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..

More cycling blogs

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Saturday, April 30, 2005

It's coming!

Did anybody else catch that sunrise this morning? The one that lit up the entire sky in various colours?

Must have been just me I guess. Yet today signals, perhaps, the arrival of something even more beautiful. Regular readers of this blog (both of you) would have noted my almost incessant whining about the heat of summer. However, the equal and opposite effect of that is that winters here are stunningly beautiful. This morning may have been the first sign of that. As I headed out to Austinville for another quick Saturday morning jaunt, I noticed the temperature (a beautiful 11 degrees C), the lowest I've had this year. I also noticed the wildflowers are coming out at last.

Not that anything else from that part of the world was lost.

(the last two just for the sake of gloating you understand).

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Where are the kids?

There is currently an active discussion over at as to why kids aren't cycling or walking to school in the numbers that they used to (I'd post the link, but you'd need to register for the site to read it, so there isn't really much point). The most common reasons given were fairly predictable -- ranging from a lack of cycling facilities, to the possibility of encountering certain types of "predators" to the number of text books children carry in this day and age(!).

This got me to thinking, the first two factors on that list are obviously considered a safety risk (the last could be solved by simply only bringing the books to school that are needed on a particular day). However, being driven to school everyday is not without risk either, the increase in child obesity throughout the developed world in one highly publicised side effect of our increasing lack of physical exertion. However, nobody ever seems to think of the possibility of being involved in a car "accident" on the way to work or school.

This is actually a very real risk -- I know because I ride past so many on my rides home from work in the evenings. It would be interesting to see whether this actually posed a bigger risk than the threat of encountering "predators" on the way too and from school. I'd suggest from simple observation that there is a definite possibility that it might, however, it seems strangely absent from the equation when people are considering just how to take their children to and from school (on a side note -- in my formative school years my mother used to walk to school with me, so this may present a possible solution -- and as I made more friends at school I rarely walked home alone anyway).

The most likely cause of this absence, of course, stems from the fact that car crashes generally get a relatively small space in news reports (unless a bicycle is involved, in which case, get ready for weeks of "cycling is dangerous" editorials). I can only assume that there are two possible reasons for this absence. Either car crashes happen so often they are no longer "newsworthy" (in which case, I'll take my chances with the predators, where the odds are probably better), or they're not being reported because a few car manufacturing sponsors might get a little upset with some negative press coverage (in which case, anything they say should be taken with a grain of salt).

Either way, I encourage any parents reading this to at least consider allowing children to walk or cycle to school. I'd suggest the risks involved are grossly overstated (and certainly the alternative is no guarantee of a safe passage). More to the point, it might just do them some good, they can learn to plan around which textbooks they need to bring for a particular day, but more importantly, you'll be giving them the gift of mobility. Although they may not appreciate it now, there will come a day when they will thank you for it.


For those who live in Queensland, it was pretty hard to escape the news of the passing of Sir Joh Bjelke Peterson recently. His immediate family have my condolensces. For those who aren't aware, Sir Joh served as Queensland Premier for 19 controversial years, and it's interesting just how soon people forget. I am, of course, referring to the fact that sycophants have been coming out of the woodwork to basically say how great Joh was.

It should be remembered that this was a guy who effectively ran a police state, sent the whole state backwards 20 years and made it a laughing stock throughout the rest of the country (as it remains today if any of my recent travels are any indication). The Fitzgerald inquiry at the end of his reign revealed that he'd clung to power in very, um, dubious circumstances. I could go on and on, but as my father said at the time, "it's a wonder somebody didn't assassinate him". So while we're all handing out condolences on the passing of a public figure, let's not get too swept up in trying to romanticise the past that we overlook exactly what happened during this time.

Monday, April 25, 2005

... And the ride went...

Yesterday was the day of the Gold Coast 200 ride that I'd been waiting for. I nearly didn't make it at all, firstly leaving my place later that I'd intended, then having a drunk ask me for directions on the way to the start (he was labouring under the delusion that Coffs Harbour was part of the Gold Coast, and I really didn't have time to correct him). Once the ride itself got under way, a split formed in the group from the point of the first hill, which basically stayed for the whole day. I showed off over the initial climb of Bilambil, then I remembered I was supposed to be taking pictures for this thing, so I did just that in the John Hogan Rainforest.

The ride settled down after that point, I descended Hogan's road, with the front two now out of sight, and continued west on the Pilgrim's road to the first checkpoint (and sunscreen stop) at Chillingham. Actually, the two "groups" weren't all that far apart, but I somehow spent most of the day between them. Now it was west to Tyalgum, this route I've ridden millions of times, but it's still spectacular.

