Audax Australia
This is the umbrella organisation running long distance cycling events in Australia Their website includes a calendar of events.

A place where cyclist can keep track of their mileage and any number of other statistics, as well as an attached forum.

A set of discussion forums covering almost every conceivable cycling related topic.

Cycling Adventurer
The Cycling Adventurer has tossed in the structured life of an urbanite to explore the world by bicycle. A well-written site detailing how he came to cycling, and what he learned along the way.

Crazy Guy on a Bike

Bicycle touring journals from all over the world, including a couple of my own.

Johns Cycles

This is my LBS on the Gold Coast. While they cater more to the racing market, their service, advice and workmanship is the best on the coast.

St Kilda Cycles

Importers of all manner of things hard to find in Australia, including the legendary Schmidt hub dynamo & E6 lights.


Wonderings and wanderings out and about in Portland, Oregon, US

The Journey
The journey begins in Perth, Western Australia.

Lance Notstrong
The "other" Lance!

Ms Mittens
The Wired Cat on-line

Iron Gambit

Aussie Writer and Cycletourist
A blog chronicling the writing and cycling of a seaside baby boomer.

Up in Alaska
Jill's subarctic journal about ice, bears and distant dreams of the midnight sun.

The Kin Chronicles
Taking mediocrity to a new level of ordinary.

Riding and running with a vengeance.

London Cycling Diary
Pedalling across the capital since August 2005.

CouchPilot-2-BikePilot (Zin's cycling blog)
Living an adventurous life with Type-2-Diabetes.

The adventures of Crazy Biker Chick
... Including cycling, adventuring, cooking, knitting and ranting.

Redneck Espanol
The two wheeled Spanish redneck.

Treadly and me
"Work is something I do between riding my bicycle".

Womanist philosophy and theology. Cycling, climbing, art, single-motherhood and fire-twirling.

Adrian Fitch's random rambling.
A bit about cycling, a bit about genealogy, a bit about radio but mostly a lot about nothing at all.

Geo's big adventure
The life and times of Geo.

It's about the bike
Musings on the cycling life.

Various cycling tidbits.

Industry Outsider
A blog about bikes and stuff.

Tweed Coast Treadly
An old man's bicycle riding diary.

A cyclist's life in Tenerife
(Canary Islands).

Bike to work to live to bike
It's never too late to get back on the bike

Stupid Hurts
Just the random scribblings of a guy with a bicycle

I'm not drunk enough for this
Really, I'm not.

What can I say? Just read it.

Mozam's cycling adventures
A random collection of the things I like to do most, and mostly that is to ride my bikes, bicycles that is... My musings from competitive riding, long distance endurance to puttering around the neighborhood..

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Monday, August 30, 2004

I'm Baaa-aaack!

Well, that was interesting. A much needed weekend away even if I say so myself. Here's how it all unfolded:

Day 1
Friday was a public holiday on the Gold Coast -- for show day. Now I'm not all that interested in watching rednecks do redneck things (especially when I see it everyday on my commute anyway), so I headed out for a bit of a bike tour. I started off heading west toward Canungra, initially riding at 26-27km/h. Of course, that was foolhardy on a fully-loaded bike and I soon brought that to a stop -- even if it took *gasp* a flat tyre 20km in to bring me to my senses. I fixed that and continued on through the Gorge country in the Coomera valley. This is actually one of the more spectacular and most under-ridden rides in the entire country in my view.

West of Canungra the scenery declines somewhat, as we're out of the coastal ranges. I pressed on through Beaudesert, and on to Rathdowney (four magpie attacks in a 31km stretch, I think they're making up for lost time). After leaving Rathdowney I headed out on the Lions Tourist road toward the Border Ranges.

This road was originally constructed by the Lions club of Kyogle, and they know a thing or two about advertising. There are all sorts of warning signs about steep gradients and sharp/blind corners, before another sign proclaiming a donation box on the border for "road improvements".

Here the road twists and turns, climbs and descents through rolling hills which gradually get more and more rugged. I called it a day after 121.6km (and 1,045 metres of climbing) at a campground about 14km north of the NSW border. I was offered a free feed by some other campers who "would have heaps left over at the end". I'm not one to reject a free feed, so I tucked in.

