TAS day 1: Pittsburgh to Melbourne

December 25-27. Pittsburgh, PA to Melbourne. 16km (by bike)

Welcome to the first blog post of the next bike adventure: Tasmania 2016. I write these mostly as my own memory aid, but I hope some bits are interesting or useful to others as well.

I’m counting this as day 1 even though according to the clock it began at 3am on December 25 and it is now 10:30pm on December 27. It takes a long time to get to Australia. And the international dateline stole December 26.

Editorial note: these posts get written in pieces, often over a couple days. So ‘now’ is a flexible term.

For me, the worst part of any trip is the packing. I really do not like packing. At all. For this trip I had been collecting bits and pieces for months (most prominently a new Enlighted Equipment sleeping bag), and had a pretty good idea of how and what to pack from the last bike tour. Still, the last day or so at home had me doubting whether going on this trip was really a more interesting thing to do than cuddling under a blanket and watching Netflix for a month. Of course, once I got on the way, and especially with I unpacked the bike in Melbourne (spoiler, it made it in the appropriate number of pieces) that thought flipped pretty fast. 

My flight out of Pittsburgh left at 6am, which is far too early, but that’s now the only direct flight from Pit to LA. My flight out of LA didn’t leave until 11pm, so I had a lot of time to kill. I wandered around in LA for a while, though since it was Christmas everything was closed. There was an open movie theater, so I saw the new Star Wars again for lack of anything better. It was at least a very large screen and nice seats. I found a Starbucks that was open, and then headed back to the airport since checkin with Qantas started at 4pm so I could finally get my boarding pass and get back through security. Turns out that the international terminal of LAX has a lot of very nice comfortable places to sit.

When I finally got on the giant plane to Melbourne it turned out to be only about 1/3 full. Bad news for sustainability, but good news for economy passengers who get entire rows of seats to lie down in. It was almost as comfortable as the first class beds, I bet, at a fraction of the cost. Also, it appears Frozen has finally made its way onto airplane movie lists, so now I’ve seen that. But given that I watched two short movies (Frozen and Inside Out) and was mostly asleep the rest of the time, I must have slept for nearly a double digit number of hours, which is pretty impressive for a flight and also makes Australia seem much closer. I suppose that’s one advantage of traveling on Christmas. 

I got through customs and both my bike and duffel were right there waiting for me. I hopped in a taxi to a friends house (though out of town, she generously offered to store the bike bag for the month). I should really get over my dislike of taxis, because I think this was the part of the whole trip I was looking forward to the least. But, you will be unsurprised to learn, the taxi ride was uneventful. Anyway, my friend’s back yard was the perfect place to assemble the bike, so I alternated between unpacking, assembling, and simply enjoying the weather. While listening to the first three episodes of the second season of Serial. Even though the weather was warm when I left PA, the difference between winter and summer was quite noticeable. One of the first things I noticed was the sound of wind in the (leaves! of the) trees.

The bike went together easily, without any snags. It was a short ride down (mostly) a bike trail to get to the YHA Metro hostel where I was staying the night. I got a few km (since I’m in the civilized world, I’m measuring this trip in km. It means I have no idea how far anything is from anything else unless I think about it. Plus, you go faster when your speedometer is in km… right?) the path and realized that though I had brought the fancy lock I bought for this trip (TiGR lock), I had left the key at home. Harrumph. So, I biked back and left the lock with the bike bag (I’m really glad I realized this before locking my bike to something!). There was a bike shop open on Sunday right on the path, so I bought a combination chain lock. A little heavier, but it could be worse. I figured it was balancing out all the lucky points I used on the plane flights.

I made it to the hostel, where I thought I had a reservation, but they had no record of me. As it turned out, I couldn’t find a confirmation in my email either. Hrm. At least they still had space. I ended up in a room with one other person (a woman from CT on an indefinite world tour) who I barely saw. Part of the reason I chose this hostel is that they have a bike storage cage. I recommend it for cyclists in Melbourne.

I think the only thing left is he obligatory bike-tour blog packing list. Or at least an approximate one.


  • Two pairs bike shorts
  • Two pairs liner shorts (I generally aim for 3 biking outfits, but wasn’t sure what style I would end up preferring, so I might drop a pair along the way)
  • One pair biking capris
  • 3 short sleeve biking shirts
  • 1 sleeveless bike shirt (see note above)
  • 3 bras, 2 pairs underwear, several pairs socks
  • Light biking jacket
  • Rain coat
  • 3 buff head thingies
  • 1 pair long underwear
  • 1 pair long pants for off bike
  • 1 long sleeve shirt for off bike
  • 1 light weight tank top for sleeping
  • 1 pair swim shorts that can double as biking shorts
  • 3 pairs biking gloves
  • Helmet
  • 1 pair biking sandals 
  • 1 pair closed toe crocs for off bike
  • Big Agnes 1p tent
  • Enlightened Equipment sleeping bag (quilt)
  • 3/4 length Thermarest pad
  • Water filter
  • Rope
  • Silverware set
  • Small camping towel
  • iPad
  • Cell phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Solar panel and battery
  • Various toiletries
  • Sunglasses
  • Bungee cords
  • Maps of Tasmania
  • A couple plastic bags, and small plastic containers
  • 2 pens, a few pieces of paper
  • Money, credit cards, passport, drivers license
Bike maintenance
  • Multi tool
  • Spare tubes
  • Pump
  • Chain tool
  • Spoke wrench, a couple extra spokes and spoke nipples
  • Chain lube, grease
  • Extra bolts/screws
The bicycle
  • Cannondale H500 aluminum frame
  • 8 x 3 gearing (mountain, can’t remember the counts off hand)
  • Jones loop H-bars
  • 32 spoke wheels I built at the freecycle wheel building class 
  • Ortlieb front and back panniers (and racks of course – the front one a low rider)
  • Jones handlebar bag for camera and phone
  • Frame bag for bike repair stuff
Bronwyn Woods