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, July 31, 2005

Well just look at that!

Another memorable ride today, ironic in fact, because after yesterday's comments about "the wave", it seemed that everyone in the world wanted to wave to me today. I am not sure what suddenly brought on these random acts of kindness, and nor am I overly concerned. I opted out of the planned O'Reilly's ride, heading for Numinbah Valley instead. Given some of the things I saw today, it may have been a wise decision. For those who were awaiting a wattle shot, here it is.

This particular ride had quite an eerie start, riding through more mist as it happened. This is actually extremely unusual for this time of year, but I have no complaints.

On this occasion, I took a detour on the climb to Numinbah Gap, taking in the Natural Arch. Actually, it's been a few years since I visited this place, which is something of a surprise. That said, I can't imagine it being quite the same during the drought. This is a place where plunging water from a creek wore a hole in the cave roof over thousands of years. The fact that the creek is fed by run-off from Springbrook was also a contributing factor. The results are absolutely stunning.

After taking the detour, it was difficult to get going again on the climb.

I was heartened to see another cyclist as I crested the pass this morning. Don't see too many other riders out here, which is a shame because it must surely rank as one of the more spectacular rides in the country. Of course, after the screaming descent into the Tweed Valley, there was nothing for it but another detour, climbing Farrants Hill east of Murwillumbah, then descending near the Tumbulgum, and returning to the John Hogan Rainforest along the Tweed River.

All in all a worthwhile ride, and perhaps the last bit of freedom I will get before starting another CPA module. I intend to slaughter this one, just as I slaughtered the climb of Bilambil for the second weekend running.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The wave

So as I was at my LBS last night, picking up my bike after a service (including some new things), and I couldn't help over hearing a couple of comments from another customer. To paraphrase: "I noticed there were a lot more cyclists on the road since the start of the Tour de France, and they're ruder now, too". I have to admit, I haven't noticed any real increase in the number of cyclists on the road, but then, a lot of the places I ride (either due to traffic on my commutes or hills elsewhere) aren't always terribly popular with other cyclists, at least on on the scale of a Saturday morning jaunt to The Spit.

As it was, I listened passively for further information. It seems a big part of the disquiet seems to relate to the fact that there are some cyclists out there who don't return a wave. Perhaps there were other issues too, but this seemed to be the one getting the biggest mention. I suppose I'd probably be considered somewhere on the borderline between "rude" and "polite" in this respect. I generally try to return a wave if I get one from a fellow cyclist, but circumstances don't always make this possible (more on this below), and I don't always initiate contact. I've heard this sort of talk a number of times, and for those who preach it, I have a question.

What I would like to ask is this: is it such a big deal to give a wave and not get one back? Consider for a moment, the reasons a person would wave to another (often a person to whom they have no connection, apart from the fact that both happen to be riding bicycles) -- what is the motivation for this "greeting"? I had always thought the idea was to try to brighten the day of the person to whom one is waving. If this is the case, does it really matter if the other person doesn't wave back? Is it not enough that you've made your little contribution to the universe in that moment, and at least attempted to brighten the day of the other person? Are people really so selfish that they automatically expect something in return for such a simple act?

Sometimes I get the impression (one which has been fed by posts I've read on various discussion boards), that some people are more motivated by the prospect of getting a wave back, and get terribly offended if it doesn't happen, even though it isn't always possible. As I said earlier, I usually try to return a wave if I get one, but sometimes people who are passing in the opposite direction leave it so late to wave, that they're passed and gone in the second that it takes me to respond. There are other circumstances where I'd prefer to simply keep both hands on the handlebars, although I still try to offer a 'nod' in those situations.

There has been much talk of some kind of "brotherhood of cycling" that supposedly exists. However, it's surely a sham if people can get so uptight about something so inconsequential. Here's a little suggestion -- next time you offer a wave or greeting to someone and don't get a response, let it go. There's really no point carrying around anger or disquiet after the event. The other person has their own reasons for not waving back, it's best to leave them to it. They'll have to confront whatever issues they have eventually.

Winter's last dying breath

In earlier posts I related that the arrival of spring was occurring. This morning I took a quick 65km ride through Tallebudgera Valley to the west, noting that here it still managed to drop to six degrees Celsius this morning (alright, so it's only "cold" by Queensland standards). I grabbed a couple of shots of the mist rising out of the valley, because I probably won't get to see it again for another 12 months.

I've also removed that suspension seat post that came with the Hybrid, and replaced it with a more conventional one. It seems to be working much better, feeling a lot more comfortable when pedalling, and also actually staying at the height at which I'd put it. Tomorrow I'm thinking of another imperial century, possibly heading out to O'Reilly's. More mountains, which is just what I need right at the moment.

