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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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Return of the greenery

Leaving Bilambil, on the way to Urliup.

I ended up heading for a "Tweed Mystery Ride" today, regardless of the fact that nobody else seemed interested. Just lately I seem to be riding Urliup Road every week, although today there were a surprising number of wildflowers out. Surprising, because this isn't really the time of year for them.

After coming out near Murwillumbah, I climbed Tomewin, then followed the dirt road across the ridge back toward Bilambil. This section of the ride has some really great views. One day I'll get a picture of Mt Warning when it's not shrouded in mist.

There's something about a ridgetop dirt road through a rainforest. It has a character all of it's own, especially the solitude, where one can be alone with their thoughts, and with nature in it's most pristine form. This is good for the soul. Eventually I descended to Bilambil, then found another climb through the John Hogan Rainforest, over the ridge, and down onto the Pilgrims' Road. This was actually the first time I've done this section during the day for quite a while, and it felt almost unusual. The last few times I've ridden Hogan's Road, it's been in the darkness.

The rest of the ride was basically a cruise along the Tweed River for a bit, before climbing Terranora, and heading home with my cranks making some noises that will need to be looked at in greater detail. I think I'll just replace them only two weeks out from a tour. This seems the logical thing to do.

For those still reading, yes, that means I did not end up going to O'Reillys as planned. I'm currently at a bit of a strange, almost fearful, place with that ride. The issue seems to be that last time I did it, I basically blew it apart. I got up there a full ten minutes faster than I ever have before. I know that I'm buckley's chance of repeating that performance (at least while the weather's warm), and that seems to be deterring me from riding up there again. With Mt Jerusalem next weekend, and Victoria after that, it will be at least a month before I can put that to bed. I'm just not sure how to go about it. I guess I'll work it out. Right now, I'll just have to enjoy the rides I have!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Ride like the wind!

Morning at Currumbin.

It's been blowing a gale here for most of the day. Thankfully it's from the South, meaning that it's a few degrees cooler than it might otherwise be. I have to admit I get a strange sensation of delight from pedalling into a wind of that nature. Especially on my commute, where some of the gusts between the buildings can really be heightened by the funnel effect. It's like a game of cat and mouse, the wind gusts like crazy, then drops slightly, and I respond by upping my pace, until the next gust, and so on. Then there are the exposed bit around Narrowneck, where I go right on the defensive, ticking over a small gear at just 23km/h or so, then the traffic jam in Surfers blocks it, then back into the buildings where it's on again!

Of course, this may well just be practice for the big ride to Wilson's Promontory in a couple of weeks time (just two weeks away as of tomorrow). Like the lead-up to my last tour, everyone is trying to make it as crazy as can be just before I go. At work clients are dumping their rubbish on me left, right and centre, then there is a GST audit to deal with just two days before I fly out. It's absolutely crazy, but in a way that might help me appreciate the time off even more. Two weeks really isn't enough though, but I have to settle for that if I want five or six in New Zealand next year.

Maybe it might be worth checking the job market for accountants in New Zealand. Today I read that John Howard and his cronies "promise not to abuse senate power" (they now officially have control of both houses of parliament in this country). I guess abuse is in the eye of the beholder. Some of the policies they tried to get in last time around were scary, now there's nothing to stop them. I think we can only hope they were decoy points that the could back down on (i.e. so they could look like making a "compromise"). We'll just have to wait and see on that one.

Hmmm, maybe I will go to O'Reilly's on Sunday after all.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

No reaction

Haven't been on much the last couple of days. I figure it's about time for an update. In my last entry I referred to a punch-throwing/car-throwing yobbo that I encountered on Sunday evening. However, the surprising thing has been the total lack of reaction to this incident from the cycling advocates whom I've contacted (Bicycle Queensland, Bicycle Gold Coast, and anyone who read the thread over at bikeforums). Especially when compared with other "hit and run" incidents which weren't quite as blatantly deliberate (albeit quite suspicious).

Granted, I wasn't hit, however, a less experienced, less cynical and less judgemental cyclist would have been. And while such incidents (fortunately) are relatively rare, this is proof that they still happen. Admittedly, the muted reaction may be partially my own fault. After all, I didn't have a pen and paper with me to record the details of the vehicle (a registration # would have been all I needed), but it does still raise one or two questions about why there is so much more focus on the supposedly "accidental" incidents than the blatantly deliberate ones. Have we just accepted ths sort of behaviour as something that can (and will) never be changed? Are advocates so wrapped up in the "building things" ideal that they pay more attention to the incidents they expect to give more credence to this mantra?

