my greatest fear is enslavement by fear

As a cycle tripper, people often ask me, “Aren’t you afraid of trucks or robbers or snakes or whatever?” Lions and tigers and bears, essentially — mythical fears.

The question often surprises me because I think my greatest fear is enslavement by fear.

This dawned on me this morning as i was commuting from the lake where i’ve set up camp, to Kerang where i come to work.

I remembered the question and thought, Sure i’m a little bit afraid of those things — i have a natural and healthy wariness of them.  But i cycle because i value freedom, i camp because i cherish nature as a cathedral, and i trust people because i’m a philanthrope — i love humanity.

The alternative, which i experienced for a decade in publishing and i guess the twenty years before that, is no longer tenable to me.

The alternative to freedom is the enslavement of fear.

No thanks! I’ll try my luck with the lions and tigers and bears.


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,


Barham to Swan Hill Cylce Loop

I’m heading out from Barham tomorrow. I’ve had a great couple of weeks here, but it’s time to get my legs on again. Before i go i’ve got some typesetting corrections to finish, which just arrived. So it could be a late night, but i usually can’t sleep before a tour anyway.

I’ve mapped out the following route, which i will probably discard within the first day. I like making maps more than i enjoy following them:

Barham to Swan Hill LoopAt around 400 km it’s not the longest ride you ever heard of, and i’ll be stopping at Kerang for a day to ride with Max and his friends, and i will stop around Ouyen to see the pink lakes at Murray Sunset National Park.

The only other relevant details about the trip at this time are that i will be visiting one town called Quambatook and another town called Chinkapook. No doubt everyone along the way will call me a nincompoop — not because i am stupid, but because they lack imagination and a sense of adventure. It can get a little frustrating out there that i am seen to be such a novelty. But then it gets me free steaks from time to time.

I am aiming to arrive in Swan Hill around the 21st of March to join a host family there who need help on their organic garlic farm. Check out if you’re interested in exploring work-exchange as a way to travel cheap.



Browser Dump

In the spirit of brain dumps everywhere, i thought i would try a category here called Browser Dump—i’m a tab fiend and i flitter between Firefox, Chrome and Torch, so i’ve got a shed-load of tabs open in my life at any given time, which can be a curiously massive burden, which maybe i can foist on to you 🙂

I mean, i’m interested in Everything, so i have the Wikipedia entry for “time” open, and alongside that a lecture by Hawking on the beginning of time, and alongside that a brief history of time measurement—such is the nature of the rabbit holes i find myself in as i comb the flux. I can’t even remember why i was researching time at the time. Something i do know is i suspect “time” is a human construct and we needn’t necessarily adhere to its dictates. And i certainly prefer the idea of falling into rhythm with the natural ebb and flow of light and dark that is night and day—as God perhaps intended, according to Genesis.

I get a lot of inspiration from the high-quality stuff we can now find on the internet, and don’t like to let inspiration just fly by without me trying to mercilessly trap it,

which makes me think i should perhaps relax and let myself feel about browser tabs as i feel about romantic love, the capture of which is about as easy as catching farts in a butterfly net.

So to begin with, i found this thing called Archie, which claims to grow your social-media influence without you actually doing much. Suspecting there is no such thing as a free lunch, i was not surprised when i registered an account and then sat there looking at the dashboard thinking, Now what? We’ll see.

And i had this YouTube video open from my friend about the scientific benefits of meditation—it’s an animated infographic:

Now i have “How To Meditate – The No Bullshit Guide to Meditation” open, because of course that was in the sidebar. I haven’t watched this yet—it’s a good thirty minutes! One for later.

I have this poster-quote open from Umberto Eco’s column from 1994, “Mac vs. DOS — The Holy War“, which i first read a few years ago and which profoundly influenced the choice of computer i would like to purchase next time—my Mac has put in a good innings, but it’s been demonstrating signs of being nearly kaput:

Mac vs. DOS — The Holy War

Mac vs. DOS — The Holy War

This long piece from AdelaideNow is about Goyder’s Line—the drought line in South Australia. I would very much like to do an awareness-raising charity tour of Goyder’s Line, wearing a fake goitre to illustrate the point that an ecosystem out of balance quickly manifests symptoms of disease. It would of course be called The Goyder’s Goitre Tour.