No, you can't come inside

You wouldn't like it in here.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Signs of spring

The wattle has been blooming for a few weeks now (yes, I know, I should post a picture soon), and the last couple of nights on my ride home from work I've been able to look into the sky and watch a flock of bats flying south on what appears to be their annual migration. I'm not totally sure where they go, but it seems to be a common sight during the evening at this time of year, right on sunset, thousands of bats passing by, heading south, ever south. It's apparent they're looking for cooler climates, and I don't think it's a coincidence that day time temperatures have warmed slightly in the last couple of days.

This evening I found myself wondering exactly where they'll go, and indeed where they came from. How much of the world do they see every year on their migration? Is the migration something they look forward to? Something they view in the way our species would view a holiday? Do they marvel at the scenery they pass over along the way? Or do they perhaps become bored with it all, passing over the same part of the world time and again every year?

If I get the chance this weekend, I might look up google and see if I can find anything out about this migration. I'm a little curious right now. Of course, it might end up posing more questions than it actually answers, but it should be an interesting experiment either way.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


It has been suggested in some places that I am too cynical for someone of my age (28). Sadly, there are one or two other things that are happening too quickly for my liking too. A couple of weeks ago I pointed out that I was showing the first signs of skin cancer. Well, at the time I went off to see the doctor (who I'm going to start calling Frank, as in Zappa) and got the sunspot zapped. Most of it cleared up, but some remained, so I went and had the treatment again on Saturday. Now it appears to be gone completely, but it left a decent sized red mark on my face as a reminder.

I'm now beginning to suspect that this red mark isn't going to go away. I've seen people who have spent too much time in the sun when they were younger, and if it's a reliable indication, my face is going to look worse than a teenager with chronic acne by the time I'm 40. I guess that's the price I have to pay for my otherwise wonderful lifestyle. Perhaps it's not so bad though, I've never exactly been a big hit with the ladies, so it's not as though it's going to drive anyone away.

Still, it would have been nice had it waited for another eleven days -- as in after I go and see Sarah Blasko.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Reprieve, or was it?

This is post number 200 on this humble blog that started last August. Fittingly, it's a ride report (and not terribly dial-up friendly), of a ride which was almost over before it began. First of all I left without my camera, then had to go back and get it. 15km into the ride I realised I'd forgotten my money and my sunscreen -- probably two of the more important items from the kit bag. I was saved by my own laziness, I had some change left over in my camera bag from the last ride, which was just enough to get some more sunscreen at Pottsville along the way. Hence, I headed down the Tweed Coast, on the way at last.

It's after heading inland here that this ride really starts, through Mullumbimby, climbing to the Crystal Castle, and a series of 3-4km climbs followed by screaming descents. This part of NSW really is a magical wonderland, with sweeping views all around

... and passing through beautiful forests.

This section of the ride passes through places with names like Repentence Creek and The Channon. Some of the hippie cottages in the forests and their associated decorations add to the mystique of the area. Other surprises included the occasional waterfall, although the sun tended to come out at just the wrong time to capture too many pictures of them. However, if you look very closely at the shot below...

The magical run came to an end with a flat tyre just before Nimbin. Not a major crisis, but very annoying. It also meant that I missed the highlights of the previous night's TdF stage. The ride still had it's charms, the Sphinx guarding Mt Burrell.

However, I was now climbing the hills in a diminished capacity with a malfunctioning gear cable. It just had to effect the climbing gears, didn't it? Still, pausing only to take on more water at Uki, I pressed on, climbing over Urliup before being confronted with Bilambil. Always the last noteworthy climb, it's been something of a nemesis in the past, a gradient just steep enough to cause problems right at the end of a ride, and today I was down a few gears.

There was nothing for it but to launch an attack. The first kick cracked fairly quickly, onto the mid-section where the gradient eases somewhat. This wasn't so bad, I can even get back into the saddle for a bit. The next kick, and the hard bit, out of the saddle, attacking again. For a while, I looked like slowing up. Then, looking up, I could see the summit, another kick of speed, the false flat right near the top was attained emphatically. The remainder of the climb is no problem after that. Revenge was mine. I paused just over the other side to take a picture:

After that, it was just 35km of suburbia to negotiate, before dealing with the drunk mentioned in a previous post. Still, it wasn't all bad. Waiting two hours for a response from the police wasn't all bad, it gave me the chance to cook up a huge pasta meal -- something I really needed after 253km and 2,679 metres of climbing.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

How long will this take?

