly. Ooops. Having not the time nor patience to fix the brakes, we decided to just remove all brakes and fix them up when we re-route the whole braking system in Astana.

We've also just recently realised that the tyres we have been using on the Quike have been recalled by Schwalbe for safety reasons! So with only a week to go now, we need to find some new replacement ones, we think we might just have the key to it, some new Schwalbe HS 402 Extremes direct from the UK look to be the go. And we'll have them 2 months before they are due to come out in Australia, rock on!

But it is not just about getting the Quike there in one (or 15) piece(s) - there's also the challenge of getting ourselves there in good health! Poor Roger has had his wisdom teeth troubling him all week now, causing a lot of pain so he can't even chew on that side. After much ringing around of 20-odd dentists he finally managed to get an appointment, only to be told he should get them removed... But the first available appointment is 4 weeks from now... Hmm... we'll just have to see what we can do between now and when we leave! Fingers crossed.

And on a side note, we've finally managed to get our Xtracker from GMN working now, thanks to some configuring by David Bastiens at Niteflux. We sent the tracker to him interstate, and it is now back, and reports our position back onto a map in real time at 30 min intervals, and barely using any power (which is very important to us!). So now, for the trip, you'll be able to see where we are in the world in very real time!