I’ve had this post about puncture problems by a fellow cycle tourist open for yonks—pretty much since i did my first longish tour around the Flinders Rangers over the New Year. While i was there, a woman suggested i try to go tubeless. I tried this, but was not able to get past the challenge of rapidly inflating my gooed-up tyre using the inadequate tools i had on hand at the time. I have since experimented with gooed-up tubes, and they seem to be working a treat—i got two “bindies” in my rear tyre the other day, each of them perhaps 2mm thick. I pulled them out and there was a wild hiss for a few seconds, which waned into a slow sort of gurgle as i spun the wheel and hoped the goo would distribute to the puncture. It did, and i’ve had no leakage problems ever since. So i’m unceremoniously closing that one!


unsolicited weight-loss advice

Wanna lose weight but don’t want to diet? I recommend The Poverty Plan. All you need to do is recklessly disregard your Centrelink appointments to the point where your payments are cut off, allow your freelancing infrastructure to degrade to the point of inoperation, and do a lot of long-distance cycling or hard physical labour in exchange for whatever food your host has to offer. Works a charm.


desperate times

in which i discuss pooing and Buddhism with one breath

I just used my hands and a teaspoon to dig a hole in someone’s yard so i could take a dump, like some humanoid-cat-dog hybrid. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I am also sun-drying mushrooms on Massive’s back rack because they began to attract ants and sweat inside their stupid-plastic container. They were already reduced for quick sale. Should i eat them? I don’t know. Dodgy mushrooms have a bad reputation. I was going to make mushroom dhal.

deceptive lead image

deceptive lead image

This experience (the pooing one) is something that i’m proud of when, according to society’s standards of respectability, i should feel ashamed.

I feel proud because a vague reason i’m doing this Berri to Somewhere cycle tour is i knew it would force me to be more resourceful than i generally am. Also, one of my main men, Milan Kundera, convinced me long ago that we need to start talking about poo if we can ever hope to escape a life of kitsch.

I wonder what it says about me that i should feel proud for shitting in someone’s backyard because it makes me feel resourceful. It is a vague consolation for me that part of this experience is also about exploring the idea of “respectability”, which is (sort of, i think) one of the Eight Worldly Concerns described in the Dhammapada and expounded upon at length by Osho.


Mulga Bill Massive

Meeting with fellow cycle tourers here, i miss young Mulga Bill Massive … Advertisements


What I Talk About When I Talk About Cycling

I was excited about riding with F’s friends, because something I really dig about most of the cycling community is they are inclusive. I mean, it’s also a heavily stratified community where as I explained to C today, there are

people like me who spend three hundred bucks on a single-speed commuter and barely do any maintenance on it for two years but who love the shit out of that bike anyway,

and then there are those who spend twelve k on a bike and spend more time maintaining it than they do riding it,

and of course there are what Mum was thrilled to learn are called MAMILs, Middle-age Men in Lycra.

But within your own strata the community members are all generally inclusive, which is maybe a quality of something being a strata.

Continue reading


Flux Comb

So I started Flux Comb when perhaps I should have been journalling about yesterday or reading the Updike story I found or otherwise somehow processing how inspired I was by hanging out with C,

and then it got really late and some of the wind fell out from under my wings, but I pursued some of this nonetheless, because that’s what flux combing is:

flux combobulation;

combing the flux until you find something you can identify with for long enough to not feel entirely adrift on a planet spinning so fast through a cosmos so random there is no chance of ever not having messy hair because one moment you’ve run a comb through it and the next moment CHANGE.

I write about things to help me understand them, and in writing about yesterday I hoped some insight would pop out, but understood that maybe it wouldn’t and I have to allow myself to be okay with that, because insights are like karma in the sense an experience might not yield an insight until decades later when some experience you have now then causes you to remember how you might have reacted to a similar experience back then.

Something I know is important (something that yielded insight immediately) is that I accessed a sort of existential mania I had long associated with my recently former tendency to binge-party in search of edifying drunken conversation I would then promptly forget and be much too frazzled and fragile to recover.