How long does it take Gold Coast police to actually respond to something? It has now been two hours since I called them about some drunk who was bashing on my front door and wouldn't leave -- I wasn't about to go and try to fight anybody immediately after cycling 253km. I was told someone would be coming out to deal with it -- that was two hours ago, nothing since. Fortunately I managed to get rid of the guy with some well-chosen words through the window, but heaven help anybody who seeks the assistance of the police for a situation they can't handle. I'm going to bed regardless in a few minutes because I'm tired.

I understand the police are likely to be busy, especially on the Gold Coast. However, this situation is frankly unacceptable. If these sort of delays are going to result from a busy night (and I've heard a lot of similar complaints about the policing situation on the Gold Coast), the State government should take some of their GST revenue and fund more police, so that perhaps there might actually be enough of them to service the community.

There will be a ride report from the above ride tomorrow hopefully. I'm just not in the mood to do it right now.

Late update: I've now had a phone call from the police to apologise for the delay and told them the situation has now been resolved. However, my comments above still apply 169%.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Implementing Change?

Well, I do seem to have generated some controversy with my post from the other day about bicycle sales. Not since discovering The Garden of Eden has this little blog that nobody reads generated any attention at all. For what it's worth, I still stand by the gist of the original post, that a one-off shock is not going to cause a fundamental shift in transportational demographics. However, there are things that could cause a shift in the long-term, which is far more likely to be relevant to the aims of cycling advocates than a sudden trend that lasts a couple of weeks.

First of all, let's be clear one thing. The simple construction of "facilities" is not the answer. The fact is that nobody is going to look out the window of their comfy car on the way to work one morning and say "Gee, look at that wonderful bike lane waiting to be tickled by my tyres" (unless, of course, they're going to park their car in it, something that happens far too often). Last weekend's incident on the Gold Coast as well as one or two of my own, show that these things also fall a long way short of providing the "safety" that is so often claimed.

Off-road bike paths? Build one that actually goes somewhere and they might be OK. Sadly, I've only ever seen one in this entire country that does (in Hobart), and even then, it was only suitable for riding at a touring pace -- I wouldn't be so keen to commute on it. And please, spare me the whole "but it works in the Netherlands" spiel, you wouldn't believe some of the complaints that I've read from commuter cyclists from that part of the world about the difficulty in making a simple trip from point A to point B in a timely fashion. In short, if such a system were implemented here, I for one would be forced to quit cycling to work and start driving because of time constraints.

So what can actually be done to entice people out of their cars and into alternatives? The first thing that needs to be understood is this: People will only look at cycling as an option if they have some basic desire to do it, or if the alternatives become somehow less desirable. It's ironic, given the subject matter of the original post, that London has actually provided an answer here. Congestion charging (i.e. charging people to bring their car into the CBD) has actually been having this effect since it's implementation. However, I'd go a step further and remove all of the on-street parking in the CBD area. Once this was implemented, market forces would then increase the price of the remaining parking, which would effectively dissuade people with no need to drive into the city from doing so. Those that still felt the need might at least recognise that they don't need to be the sole occupant of the vehicle.

As the Gold Coast story linked above shows, the type of people able to obtain a licence needs to be examined. It's clear that some simply can't handle the responsibility of controlling a piece of metal that size. The first solution that comes to mind here is to increase the minimum driving age to 25. Both that incident, and this one would have been prevented had that been the case. The 18-25 age group has been shown time and again to be the one which accounts for the greatest percentage of road fatalities -- to borrow the logic used to "justify" banning cyclists from the M1 in Queensland, it would be for their own safety. It might also give some of them the chance to realise that it is actually possible to live one's life quite successfully without driving every errand further away than the driveway.

The above could also be reinforced by removing those from the road who prove to be a problem. Those netted in this exercise should have had their licences revoked for a long time, but in truth they were probably free to drive again the next day. The presence of morons like this is hardly going to entice anybody else out of their steel cage, and again, if these people were forced to look at other options for a while, they might start to see them as a possibility.

Sadly, none of the above are likely to happen in this age of government by opinion poll. However, rather than relying on government intervention, there are little things that cyclists themselves can do in order to work toward this end. First of all, every winter (yes, that is the riding season here) I see a lot of "new" cyclists taking up riding to work, but very few sticking with it. In fact, I don't know of a single cycle-commuter on my current route who has been doing it continuously for the two years that I've been using that route. Let's look at why people are quitting -- what is making people turn away from riding at the very time the health benefits and cost savings should be starting to flow through to them?

