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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Friday, September 30, 2005

End of the seaside commute

It's now official. As of Monday, my job moves to a new office in a different suburb. Given that Bundall isn't a beachside suburb (and doesn't really have much else going for it either incidentally), it effectively means the end of my ride to and from work alongside the South Pacific. Of course, I could still detour that way if I really wanted to, but doing so would eliminate the one true advantage of changing commutes, which is that it would allow me more time to do other rides, but virtue of the fact that it's now shorter.

I haven't really been in a position to snap any recent photos, largely due to the construction of grandstands and other structures for an impending car race (yes, my former commute is turned into a racetrack for one weekend a year). Incidentally, I notice the organisers have made sure all the advertising banners are already in place, despite the fact that the event itself is still a few weeks away. It doesn't bother me greatly as I can ignore them, but it must be a bitch for the local residents who find some of their local access hindered for weeks longer than is really necessary.

I'm digressing. Below I present some pictures from my old commute, snapped on different days, in an attempt to showcase some of the more appealing things I used to see on this route.

I'd like to say the possibility of a new commute is an exciting prospect, but in truth, it's all on roads that I've ridden hundreds of times before. Regardless, I'll do a "dry run" on Sunday afternoon (after riding an imperial century of course) to time it, and also to work out some bike storage arrangements, as I suspect my employer may have overlooked this detail.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Serenity of arrogance part 2

What emotion other than pure arrogance could allow a cyclist to be hit by two eggs thrown from a car and continue riding along with no reaction other than a mild fit of laughter? Well, perhaps there's a touch of cynicism (pragmatism?) in there too, I've been around here long enough not to expect much else.

Anyone who's cycled any number of kilometres in Queensland or specifically on the Gold Coast has probably experienced this at one time or another. A car passes the same as so many others do, but this time there's something different, something comes flying out the window. What's your reaction? Shock? Anger? Fear? Well, once you've experienced it a few times, those reactions become muted.

Sometimes there might be a mild irritation at not getting a licence number (although I could have done tonight if I'd really wanted to). However, one or two posts on the bike-qld list last week have finally convinced me that this would be a complete waste of time (I'll save the police the trouble of shredding the report because I'm benevolent), so the irritation is also muted.

What's there, is actually a form of amusement. Think about it, these cletii have hurled two eggs with all their might (well, there were more than two, but the others missed), and they still couldn't hurt a skinny little weakling like me! Nor could they ruin what had been a very beautiful ride, not to mention the eggs they wasted. It seems they didn't enjoy their night as much as I did, oh well. I guess someone has a "small one", something with which I sympathise not at all. Ha ha ha ha ha!

Still, it's only the second time I've had anything thrown at me this year, in a touch over 17,000km of riding. That's a pretty positive result by Gold Coast standards.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Don Adams -- a.k.a Maxwell Smart has passed away. He was well known as the bumbling C.O.N.T.R.O.L. agent in Get Smart, but those of us who grew up in the 80's will also remember him as the voice of Inspector Gadget. This guy was a true comic genius, from an era when TV sitcoms managed to avoid making the same "jokes" week-in week-out. I remember walking home from school as a kid in Werris Creek to watch this show. Yet 20 years later, I can watch the occasional re-run and still get a laugh out of it. So timeless was Get Smart, that it's easy to forget just how old it really is.

It fits firmly into the category of "they just don't make TV like this anymore", more's the pity. He will be missed.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Summer's here

Another brutal imperial century yesterday, but I wasn't going to settle for anything less, so it's all my own fault. I rode south along the beach before detouring inland through Bilambil and Urliup. I haven't had a southern ride for a few weeks. I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why all these sculptures have suddenly turned up at Currumbin Beach.

I decided to explore a couple of fire trails near Stokers Siding, I ended up being greeted by 15-20% gradients on some very loose dirt (I'm not calling it gravel because it wasn't). It was disgustingly hot too, 33 degrees C (I'm comfortable when it's around 13). There were, however, great views to be had at times. The only real let down was that they all seem to be dead ends. I'd been hoping to perhaps link up with the Burringbar Range or Mt Jerusalem. I suppose there will be other days.