In something more positive, it hasn't stopped me from riding (why would it after Sunday night?). Yesterday morning was particularly pleasant with the low-lying cloud near Hinze Dam. That place seems different everytime I go out there, and it does serve a purpose for quick hills when I need them (and right now, I need them as much as ever!).

I'm still a little undecided about where to go this weekend. "Officially" I'm supposed to be leading the Tweed Mystery Ride to cover for Martin, but I'm not expecting anyone to get in touch now that I've taken over. If they don't, it leaves me with options. I could head for O'Reilly's (I usually do when I've had it with the world). Alternatively, I could say sod it all and jump on a train to the Glasshouse Mountains. I just don't know at this point.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Another yobbo

The second one of each I've encountered this year, at least this time they both happened in the one incident (whether I should be glad about that is highly debatable). Perhaps yesterday's trepidation about this ride had a meaning. This one happened at about 5pm at the start of this evening's ride, just as I was accelerating away from a red light at the intersection of Sunshine Boulevard and Markeri Street (i.e. only a few hundred metres from where I live). I knew something just wasn't right as I took off, something wasn't happening as it should, one of the cars behind me wasn't accelerating as it should have been.

Instinct took over, fortunately there's a small slip lane outside the bike lane in this section (so much for bike lanes being any use), I moved across quickly, to see the car in question zooming across the spot where I would have been, and some yobbo on the passenger side leaning out the window swinging what looked like a very poorly formed fist (he missed by more than the car did). It later occurred to me that the reason they hadn't accelerated the way the rest of the traffic did was that they were literally taking the time to line me up and have a really good shot. They missed anyway, stupid c*nts.

From what I could see of their attire, it appears as though they were on the way home from an afternoon spent getting very drunk and watching cars go around in circles very, very fast. Ironically, they were quite possibly stuck in gridlock every afternoon last week because of those same cars (something for which I feel absolutely no sympathy whatsoever). The interesting thing was the total lack of trepidation I felt both during and after the incident. About the only thing I felt from within was a mild irritation that I hadn't brought a pen and paper with me to write down a few details. Maybe I just wasn't that surprised.

Interestingly, it was actually the prelude to one of the most spectacular rides I've had this year. The next 92km showcased mist rolling off the ocean at Kirra (twice), an incredible sunset that lit up the entire sky over Bilambil, the glow-worms that greeted me in the John Hogan rainforest, the two thunderstorms creating a light show on The Pilgrims' Road that puts just about every fireworks display in the history of the universe to shame, and the stunning rainforest at night on Urliup Road (if you haven't ridden this at night, why are you still alive?), and the moonlight inspired silhouette of the surrounding hills that was almost a constant companion.

I can't say I'm terribly religious, but it's fairly obvious whose side the Gods were on in this one. Overall I'm glad I went out for a ride. Would have missed a lot by staying at home. Today's ride to and from work was just another obstacle course. The race doesn't appear to have cut up the road the way it did last year, but there did seem to be a lot of advertising hordings lying around in ridiculous places today. A nice headwind along the coast made for a more pleasant ride home, however. With a bit of luck that southerly might stay with us for a while.

Oh yeah, Man Utd 2, Arsenal 0. Now that was some good news, even if I can't watch it anymore. I seriously don't even know why I have a TV, apart from the occasional highlights on SBS World Sports.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


Friday morning at Currumbin beach.

Haven't updated for a few days, but there's a perfectly good reason for it -- not a lot has been happening. Right at the moment here it's HOT, and in Queensland that's generally bad. The humidity here is totally oppressive. In short, conditions like this stifle brain activity and just about any other form of physical activity. Still, I noted there were a few more cyclists around on my rides of the last couple of days, surprising that they should come out now that summer has well and truly arrived.

Still, they don't appear to be all that fit. The ride up Currumbin Valley yesterday was hardly a gruelling one, but nevertheless, many of the cyclists I saw were wheezing like mad from the "effort". Hope they don't try Mt Wellington anytime soon! However, I suppose yesterday there was something of an excuse for it, the smoke from bushfires -- that's right, bushfires. Seems the 200mm of rain we supposedly got on Monday was the next best thing to useless. We need a lot more. A close look at Cougal's Cascades in the second picture indicates just how little water is coming through the creek inspite of Monday's alleged downpour.