Education is a big problem here, a friend of mine in Hobart used to get flamed on cycling message boards for the mere mention of this, but the fact is there is very little in the way of education (formal or otherwise) in assisting people to learn the nuances of transportational cycling. It's not just dealing with traffic (although that's a big part of it), but also the things people mightn't think of right way, like keeping a change of clothes dry while riding through a downpour, carrying the change of clothes comfortably, maintaining a reasonable physical appearance on their arrival etc. People who can deal with these things comfortably are far more likely to enjoy their cycling, and thus, far more likely to stick with it.

This article offers excellent suggestions, and has been around for a number of years, but how many cyclists have actually seen it, or been made aware of the things it addresses? It also quotes some interesting safety statistics, which makes me wonder just why so many people try to promote cycling as "dangerous", when there are steps people can take which dramatically increase their safety to the point that it becomes safer than any transportational option apart from walking.

And while we're talking about initiatives for commuters, can someone tell me why something like Ride to Work Day has to be an annual event? Why not monthly? Or even weekly? Granted, it might mean people have to miss out on a free breakfast, or God forbid, the politicians' speeches, but these rarely lead to enlightenment in anycase. It would, however, provide inexperienced cyclists with encouragement, the camaraderie of a shared ride, and the chance to impart some of the information I mentioned above in a casual, relaxed manner.

I saw a comment along the lines of "cyclists do vote, we just need more candidates picking it up". This is true, but until there are enough voting cyclists to frighten these candidates, they won't pick it up in a hurry. The real question is how much do we believe in what we're trying to do?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Impressions from Le Tour

It was the late Johnny Warren who wrote in his book with the rather un-politically-correct title of Sheila's, Wogs and Poofters, that part of the popularity of football (otherwise known as "soccer" to the great unwashed) stems from the unique nature of that particular sport. The fact that one team can totally dominate a game -- be the better side for all intents and purposes, yet still manage to finish on the wrong side of the score. This, according to Johnny Warren, offers not only an element of unpredictability, but also reflects many aspects of the life we all live. The best person doesn't always get the job (I know this from experience, having delivered some shocking interviews in the past), or the promotion for that matter.

The most recent stage of the Tour de France delivered an example of that today. For all intents and purposes, Cadel Evans was the best man on the day. He led the field over the biggest climb, and even when he was caught, he still drove the front of the breakaway to ensure they weren't caught -- yet he had nothing left to contest the final sprint for the stage. Mind you, he was rewarded with a leap to 7th in the overall classification, which he didn't seem to mind too much. His effort also inspired me to head out for a quick, hilly 45km on a night that Brian Bewry would have described as "yukky" (i.e. 14 degrees C, windy, rainy). For that I am eternally grateful. To get drenched by a downpour and continue riding regardless really is an extremely liberating feeling.

It was also nice to see George Hincapie win a stage the other day. This is a man who has constantly sacrificed his own ambitions of glory to assist Lance Armstrong, so it's nice to see him have a turn on the podium, if only for a day. Of course, so much has been said about Armstrong that there's probably not a lot I can add here. This guy just doesn't appear to have any weaknesses. Even when some of the other teams managed to "isolate" him on the climbs, he just took it upon himself to deal with the situation. It's all to easy to forget what he went through with Testicular cancer a few years ago.

Of course, the plan that my riding buddy and I had of simulating our own little TdF here never quite came to fruition this year. Maybe next year we can work it out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

More snivelling cowards

Shamelessly nicked from the Gold Coast Bulletin website a few moments ago, read through the article and tell me exactly why they didn't go "in the van" regardless:

Gutter abuse for hurt cyclist

HOONS heckled a triathlete after he was knocked from his bike and lay semi-conscious in the gutter at Main Beach on Saturday evening.

As Adam Croft lay injured on the side of the road after being hit by a car, teenage boys sprayed him with a tirade of abuse.They called him a 'weak (expletive)' and swore at off-duty lifeguards who rushed to the scene to provide first aid.

The accident, which came a year after Croft's stepmother was hit and killed by a bus while cycling, has left the 35-year-old physically and emotionally gutted.

Cars hitting cyclists on Gold Coast roads has become so common that many incidents are not reported. These include a female cyclist who was struck by a car at Broadbeach at the weekend.

Adam Croft was completing the final stages of a 140km bike ride along Macarthur Parade on Saturday when the young driver of a hotted-up white Toyota Soarer ran into him just before 5pm.

As his body smashed into the bonnet, his head hit the windscreen, and he was thrown to the bitumen, Mr Croft thought he was about to die.