Day 2
The second morning I woke up in a mist-shrouded valley, with a temperature of 5 degrees C (it would later hit 28 degrees C). I set off heading south on a steeply undulating road, before a final short sharp rise to the border (it was 12% average for the last kilometre). It was here that I was able to observe two completely different environments. On the Queensland side, the landscape was stark and yellow, while on the NSW side, the rainforest was in full glory. "Cut all the f***in' trees down in Queensland" was the checkpoint attendant's brief explanation.

On my arrival at the checkpoint I'd been greeted by a couple of German Shepherd dogs, who were apparently on duty. I leaned my bike against the fence and took a short walk to take a photo, while they assumed the guarding position in front of my bike. I guess this was one place I didn't need to worry about bike theft. This was followed by ups and downs through the forest, with a short stop at the Border Loop lookout. This is a stretch of railway on the main Sydney-Brisbane line where they actually built a loop to give the trains a saner gradient with which to climb the range.

From here it was pretty much all downhill into the valley through Gradys Creek, and toward Kyogle. Before arriving there, however, I had other business to attend to, in the shape of the Tooloom forest road. This is a rough, rocky dirt road that eventually climbs to 830 metres above sea-level through varying types of forest. The views from the plateau are awesome in places, but I have to admit to feeling "saved" on the sight of a water tank at the top.

The descent was basically as rough as guts, and I was forced to press the "spare' luggage straps into service for "keeping the load" together purposes. I basically descended at the same speed I had climbed, but this stretch of rainforest was beautiful. At the bottom I decided to make for Kyogle, not in my plans, but I was hoping for a feed of pasta. The last 20km or so into Kyogle were accompanied by some very promising black clouds, a gutsy headwind, and even a bit of lightning (which, sadly, fizzled into nothing, but did scare off a magpie who wanted to have a crack).

I reached the town, pitched my tent in the caravan park, then headed to the main street to grab a feed -- not the best pasta I've ever had, but it would do. Back at the campground I met a couple of German cycle-tourists, who had come from Nimbin, but cut the day short due to the heat (in "winter" no less!). They were heading for Gradys creek. I also got another free feed from one of the residents (I didn't even ask for it, but hey, it's impolite to refuse, right?). After 102km and 2,111 metres of climbing (including about 1,300 on dirt roads), I wasn't going to refuse anything.

Day 3
Woke up in Kyogle on a surprisingly chilly morning (4 degrees C), but looking forward to the trip back to the coast. I was still paying for yesterday in a big way. The first action after leaving Kyogle is the climb of the MacKellar Range -- it's actually done in two stretches, with a decent descent in the middle. More winding roads through beautiful countryside, does it get any better than this?Unfortunately, it was warming up a little quicker than I would have liked, 16 degrees C at the top of the range, before the screaming descent into Cawongla, and another climb out, this time the Nightcap Range.

This one is broken with a heap of ups and downs, but the countryside was still beautiful. Sadly, I was forced into using a film camera for this trip, so there weren't as many photos as I would have liked. At the top of the range I passed the Nimbin turnoff and joined the Repentance ride from just over a month ago -- again entranced by the sight of the Sphinx watching over Mt Burrell.

Signs along the road proclaim the Sphinx Rock Cafe, but it's not due to open until September 14, and that's assuming they can find the staff for it. The long gradual descent took me into the rainforest, and toward Uki (a charming village surrouned by rainforests with a good vibe), with a magpie landing on my shoulder for "comfort" along the way. Waterbottles have more than one purpose.

I committed a sin in Uki, passing by the best cafe in the world because it was a little early for lunch. By the time I reached Murwillumbah the temperature had risen to 31 degrees C, and there was nothing open in the town, should have stopped in Uki after all. I did manage to find a bakery open, then set off home on the more familiar roads now. Of course, there was only one way I was coming back -- the rainforests of Urliup providing some welcome relief from the baking canefields. I slowed a little to savour the last rainforest of the weekend, before returning to Bilambil, and suburbia.

The ocean at Kirra very nearly tempted me, it was just that enticing shade of blue that it sometimes gets down there. Probably should have dived in on reflection. Just how does salt water effect lycra?