Tonight I'm heading off for another ride down the coast through Tumbulgum and Urliup. Should be a pleasant night after the sun goes down, although I'm a little worried about all the hoons staggering around after hours in the sun watching cars go around in circles really really fast. Still, I am heading away from Surfers, so it should be OK.

Now if I can stop taking photos for a while, I just found something moderately interesting. In the Bicycling for Ladies blog linked on the left of this text, there was an entry today about a thing called Global Footprint. It's a test which determines just how one's lifestyle affects the world in which we all live by asking a few questions. The results of the test I took are listed below:

FOOD 3.1






Actually, tests like this one can often be difficult to answer, as labelling (or lack thereof) prevents me from accurately assessing just how far the food I eat needs to be transported, although my "high" score in that area probably has more to do with my meat eating habits than anything else (something I probably should cut back on).

Try it for yourself at:

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The ultimate ironic facade?

Often while lane-splitting through the gridlock, which is slightly intensified at the moment due to Gold Coast road closures, certain thoughts will cross my mind (which is, uh, why I have a blog). Today seemed to be the busiest yet, although the traffic did dissipate very slightly after the Isle of Capri turn-off. The irony of literally thousands of cars being stuck in gridlock, going nowhere, all in the aid of some of the fastest cars in the world in Sunday's Indy Car race.

The facade is that the international viewers (I suspect there will be a few million of them) will only see the images from Surfers on Sunday. They'll see shots of the very very fast cars, and perhaps a few long shots of the South Pacific in the background. In short, they'll see a facade of the Gold Coast, that differs from the reality that so many of the commuters were experiencing this afternoon.

Interestingly, in the days before I deliberately avoided watching what passes for news in this country, I remember seeing so many similar accusations levelled at countries whose foreign policy differed to what our leaders (who weren't even there) thought was best. How often have we heard the expression "there was the (name the country) that was shown to the cameras, then there was the (name the country) that we saw after they took our cameras off us" (yes it was often sycophantic journalists saying this).

Funnily enough, I hadn't thought about that for years, but something in today's commute brought it right back into my mind. I wonder how many of the international viewers will see the "real" Gold Coast this weekend? Will they even think about it? Still, as I related yesterday, my vehicle has no engine and only two wheels -- so I don't seem to suffer from "indy fever". If anything, my commute times have actually improved slightly this week.

Who would have thought it?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A new disease on the Gold Coast

Yes, that's right, a new one. It apparently started in Surfers Paradise, but by this evening it looks to have well and truly spread to Southport, Bundall and Broadbeach. It's apparently been nicnamed "Indy Fever*" by scientists who are using sticky labels to distinguish the metal cages in which the sufferers are sitting idle. The symptoms involve the suffer being stuck in a stationary metal box on a six-lane road clogged with other sufferers -- none of whom are moving.

The good news is that apparently a cure has been discovered. It involves removing the engine and at least two wheels (i.e. all the redundant parts) from those stationary metal boxes, which should allow for relatively free movement. Of course, some of us have already discovered this!

Actually I had a pretty ordinary day myself. On the dawn ride this morning I managed to run off the road by virtue of the fact that I was a little too focussed on enjoying the scenery. Fortunately I saw the situation in time and didn't panic, but it was a rough ride on that dirt shoulder for those moments, considering it was in the middle of a 50km/h descent! Work is piling up like crazy. I hate it when a sh*tload of clients decide to send in all their crap at once. Can't they try to space it a little bit!

Still, the day had it's good points. This view from Hinze Dam being one of them.

Being immune to the traffic is a real boost to one's confidence at times, too.

*"Indy fever" is apparently derived from a native American word - "indy". The official meaning of this has been lost, but academics have suggested it could mean either "Owned hard", "169% Owned", "fatally Owned" or another variation thereof.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The joys of getting wet

No photos for this entry, but sometimes it's good to leave the electrical toys behind. All weekend in Brisbane I'd been giving my mother a serve about how there was "no chance" of it raining. Low and behold on Monday morning it did just that! It's a strange feeling sometimes, about to ride to work in the rain. First there's the trepidation (why do humans fear water, a commodity that they need to consume to survive?), then there is the initial shock of the drops falling on me, then I start to ride, and all of a sudden these things are forgotten in the purity of the raindrops falling from the heavens.

