Day 346 | another day here in Paradise: Tony and his love for antiques

Esperance Day 48

When I was bundled into that gold van on Sunday with the cast of strangers I had no knowledge of their lives or what had made us all aggregate briefly in this remote town. As the day unfolded I learned more.

Marius, our driver, had just finished his water management degree in Holland but had made several placements during his course: Manaus, Florida, Rhode Island and Palau for a few months. Marion had worked in a dive shop on an island in Thailand. Marius and Antonio had been there as well at various times. Looks like I am the odd one out there.

Tony was setting out for a year long bike trip around/across Australia on his 25 year old ten speed he’s used since he was 16. It didn’t seem as if he was scratching around for cash like us other scrimpers, he was the only one with a proper bed, holed up in the local backpackers at $28 a night.

He’s still using his quarter century old panniers but everything has been carefully modified to meet his requirements: new pockets and reinforcement. He could easily have new equipment, let’s face it there is now a real problem with getting the antiquated components for his stead in this throw away economy. Bikes are superseded on a regular basis so he has replacement ball bearings for the hubs, well a complete stock of obscure mechanical parts, all neatly wrapped for any eventuality.

There’s currently a problem with the rear hub that needs to be resolved before he sets off across the Nullabor. The six speed cassette is the ancient screw on type, not the slide on type of most recent bikes, even mine that is a mere 10 years old. I’m not confident. It’s Esperance: population 15,000 at a stretch. I don’t really understand the actual issue but there is a unnatural grinding noise from the back hub/axle. Being 5 speed converted to 6 speed the rear axle is 20mm narrower than any current bike. Even getting a new wheel to fit may well prove to be a problem.

Tony took it to the only bike repair shop in town and the 20 something year old mechanic David who was so good to me expertly whipped it all apart, replaced the ball bearings, and showed Antonio how to click the cover plate back on. It seems this clicking was something the German bike shop who had done the pre-trip service had failed to do properly and was the source of the issue. Total cost: $50 for an hour’s mucking around.

Tony couldn’t believe he’d learned something new after all these years, riding through Morocco, Egypt etc. We find he is a scientist with a PhD in Physics. (We are a well qualified bunch.)

The choice to ride the antique machine was a philosophical one: make the most of what you’ve got.

I concur.