So what reflections do I have? Well, a three day tour, with day three along a route that's been ridden before doesn't always bring a lot. I'm glad my tent performed well in the light rain on Friday night, but I really should learn to better remember the names of people I meet. Most of all I'm glad I listed to my grandmother and kept the film camera. At least now I'll have something by which to remember the last three days -- even if I still have one pic to use up before I get this film sorted.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Nerves? Now?

Strange as it may seem, but on the eve of a simple three-day tour, I'm feeling a little nervous. Strange because I won't really be all that far from home, and it's hardly on the scale of four weeks in Tasmania, but I guess those nerves should settle when I get on the road. Right now, it's a matter of trying to get everything done before I go, trying to make my apartment look at least sanitary (yeah, right!).

The good news is that I seem to be over this mini-slump that hampered my riding last weekend and into this week. Seems the chance meeting the other day, and the return of an old friend with inspiring words to bikeforums (words like "when are you coming back to Tasmania for another play among the hills, rainforests and scenic coastline"), all seems to have done the trick.

Right now I'm listening to Midnight Oil's Capricornia on the CD player -- their last CD before splitting up. The music on that CD really puts me in the mood, and already I can feel the excitement building. Look out Richmond Range!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

TV blackout

In my previous entry I noted the imminent arrival of summer. Of course, I'm not a big fan of the hot weather (as those who continue reading in the coming months will realise), however, there is one thing about summer that I've always loved, always treasured, ever since I was a teenager. Watching the English Premier League highlighs on Monday night.

There was always something undeniably special about kicking back on those warm nights, watching my beloved Manchester United 169% Own pretty much everyone who got in their way. Alas, this looks unlikely to happen this summer, as SBS has been unable to secure the rights to show it on free-to-air. I'm not likely to pay the $50/month to get cable just for an hour of TV a week, so unless this can be resolved in some way, it looks like coming to an end, sadly. That pretty much means I can probably get rid of my TV altogether now.

Shortly after hearing the announcement my mind was filled with memories of some of the things I've seen on those balmy monday nights. Of course, I discovered it almost by accident, baby-sitting my neighbour's kids one night back in December 1991. I still remember Manchester United beating West Ham 2-1, and I remember taking a particular interest in that game, having known the names of most of the Manchester United players through a computer game I had at the time. Of course, this was the roots of the team that went on to totally dominate the game for the next decade.

I think the 1993/94 team is the one I remember most fondly. I guess it's because I was of an impressionable age at the time, but ask any United fan about names like Cantona, Hughes, Schmeichel, Kanchelskis, Giggs, Robson, and possibly even Ince (although he later committed the ultimate sin and turned out for Liverpool). It's hard to say just what that team could have achieved. United could never field it in European competition due to the old "three foreigner" rule. By the time that was scrapped, that team has passed it's peak, and a new breed, led by the likes of Beckham, Scholes, and the Neville brothers had taken over.

When I think back to those relatively carefree days, those Monday nights are always on my mind, just as much as some of the things I used to get up to with my friends, some of which I no longer have contact with. Now it appears another tradition is about to die. While we must all let go of the past and move on, sometimes it would be nice to keep some of the little things intact, if only to serve as a reminder.


Wanted to update this last night, but things just didn't pan out with time and all. Yesterday turned out to be quite interesting in the evening, it's coming to that time of year where the ocean spray tends to be just that little bit thicker near the beach, noting that the onset of summer isn't far away. It was in that little bit of distance in the mist, that I saw a familiar figure, but one I haven't seen for a while.

A woman who I met riding home from work one evening last year, and shared a couple of rides with along the way. Thought she'd disappeared from the face of the Earth, as I haven't seen her since schoolies' week last year (I wouldn't be surprised if she gave it all up after that, females on bikes tend not to be treated very favourably at that time of year). I'd actually been a little worried about her, I guess I get those protective male instincts with regard to females on bikes.

Still, it was good to renew acquaintences again (I'm surprised she even remembered me). Apparently she's changed her working hours a little, which might explain why we've not met since then. Seems she's been passing on some of my tips about how to ride in traffic safely (particularly among the morons around here). I'm glad someone appreciates my efforts. Sadly, not everyone does -- even those who should be the true believers.