The fact that the ocean was so stirred up by the wind only added to the ambience of the ride. It just has a completely different feeling to the hot sunny days that have been around so much recently, and I love it!

Unfortunately, my seaside commute does not currently apply on the ride home -- the closure of Surfers for that stupid car race has forced me to take Bundall Road on the ride home. Not necessarily an unpalatable option, and I'm getting home much faster than any of the car commuters, but I do like being able to look out over the pounding waves at Narrowneck. Perhaps I can talk Martin into joining me for another Point Danger ride on Thursday. Perhaps.

Now my tour of Victoria draws closer -- 25 days to go, well, 24 really considering that today's just about over, and I'll be in bed hopefully within a couple of hours. I've spend my idle time in the last couple of days (not a lot of that) setting up the journal for anyone who cares. There's not a lot there yet, but just a couple of entries to set the scene. It will take off when the tour gets here in, um, 25 days' time!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Weekend in the big city?

Well, Brisbane at least. That's where I've been this weekend. I rode up first thing Saturday morning for the Matthew Coley ride. For those who haven't heard, Matthew Coley was a cyclist who was injured by a "hit and run" driver in Brisbane a little while back. There was a big group ride organised from the Seagull Toilet (a.k.a Wally Lewis statue) outside Lang Park to the side street in the suburb of Kelvin Grove where the incident took place.

Of course, I rode up from the Gold Coast in a "show of defiance" that probably achieved nothing at all -- apart from a very pleasant early section of the ride alongside the Broadwater.

The funny thing was, the wind, which had been blowing strongly from the North all week, did a sudden about-face. This, combined with a dream run of traffic lights into Brisbane meant that I had an hour to kill, which I duly did at the Botanic Gardens prior to the ride. You don't expect to see this in the centre of the city.

A nice spot alongside the river, looking toward the bridge I rode across to get here.

On the ride itself, a couple of comments. Firstly, I didn't like the fact that the whole thing was paced at 14km/h by police cars. Yes, I know the organisers were trying to keep riders of varying ability levels together, but in a ride as short as that one was, I doubt the gaps would develop to great levels anyway -- given the "peloton" was already five minutes long at the start.

Something else that bugged me -- the constant reference to hit and run "accidents" in the speeches given at the even itself. Firstly, this was no "accident". An accident only occurs where both parties have done all they possibly could to prevent the incident from occurring, but it happens anyway due to a quirk of fate, or adverse conditions. This was (at best) a clear case of driver not caring who he collides with, providing that he (or she) himself doesn't get hurt. Hardly an "accident". It may well have been deliberate.

Secondly, even if they nab the guy responsible for this incident, if that speech made it onto TV (Channel 7 were there), any defence lawyer with half a brain will seize on the "accident" speeches in 30 seconds. Pleading accident, in this "accident" culture that we live in, means driver gets a slap on the wrist at best, and probably sent to a counselling session which comprises of being told "oh, you must feel terrible, but don't worry because we're going to ban cyclists from the roads for their own safety soon anyway".

Gee, I didn't intend this entry to be so negative. I guess I'll finish on a positive note, and say that at least the turnout on the day was encouraging -- as was some of the support we received. It seems there might be a few people who are as sick of this sort of behaviour as I am. Perhaps that's the first step to something being done about it.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

City Lights

It's not often I keep my evening rides urban -- normally I'm one who likes to escape into the cooler, cleaner country air. However, the current bushfire situation in the Hinterland means that country air isn't so cool and clean at the moment, hence I headed south along the coastal strip to Point Danger. What can I say but what a night!

It was a roaring tailwind that greeted me initially, I was literally blown south toward Greenmount. Here, the views were/are stunning, and this photo really doesn't do it justice.

Of course, that meant a battle with a headwind on the way back, but this was the really enjoyable part. Once you warm to the task and start throwing yourself into the headwind, it has that extremely liberating "letting go" feeling that only comes in very special circumstances (riding in heavy rain can also create it). In the grim struggle with the wind, I just completely forget about my destination. The wind itself becomes the goal, measuring myself, testing myself, feeling my thighs tire, but not wanting to show any weakness.