The 19-year-old female driver whose car struck Mr Croft was travelling with another girl along the popular hooning strip in the Soarer, an imported Japanese car favoured for its low cost and high-performance engine.

Witnesses said the car had a large aerodynamic rear wing and a 'Playgirl' sticker on the bonnet. Croft said he heard and saw the teenage boys, who were allegedly travelling with the girls in a different brown Soarer, stand around him and call him names. "I could hear them saying things like 'get up you weak (expletive), there's nothing wrong with you' and then they were swearing at the lifeguards who had rushed over to help me," he said. "It made me sick ... and I have lost my faith in human nature.

"I just can't believe that in a situation like that people would do something so horrible."

It is a long-standing tradition for car enthusiasts to take to The Esplanade on a Friday and Saturday night and drive 'the loop' through Main Beach and Surfers Paradise.

In the past, police have closed off some streets during the evenings at weekends.

Croft, of Broadbeach, said he was 4km from finishing when the driver made a turn into the Southport Surf Life Saving Club car park. Her car collided with Croft, throwing him from his $6500 bike and into the gutter. Witnesses rushed to the scene and an ambulance was called. The youths continued their foul-mouthed attack on Croft even as he was being treated by ambulance officers. A witness said a police officer eventually told them: "If you don't shut up, you are going in the back of the van."

Croft was taken to Gold Coast Hospital with neck, shoulder, knee and back injuries.He has been forced to take sick leave from his job and is unsure whether the injuries will have a long-term effect on his career. Croft, a Gold Coast City Council lifeguard, was training for the Yeppoon Half Ironman to be held on August 14. He will not be able to compete in the event.

"Other than my job, bike-riding was my passion. I guess my riding and work (future) will depend on what the MRI scans say next week," he said. It has been a horror year for Croft, who is still grieving over the death of his stepmother and professional triathlete Penny Croft. Mrs Croft, 54, was killed in March 2003 after a bus hit her bike while she was training along the Mount Cotton Road. An inquest on Mrs Croft took place in Brisbane two weeks ago and the findings will be delivered at a later date.

"It's been such a tough year and I guess after this happened to me I just wanted to tell people that cyclists have the same rights as cars on the roads," said Adam Croft. "I saw the car out of the corner of my eye, but I did not have time to even think about it.

"The vehicle failed to give way and the car hit my front wheel. "I was flung over the handlebars and on to the bonnet.

"The car ended up 15m down the road, where I fell off ... "When my dad (Ron) heard he went into shock. He thought 'not again'.

"On the Gold Coast, especially along that beach stretch on the weekend, there are many riders and I think people forget or become complacent on the roads.

"I was in the bike lane, obeying all the rules, and look what happened.

"I have been riding for 20 years and this is the first time I have ever had an accident, but in light of what happened with Penny, and Luke Harrop a few years back, I think people need another reminder to look out for us."

Triathlete Luke Harrop was killed in 2002 while he was training. He was riding along Bermuda Street when a female driver ploughed into him, flinging him from his bike. "It's only a matter of time before someone else gets killed," said Adam Croft.


I suppose on reflection, I would have approached that situation differently, sounds like a classic left-hook to me -- it might have been better to have moved out of the bike lane at that point, and I suppose that's the lesson we all need to learn from that situation. That said, it doesn't make this sort of behaviour any more excusable. Of course, the inevitable question now is what will be done about it. I'd say the most likely answer is going to be "absolutely nothing". Heck, if a police officer can stand there and watch the assailants shout abuse at their victim, it sends a clear message about the mentality society has toward incidents of this nature.

Monday, July 18, 2005


For reasons I won't go into now, I have spare copies of a couple of books to give away. Cycling Australia and Cycling New Zealand from Lonely Planet. Somehow I've ended up with two copies of each. These will be given away on a first come, first served basis. That said, I'd like them to go to someone who's actually likely to use them, rather than someone just looking for a freebie. If you're interested, e-mail me privately on the_chris_man_50 at yahoo dot com.

  • In other news, over at The Journey, Rodney makes reference to a story of an 11 year old girl who was arrested for throwing a rock at a group of boys who had been throwing water balloons at her. This seems a little ridiculous -- three police cars and a police helicopter for a kid doing what virtually all of us did at some point as children.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Been decapitated lately?

This seems like a great way to commence a ride:

And so it was that I set off south, past the concealed head, on a hilly tour of the Burringbar range and surrounds this morning. A freezing start to the day, just 5 degrees C this morning -- highly unusual on the coast! Actually, I'm not sure it even reached 20 all day. All in all a very pleasant day regardless, the highlight being the wildflowers blooming and continual vistas that open up all around this range on the various routes to climb it (three different ones in all).

