What am I doing, what is the purpose of this bike ride? The main purpose of this trip is to do something healthy that is theraputic for me, gives me direction and is not too expensive.

The secondary reason is to show my wife who I am currently not living with (but love more than ever before), that I love her and am man enough to get out of her way, so that she may face other issues, such as schooling her son, and sorting out if she wants to commit to me, or if she chooses to continue to sit on the fence, and deny my existence.

To give me a purpose I have decided to undertake a study of people and families with a family member or friend that suffer from depression. I have long been a sufferer of depression and was recently diagnosed with Bipolar 2. This has brought me to a turning point in my life. As I move down the road I will evaluate if my treatment from home is warranted, from that I will be able to base my decision on if it is really worth staying with the family I am currently with and if they will or should show me any affection and if I will ever feel comfortable in the home that I have built, and they have chosen to exclude me from.

As I travel down the east coast of Australia I will be travelling through area’s that have recently or during the last few years suffered natural disasters much of it lying between Cairns and Townsville. Through talking to people on the road I intend to find out current attitudes and prejuduces towards identified and unidentified depression sufferers. I also intend to determine what is the range of services and funding communities are aware of and utilising.

I will also be asking questions about their understanding of depression and related illness, what community members see as the cause, and how the community choose to support or critique it.

If I find anybody that has an interesting story that would like to tell that story, I will attempt to transcribe, record or video there story and use this information for further study, pass on to organisations will a greater capacity to utilise it, or if nothing review the material myself as a method of developing material to help other families affected by depression.

At my disposal I have traditional notepads and pens, a Nokia N8 smartphone with capacity to store 16GB on the phone itself and augment this memory with removal mini SD cards with up to 32GB of memory. The phone records audio and HD video formats. It also serves as a conduit to this blog, email and other internet based media.
As well as the smartphone I have also brought along a Sanyo Handycam and a Oregon helmet or bike mounted camera.

Although I have conducted oral histories for the Australian War Memorial and Successful Ageing projects, this will be my first attempt to utilise video for public interviews. Through transcribing, recording and videoing, I will be further reinforcing what I have to do to overcome my own personal dilema and isolation.

I have recently undertaken evaluation at the Black Dog Institute in Randwick NSW where I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2. From this diagnosis my GP will recieve a report which was not compiled in time for my departure on this trip. However the guts of that report suggested that my existing medication of Efexor may be helping me with my depression but accelerating and increasing the propensity of my highs and lows. Therefore the clinicians have suggested that I be put on a drug known as Lamictal (Lamogine) which is traditional used to control epilepsy. The Lamictal medication is phased in at 25mg in the morning and 25mg in the afternoon and gradually increased every two weeks until a satifactory level is seen to reduce or eliminate my bipolar cycle. How will I know? Apparently I will get droughy and when this happens whe back the dosage off. I am currently monitoring my mood swings on a daily mood chart where I record my sleep patterns, any triggers, external events and anything else that may be relevant. When a satisfactory dose of Lamictal is found I will then be weaned gradually off my Eforex. In addition to the Lamictal it is suggested that I also take up to four capsules of Omega 3 daily.

I do not know how long I have been Bipolar, but I suspect it has been a long time. I have been taking medication for depression since I was 25/26, and my long term friends say that highs and lows have always been prominent characteristics of my personality.

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Well, seven big sleeps to go until take off from Sydney. I have some of the essentials but there are a few big gaps in the equipment listing that will have to be filled on route. My lovely wife has offered to buy me a sleeping bag, so we are doing a little window shopping on Wednesday, to check we can get one that is fit for purpose at the right price. Luckily I decided to fly north to Cairns and not south to Tasmania as cycling gear is priced in line with weight or lack of it, and cold climate would have necessitated.

My good freind Deano has sacrificed his tent to me. I have warned him he won’t get it back and he doesn’t seem to mind. I figure that if I can get thirty big sleeps on the road out of it, it will have done me well. I think its life cycle may well depend on its ability to keep me dry. Dean weighed it and it came in just over 2kgs. The poles are a little long for my rack, but hell, beggars don’t choose, they graciously accept. I also need to purchase a bed roll or pad. This can wait until Cairns, as can a pillow.

In the kichen the cook has been given little or no artillary to fire with. An interim stove/burner will be purchased on arrival in Cairns, as will associated pot and frypan. The sky is the limiy when it comes to the light weight kitchen, so when I eventually spend the bucks I want to be sure I am getting tools that satisfy the capability requirement. Eating irons well as plate and bowl will be purchases cheap until I can work out a silly reason that justify buying more expensive ones.

I intend to initially buy a cheap water bladder to augment my stereo water bottles, and perhaps purchase myself a camelback type backpack if I can find one on special somewhere along the road. Should I decide to get off the main roads from time to time having a little water in researve from a reliable source may make me feel a little more secure and help fend of potential tummy upsets away from towns.

I am developing a catering list based on four main levels. Condiments: salt, pepper, sugar, condensed milk, coffe, tea, soup. Stowable Light: cereal, noodles, saladas, riveeta, instant pasta, rice. Stowable Heavy: sardines, sultanas & dried fruit, powdered drink flavouring. Perishable Couple Of Days: fruit like apples, oranges, lime, salami and smallgoods, kraft cheese, bacon, eggs, some meat, bread rolls. On The Day: banannas, grapes, melon, fish, dairy products.

Well as you can see we are getting there. We will leave it like that today otherwise I will find myself devoting more time to this blog than I do on preparation.

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Mean while back at the ranch.

Easter Sunday and everyone from the family I am staying with gathered at the outside table for roast pork and crackeling. Why don’t they just invent a pig that is all crakeling? That would be a bit silly I suppose. After lunch everybody took it easy for an hour or so and then all went there separate ways.

I decided I had better get on the bike for an hour. So I decided to ride from Medowie down to the Pacific Highway, a distance of about eleven or twelve kilometres each way. It was a good pedal, mainly along the flat with a couple of slight gradients and a bit of hill at theturn around. I have noticed that my fear of inclines is decreasing with time and practice.

After my ride I decided to attach thce front and rear racks gain and try and work out what tools I am going to require for reassembly after the flight to Cairns and repairs and maintenance along the way. I judge from
others that the list of tools can include a plasma cutter and a mig welder, as long as you are stupid enough to pack it. I am detemined to keep the total weight of my battlestar light enough as to not burn out the primary reactor in the fusion accelerator. I consider myself fortunate to be very poor at the moment which will prevent me from purchasing everything listed on those extemely long lists that other trekkers have posted.

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Finally Back On The Learning Curve

Well, after hours of suffering I have finally managed managed to get my Nokia N8 linked to my blog. Jeepers creepers you have to stay focused in todays world. Thank god this phone does the lot because today I found it impossible to log into my hotmail account via the computer where I am holding up until my departure. I think my thumbs are going tobe cactus by the end of this trip. What with gear changes on my bike and two thumb typing to get everything recorded and transcribed.
I noticed my thumbs were getting very sore the other day on the return leg of my ride out to Shoal Bay. I have been riding about 25 kilometres most days, and trying to get in a ride of over fifty kilometres about once a week. What most people don’t realise is the amount of times you change gear on a bike when you are covering any substancial distance. I am trying to develop my rhythm amd cadence stamina, so as I start loading up the paniers I theoretically just have to lower my gearing. The trouble is with the staight handlebars there are only limited positions to chamge the hands through to stop them cramping up or going to sleep. As my thumbs are doing alot of work and their circulation is stifled they tend to complain through pain.

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