Then toward the end, the grimness is replaced by arrogance, as I realise I've owned the wind totally. Now I'm sprinting just for the sheer hell of it -- and at the end, that combination of exhaustion and exilaration, the reason I do this on a Thursday evening when it would be just as easy to go to bed early instead.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Night-time singletrack heaven!

It was just a quick detour tonight, I think I still ended up below 60km for the day -- unusual for a Tuesday. But it was sure worth it. Just a couple of kilometres from the high-rises and square blocks of Surfers Paradise lies The Spit -- upon which there is a rarity. A small pocket of bushland that has somehow survived the reckless development which is wrecking increasingly large areas of the Queensland coastline.

Through this bushland there are a couple of tracks, not worth riding during the day because of congestion near the beach, but at night they come alive! There is a special feeling seeing your headlight lighting up the track and the overhanging trees before you, the sound of the pounding ocean in the background, the tyres on the dirt (always special) as the track winds around short, sharp rises and falls, with the occasional patch of sand just to keep things interesting. Of course, at the end of the spit is the pier, where you can ride out on a quiet evening along the top of the breakwall, the waves crashing right below you, the smell (and sometimes the feel) of the ocean spray all around.

Here Martin and I lingered, cracking jokes about Billy Ray Cyrus (remember him?), before heading back to do it all again on the way back. Sadly, it's over all too soon, but we shall return, and if he brings the spare light along, next time we might do a couple of laps. What an invigorating way to end the day!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Whatever doesn't kill me...

For some reason since that stupid crash on Thursday I've felt pretty well invincible. Today's ride was no exception. Martin joined me for the early part (although he didn't ride the whole circuit) -- represented by the climb of Tomewin.

It was on this one, where I was supposed to be keeping myself in reserve for the challenges later that I just felt invincible, like nothing could stop me. Every so often this feeling comes along when riding, and it's extremely liberating. A feeling that you can meet any challenge thrown at you, be it wind, rain, hills, anything! Of course, the scenery helped.

Perhaps it's the inspiration provided by scenery like this, that allows us to forget that we are, supposedly, tiring as the ride goes along. Perhaps it's the sense of achievement that comes with completing an imperial century. I cannot, however, account for why I should also have had this feeling yesterday.

Also finally got to take the detour of Richards Deviation today -- a narrow, winding rough dirt road south of Murwillumbah. Only short (about 2.5km in length), linking Stoker's Siding with the old Pacific Highway. However, it was definitely worth doing for the ride through the Ironbark forest. I might include that as a regular detour in future. Sometimes I don't know how to react to these discoveries. On the one hand, I'm glad to find them, but after 10 years in this region, I sometimes wish I'd found them a little earlier.

Saturday, October 09, 2004


Seemed a little strange to me that the stiffness apparently resulting from my crash should start kicking in now, but kick in it did last night. I had trouble getting comfortable for a while after I went to bed, but I still managed to get a decent amount of sleep regardless. This morning I awoke again to find a landscape covered in bushfire smoke. It's a real crisis around here at the moment, and it seems there are still people around who think lighting fires is "kewl, man!". In a way it was good, as it allowed me to rediscover something I hadn't seen in a while -- Piggabeen.

It's a while since I last ventured out that way, and sadly, urban development seems to be extending westward from the coast now (is nothing sacred?), but it's still possible to get clear of it out that way right at the moment. There are a few charms out there still, even though it's pretty dry and relatively barren right at the moment, not that anyone would realise that from this view of the Cobaki Broadwater.

Even some of the dirt roads I rode out here last time around appear to have been sealed now. Sad really, because for a while it offered the chance of something different. Still, I intend to enjoy it out there while it lasts. I've already said that I don't intend to remain on the Gold Coast forever.

Tomorrow's scheduled for the Tweed Valley, and once again nobody seems interested in joining me. Mind you, it could be my only escape from the bushfire smoke, so I'll go anyway, and just hope the weather cools down a little.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Editorial: "Common" people?

Tomorrow is the day of the Federal Election here in Australia. I made up my mind some time ago who I was voting for (I try to do this before politicians try to confuse the issue with "promises"), and consequently, I haven't paid a huge amount of attention to the campaign over the last couple of weeks. However, there was one thing that was pointed out to me from the policy speech given by ALP leader Mark Latham. To quote what I was told he said toward the end of it:

"I live in the Western Suburbs of Sydney... (a supposedly low-middle class area) ... and I have a huge mortgage.