After that, and drinking a deliberately excessive quantity of water at Uki, it was a ride home into a relentless headwind. This just didn't let up at all, at one point (on The Pilgrims' Road) I was struggling to hold 17km/h. Actually, I kinda began to enjoy it at that point, it gave some relief from the heat and humidity! It seemed like it had been an eternity before I reached the climb into the John Hogan Rainforest -- I took a couple of detours here because I feared I might fall short of century distance, but true to form I made sure there was no flat ground in them!

Looks like summer's arrived -- it actually seemed to get hotter when the sun went down. On the plus side, another 3,000 metres of climbing over the weekend, takes me over 16,500 for the month and 121,000 for the year. Ra!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Contrast

There wasn't a lot of finesse about getting there. Basically it involved pedalling up hill for several kilometres on end. I suppose I could claim that finesse abounds in my pedalling technique if I wanted to be self-indulgent, but it was never going to be a huge part of that equation. It certainly doesn't compare with the finesse required to obtain the picture. Shooting into the sun isn't always easy, nor was picking the position for that shot. It's a matter of combining a series of elements -- finesse, positioning, timing and so on. In short, the skill to end up with this is everything that the effort to pedal up the mountain isn't. Combine the two, however, and the results speak for themselves.

Now if I could just learn to do sunrises too...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

More yobbos

About the only thing I found surprising about this story is that there appear to be a few people who are surprised by it. Cyclists having to deal with punch throwing yobbos in Queensland is not unheard of, indeed, long term readers of this page will be aware of my own experiences with punch/car throwing yobs. The disturbing thing about the Brisbane incident from earlier this week is that the police who are investigating it claim to have never heard about this sort of thing happening before. Does this mean that all the reports people have made about these incidents previously have just been put through the shredder? It wouldn't surprise me.

It's even reached the ridiculous stage that I generally don't bother reporting such incidents anymore, figuring that simply riding on is going to achieve just as much, without wasting the time and effort. Still, I guess I shouldn't be too upset, after all, I have 16,560km or riding this year without having a single punch thrown at me yet (I'll ignore that fast food container at West Burleigh a while back because their aim was so bad). This is actually a very positive result. Still, incidents like this one are a reminder to be on the lookout for trouble, which seems to be on the increase overall on this side of the Tweed River.

If they haven't figured it out yet...

Apparently the Queensland State Penalties Unit (or whatever combination of those words they go by) are looking for someone who once lived at my address. Apparently they sent out a letter to this address and received no reply. This is actually entirely possible, as I've long since given up bothering to send back such correspondence as it doesn't seem to register with the people who keep sending the stuff. Chances are that I've sent back one of their many letters in the past, and for some reason it didn't register on their computer system.

Either way, I've been in this apartment for over four years. If these people haven't figured out by now that this person isn't living here, I don't like their chances of ever finding them. If I get the chance tomorrow I'll try calling them up, although when one considers the amount of red tape in government departments, I have reason to be skeptical about that, too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Whatever happened to...

For some reason, I've delved into my old pile of audio cassettes this evening and dragged out an old Noiseworks tape. Actually, it's not a total mystery, I had a particular song in my head all day and thus felt compelled to listen to it again (for the first time in years). Apart from bringing back some memories of 1988 or so, it makes me wonder exactly what happened to them. Maybe I'll google it when I get a spare few minutes.

The things I can't share

For one reason or another, this blog has turned primarily into a vehicle for sharing my cycling experiences with the world through the lens of my camera. However, there are often little subtle things that I haven't managed to adapt to that particular medium. Last night was a prime example, now that I've finally decided that riding 66km after work isn't all that excessive after all. It was one of those really dark nights that often happen in Tallebudgera Valley before the moon is up. Dark, but not totally so.

There was enough startlight around to light a silhouette of the surrounding mountains. At one point, the road passes by a beautiful lake. Indeed, I've featured a number of daytime shots of this area on these pages previously. Last night, however, was just too subtle to capture, the starlight on the mountains and the lake was absolutely exquisite -- it's that moment immediately after coming out of a patch of forest, into the "light", for that moment before the road turns away from the lake again. Maybe next time I'll slow down and make the moment last a little longer.

Given that there isn't exactly a queue of people lining up to join me on these evening exploits, I have only my words with which to share these experiences with the world. Still, for those truly brave souls who are close enough to take advantage of it, I'll be there same time next week.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A real getaway!