From here, there are really only a couple of options back to Murwillumbah, and certainly only one on the sealed roads. This ride does, however, have it's charms. This was the only point in the first 120km or so that there was a tailwind -- a southwesterly (it became a south easterly a few km out of Tyalgum, making it a headwind again).

Then it was south to Uki. I don't know what it is, but for some reason riding south on this route seems to tire me out pretty quickly. I'd forgotten to get muesli bars at the supermarket the night before, and now this was a problem. Eventually, between Uki and Stokers Siding, I had to pull over and eat some of those bread rolls I was carrying with me. That seemed to work, I managed to make it to Stokers Siding, then South over the Burringbar Range, and onto Mooball. This was the second checkpoint, but the service at the Moo Moo Cafe here seems to be slower than a set of Queensland traffic lights. After this it was a largely coastal ride north, with sporadic ocean views.

Still, this was definitely a better option than the boring freeway, which we eventually had to take on because the ride apparently needed a few more km. However, we didn't spend long there, it was a double back almost to Murwillumbah, to ride the infamous Cane Road. After this came the climb of Tomewin. This was the real sting in the tail -- there is a 2km section with a brutal gradient on the southern approach, and it came right at the end of the 200km day. Of course, it might have been easier had I actually used the lowest gears at my disposal, but when was I ever accused of intelligence? This part of the ride, was, however, beautiful. After this it was a gentle ride back to Currumbin, if only my legs wanted to work again.

Overall impressions: a nice enough ride. Perhaps I'd make one change however. In the interests of adding some more climbing and reducing the need to "double back" later in the ride, I'd think about adding a passage over Springbrook, down into Numinbah Valley, and heading to Chillingham that way. That might add enough km to facilitate a direct return to Murwillumbah over Clothiers Creek road, for the final climb of Tomewin (although we could always include Cane Road if they were determined about it). In fact, I might do that one myself in a few weeks or so.

Still, as these pictures show, there isn't really any need to complain here.

So it's ANZAC Day

That's right folks, the 25th of April is upon us, and with it the day that everyone in Australia and New Zealand are supposed to commemorate those killed in various wars gone by. Of course, for those of us unable to escape the media hype as well as we would have liked, it's been everywhere for days on end regardless, so much so that it might have been difficult to judge exactly when the day itself had arrived. I also ask whether there is any point to it anymore.

Think about this, what is the real reason that people who were killed in war have a day dedicated to commemorating their loss, while people who were killed by cancer, AIDS or old age don't? The standard line seems to be that they "sacrificed themselves for our country". However, let's dig a little deeper on that definition, let's look at the factors that brought about their sacrifice, and let's ask: why?

The first World War was supposed to be the "war to end all wars". I suspect the idea was that after the needless sacrifice of so many lives, it would never happen again. A few years later, along came another. Since then, these conflicts have been happening more and more regularly. And please, spare me the "they started it" tirade. For one thing, it takes two to fight, and for another, I think "starting a war" is an accusation that could be leveled against a great many countries over the last century or so (including those accusing the other side and claiming to be "fighting for our freedom").

These days, wars are regularly broadcast into the loungerooms of many people thanks to cable television. It's become big bucks for people like CNN and various other media outlets. It wouldn't surprise me if this wasn't at least part of the motivation for some of the tall tales of "weapons of mass destruction" that appeared in various media outlets (I wonder if some of these journalists ever considered a career change, possibly becoming weapons inspectors themselves?). They certainly took enough pot shots at anyone who suggested that the current war in Iraq could have been avoided.

The implication here is clearly this: whatever the horrors that soldiers of years gone by have endured, it seems that the world (including Australia) has learned nothing. Nobody seems interested in preventing wars from occurring -- quite the contrary in fact. People seem more enthusiastic than ever about the prospect of going to war (admittedly, most of these people won't have to go to the front line). Why then, (apart from the fact that it's a public holiday) are we bothering to commemorate this? Why do we commemorate the inability of mankind to learn from it's mistakes?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

First ever organised 200k on the Gold Coast

That's what's coming up this weekend. Winders Park, Currumbin, 6am on Sunday. Audax are organising a 200km ride on the Gold Coast. It comes at a perfect time for me, as I seem to be regaining my form right now after the illness setback, it also makes Sunday's determined effort suddenly worth that little bit more, I can go into this Sunday with confidence. I guess the question the (two) regular readers of this thing are asking, is why do I care about an organised 200km ride, when I do them solo all the time anyway?