Last night I went to the Bicycle Gold Coast meeting that was called about two days prior (nice bit of notice there). The usual guff really, I kind of think Linda has her own agenda with regard to where the club is going -- and that seems to be the way they do things. Linda has some good ideas, and puts a lot of time in, so I'm not criticising her particularly, but it would be nice if a few other ideas got a look in occasionally.

They all still seem a little too focussed on the bike path agenda -- even in situations where this is clearly not the solution. It's almost as if some people have read too many text books. Still, it wasn't all bad, the temperature on the late ride home was a near perfect 15 degrees C, and I did get a contact in Melbourne for when I head for Victoria later in the year.

Still waiting for some news on this camera. I called them this afternoon, but they still can't tell me anything yet. Looks like I'll have to dig out the old 35mm Nikon for the tour in three days (need to get some film for that one). Just as well I took my grandmother's advice and held on to it. However, they way Kodak were talking gives me the impression that they might just honour the warranty on the digital. Might.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Sometimes it's just not worth bothering

Seems like yesterday's lethargy has continued into today. I just didn't feel up for work at any stage -- although I did have a headache for most of the day. This is starting to worry me a little, but I'll see how I feel tomorrow. I actually felt alright on the way home from work, so go figure. I think I just need more sleep.

The other issue from yesterday was the forum one. I got a reply to my query about the forum change, which was a little less than polite I felt. It did address one or two issues, and I've decided to just let it slide. I really can't be bothered arguing back and forth. The full opinion I expressed yesterday still stands, but I'm not about to stress over a section in which I rarely posted.

I'm kind of in two minds about going for an early ride tomorrow. It could be the only chance I get this week, unless I push the issue on Thursday. However, I also have about a squillion other things I need to do -- and having a Bicycle Gold Coast meeting called for tomorrow night doesn't really help all that much. I'll probably go along, but I really don't know if it's worth bothering. Seems to me they've bought into all the bikepath hype that seems to be blinding cycling advocates everywhere to the real issues, and I'm not even sure I really belong to that group in anything more than an "official" sense.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Sorry, did I say something wrong?

On the left of this page you will find a few links. I'm intending to add more when I get around to it. One of those links is to, which is an online forum I've been participating in since April 2000. I have also been a moderator for over 18 months. It is this that has been the source of most of the angst in an otherwise pleasant weekend (even if I was a little slack getting the housework done).

The situation concerns, strangely enough, the section devoted to Women's cycling. While this has been an area where women could ask questions that pertain to them specifically, males have been permitted to post there (not that you can tell anyone's gender over the 'net anyway) pretty much since it's inception. Both male and female members have contributed advice to members with questions. In fact, on occasions males have used this forum to ask questions on behalf of female friends relating to cycling issues they were having.

About 12 months ago, someone posted a question in that forum about whether it should be for "women only" (as I said, good luck enforcing that one). At the time the thread died pretty quickly, and was largely forgotten, until last week when someone decided to dredge it up from somewhere. One of the subsequent replies was something along the lines of "it should be women only because right now I hate men so they might be offended by things that I post here". Evidently the person responsible for this post had recently had an unsuccessful relationship -- or so they claim.

The response of myself (and a few others) was to suggest that a forum devoted to cycling was hardly the place to complain about unsuccessful relationships, or make sweeping generalisations about one gender (particularly as they probably apply to both genders equally), and point out a blatant contradiction between two of this person's posts.

One of the other moderators decided to admonish me off the list for a "back and forth diatribe with this person" when I had, in fact, only replied once. I also note the attempt to close the thread was timed so that this person could complain about my reply, but attempted to prevent me from a second reply (not that I would have bothered, as the situation was 169% obvious to any intelligent observers).

Now it seems a decision has been taken to provide for (or at least attempt to provide for) gender-specific forums on that website. The connection here appears to be 169% transparent as f*ck. Apparently the person whom I replied to (and referred only to things they had actually posted on the forum, with no attack on their person whatsoever), didn't like being taken to task for what they had posted, so now we have the farcical situation where a basic structure of a forum that has been in place for over four years (and has worked successfully up until this point) has been changed simply to protect one forum member and give them a place to vent.

Interestingly, this wasn't done last year when the subject was first broached by another member. We also have the 19th century situation of gender-specific forums, which is extremely childish and gives the entire site a somewhat tacky appearance. I've suspected this was in the pipeline for a couple of days, but it was only on the announcement that I realised just how pathetic the whole situation was. In anycase, I wasn't consulted, so it's doubtful they would have listened to my input.