It seems like I've had more escapes than Ned Kelly this month (not that I'm complaining!). I found myself house-sitting in Brisbane last weekend (more on that later), which was an opportune time to jump on a train to Caboolture, one of the outer northern suburbs, and continue riding north. The plan had been to ride into the Glasshouse Mountains initially, but I got onto Old Gympie Road a little too soon (I think it was the wrong Old Gympie Road), and ended up taking a series of very pleasant, but utterly pointless detours.

Eventually I found my way again, and the views started opening up. This is an amazing part of Australia, with mountains all around, but none that apparently need to be ridden up.

Of course, this will never do for me -- I have to ride up mountains! So it was after I got to Beerwah that I decided to ride west, against another blistering headwind (although not as strong as yesterday's), before a long, gradual climb through the village of Peachester and beyond. I was going to come out here a month ago, except that I was struck down by illness at the time.

10km or so out of Peachester, the long gradual climb suddenly kicks up very steeply. The steep section is only 900 metres long, but it puts on around 130 metres in height during that time. Once this section is reached, however, the views begin to unfold all over the place.

Shortly after this I reached the town of Maleny. After hours of near isolation, it didn't take long for all those people to start getting to me. I made a decision to swing across to the other ridge and ride across through Montville and Mapleton, before the screaming descent into Nambour for the train home. I was also somewhat against the clock here, but now that the wind was a tailwind, I figured I could make it. The views on this ridge are even better, and the stretch out for miles on both sides.

There were also some sharp ups and downs, in this shot, the road climbing the next spur is visible in the distance. This ride-hugging road really is an inspiring experience.

There were umpteen other photo opportunities up here, but eventually it had to come to an end, although I would have preferred a more gradual descent into Nambour, at least a little longer to enjoy the views. The road screams down out of Mapleton very steeply. Of course, Nambour suffers from the same lack of signage that most Queensland towns seem to, but I was able to find my way around it instinctively (at least, find my way to the train station). Beyond that, there is little to tell, apart from the fact that the train back to the Gold Coast takes a long time (well, it does cover 200km or so). This is something I'll need to plan for in the future.

Right now, I'm wondering about taking a bike onto the Tilt Train, the high speed rail link to Rockhampton or other points north. I'll do some research when I get around to it. It could be an interesting long weekend option next year.

How to feel really alive

How to feel really alive in three simple steps:

1. Wait for a morning when there are severe weather warnings and 90km/h winds threatening to bring down trees, powerlines etc.

2. Find out which direction the wind is blowing from.

3. Get on your bike and ride straight into the teeth of it!

I guarantee that within about 3km, you will feel more alive than you have done in a long, long time (unless you do this sort of thing regularly). Choose your weapon: The irresistible force meets the immovable object -- which will YOU be? Stalemate is an incredibly liberating experience. The wind itself becomes the objective, the destination of the ride is merely a secondary consideration at this point.

Something I really love about these situations is letting the dull, boring side of my personality express itself. I give it a free reign while I spin the cranks in a relatively small gear and gradually grind the wind into the dirt. Then as I get close enough to sniff ultimate victory, I let the arrogance take over. I have no aversion to launching a blistering attack in the closing stages of such a ride, just to let the wind know that it's been owned hard! Another advantage is that magpies tend not to fancy these conditions too much for some reason.

The one downside is when the wind decides to play dirty and throw a twig at your ankle. Still, losing a little blood occasionally can be healthy sometimes -- it reduces the chance of blood clotting in later life. This was how it all went on Saturday morning when I decided to defy such conditions and ride to Springbrook really early. Of course, there was an element of cheating -- with a 1,000 metre climb to play with, there isn't much the wind can do once the climbing starts and those instincts kick in. I also wonder whether there's an element of cheating in lifting the bike over this:

Looking further down the road, there was a situation where lifting the bike over wasn't an option, but look at the left of this picture, you'll see a very small gap -- apparently there's a road under this mess somewhere too.

But of course, the really great thing about windy days like this, is that they provide very clear mountain views from somewhere like Springbrook. And if you can find a sheltered spot, well, I'll let the pictures do the talking, check out the stray wildflowers in the bottom corners of the first two.