There are a number of answers here, but this one is a little more personal for one thing. I, myself have tried to organise longer distance rides on the Gold Coast taking in the beautiful Hinterland and Tweed Valley in the past -- but often without any success. Those few that did turn up seemed to come from Brisbane more often than the Gold Coast. Add to that the reluctance of many Gold Coast cyclists to ever leave the coastal strip for any other reason, and you have something I've spoken about previously on many fora -- the "only in the designated areas" aspect of the cycling culture here. Just why this should be so is beyond me, as my own experience indicates that riding in these areas is often considerably more stressful than riding in the areas these people avoid. However, it's definitely a factor.

Consequently, I'll be interested to see what sort of turn out there is on Sunday -- and also just how many of them are actually from the Gold Coast. I don't know much about the route itself at this stage, and that intrigues me. All I know is Currumbin, Chillingham, Mooball, Tomewin, Currumbin. Now this opens up some possibilities. The most direct lines between these points, by my estimates, is actually slightly less than 200km, meaning that there has to be a deviation in there somewhere. Will the inital stretch between Currumbin and Chillingham go via Salmon's Saddle (Springbrook) and Numinbah Valley? Will there be a deviation toward the Condong Range at some point between Chillingham and Mooball? How will the climb of Tomewin late in the day perform? Is there a road somewhere that I don't know about (or have forgotten about)? Call me a geek, but I find these possibilities absolutely intriguing. I just hope I pull up well enough from it to back up for the 100km the next day.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

How to surprise yourself

I set out on the bike this morning with very modest ambitions given the way I was feeling after yesterday's climbing, then they became even more modest when I felt the headwind coming from the South, but it was either that or miss out on a beautiful morning, so I just rode slowly down the coast, up and over Bilambil, and back to good old dependable Urliup. Here was where things started to turn around, I was riding through beautiful rainforest (and taking one or two pictures along the way), the temperature had dropped to 16 degrees C, and the nature of the road (narrow, winding and dirt) was forcing me to take it easy.

Crested the top of the gentle northern approach to the ridge, and a decent into the valley toward Murwillumbah, now I was starting to feel better. A change of approach to Reserve Creek Road, somewhere I've only been once before. Another climb, another chance to take it easy and just enjoy the rolling hills and the winding road, more great shots of the surrounding mountains shrouded in mist, and still a gorgeous morning!

The following descent, then a small climb on the next ridge, the road turns to dirt and heads south toward Pottsville. The surface is rough, loose and requires concentration, I cursed it at the time, but in hindsight it was just what I needed. Something else to distract the mind. Meanwhile I was plodding along, against the wind again, but handling it better this time (or perhaps it was just the road surface?). Eventually I reach Cudgera Creek, now a chance to head west, toward the village of Burringbar, over the range (on dirt again) with the same name, again I'm not pushing it. Winding gradually over the range, and strangely, my legs are now warming to the task, and I'm feeling better the further I go.

The descent here is another which requires real concentration, eventually into Burringbar, I head for the general store for one of those vile-tasting sports drinks, and a locally produced muesli bar. Now I'm back on the bike and heading north this time, now the wind is behind me! Pedalling gingerly at first, and worried about the next climb (which is also the Burringbar Range). Again I pedal gently, and again my legs start to respond. The climb feels easier the further I go, and before I know it I'm descending again. Another route variation -- at the bottom of the descent. This time it's Stokers Siding, then Bakers Road. For some reason I just don't feel like taking the old Pacific Highway into Murwillumbah this time.

Through the town, and onto The Pilgrims' Road (that's the name I gave it). Am I feeling stronger or is the tailwind doing all the work? Who cares at this point, I decide on one more dirt road, McAuley's road, an alternative route to Terranora (I want to avoid suburbia for as long as possible). I'm a little disappointed to note that most of it has been paved since I was here last. Now the climb of Terranora, the last serious one of the day, a variable gradient early, then a sustained grind to finish. Again, easy... easy... cresting the summit, I never thought I'd get here this quickly! I wind across the top of the ridge with expansive views of... well, Ok, it's only suburbia.