I have to say that it's not the first time this particular moderator (who shall remain nameless (or is that handleless on a discussion board?), pending my request for an explanation), has shown tendencies to coddle certain members and certain issues at the expense of others. Indeed, in the time this person has been there, three other long term well-respected mods have left the forum or at least ceased assisting with moderation in this time. I have to say that there have been times over the last 24 hours when I have seriously considered joining them, and I never expected that to happen.

It is, of course, possible that there is more to this issue than I am aware of, and in a way I'm hoping that's the case, because I'd really hate to walk away from either the forum or the voluntary position of moderator. However, everytime I log in and see that situation, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth that takes a while to go away. It was with this issue in my mind that I set off for this morning's ride.

The Numinbah Valley ride is one of my old favourites, and this was probably the last winter Sunday of the year. At one stage the temperature dropped to just 3 degrees (although it rose to 25 later in the day). If only I'd had the camera for this one -- the sight of the mist rising up off Advancetown lake on the way across the foothills of the Beechmont Range was really a sight to behold. Wildflowers were out everywhere today, really lighting up the landscape in tones of red, white and a couple of pinks and purples along the way. Below is a shot I took last time I was down in that valley -- just to give the vibe.

The return from Murwillumbah was again via the dirt Urliup Road, which I can't seem to get enough of at the moment. The Tweed Shire council seem to have thrown another layer of gravel on it, so it was loose in places. They also seem to be actively trying to encourage traffic down there, which is a shame. It's still pretty quiet, but I know how these things generally turn out (saw it with Hogan's Road, which is no longer dirt), and it's rarely for the better. Just once can they leave something alone? It's not as is there aren't a number of other options between Murwillumbah and Bilambil/Tweed Heads.

Either way, after returning from Urliup I rode home with the accompaniment of the deep blue Pacific Ocean, which looked very enticing. I might have dived in for a swim on another day. The only downside was the apparent lethargy I felt today. With a three-day tour next weekend, and Glorious Mee two weeks after that, as well as the issue I've expanded on above, perhaps it's understandable.

I also had to contend with rubbing brakes on the way back from Austinville with Martin yesterday, which I fixed in the afternoon (that's more than a little fiddly), maybe that was a factor. As far as Austinville is concerned, no allergies down there this time, perhaps I've just adjusted to Spring after all. We sought out some other tracks running off the main road, but only the one to the East appeared rideable. Something to check out next time we're down there. Don't know when that might be, I'll be away next weekend!

Friday, August 20, 2004

The pre-dawn chill, and a new day...

One of the things I love about cycling is the opportunity to experience things we often take for granted in all their glory. Yesterday I got my little side-trip to The Spit in the morning -- it was pleasant enough, but I still wanted more, so I got ambitious. Last night I went ahead and made today's lunch, storing it in the fridge, and did a couple of other things aiming at shaving about 15 minutes off my "getting ready for work" time this morning.

Off at 4.15am for an extra jaunt out to Hinze Dam. Normally I only do that ride after work, because I'm not quite so pressed for time then. To do it before work might have been a risk, if you can call getting home a few minutes late a risk! It didn't take me long to forget about the time concerns and just enjoy the beauty of the ride. First there was the fog around Carrara that had rolled in the night before, at around the same time I escaped from the (fortunately not very thick) smoke around the coast in the morning. I've seen this fog before, but it just seemed especially thick this morning. Then, as suddenly as it appeared, it disappeared again.

Westward through Nerang, then climbing to Advancetown, marvelling in the fresh morning air, and the slight glow toward the east -- also the sheer number of stars visible from beyond the city limits! Of course, the ride across the Hinze Dam wall is always pleasant, overlooking the water with the mountains in the background. The temperature out here was 7 degrees Celcius, which is just beautiful! There is something decidedly special about rugging up in those temperatures, and feeling really alive!

Toward the East, a whole new day was beginning. As the road twisted, climbed and descended all at once toward Gilston, the glow got bigger. By Mudgeeraba I could turn the lights off, and even Robina was bearable in those conditions. I even made it home by the 6am return which I normally set for the pre-dawn rides. Now that I hadn't expected. All the preparation last night turned out to be unnecessary!