I guess the obvious question here is just how one accumulates a huge mortgage on a politician's salary in a supposedly "lower class" area. Regardless of how it comes about, one questions why Mr Latham would feel the need to say it at all. I wouldn't have thought having a huge mortgage or living in a particular area (regardless of it's "class") would necessarily qualify someone to run a country better or worse than anyone else. However, let's dig a little deeper, shall we?

Like any other policy speech that any other politician has ever given, it was a blatant grab for votes -- evidently being a "battler" is somehow going to make him more popular than if he said something along the lines of "I'm the leader of the opposition, I earn over $100,000 per annum" etc etc (which is more likely to be a true statement). What I want to know is this: Why is being a "battler" seen as being a wonderful thing? What's so special about 2.3 kids and a mortgage? What is wrong with simply giving a straight-forward assessment of your background? Or better still, simply sticking to the issues at hand (i.e. what he plans to do if elected) and not bringing up status at all?

This affection for the so-called "battlers" is everywhere. The print media thrives on it, talkback radio directs all sorts of virtriol at anyone or anything perceived as a "threat" to the battler. However, let's ask ourselves one question: just how accurate is the tag, "battler". The guy living in the Western Suburbs with 2.3 kids, the mortgage on the 3 bedroom brick home, and the holden in the garage -- just how badly is he really doing? How much is he really battling? Sure, he might have to make a few sacrifices -- maybe he can't afford that holiday to Switzerland this year, but let's compare his plight to someone living on the streets of Kings Cross in the same city. Let's compare it to the unemployed guy in the single room apartment (and boy, the media are ever severe on "dole bludgers"). Just who are the real "battlers" out there?

Let's face it, this whole "battlers" tag is just another way that Western society tries to force it's middle-class values on everyone else. We have a politician trying to talk down his personal wealth in order to win popularity, mainly due to the perceived resentment of the wealthy that permeates much of middle class society (ironically, mostly perpetuated by people in the media who are quite wealthy themselves, although you'll never get them to admit to it publicly). Yet while people in the "middle class" group somehow see that as OK, not because of anything this politician is going to do, but because he's supposedly "one of them", and that somehow makes him better in some way. I wonder what sort of response Mark Latham would get if he offered the same policies, then talked up his personal wealth, rather than trying to talk it down.

What I want to know is this. What happened to individuality? Why do so many people want to try to glorify an existence that, in reality, isn't really all that remarkable? What is so special about being poor, or more accruately -- middle class, that it somehow seems "cool". What is it about this middle class existence, that anyone who lives at all differently (either by choice or by circumstance) it going to be looked down upon in some way. Let's be honest, 95% of them would buy their way out of that existence in five minutes if they got a windfall that allowed them to do so. Why expect everyone else to live the same way?

Thursday, October 07, 2004


The birds in the flame tree about 1.5km before I crashed. There are times I envy them, but I suppose they have days like this too.

Well I suppose now was the time it was traditionally "supposed" to happen, but that doesn't make it any easier to take. It happened when I was lane-splitting my way through the gridlock on the Sundale Bridge today -- something I've done a zillion times before, well there was this ute ahead (had to be a friggin' ute didn't it?) who apparently wasn't sure which lane he was in (although he wasn't actually moving anywhere -- that's what gridlock is all about). Actually, I managed to get into a position where I possibly could have gone by, but I just felt a little uneasy, and moved back, then tried for the gap around the ute, and didn't make it.

Strangely, it still came as a shock to me that I actually went down. It took a couple of seconds for me to realise it had happened, but then, I've got plenty of those spare if I'm riding through gridlock. Thank god it was the so-called "rush hour". I had plenty of time to get up, check myself, get off the road, do a minor repair that my bike needed as a result of the crash, and get on my way again. The thing that really bugs me is that firstly, it's my own fault, and secondly, I'd already done all I needed to in order to avoid this one, but I still managed to f*ck it up completely.

Still, as I say, it's about the time -- six weeks before a tour. Add this to being hit by a car in 2000, a far more severe crash in 2001, a knee injury in 2002, another collision with a car (this time in a hailstorm) last year -- all supposed "calamities" 4-6 weeks before a tour, and all of which I survived and learned from. The only damage done here is a bit of road rash in about three different places, and some bruised pride. I'm sitting out the Hinze Dam ride in the morning, just to make sure nothing seizes up -- I've got a century this weekend, and I want to be ready for that.

