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Preparing for the Mawson Trail

I choose to tackle the Mawson Trail, in Adelaide, South Australia, as my first foray into multi-day Bike Packing trips due to proximity to where I live, challenging terrain and weather conditions, to sample the Australian Outback and for the majority of riding in gravel and dirt roads.

In numbers, the Mawson Trail would take me 900km and 7.500 metres of climbing to complete in 9 days, starting from Adelaide's Airport and finishing at Parachilna, where a single weekly shuttle bus was my only option to take me back to Adelaide.

The Bike:

I choose the Polygon Bend RV for this trip. The fast rolling tyres, gravel geometry frame, hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano 105 compact gearing seemed like the perfect combination for a trip like this. I've also added another 2 bottles of water to the rear rack mounts, allowing for 3 litres in total of water on the bike.

Strapped onto the bike, an array of Apidura Bike Packing bags carried all my gear, whilst a Camelbak Volt 13LR backpack gave me a 3 litres water bladder for emergencies or longer stinches on the bike with no towns in between, plus I could carry some food for the day in it.

(photo of the bike - pizza shop or ferry wharf)

The Gear:

Apidura Saddle Pack (Regular)

Tools - spare brake pads, 3x tubes, spare derailleur hanger and thru axles, spare derailleur cable, patch kit, electrical tape, tyre levers and hand pump

Micro Towel, small stove and fuel cells, water filter

Soft Steel Jacket, long sleeve jersey

Bibs, socks and shirt

Shorts, Shirt and Jumper

Titanium Mug and Spork

Thongs

Apidura Handlebar Pack (Regular)

Nordisk Telemark ULW1 Carbon

Thermarest Neoair

Summer Sleeping Bag

Silk Sleeping bag liner

Mosquito net tent

Apidura Accessory Pocket Dry (waterproof)

Garmin Oregon 550t (spare GPS)

Spare Power Bank

Charging Cables

Epirb (emergency beacon)

Fly net

Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen, butt creme, paracetamol, lip balm, mosquito spray, deodorant

Apidura Road Frame Pack (Medium)

Knife

Multi-tool

Leatherman

Power Bank

Passport

Paper maps

Lighter

Small tripod

Garmin Virb XE

Apidura Top Tube Pack (Extended - closer to handlebars)

Nuts

Lollies

Apidura Top Tube Pack (Regular - closer to seattube)

Energy Gels

Energy Bars

Camelbak Volt 13LR

Regular Tripod

Instant noodles (individually packed)

iPhone

Shoe covers

Knee warmers

Gloves

Rain jacket

The Plan:

Having worked out the distance between towns, for resupplying and sleeping arrangements, I would've arrive to Adelaide Airport at 10am and would need to put in 100 to 140km consecutive days on the saddle to reach Parachilna. I've created this handy cheatsheet to help me out on the trail with distance travelled and distance to go to the next town.

(image of the cheatsheet)

The first day would arguably be the toughest one with many uphills to conquer and one of the longest days on the saddle. The following days would give me some time to rest and get the body used to long ridings days with still plenty of supply towns, before venturing out to the outback with higher temperatures and scarce supplying options along the way.

It was vital that I got to Parachilna in 9 days, as the only option to get back to Adelaide is a shuttle bus that only runs once a week, stopping at Parachilna at 7am every Tuesday. If I were to miss the shuttle bus, I could either try to ride back to Adelaide or would have to stay a whole week in Parachilna waiting for the next shuttle bus.

I planned to sleep in my tent most, if not all nights, for this trip. I took my Nordisk Telemark ULW1 Ultra-Light tent, a Thermarest air mattress and summer sleeping bag. Would charge both power banks every time I stopped for food and when staying in camping parks for the night.

I also took 2 sets of cycling clothing, as I wanted to have fresh, dry bibs and shirts for the next day.

The Route:

The Mawson Trail is ridden quite often by bike tourers, so finding a GPX file with the track was not hard. Even then, you should really look into the track from start to finish and make sure it makes sense, as often riders are forced to get out of the track, do shortcuts or go around a different way due to unforeseen circumstances.

Below you can see the track I used along with elevation profile.

(screenshot from Google Earth or Garmin Basecamp)

You can download the track by pressing the button below.

©2018 by Cycling Grand Tour