A fast descent, and a surprisingly good run with the lights through Tweed Heads and the Southern end of the Gold Coast. I check the computer purely out of curiosity at Burleigh Heads, Geez, I've ridden a century, and in under 7 hours riding time. Considering the dirt roads, I wouldn't have expected that on a good day! Nevermind when I'm supposed to be struggling. All I really did was just ride generically, freshen the route, and pedal easy. The scary part is, I feel like I could go again (no, I'm not about to try it, I just seem to have pulled up pretty well). The streak is still alive.A little statistical curiosity (if anybody cares) -- exactly 85km yesterday, and exactly 170km today.

P.S. What happened to the counter at the bottom of this page?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

What do you get...

... if you combine mist, sunlight, and a 3,000 year old Beech forest?

It was actually quite an amazing morning up at Springbrook today, although today I saw a side of it that I don't normally get to see, and one that I hadn't expected to see today.

It was at the top, at Best of All Lookout that really stoodout. On a clear day, the view lives up to it's name, but that certainly wasn't the case this morning. There was very little here that could be seen. However, it was on the way to and from the lookout itself, on the walk through the Antarctic Beech forest (that somehow defies the odds to survive here), the effects created by the sunlight in the mist, providing a visual spectacular that only a few places seem to be able to turn on.

What I had really come up to do this morning was the Purlingbrook Falls walk, largely because it had been so long since I'd explored it. Sadly, the falls themselves were just a trickle, largely a result of the relative lack of recent rain, and quite alarming at the end of what is supposed to be the "wet season". Compare this to the situation last christmas :

Nevertheless, there was still plenty to see up here:

And at least on this part of the mountain, I was out of the clouds.

The only regret is that I've pulled up a little sore from the ride today. This puts tomorrow's plans at risk somewhat, I'll just have to wait and see how I feel. Either way, it was worth every minute of it. On days like this I feel fortunate to have such areas where I can escape from life for a while, escape suburbia and it's short-fuses, deadlines, prickliness and general disillusionment.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Must go on...

I'll need to confirm the exact situation here with a look at my records, but I'm on something of a streak with my cycling at the moment. I have ridden over 1,000 miles (or 1,610km) in every calendar month since March 2003. I mention this because right now, my streak is showing signs of ending here. As of last night (April 14), I only had 553km on the board for the month. Granted, I did lose a few days (including a weekend), to a nasty case of food poisoining, but this was really the last thing I expected -- given the form I'd been in toward the end of March, and the way I normally pick up in the cooler months.

71km today (as well as a full day at work) have improved the situation marginally, but I still need almost 1,000km in two weeks to keep it going. The gauntlet has gone down, and starting this weekend the challenge is on! I really want to make this happen, because if I get through this month, I might just get a good run and string a few together -- and that really will be an impressive streak.

In other news, my home computer is now functioning again, meaning I can now resume showing my pictures to the world, starting with Springbrook tomorrow. Set sail for paradise!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Various forms of silence

Alright, no updates for a couple of days, but I'll get to that point later. It's quite interesting that a simple term such as "silence" can have two separate meanings. The first was experienced on Sunday Night with a ride through the reinforced of Urliup. There are some pictures of this area in some earlier entries, so I won't dig for them now. However, the thing that stands out here is the total and utter silence that radiates through the forest. It's almost as if the birds have gone to sleep, and with most of the dirt road being muddy due to the earlier rain, even the tyres were silent. There were still a few bird calls to remind me that I wasn't totally alone, and the occasional gust of wind to maintain the senses, but overall it was very quite -- almost surreal.

The second meaning is slightly less pleasant, relating to the fact that my PC is now non-functional -- largely because I deleted a file that I shouldn't have. This wouldn't normally be such a problem, except that living in Queensland means I'm basically cut off from the outside world except for my lunch break at work. News outlets here tend to take the view that "if it didn't happen in Queensland, it didn't happen". This basically means that if Osama Bin Laden was captured at Tweed Heads (a mere 25km away), I wouldn't be aware of it. Actually, the inability to come home from work last night and participate in some of the on-line discussion boards that I sometimes frequent with my (increasingly rare) free time was quite a sobering thought. I actually felt alone, and I've not felt that for quite some time -- despite the fact that I actually live alone.

I think I'll need to go for a ride this evening just to get away from that feeling.

It also means that I can't upload any photos until I get it working again, which is a shame because last night's sunset was just beautiful!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

First spamming conviction

Found this story over on FC yesterday:

Spammer sentenced to nine years.

The headline basically says it all, Jeremy Jaynes of Raleigh, North Carolina has been given a prison sentence of nine years for sending out billions of spam e-mails, evidently selling all sorts of scams (I'm sure you can all figure it out from the various spam you've received over the years). However, he remains free pending the appeal, and if there's any truth to the reports of the amounts of money he's made, I won't be surprised if he manages to find himself being let off.