Actually, these ones are being grown by some of my neighbours, so I was a little surprised to find them growing in the wild, too.

Some of the other noteworthy things to come out of the day: I should probably use the mountain bike on the dirt track through Mooball National Park, rather than the hybrid. Having said that, there were no crashes or even any narrow escapes, but I didn't feel as "in control" as I'd like. I was also a little lethargic at times on the ride, not so much in the spectacular sections, just on some of the "in between" bits. I'm hoping this will clear up shortly. I may have taken the first step to that with a strong finish to the ride.

The thought passed my mind today that this range seems to be a little piece of paradise just to the East of Murwillumbah, and one that remained undiscovered for so long, given that it's relatively close to home. There are actually a lot more quality pictures I could take, ones that I decided to save for my next visit (whenever that may be). Perhaps it's all just as well -- the terrain on parts of this ride is actually quite challenging. Maybe if I'd discovered it too soon, I might have found it a little less to my liking.

Perhaps I'm paying too much attention to the sprint stages on the TdF. On the final stretch of this ride (153km into it to be precise), some teenager on a BMX wanted a "drag race". Instead of trying to play along with his acceleration, I just jumped into his slipstream and drafted until his charge died. Then I came around the outside, dropped a little "can't you keep it going any longer?", and then did exactly the same thing again. I probably shouldn't pose like that, but he didn't seem to mind.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Anybody want some passionfruit?

Now if I can just get half of these suckers to ripen

Today was the time of the annual pruning of the passionfruit vine, the above picture is just a sample of what I took off. The main reason for pruning (while there was still fruit on it) is that it's not ripening anymore, given the cooler conditions at this time of year. Hopefully it will be ready to flower once again when the warmer weather hits (around November or so), it's all about next season now. Of course, given how warm my apartment is, I suspect many of them will ripen inside. I was also visited by a particularly tame duck today. There must be a lot of people on these canals feeding them, this one eats the food right out of your hands.

Of course, there was a ride today, just a quick 78km around Currumbin Valley/Piggabeen this morning.

It's really nothing more than a warm-up for tomorrow. I'm still not 169% certain where I'll go tomorrow, there are some options available. It could be O'Reilly's, or alternatively I'm feeling as though I want to spend some time around the Burringbar Range, on dirt roads. I'll be looking for imperial century #17 either way.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bird noises

I've made more than enough posts about my night time rides through the rainforest at Austinville, but one aspect that I probably haven't mentioned yet is the different bird calls that are prevalent at night. That subtle little chirp that's so common in that part of the world, yet in some ways as exotic as many of the rainforest ferns, just seems to add to the ambiance of that environment. Tonight it barely rose above the sound of the rushing water of the creek, still bubbling from the downpour of a couple of weeks ago, yet it was still distinguishable in it's own way.

Tonight, however, there was one that I haven't heard before. It sounded almost like screeching car tyres on a road, albeit with a slightly higher pitch. I heard that particular call four times, just after getting back onto the sealed section of the road after descending the dirt, past the second causeway on the return (which was delightfully flooded incidentally). I'm not sure whether it's that bird's natural call, or whether it was mimicking something it had heard before at some point. Either way, it was yet another special moment in what is a very special part of the world.

Monday, July 11, 2005


During the course of the last 4-5 days, I have read posts on two different forums and two different mailing lists about a sudden increase in bicycle sales in London since the tragic events of last week. Can I just take a minute to ask why everybody is getting so excited about this? For one thing, these are hardly the circumstances under which I'd be gloating about increased bicycle sales or anything else. For another, has anybody considered the possibility that this is all just a knee-jerk reaction?

Think about this, for the most part, these are people who have probably never ridden a bicycle in their lives (or at least not for a very long time). Perhaps there is a reason they have not done so, and have preferred to use the public transport system in the past. While the prospect of being attacked while riding a bus is in everybody's mind at the moment, it should be remembered that the overall risk of this happening on any given journey is actually a very small one. In short, these are the people who were happy to take the much larger risk of being involved in a bus crash without giving it a second thought. I suspect the frenzy over the prospect of a terrorist attack is largely media driven, however, when the emotion dies down in the next few weeks, so will a lot of the fear associated with it. I expect most people will then go back to living they way they were before this took place.

It should also be noted that here in Australia, it's estimated that bicycles out-sell cars by 3:1. However, you wouldn't know it looking at the streets during the commuting hours. Therefore the question we need to ask is: "where are all of these bicycles?". I get the feeling that the London experience will end up with a similar result. Hence those looking to promote transportational cycling as a solution to urban congestion/pollution problems should probably wait 3-6 months and see if all these bicycles being sold right now are still being ridden then. Somehow, I'm not sure they will be.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Memorable Day!

