With all the planning, trip admin, bike making, networking and leaving parties that I have recently been doing, I was starting to feel a bit like Dory. There was a hazy memory that I was going somewhere, but I got so caught up in all the jobs I had to do and enjoying my time with friends, that I kept forgetting that I was Sydney-bound.
The most important (and stressful) aspect of the journey, was obviously getting my beloved bamboo bike there safe and sound. I had more than one dream that I’d be starring in the dreaded Border Control programme filmed at Sydney’s international airport and somehow Sunny would be either smashed up by cruel baggage handlers or being thrown into a giant chipping machine by cackling Biosecurity staff. I contacted several people who have travelled to Australia and New Zealand with bamboo touring bikes and they all made it through fine. But still the bicycle transporting horror stories of bent frames wheels rang through my mind.
In keeping with my mission, I wanted to use discarded, ‘single use’ products to pack up my bike for travelling. Throughout the summer, I became a packaging womble, rescuing every piece of pipe lagging, bubblewrap and large cardboard that I came across. The dining room began to resemble a crazy hoarder’s house.
And so, Sunny was transformed from bamboo beauty into a cocooned collection of pieces, all taped together with, yes, plastic parcel tape. I hang my head in shame. I felt awful as I unloaded huge quantities of the ‘fragile’ tape, but I had to be sure she would make it through in tip top shape, ready to begin our amazing mission.
Several late night packing sessions later, Sunny was ready.
I had a great journey to Sydney with the ever-fantastic Singapore Airlines. Changi Airport is a fabulous place to transit through. Potentially boring airport time (I am not a keen shopper) was brightened up by their exercise bike charging stations, where you can use pedal power to create electricity to charge your mobile device. Bloomin’ brilliant! I did get a few funny looks for hopping on one for a leg-stretching spin without plugging anything in to charge. I should have just gone the whole hog and put on my cycling helmet, for maximum passer-by entertainment.
I arrived in Sydney. A painful wait at ‘Oversized Luggage’ ensued, plagued by mental images of mangled bits of bamboo circulating on the luggage carousel. But to my sheer delight, the box eventually arrived looking a little worse for wear, but in one piece.
You can imagine my horror when I approached the customs gates to be faced with a large sign that read ‘Border Control is being filmed here today, please alert a staff member if you do not wish to be filmed’. Aaargh… The end of a 24 hour journey is not the best time to try calculating if you look dodgier or just plain terrified if you voice a desire not to be filmed.
“You will need to unpack your bicycle for inspection madam”. Oh God. Here we go. I could almost hear the chipping machine whirring into life. I explained to the nice lady that it was a mountain bike, but since I was totally terrified of the biosecurity / customs process, my bike had been scrubbed and polished and was the cleanest, sparkliest bike she would ever see. She asked me to peel back a tyre cover. One look at my spotless tyre and she asked in a bemused voice “is the whole bike that clean?”. “It most certainly is. I’ve seen Border Control and it fills my soul with paranoid dread.” She looked at me with a mix of amusement and pity and with a laugh told me she didn’t need to see any more and sent me on my way. No chipping machine. No frame smashing to check it wasn’t filled with drugs. Pass go. Collect 200. I skipped out of the terminal.
I made it here unscathed! I’m pretty sure that I won’t be posting any photos of Sunny, all reconstructed, in front of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, since she is all wrapped up ready for the onward journey to New Zealand and I can’t stand the thought of unwrapping and rewrapping her. But I am mightily thankful to have arrived safe and sound and get cracking with beach cleans, school workshops, meetings with conservation gurus and long overdue catch ups with dear friends…