Friday, September 16, 2005


How many Mark Lathams does it take to change a lightbulb?
  • Ten -- one to change it, and the other nine to write books about how the old one conspired against him.

  • One -- everyone else is incompetent.

Any other suggestions?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Do I know this person?

Do you ever see someone who you think you recognise, but you can't place them? This has been happening to me recently a bit, with someone I see each evening as I ride home from work. It's usually on the approach to the Sundale Bridge, or sometimes on the bridge itself. She's usually riding home from work in the other direction (presumably she works at Seaworld judging by the uniform). We usually smile and/or greet each other as we pass, then go on our merry way. I know it usually brightens my day just a little bit. I'm sure I recognise her face from somewhere, but I just can't place it. For the record, I haven't been to Seaworld in 20 years. I have eleven further commutes on this route to figure it out.

Then there is the jogger that I used to see in the mornings everyday on my ride to work. This guy and I have this strange way of waving to each other as we pass, we both seem to do a simultaneous pose as though we're waving to a huge crowd somewhere. It's almost as if it's the final stages of the climb to Alpe D' Huez or the last bit of the Gold Coast Marathon, but in reality we're just waving to each other. Again, I'm sure I know him from somewhere, and he recognises me from somewhere, but I'm buggered if I can figure out where. It seems highly unusual to give such a huge wave to a complete stranger. I hope we cross paths again at some point in the next two and a bit weeks before I change commutes. It promises to be one hell of a wave.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Another plug

This post is another plug for my spanky E6 headlight -- not only is it incredibly bright and able to be powered without reliance on batteries, it also provides an incredibly focussed beam on the road. What this means for me (apart from the obvious), is that it doesn't disturb any of the other night-time scenery I get to see on my rides. Tonight this meant I was privy to the entrancing sight of the moonlight through the Piccabeen palms (or Bangalows if I were writing this south of Tweed Heads) of the rainforest at Austinville. On other nights it's allowed me unobstructed views of glow worms. Expensive, but worth every cent.

In other news, there seems to be a particularly high level of tension on the roads in the last few days. Granted, the Gold Coast isn't the most friendly place in the country (quite the opposite actually), but even allowing for this, the tension has been higher than usual. Of course, my arrogance allows me to transcend all of this virtually anytime I feel like it, but one does wonder what seems to be motivating all this aggro lately. Perhaps it's just the warmer weather, or maybe they've been up all night watching the cricket -- suckers! Well, if all the cletoids are so upset about the result, it might pay to barrack for England even after Shane Warne retires -- assuming that anyone can actually be bothered to sit through six hours of test cricket. I certainly have better things to do.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Glorious Mee 2005

So after rambling about it in numerous posts here, I finally did it on Saturday. It's now the fourth time I've done that crazy ride, and I suspect I might be finally beginning to get the hang of it. It was a surprisingly cool morning after riding out to the stat at The Gap from Fortitude Valley -- down to 9 degrees C. This didn't bother me a great deal, however, as it's infinitely preferable to the 32 degree start in 2003. The first act is the climb to Mt Nebo, quickly followed by the second climb to Mt Glorious (after a brief descent between them). For some reason I decided to launch a crazy, testosterone-fuelled attack on Mt Nebo right from the start. It wasn't that I was expecting it to do me any good, I just felt like making a statement.

After the first checkpoint, (where I pinched a couple of muesli bars for sustenance), it's a ride through the rainforest...

... before a screaming and insane descent down the western side of Mt Glorious. I'm not sure how they came up with the design for this road, a 20% descent with sharp hairpin corners. Most roads with that many corners have a much gentler gradient. Either way, it requires enormous concentration for the most part. After this the road levels out through mainly rolling hills for the next 75km or so to Kilcoy. It can sometimes be difficult to get the legs working again after such a descent.

One thing that strikes me about this stretch is the vast difference in the type of vegetation compared to Mt Glorious. It seems like it's only a few kilometres separating the rainforest on the mountain from the dry and almost treeless yellow hills. This section of the ride has it's charms, however. For several kilometres on end, the road winds along the shores of Lake Wivenhoe, the blue water again contrasting the harsh landscape.

The second checkpoint in Kilcoy is almost a watershed. After lunch here, the ride seems to take on an entirely different feel. The ride back from here almost feels more urgent, although today there is something else to consider. Smoke is billowing from the horizon, how will this affect the climb of Mt Mee?