It's not been often recently I've had the chance to spend a day walking in one of the nearby National Parks after heavy rain, after all, it's not often recently we've even had heavy rain. So even when I awoke and heard the wind threatening to tear the Gold Coast apart at 4.15am this morning, it didn't take me long to decide to go out and ride against it toward Springbrook regardless. Like most headwinds, it didn't seem so bad once I got into the ride and developed a rhythm (even if it did slow me down just a touch), and it wasn't long before I started the climb.

Of course, Springbrook is a great climb, and it was worth noting that despite the sun gradually moving higher into the sky as I did this, I managed to lose 7 degrees in temperature on the way up. Eventually I got to start the walk at 7.55am -- the 17km Warrie Circuit (it would be 19km after the detour to Twin Falls pool). From the first steps I could hear the sound of tumbling waterfalls, and I knew this would be a memorable day. So it proved, although the spray of the first waterfall I walked under was freezing!

I've posted most of these pictures into a slideshow using Yahoo photos (there are 25 in all), which can be viewed here. Perhaps I'll reveal some more in coming days. However, there are a couple of things I want to note this evening:

This particular waterfall wasn't considered worthy of a name by those who named all the others in the park. However, it's remarkable not just for it's beauty, but also for the fact that it now looks exactly the same as it did in 2002, when the rainfall was considerably less than what it has been recently, and all the other waterfalls were drying up. I'm not quite sure how this happened, but it did somehow. It's also the wildflower season, and with the higher than usual rainfall last month, there appear to be some different ones blooming.

A couple of other shots from the day:

Incidentally, after the walk I headed for Best of All Lookout (which I've posted pictures of in previous entries). It's worth noting that at around 2pm, the temperature there was still only 11 degrees C. So much for Queensland being hot all the time! As can be seen from the pictures, the forecast sleet didn't eventuate this morning, and I'm not so sure I'm happy about that. Photography is always easier on overcast days.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

And so it goes on

I thought I'd start this entry with a pretty picture I took yesterday, because I'm not sure the other news is so good. That spot on my face was actually a Sun Spot, which isn't a skin cancer yet, but would develop into one if left alone. I suppose the good news is that I've had it zapped now, and hopefully dealt with. However, what concerns me is that I'm showing signs of skin cancer at the age of 28! Of course, someone who spends so much time outdoors in Queensland would hardly be surprised that this would be a possibility, but I use sunscreen all the time, and it's still happening, and I certainly didn't expect it to happen so soon.

On the other hand, I've read comments from people on who appear to have been living with this situation for years, without suffering greatly. I guess it just means I now need to be extra vigilant in making sure I catch these things early, and apply the sunscreen even more often than what I already do! I might also think about doing more of my long rides at night this summer, too. After Thursday's effort, it's clear that I am not having a good week. Sooner or later I'll get some good news, it's just a matter of waiting.

I did, however, get a nice early ride this morning, through cool conditions up to Binna Burra in the Hinterland. A surprisingly windy morning up on the Beechmont range seemed to add to the excitement. There's something about riding along the top of a range, being buffeted by a wind with no protection at all, it's actually quite a liberating feeling. The views on both sides of the range are also stunning up there. I've been doing that ride for a decade, and it's power remains undiminished.

P.S. Apparently the forecast for Springbrook tomorrow is sleet. Sleet? In Queensland? WTF?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Well bang goes that one

What was not simple in my last post became "official" today. New Zealand in November is off. Apparently the work situation at that time of year makes me going away for five weeks a problem. I'm not going to pretend to be happy about the decision, but ranting about it at work wouldn't have helped, so I managed to refrain from doing that. For some reason I took this decision worse than I should have -- after all, it took three years to get to Tasmania. However, a week ago everything was set up so perfectly for this trip in November. Now I'll have to try again for February, and nothing is certain there either.

In anycase, I'm going to take something positive out of this if it kills me. First and foremost, it should clear me to ride both the ASH Dash in Hobart, and the Midnight Century in Ipswich in December -- meaning that I'll only need one more to have an imperial century in every Australian state (WA). I had also been putting off a CPA module for this trip -- now I can get it out of the way. Oh yeah, and after I get a couple of things out of the way this weekend, I think I'll start to up the mileage on the bike, too. Basically, in the next six months I'm going to show the world that an annoyed me is a very bad thing indeed.