Of course, we still have to go to work, to be a cog in a big machine for eight hours, with an hour in between to catch our collective breath. The day finished in frustration, seems the fax I was trying to send to a client didn't want to go. It wasn't prudent to attempt to telephone them, they are in the UK, and there is a time difference. No e-mail address for them either. Oh well, it can wait until Monday.

Tomorrow morning at 4.15am I do it all again with Martin. Not Hinze Dam this time, Austinville. There is actually something in that particular patch of rainforest that I have a slight reaction to at this time of the year -- my arms start to itch. It doesn't seem to apply to other patches of rainforest, such as Urliup last Sunday. Mind you, with scenery like this around, it's almost worth it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Days like this!

Years ago when I was a teenager in Laurieton, near Port Macquarie on the Mid-North coast of New South Wales, the local radio station (only 2mc in those days) used to play this song quite regularly. I've long since forgotten both the title and the artist, but there was a much repeated line in it along the lines of "My mama told me, there'll be days like this". I like to get that line going in my head when things aren't going the way I feel as though they should.

I got up at 4am this morning, planning another pre-dawn ride, and soon cancelling it due to bushfire smoke (again!). About 30 minutes later it started to rain, quite a substantial storm, which just about killed off the smoke and would have been very pleasant to ride through (I love rain), had it only arrived 30 minutes earlier! I'm not getting as many miles in this week as I normally would, and it's agitating me. Hopefully those light bulbs I ordered will arrive soon so I can rekindle the night rides to Austinville or Hinze Dam.

It's on the way to work that the real drama starts. Cruising through Surfers Paradise, onto Main Beach, a nice roll on the deep blue South Pacific, still a few clouds around, Psssshhhhhh!!!!!!!!! Yep, a flat tyre on the way to work. I fix it hurriedly, I was already running late, and cleverly forget to extract the glass from the tyre. The spare tube doesn't last long, but by then I'm only a couple of hundred metres from work, so I limp in (just in time), and decide to fix it properly at lunch time.

So lunchtime comes, I go out and fix it. Well, I am having a bad day! On putting the rear wheel back on, I get a spoke stuck in the drivetrain. I'm not sure how I did it, but I managed it somehow. I pull it apart (thanks to Rowan in Hobart last January for showing me how), put it back, and extract the spoke. Now, I'm finally ready. Planning to atone for this tomorrow morning at 4am, no dice. They've set a staff training meeting for 7am tomorrow morning. Still, I might get a little deviation up to The Spit on the way to work. Not much, but it's something.

Then the ride home, seems OK, even though I've only got about 25 PSI in the back tyre. I pull off a brilliant save to avoid some drunk/stoned/just plain stupid moron who cuts me off and risks his own life to do so -- why does the Gold Coast attract people like this? Honestly, with the natural scenery around here, this place could be a paradise!

Well, it's all over now, I'm all set for tomorrow, with patched tube properly pumped up and a spare in place. For now I'll keep repeating the song: "there'll be days like this".

Speaking of music, last night on Triple J I heard that one of my favourite bands, Something for Kate, are releasing a B-Sides CD. I'm never quite sure about those things, there can be some real hidden gems on them, but there can also be quite a few tracks "not good enough" for the real CD's. The one they played on last night was firmly in the latter category as far as I'm concerned. Maybe it will grow on me, or maybe the other tracks on that CD are better. Either way, I thought it a disappointing effort from the band that gave us "Three Dimesions", "Monsters", "Happy Endings" etc etc.

One CD I will be buying is the latest one from the Melbourne band, Art of Fighting. It's been featured on Triple J this week, these guys are good. Could be another Gersey.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Firebugs 169% owned!

Well, yesterday was just beautiful. Martin and I met up at North Burleigh surf club to set off, heading south which cleared us of the remaining smoke pretty quickly. By Currumbin it was all gone, and we managed to squeeze the full 173km around the Tweed valley into the day. The food at Uki was beautiful (the Uki Dreaming Cafe is one of my favourite haunts in the world!), the temperatures were perfect (6-22 degrees C), and the scenery was beautiful as it always is down there. This was a photo I took down there on a previous ride when my camera was working:

The first magpie attack for the year, too. About a month later than normal. Two of them in fact, I ducked the first one, then grabbed my waterbottle, which scared him and his mate off. They both went after Martin, but I'm sure he'll get me back for that one! I think he got me first by making me lead into that monster westerly wind that was blowing through Chillingham. All in all things went pretty well. I concentrated on riding slightly within myself on some of the less steep gradients yesterday (1,639 metres of climbing in total) which seemed to work pretty well -- although I'm still paying for the ride today.