Somehow the route manages to avoid the worst of the smoke, and it isn't long before I'm passing through Woodford and contemplating the last major climb of the day (and the most brutal). I digest a muesli bar about 2km from the start, before launching into the climb itself. The initial part of the climb kicks hard -- stalemate! It doesn't seem like I'm getting anywhere, then I see the blue sky through the trees, a sign that I'm not far below the summit. I round a corner, I never thought I'd get here this quickly or painlessly. I reach the third and final checkpoint at the top of this mountain quicker than expected. Some of the other riders are here already, and they don't seem all that keen to charge off just yet. However, I'm feeling energised, so I decide to set off relatively quickly. Maybe it was just the daisies lining the road on Mt Mee that did it?

After that, there isn't a lot to tell. The descent is an easy, almost lazy experience, then the road is virtually flat all the way to Samford. Now there are just 15km to go. There is an initial hill to climb out of Samford, it disappears easily, but I notice that all the people I expected to pass me aren't doing it -- where are they? Through Brisbane's northern suburbs, onto Settlement Road, then into The Gap. I pull up at the finish of the ride to find it deserted. I never thought I'd get here this quick, and neither it seems did anybody else. Actually, it's about the first time I've ever finished first in anything in my life.

Eventually everyone else arrives, for a quick feed to digest the ride. Today I was largely surprised by my own strength -- it seems I've finished this ride 30 minutes quicker than last year. Perhaps all those 200km rides I've been doing earlier in the year were actually helping a little.

After this, there is the small matter of the ride back to Fortitude Valley. Perhaps I should have waited another 30 minutes or so until after the Brisbane Broncos game had started. A few of the local Cletii were a little impatient (something with which I sympathise not at all), and I was a little concerned when one guy behind me decided he didn't want to stop at the red light that was in front of me. In anycase, I had the last laugh, when, as I predicted, the Broncos got OWNED hard.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Knocking on our doors soon?

Coming soon?

It's seems Australian Prime minister John Howard has jumped on the redneck bandwagon of paranoia and fear by implementing some new anti-terror laws. Apparently the laws contain increased police powers to search homes and detain "suspects" indefinitely without trial. Now I realise there are some obvious humanitarian issues here, but in all honesty, does anyone have any reason to fear a household cleaning product? Surely anyone can see the clear resemblance in the photos above -- one nicked from a news story somewhere, and the other on a can of Mr Sheen. Did Mr Howard change his name by deed poll, I wonder? My advice to Mr Howard/Sheen -- stop trying to look like the tough guy with fascist laws like these, after years marketing yourself as a cleaning product, you're fooling nobody.

In other news, tomorrow I'm riding The Wonders of Glorious Mee in Brisbane. 212km with over 3,000 metres of climbing to play with. It's not expected to be as hot as in previous years (they're only forecasting 26 degrees C tomorrow). If that turns out to be the case, I might just attack Mt Mee. It's the hardest climb of the day, but I have some old scores to settle from previous editions of this ride when it's hit 39 degrees C on that climb in the past. Roll on.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Here we go again

A press release just in from the bike-qld mailing list. For those who realise just how rarely press releases lead to enlightenment, it relates to a bike path they're building out at Gatton (60km or so west of Ipswich for the geographically challenged). It's more of the usual gaff about how much they love cyclists, well, you'd hardly expect them to say what they really think in a press release, or would you? I draw your attention to this sentence:

"Getting people off the roads and onto their bikes will only bring positive results, "

When translated, it seems this bike path, like so many others seems to revolve around the idea of simply getting cyclists off the roads. The fact that I picked this up with nothing more than a cursory glance at the statement indicates it wasn't as well hidden as these things usually are in the jargon. This suggests one of two things, either:

  1. We're finally starting to see some honesty in press releases; or (more likely)
  2. The cyclists aren't really the ones they're trying to win votes from this time around.