Just to make things worse (ha ha ha ha!), I have an appointment at a skin cancer clinic on Saturday to have something on the bottom of my right cheek looked at. I'm hoping it's just something caused by a stray helmet strap, but the way this week has been so far, I just don't know. Sunday I'm heading to Springbrook -- end of discussion. The waterfalls up there should be just beautiful after last week's downpour, and it's also the wildflower season. It's actually extremely rare that these two factors coincide (as this is normally the dry season). More importantly, Springbrook is the place I always go when things are difficult or frustrating. It's my special place, and I know I'll find the answers there.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Why can nothing ever be simple?

Work is now threatening to delay my NZ tour later in the year. The issue seems to be with the timing of my departure (November), and the fact that it's just before the office closes over Christmas. I've offered to work through Christmas (largely because it's the one time of year that I would definitely rather be at work, as opposed to dealing with tourists and sweltering heat), but I don't know how it's all going to pan out. I've been promised an answer by the end of the week, so I'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully I can sort this out soon, and give Fernando a straight answer -- he has to commit to an airfare worth 1,300 Euros!

Incidentally, I've just been informed of a minor error in the Apostle post below. It's actually the one closest to the camera in that shot that crumbled, as opposed to the third one. My mistake. It's interesting the way the last week has put things into perspective. One week ago this evening there was the rain and mist at Austinville in the rainforest, then there was the beauty of the downpour here (the liberation of getting wet is indescribable), followed by the partial collapse of one of Australia's great landmarks. Suddenly many of the things we worry about in everyday life seem so trivial.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Apostle Collapses

Anyone who has cycled (or indeed, visited) the Great Ocean Road in Australia might find this of interest. One of the Twelve Apostles collapsed into the ocean this morning. The effect of the thousands of years of erosion which has shaped that part of the coastline. Evidently this now means there are eight of them left standing. I am almost in shock, even though it was inevitable. Incredibly, I can't find a picture taken since the collapse (not even with Google), but I understand it might have been the big one in the middle of this shot (the "third" one) -- taken by "yours truly" in 2002.

Change of plan

So I had a change of plan last weekend, largely because I figured the road to Springbrook might still be impassable at Neranwood or somewhere in that vicinity. I rode to Brisbane on Saturday, and took things pretty easy for a weekend (for a change). About the only thing noticeable here was the fog in the morning, which hung around for a surprisingly long time.

On the picture below, you'll note the flood waters still in place two days after the rain has stopped (despite the Pacific Ocean providing probably the most effective drainage in the world). Look closely at the edge of the picture, and you'll notice the land is actually for sale. It appears that the floodplain housing issue I alluded to in my last entry has not been addressed.

Today I just did the River Walk in Brisbane, largely because it's likely to be closed in the near future. The issue seems to be that this whole structure is being held together with gaffer tape (we've got some thinkers here in Queensland!).

Of course, since then a new mayor has come into Brisbane, and Campbell Newroads doesn't want to spend the money to fix it properly. So unless there's a change of heart (unlikely), or the State Government takes it over (unlikely), it will probably be closed eventually.

There seemed to be a lot of these birds around today, too.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Impressions from the flood

It was an interesting experiment to ride through the debris left over from the flood this morning on my usual route once again. Actually, there was a mist hanging over the Gold Coast both in the morning and in the evening, which added a little bit of "mystery" to the pre-dawn ride this morning. It was also unusually humid for this time of year, but that is understandable! So far today I've had a few thoughts about the flood, and not all of them as negative as some of the impressions that others might have.

  1. It has averted a major bushfire crisis. This seems to have been forgotten, but record low levels of rain the months February to April (when a lot normally falls), left the Gold Coast and especially the hinterland in serious danger of major bushfire problems around August if the dry season continued in it's usual way. Yesterday's deluge should have put paid to that.
  2. The damage was much worse than it needed to be. Many of the places that went under had the same problem in 2001 (the last decent downpour). The only difference was then, there were no houses on them. It seems complacency has set into the design of some of the outer lying areas. The growth of the region seems to have initiated a "bang 'em up quick" mentality. Sadly, this aspect has received little coverage, so when the next downpour comes (probably during the next wet season or the one after), the same thing will happen again.
  3. It was awesome to cycle through! Seriously. It's not often that my little 13km commute is looked upon as an epic ride, but give me a downpour like that and a few flooded areas to negotiate, and it's just that! The totally deserted roads made a nice change too.

In other news, I got another e-mail from Fernando. It looks like the NZ tour starts on November 5. Now if I can just contain myself for another 127 days -- that's a heck of a long time to be pouring over maps.