Another lesson learned. I have to say I'm feeling a multitude of emotions right now. Anger and embarrassment that I crashed. Relief (and even a little excitement) that I came out of it OK, and kept on my way (probably still getting home faster than any of the car commuters), and determination to put it right tomorrow. Time to get Alex Lloyd on the CD player I think.

Actually, the whole day was a bit of a f*ck up really. Kept getting interrupted at work and couldn't get anything done, now this. At least it's over (I think).

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Misty morning

One of the great things about my two-wheeled mode of travel is the chance to see things that others miss. Often these can happen totally unexpectedly, such as this morning's mist that rolled in out of nowhere. It was on the latter part of the pre-work 40km ride that I do every so often (not the Hinze Dam one). It had been surprisingly cool at times, I even recorded 11 degrees C at one stage, but it really got interesting on the suburban part of the ride that's normally so boring, when a stream of low-lying cloud decided to move across the coast, on a day that was otherwise clear.

I'm not sure this picture does the thing justice, after all, suburbia did obscure the views for quite a while, but rest assured, it was beautiful. Actually, there were a few things I noticed about that ride that are quite pleasant and worthy of sharing. Perhaps I'll do it one day when I manage to avoid starting it 15 minutes late!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

October Grey

The title of this entry is a blatant steal from a very good Screaming Jets tune from a few years ago that I happen to be listening to right now, but it encapsulates what I saw today. Just one moment that captured the essence of the car-dependent culture that we are surrounded by, and it's not very nice. It was in Southport, about 500 metres (I guess) from work, I crested over the closest thing to a hill on my ride to work, and there is was, all laid out before me.

I stared ahead at the Gold Coast Highway, four lanes (or was it six?) of wall to wall traffic as far as the eye could see. The bushfire smoke drifting across from the Hinterland (hope they get that out for tomorrow morning) gave the whole thing a grey tinge. Could have been Sydney, New York or Los Angeles with that level of pollution. Maybe it was a symbol of the culture that the McDonalds sign from Labrador was somehow visible in the distance. Maybe it was also just as well that I left the camera at home today.

Pollution levels aren't normally that high around here, and it seemed better in the afternoon (despite the gridlock on the Sundale Bridge). However, what was scary is that this looks so much like it could be a vision from the future. I look at the rate this place is growing, (the population rose by 25% between 1996 and 2001, and a look at the outer suburbs since then tells me this is showing no signs of slowing), what I saw this morning might one day be a familiar sight here. It might be just as well for me to start saving for a move -- if I can pull it off as well as next year's New Zealand trip.

Still, at least I can take some solace from the fact that I cycle everywhere I go. I was in and out of it remarkably quickly -- particularly on the ride home this evening. Traffic management is something that seems to have been totally forgotten in the urge to build more outer-lying suburbs -- and there's just no space to expand the roads around Southport/Surfers Paradise/Broadbeach. This should ram home the folly of trying to cope with increased traffic by simply building bigger roads (like trying to deal with obesity with a bigger belt), but I doubt our planners or the people who elect them have the brains to realise this.

Combine that with the failure to take into account the water situation (we almost ran out last year -- unbelieveable when you consider the catchment has some of the highest rainfall areas on mainland Australia), the Gold Coast is heading for a major crisis in 5-10 years time. Unless, of course, the tourist operators start to think their revenue might be at risk and crack the whip.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The straps

When one thinks of all the technology that's gone into making bicycle helmets, sometimes I get the impression that one of the fundamentals has been overlooked. After all, there has been a heap of research and development (probably at considerable cost) used to make them lightweight, durable and aerodynamic -- aimed at increasing the comfort factor as much as the functionality of the device. So it's somewhat startling, that something as fundamental to the comfort aspects as the helmet strap could have been just totally forgotten about.

After all, this is basically just a bit of webbing that holds the rest of the machinery in place for however long the wearer intends. Yet this is the bit that seems to cause the most consternation to the wearer. A strap that's twisted can get very uncomfortable after a while, and often requires a good 30 minutes or so (if it's really twisted, as mine currently is) to straighen it out. Of course, it twists itself in such an incidious way that the wearer doesn't notice until it gets really uncomfortable -- particularly if they spend as much time wearing it as I do.

