how to change plans and stack your bike like a zen monk

I told you i would change my plans: i am not doing the Quamby loop i wrote about on Friday, because instead i caught up with Max, who i met on the road around Koondrook.

Standing outside the supermarket inhaling a chocolate bar, a woman called Gale approached me and said, “You must have been in town all day — we saw you riding about earlier.”

Indeed, i had spent the afternoon at the library, and was always intending to stay the night somewhere in Kerang to met with Max and his friends by 8:30 the next morning at the clock tower. Talking with Gale about where i might camp the night, it slowly dawned on us that of course i should call Max, so that’s what i did.

Max's remarkable backyward is basically one big vegie garden, with tomatoes growing up out of the bricks and grape vines growing down from out the gutters — paradise

Max’s remarkable backyward is basically one big vegie garden, with tomatoes growing up out of the bricks and grape vines growing down from out the gutters — paradise

That night, sitting around Max’s kitchen table with my tent set up in his vegetable garden, he reckoned there was nothing much worth seeing on the Quamby loop, and that even if i did make it all the way up to Ouyen, it would be a two-day hike through sand if i wanted to get to the pink lakes.

I really want to see the pink lakes, and a two-day hike would not be beyond me if i had the right equipment. Alas, i do not.

So we brainstormed and i decided i would explore another idea i’ve been entertaining for a while: camping outside a town and commuting in to use the library/pub/cafe as my office.

So that’s what i’m doing now, but not before i joined Max and his friends on the long way to and from Barham — a 75km team ride, averaging about 30km an hour.

Such an average is a new personal best for me, but it’s really not a personal best when you achieve something like this in a team.

I bounced at the end, doing burnouts around the clock tower. It was a clean fall and i felt remarkably zen about stacking it into the gutter. After i picked myself up and dusted myself off, it was a chance to feel the body go through its natural response to a mild trauma, shaking and wobbling and generally letting go of the fright — and then, of course, getting straight back in the saddle.

Curiously (and perhaps sadly), stacking my bike makes me feel more alive than most other mundane activities. What a brilliant end to a magical day.

And now i’m at the Exchange Hotel in Kerang, standing up at a perfect-height bench-desk, about to knuckle down on the typesetting i couldn’t finish on Friday, my tent holding the fort down at Lake Merange.

Life’s good.

keeping up with road crew looks easy in a still frame

keeping up with road crew looks easy in a still frame

but this is my wait-for-me face, which i call Come Give me a Sweaty Hug

but this is my wait-for-me face, which i call Come Give me a Sweaty Hug

and this is the view i was blessed with on the way to Lake Meran for a well-earned rest. Wondering why i live this way? Well, this is pretty consistently the view out my window.

and this is the view i was blessed with on the way to Lake Meran for a well-earned rest. Wondering why i live this way? Well, this is pretty consistently the view out my window,

whoop!

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budgeting my way to international low-cost living

I am doing my life administration today and i have this vision of publishing my finances in the vein of Thoreau’s Walden.

I use YNAB (You Need a Budget), a piece of desktop software that helps you plan for expenses and get ahead—in their words:

Personal home budget software built with Four Simple Rules to help you quickly gain control of your money, get out of debt, and reach your financial goals!

I used this software in 2013, when i first established my freelance business, and in that year i survived entirely on my freelance income, putting away the income-support payments i was receiving through the NEIS program.

I saved over $10 000 in one year as a fledgling freelancer, which i then spent travelling in Turkey and Greece (with added financial support from Mum, who took me there on the three week holiday that became a nine-month spiritual adventure), where i continued operating my business part time.

Budgeting can be a powerful tool for achieving our goals in life, and one of my goals is to demonstrate through Flux Comb and the actions of my life that there is an alternative to the traditional lifestyle we are offered in mainstream Western society.

Because i don’t have a steady income at this stage …

… actually, scratch that:

i receive welfare payments, and i have one regular client in Sydney, plus i’m looking for paid work as i cycle tour in Australia,

so i’m surviving on approximately AU$16,800 / year.

My ambition is to get off welfare by attracting enough paid work and freelance work to bring in around $20K. Because i live out of my bike (Massive), and i am getting off drugs, my living expenses are quite low. I could happily live as a cycle-touring digital nomad on $AU20K, especially when i get back overseas to places where the cost of living is much lower.

So effectively i need to attract approximately $15K / year in either paid work or freelance work, to get off welfare and make up the rest of the $20K i’m not already earning through freelancing.

But for now, because i don’t feel entirely certain i can expect that sort of coin to flow reliably to me, what i am doing is just using YNAB to track my expenses for a month or three, while continuing to fly by the seat of my pants.

After a quarter i will have a good idea of my actual living costs (accommodating expected fluctuations in frugality), and then i will have a better idea of whether i actually even need $20K—maybe i can do Australia on less.

And if i can do Australia on less that $20K, i can feel confident i could live anywhere else in the world: the cost of living in Australia is among the highest in the world (this might have changed since 2013—the dollar is weaker now); it is approximately 50% cheaper to live in Chiang Mai, Thailand than it is to live in Melbourne, Australia.

I want to go into the details of how i’m using the software to do this, but it wouldn’t be relevant to anyone who wasn’t either looking at my screen or using the software themselves already. I imagine an online spreadsheet that will update in real-time to demonstrate just how inexpensive it can be to live the life of your dreams.