I'm going with option 2, given that this is what I've long suspected about the majority of so-called bikepaths in existence. Now I don't get out to Gatton all that often (well, there's not much reason to really), but I'm sure one day I'll be passing through on the way to somewhere else. It might be interesting to hear what they'll think of someone on their bike and on the road, although I doubt the opinion of a political spin doctor is going to have much influence on my behaviour regardless.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More fuel for the fire

More whining about fuel prices on the news this evening, everything ranging from predictions about the end of society as we know it (as if that would be a bad thing) to "ways to save" to hair-brained schemes like "let's all not buy our fuel on a particular day of the week to teach the evil oil companies a lesson". One thing that's been conspicuously absent from the discussion has been the idea of using alternative fuels. I'm not sure what it costs to convert to LPG, but I did notice that it was fully 77 cents a litre cheaper than regular unleaded at a service station I rode past last night. Surely that's at least worthy of consideration. As a little aside, I also noticed that the price of conventional fuel has some way to go before it reaches the $1.30 mark that the media has been whining about.

One wonders why suggestions of alternative fuels have been so absent from the media, which is "supposed" to be informing the public, or so we're all supposed to believe. It couldn't be that they have an interest in keeping people whining rather than actually solving their problems, could it? Surely not! (spot the sarcasm). I have to admit, I've been more than a little apathetic about the whole thing -- given that the only thing I need to "fill the tank" is a good feed of pasta. However, I do find it a little amusing that an option so obvious has been overlooked.

In other news, I just had an absolutely beautiful ride out in Tallebudgera Valley this evening. It's a little further than I normally go after work, but it was worth the effort. I might just do that route a little more often.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Richmond Ranging

Last weekend's tour was probably the last one I'll get this year. As expected I headed west through Canungra and Beaudesert, managing to avoid a pall of smoke from someone burning off somewhere around Wonglepong by taking a recently-discovered dirt road. About the most exciting part of this early stretch was passing by the wildflowers in bloom at this time of year.

The stretch between Beaudesert and Rathdowney offers little in the way of stunning scenery, but it's prime magpie territory. One in particular flew high into the air in an arc-like movement, before swooping dramatically, then having to change direction to avoid a jet of water from my bottle. After a surprisingly filling lunch from Rathdowney pub, the ride starts to get interesting on the approach to the Border Ranges, with a beautiful climb through the mountains up to the Plateau near Mt Lindesay, now passing through beautiful rainforest.

I pondered free-camping here, but decided I wanted to head further South, so I crossed the border into NSW, through the village of Woodenbong, offering sweeping views of the incoming rain, then rode to Urbenville, 12km to the South, through a beautiful shower. I set up camp here, in the local park, after deciding that 146km was quite enough for one day.

A point to ponder about some of these towns. Urbenville has banned the consumption of alcohol in the main street of the town, which really just means the local drunks just move into the parks to get drunk -- seems like a pointless exercise. In Kyogle that law is flouted blatantly, while I don't think Murwillumbah bothers anymore. In one sense it's sad that residents of some country towns have been reduced to this, largely through boredom one suspects. On the other hand, it is really any different from people in major cities going to clubs and getting drunk? Perhaps there's a message to ponder about life generally, and how the pointlessness of so much of it reduces people to this.

* * * * * * * *

The second day saw me leave Urbenville at around 7.30am after packing up (something I take way too long to do), and just enjoying being in this area. It's not far from here that I cut my cycle touring teeth 5-6 years ago, but this area is really special, with mountains shaped by volcanic activity popping up everywhere.

A short climb brings me back into the rainforest, before a long gradual descent takes me into the village of Bonalbo. Now this is where day 2 starts to get interesting. I ponder the best way to get across to Kyogle. Peacock Creek Road piques my interest, passing through Richmond Range National Park as it does. I'm told by the guy at the Bonalbo Newsagent/Service Station/whatever other role it fulfils in that place that would probably be an impossible task.

"It's a really rough road, even for a four-wheel drive. You might be alright on a mountain bike, but even then you'll probably have to get off and push most of the way."

As it happens, I manage to pedal every scrap of the way on my hybrid, and pull a full touring load as well! The farmland at the start is inspiringly isolated and lonely.

The forest once I enter the National Park is beautiful, and although I don't get the mountain views that I would like, the bellbirds keep me company with their tranquil song.

I also detour to Toonumbar Dam after standing under the shade of a tree and pondering possible alternative lines on a map to follow. There are very definite "no camping" signs here, but there were plenty of other opportunities for potential stealth camping today.