Now I don't claim to be an expert here, but to me it seems that a twist-resistant strap should be one of the easier things to get right. Certainly, it shouldn't require the same brainpower as coming up with a design so aerodynamic that even the UCI could ban it from the TdF. Guess we'll have to wait for siii-iiiimon or raa-aalph in marketing to take a strap to the engineers -- so to speak.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Birds of a Lamington

An unusual start to the day today. I walked out to the garage to get my bike, and realised that I hadn't yet refilled the water bottles. Figuring I'd be no more than 30 seconds, I left the door open while I walked back inside for my water. On returning, I found that two birds had managed to fly inside the garage and weren't keen on coming out.

Eventually I removed them by throwing an old towel onto the door and standing back -- basically giving them no option but to fly out, at which point I closed the door very quickly and got on my way. I was later told they'd hung around outside for a while -- perhaps they were looking for a place to nest. Perhaps it's best if they found somewhere else.

Today's destination was Binna Burra -- Eastern gateway to Lamington National Park. I needed to do a decent walk before going to Wilson's Promontory. The previous visit was the Coomera Circuit back in the wet season (, today was the Dave's Creek track, better suited to the dry season, which is what we are now approaching the end of (I hope). Also known for wildflowers and spectacular views.

The rainforest areas are still there along the way. These provide the variety for a walk like this one.

Somehow it never quite dawned on me that this could possibly be the last time I ever do this walk. My long term plans basically don't involve living on the Gold Coast forever, and I don't often get up to this one these days, given the number of other walks in Lamington, and indeed the number of other places I spend weekends. This walk was actually very kind to me during the three year drought, which basically dimished the qualities of all the other walks up there.

Still, it's all in the future, maybe, somewhere deep down, I instinctively expect to have one more visit to Dave's Creek in the future. I was occupied with other things on the ride back in anycase.

Something else that was typified by all of this was the changing priorities of certain things in my own life in recent years. Tonight was the night of the National Rugby League Grand Final. A few years ago, there's no way I would have been gone for much of the day and miss the build up to "the big game". Even tonight I didn't bother to watch the presentation after the game. I guess the bike and the places I've been on it have taught me that there are far more important things in life. It's a lesson well learned.

Saturday, October 02, 2004


So yesterday I had a birthday, however one wonders what turning 28 really means. I'd say the answer is "not very much". 18 (or 21 in some cases) means that you can "legitimately" do all the things you've been doing for years anyway. 30 (or is it 35?) means you're supposed to question where your life is going. 28 just means I can tick off one more day before my November tour. Ra.

They promised me a storm on the ride home from work last night. Some guy at the weather bureau issued a warning about thunder, hail and all sorts of exciting things. However, all we had was a bit of light rain. I'm a little disappointed I have to say. I kind of enjoy the challenge of the supposedly inclement weather, and after 5-6 months of the dry season, we could really use the rain. A brief shower was about all that actually happened, meaning I need to remember to put the shower water on the passionfruit vine at this budding stage. Either way, there's something special about dark clouds over the rolling waves in my view.

What has been surprising about this dry season is the way the wildflowers have stayed out later in the year than usual. This may have something to do with the unseasonally cool temperatures -- just 13 degrees C this morning in Currumbin Valley. These are the conditions I like, no arm warmers or jackets for me out there, just the light-weight short-sleeved jersey. Eventually it rose to 24 degrees C by 9am (and probably much warmer through the day). Considerably less pleasant in my view.

My calendar project appeared to suffer a loss today, but it could work out for the better. Seems it's going to be harder than I expected to find a camera shop that can print a calendar. However, I may be able to afford to buy a decent photo-printer myself in the near future, they don't appear to be as expensive as I thought. I think I'll shell out the 3oo bucks or so, after all, I can probably use it next year, too, should I decide to design my own calendar again.

I'm still trying to decide what to do tomorrow. Right now I'm in a bit of a lull, where I don't feel like doing a lot. This feeling only came up at about lunchtime today, and with some luck it might disappear soon. The plan had originally been Springbrook or Binna Burra, just a short ride after last weekend's epic, and next weekend's Tweed Valley circuit (around 170-180km). That may be part of the problem. Sometimes the motivation for the so-called "lesser rides" isn't there. On the other hand, if I don't go at least somewhere, I'll be frustrated into next week.