On arriving home and checking my e-mail (couldn't update this yesterday -- website not working), I found one from telling me my stamps were only 10 days from expiry. Some time ago I relented and decided to defy my cynicism by joining a couple of those Internet Dating websites to see if there was anyone out there at all. Apparently that isn't the case. Well, perhaps it is, but I got *zero* replies from the people I contacted. Those that contacted me seemed to lose interest as soon as they saw my picture.

Hey, don't like my looks, well, fine! However, what would be so wrong with a simple "thanks but no thanks"? Suffice to say, I don't think I'll bother renewing my subscription.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Smoke gets in your eyes, and throat, and ...

You can probably guess what this entry is going to be all about. Two words for firebugs: "Hired Goons". So how to put the last couple of days into words, well, I had an idea that if I want this to be anything more than a diary I needed to give a few opinions from time to time. I'll aim for an editorial each week on some philosophical or profound issue, but no promises there.

Yesterday morning the smoke cleared, so I managed to get a quick 40km ride in before work. Surprisingly cool temperatures once I got away from the coast, but that doesn't really bother me greatly. On the contrary, I prefer the cooler conditions anyway. With the commute to work (and home again afterward) I ended up with 66km for the day, so that's something after all the fire disruptions earlier in the week.

At work right now things are getting a little frustrating. I'm dealing with a client that decided to send in three different sets of records from the period I'm doing accounts for (and that's a year overdue anyway). All of them provide contrary figures in some way or another (they changed bookkeepers a few times), so it's all a bit of a mess.

So this morning (Saturday) I get out on the bike again, the beautiful ride through Austinville. The fires in that area left it untouched -- no photos yet because my camera isn't working. Still, the rainforest is always a pleasant deviation -- although my arms were itching a little today, could be a spring allergy. Only seems to be in the rainforest patches. Still no magpies as yet.

On the way home there was a little detour, Monaro Road. Not a massive climb (only gains about 310 metres), but mind-buggeringly steep. Probably averages 15% gradient when false flats are removed, with one section in the 25-30% range. I admit that I kinda enjoy those really steep sections and grim struggles, that feeling that "either me or this climb is going to crack soon, this is too intense to last long on either front". Of course, it helps when it's the climb that cracks, leaving me a short flat ride across the top with sweeping views for miles on end.

Then later in the day the fires started. The first was out at Gilston, I could see it from the coast when I was walking back from a shopping trip, followed by a massive fire near Nerang. Probably 15km from here, but enough smoke to completely block out the sun for most of the afternoon. This is bad news on two fronts. Firstly, breathing all this crap can't be good for one's health (not to mention those whose homes are threatened directly by the fires).

Of course, myself and Martin, a riding buddy of mine, had planned an epic for tomorrow morning, but all this smoke could put it into doubt. Most of the ride could be protected, given the expected wind directions and the terrain between our destination and the fires themselves. We're taking a "wait and see" view on this one, we could stay at home or go depending on how the smoke is on the 'coast. And we still have options to vary the ride should we need to. I'm hoping we get to do the full circuit however. I'm aiming for an imperial century in every calendar month of the year, and this is my chance to "score" in August. Bring on the Tweed Valley!!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Editorial: Is this really healthy?

Something I've been wondering for a while, but was heightened earlier this week as the media jumped all over the Jana Pittman thing -- is Australia's obsession with sport (or perhaps more correctly, watching sport) really healthy? Thinking back a few days, Jana Pittman was all we heard about. She was front page news, I'm told one Sydney newspaper even ran a column supposedly written by "Jana's Knee" (please!). In all seriousness, did this justify front-page billing?