The only real difficulty is the "road improvements" from the Kyogle Council toward the end -- oh yeah, and I have another argument with the heat, but that always happens. In one sense, I'm dissapointed to reach Kyogle, not because of anything to do with the town itself (although I could list a few things), but because I simply don't want the day to end. Incidentally, next time I'll press on and free-camp in the bush somewhere. The local lads can make quite a noise on a Saturday night.

* * * * * * * *

Another surprisingly warm night, the temperature doesn't drop below 15 degrees C. This time last year it fell to 4 degrees C. I leave Kyogle and pedal straight into a big headwind from the North-East. 120km back to the Gold Coast could be a long way into this wind. There is some relief, however, in the form of some early climbs -- namely the Mackellar and Nightcap Ranges. I could just about do the stretch between Kyogle and Murwillubah every week and never get bored with it.

These trees are blooming everywhere, and on the Nightcap Range, I find a plantation of them.

The two ranges are climbed surprisingly quickly, and I'm back on familiar roads, although there are great views of Mt Warning in the vicinity of Uki -- incidentally (for those who didn't know), Mt Warning is the first part of mainland Australia to see the sun each day.

After this, it's through the rainforest of Urliup toward the final leg. Urliup is a wonderful thing --this ride would have "effectively" ended at Murwillumbah as the scenery across the plains to Tweed Heads/Terranora is less than inspiring, as is the suburbia that follows. However, Urliup offers something different -- the sounds and smells of the rainforest, complemented by the sounds of tyres on dirt. It's always one final encore on most of my southern rides.

Beyond that, the only thing that remained was pushing through the headwind on the flat coastal section. The wind really blew hard here, but by this stage there wasn't far to go, so all I had to do was select a low gear and spin it into submission. This actually turned out to be surprisingly easy, if not all that interesting -- and I was left to take a first shower for three days.

As to final impressions, well, three-day tours are not life-changing experiences. However, this tour offered me the chance to escape suburbia for a while, which was just what I needed. It's also left me with some other places to explore at some point in the future. Old Tweed Road on the Nightcap Range is begging to be ridden some day soon, as is Cambrige Plateau Forest road on the Richmond Range. Then, of course, there is another road heading North from Woodenbong, which provides an alternative route to Boonah between some of the highest peaks in the Border Ranges. With those maps I picked up in Bonalbo, I suspect I'm going to spend more time exploring this area in the not-to-distant future.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The end of the seaside commute

My job is moving to Bundall effective October 1. It seems there has been a split between the partners in the firm I work for. I'm not going to speculate on what might have happened here, but basically I'm following the guy under whom I've worked the most in my time there. Things are gradually becoming clear on that front, but I'm not going into them now. What it effectively means is that I'll no longer have a seaside ride to or from work -- given that Bundall isn't really a beachside suburb. In the next month or so I'll try to get some photos up from that particular commute (even though it's not a patch on the Coolangatta ride I had back in 2002).

The good thing is, Bundall gives me more opportunity to pick my way through gridlock, thus throwing my rampant arrogance into sharp relief. Unfortunately, my commutes are getting smaller. Back in '02 it was a 47km round trip. For the last couple of years it's been a 25-26km round trip (depending on which route I chose), now it could be less than 15km. I'll be looking to make up the distance elsewhere.


Apologies for the relative lack of updates to the 2.3 regular readers that this thing has attracted. I've either been a) really busy; or b) posting my inane ramblings to the bike-qld list too often this week. In anycase, tomorrow morning I set off for a three day bike tour -- probably the last I will get this year (although NZ is looking like happening in February 06, so at least that is some good news). I'm thinking I'll head back to the Mt Lindesay/Woodenbong area and keep going South. I could even push on for Tooloom Falls and set up camp there, but I guess I'll see how tomorrow pans out first. I've got a lot of preparation to do very quickly if I intend to be on the road by 6am.

Other than that, I spent $129 on a new helmet this evening. It might seem excessive, but I seem to have an unusually shaped head, so it's damn near impossible to find anything that fits properly! I wonder if anybody else has this problem. Oh yeah, I also heard Sarah Blasko doing a cover of an old Cold Chisel tune on Triple J the other night. She could sing the phone book and make it sound beautiful.