To be honest, I don't believe this is even the tip of the iceberg. When one considers just how cheap and easy it is to send out spam e-mails by the thousand within a matter of seconds, it's fairly obvious that there's a huge commercial incentive for spammers the world over. What can be done about it? Well, a nominal charge for sending e-mails (possibly 5 cents/e-mail), something that might provide a disincentive for those who send them out by the thousand. Of course, the problem here is applying that universally across the thousands of ISP's out there.

In the meantime, I'll just continue deleting the spam as it arrives.

How can people sit through this?

I did something I don't do very often on Friday Night -- I actually watched something on commercial television. I have to say I was surprised by the sheer number of advertisements that were on. How anyone can sit through that many commercials is totally beyond me -- and to think many people do this on a regular basis! I guess one consolation is the number of other things you can get done during a commercial break, but even then it's still hard to sit through a run of ads without getting the feeling of "why am I wasting so much time?". Then again, I probably spend more time than I should on-line, too.

Personally, I'd prefer to be outside riding my bike, which is exactly what I did en route to Currumbin Valley yesterday. It was nice that I could actually spot a blue-wren perched next to Currumbin Rock pool -- although my skill at photographing wildlife needs some improvement.

The rest of the ride was basically based around watching the mist cloaking Mt Tallebudgera...

... And the climb near Piggabeen.

It's all quite pleasant up there, but the fear is that urban development probably isn't far away.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Only fools and cyclists

If there was any doubt I was back, it's been well and truly put to bed tonight. All week there has been a big wind blowing in from the south, and this evening it was accompanied by rain (albeit relatively light rain). There was nothing for it other than getting on the bike and making sure I was out there. Funny thing about riding in the rain, all of those little excuses you think of beforehand tend to disappear as soon as you're actually out there, it's almost as if all those things they taught us to fear from the rain as children seem totally pointless now, and the wind adds to it. It's just you against the world into a big headwind, and that feeling is incredibly liberating. For a while, all of life's other little problems are blown away, or washed away. For a while, it's good to get right back to nature on a very basic level.

It's also allowed me an opportunity to reflect on just what might have caused this illness in the first place. Indeed, it's not the first time I've had food poisoning (or something similar), and I've been looking for common links between 2005 and February 2003 to try to work it all out. The only possibility I've come up with is that some of those pristine streams I drink from occasionally aren't so pristine after all.

However, this opens up other questions -- firstly, how did whatever caused the problem stay in my system for five days before actually making me sick? On one of those days I managed to pull out a 240km ride in temperatures that hit 32 degrees C, so surely it should have been sweated out. It's not as if I drunk a lot from the Urliup stream on Good Friday (certainly not as much as other days in the past). Then of course, there's the issue of just why it should cause a problem this time, I've taken water from that stream on several occasions (just as I had done on the Springbrook one which was the suspect from 2003). On the other hand, perhaps I was just unlucky with something I bought at the supermarket. The frustrating part is that I'd like this question cleared up, but all I seem to be getting here are more questions.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Back! Sort of

Today was the first time since last Tuesday that I've been on a bike. It's actually the longest layoff I've had in years, and being food poisoning it's among the most debilitating. On the way into work this morning, a slight headwind, but there was an overwhelming sensation of returning to something familiar, coming home in a sense, I was back to a world that I knew, and a world that knew me. Perhaps sweating and panting a little more than usual as I complete my recovery, but that's not really the end of the world

However, it was on the ride home that things really got interesting. A big southerly wind, another head wind, had sprung up by day's end. It seemed a little intimidating to someone who knew they weren't 100%, but once the act of riding into it had commenced, there was a feeling that this wasn't so bad after all -- I could do this, and I started to feel stronger as a result.

Tomorrow is the next stage in the recovery -- and a decision to make, as Tuesday is normally one of the nights when I ride after work. Do I join Martin out there tomorrow night? Or do I wait and take it easy. Again, I'll let my feelings on the day be the judge. Either way, it's great to be home!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Outside world

"I can see the outside world;
everything's inviting in the outside world."
-- Midnight Oil

I've been down with food poisoning for three days, and consequently I've not left my apartment in that time. This morning, however, I was feeling a little better, and so I ventured out on a walk to the shops to replenish a few items. It was extremely refreshing to know that after being cooped up inside for so long (at least by my standards), that the outside world was still there. That should bring back my appetite for action very quickly.