The word "tragedy" is one of the most over-used in the Australian media, and although I try to avoid non-satirical news sources these days, it's a fairly safe bet to say the word got a good outing. Now I'm sure Jana Pittman is a very dedicated and talented athlete, and was indeed unfortunate to suffer an injury just before the Olympics. However, let's be honest here, is someone missing out on the Olympics really a tragedy? I mean, did anyone die as a result? I certainly can't think of anyone. However, there were plenty of other events in the world with far greater consequences that didn't get anywhere near the same billing.

However, simply blaming the media for not having their priorities right on this one doesn't really do justice to the situation, because we all know who the media are targeting for newspaper sales. One would get the impression here that the Australian population are more concerned with an athlete's knee, than with life and death matters that affect people who are perhaps not in the public spotlight. Has anyone in this country even published the names of the latest batch of Iraqi civilians killed in the conflict over there?

However, let's look beyond last weekends news stories for further symptoms. We've heard time and again about university funding cuts in the last few years, but has anyone even tried to tamper with the funding of the AIS? I suspect not. It would seem in this country that an aspiring swimmer would get more government support than an aspiring doctor. Now let's answer this one honestly -- which of that pair would make the greater contribution to society? Sure, the swimmer might provide some entertainment, but is breaking a 100-metre freestyle record going to save anyone's life? Where is the real "tragedy" here?

Now while it's easy to say "blame the government" in the above situation, let us pause for a minute and ask -- who's voting for them? Would cutting funding to the AIS win any votes? One suspects it would be more damaging to a party's election chances than cutting university funding. Once again, stopping some nameless kid with a few brain cells from making a contribution seems to be a far greater disservice to the public than stopping some High-School swimming champion from spending some time being pampered in Canberra at tax payers' expense.

Everytime I see the word "tragedy" used to describe something like this, I wonder just how people managed to lose their perspective.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Another day, another 50 cents

A surprisingly uninteresting day today. I was trying to think of something spanky to give this thing a bit of a head-start, but really little came to mind. Apart, of course, from the homocidal cab driver I had to deal with in Broadbeach this evening on the ride home from work. Still, at least I wasn't in the cab, so the danger was there only for a few seconds. I probably should have notified the cops, however.

Beyond that there's little to say really. I need to give my bike a clean after last night's little jaunt after work -- I managed to get sand all through it which appeared to be causing problems this evening. Not the least, of course, from that thoroughly avoidable crash in the sand (which, thankfully nobody saw). Hopefully those fires in the Hinterland will be out by the weekend. That's what I'm looking forward to right now.


Yes ladies and gentlemen, I can whine with the best of them. Why is it that Kodak Digital Cameras can only be repaired by the Kodak Factory (or whatever it is) in Melbourne? One would think that at least someone up here might manage it, but no, that's what I've been told so far, I'll have to send it down to them tomorrow. I guess that's just another way for companies to extract money from their customers these days. I suspect Kodak aren't the only ones.

The whole situation is more than a little frustrating, bearing in mind that I'm planning a short cycle-tour on the upcoming long-weekend, and may have to drag out the old film camera for that one. The camera's still under warranty, but that doesn't seem to mean much these days. Personally I'd rather just pay for the repair if that's what's required to get the thing back quickly. I don't really have the patience for three months of arguing over what should or shouldn't be covered.

I didn't mention my interest in photography in my profile. I guess I'll have to go and fix it up at some point. I may even post a few photos I've taken along the way on this blog. Before I forget to mention it, the one at the bottom of this page was taken in Queenstown, Tasmania, on a slightly longer cycle-tour last summer. I may spend some time reminiscing about that from time to time -- at least until I do another one to replace it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Off and running -- THIS time?

Well, here I am, the third attempt at creating a new blog with the second host -- I'm sure I'll get the hang of it yet! Things didn't quite work out with the earlier attempts, if this fails I'm going to bed! Anyone who follows this blog for any length of time will probably learn more about me then I can disclose with one entry (and perhaps things I don't yet realise myself). However, I'll get the formalities out of the way now. Born in Parramatta, Sydney, Australia on 1 October, 1976. I grew into this scary creature:


As you may have guessed, cycling is a big part of my life. It's transport, recreation, stress relief and a heap of other things rolled into one. It will appear on these pages quite often -- along with other rants I have which will probably become clear later. Anyway, I'll leave this entry here for now, as I need to explore the features of this site a little more. I'll probably have something else to whine about later on.