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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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

If I can get two more flat tyres tomorrow...

I will set a new personal best for the most in a calendar month. So far this month I have six. My best in a month is seven (May 2003). I fear that I may have left my run a little late this month, but where there's life, there's hope. I ride in what must surely be the broken glass capital of the world, and I have to believe I can get the remaining flats that I need.

In other news, apparently there as now been a special commemorative George W. Bush condom released. It's specially designed for the dumb f*cker who doesn't know when to pull out.


This is post number 501. Ra!

Yes, I have now gone past the big 500 (although that may include a couple of draft posts that were never published), and decided that I didn't particularly want to bother the Minyon Falls post with the occasion. Oddly, I cannot find the link to the very first post, but the archive of August 2004 is here. If you scroll down you should see the very first post I ever wrote. Well, in fact it was the third after a couple of false starts with image-hosting problems.

Originally I had set this blog up to be a place to post some of my rants from the forum at bikeforums, where I'd been a regular contributor over a number of years. A few things changed in the period following that, I got a little bored with the back and forth flame wars that tend to define most message boards these days. I also started to question a few of the old assumptions in cycling "advocacy", and concluded that there is virtually no "advocacy" group in this entire country that even attempts to represent my intests as a cyclist.

As these events happened, my cycling interests changed to the point where touring seems to be my main interest these days, and when I don't have time to go touring I prefer to focus on the local long-distance rides. At other times I've posted various rants here when I just wanted to get something off my chest, and often those opinions have put me in the minority (something deemed "unacceptable" on an increasing number of Internet fora these days). Of course, that's probably killed my traffic, but I can live with that. Maybe it's for the best.

I'd like to make some grand statement about "where this blog will be in 500 posts' time", but frankly, I'm not that bothered. It will just continue to evolve in whatever direction I feel like taking it. Perhaps (if I ever manage to archive it properly) I can look back on it as a reflection of not only where my life was at during a particular period, but also where I was at as a person. If that doesn't work, at least I should be able to come up with some more material for part 2 of the troll competition.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Thank you QR

A short time after finishing my previous post, I discovered that my planned tour wasn't going to happen. It seems QR had once again made a complete mess of their scheduled timetable, and I didn't really see the benefit if "expected delays" and loading my bike on and off a bus as well as a train for a three day tour. This "track maintenance" between Brisbane and Beenleigh has now being going on sporadically for over 12 months. If the situation with the track is really that dire, perhaps they should just close the whole line down for four weeks or so and just fix it properly, rather than continuing to mess people around indefinitely.

As it was, I was left with the option of heading south for Minyon Falls for the long weekend. I did just that, heading south down the Tweed Coast and onto Mullumbimby. This was all familiar territory, but I hadn't ridden it fully-loaded before. I suddenly realised just how tough that climb can be in temperatures of 34 C when carrying a full touring load.

As it was, the temperature dropped substantially on the western side of the ridge. Now I was climbing and descending every couple of kilometres through some spectacular scenery. I am, of course, familiar with this part of the world, but it was a climb into the unknown when I hit the climb to Minyon Falls. The first kilometre was the steepest section, followed by a levelling, a pause at a small cafe for a mango smoothie, and the final assault on the dirt.

Along the way I'd talked with one of the locals in the cafe who informed me that feeding magpies is a useful way of preventing them from attacking. I'll keep that in mind for the next magpie season in a little over six months' time. I reached Minyon Falls to learn that there was no water coming over the cliff. Quite surprising given the greenery of the surrounding area, and the storm that had been through the previous day. It also really highlights the extent of the drought facing Eastern Australia, that a normally massive waterfall would be reduced to nothing in the middle of the wet season.

I passed right by the camping ground, and headed straight for the climb of Peates Mountain on the dirt through the rainforest, aiming to see what the views were like. The dirt got rougher and steeper nearer the summit, so I hid my touring gear in the bush down a fire trail and continued on unladen. If the climb could up the stakes, so could I. I crested the summit at around 640 metres to find that there were no views as it was heavily forested. I did, however, take note of another track apparently leading to the Huonbrook Valley near Mullumbimby. That could be an interesting project one day.

Eventually I decided to return to the actual campground rather than try "freecamping" in the forest. The campground here has something that every paid campground in the country should have -- a special area reserved only for "walk-in" campers. What it means is that idiots who come along and play crap music on car stereos can't go there and disturb the people who actually want to enjoy the outdoors. I spent most of the evening chatting with a camper who has done some cycle-touring in Northern Australia (most of mine has been in the south of the country). The idea of cycling Cape York one day is growing on me.

I awoke the next morning to find pretty much everything saturated. It rained for most of the night, quite heavily at times. My tent managed to leak like a sieve, so I need to get that resolved. For a while the creek flowed and gave me some hope of seeing something coming over the falls. Unfortunately most of it had gone by morning.

The rain had managed to keep me awake most of the night, but it's amazing how much more relaxing it is to be kept awake by rain, thunder, lightning and surprisingly loud frogs, rather than screeching tyres, heat and fighting yobbos which seems to be the norm back on the Gold Coast. The ride out was spectacular at times.

Before long I had descended the mountain, and was detouring through various villages in the northern vicinity of Lismore. Much of the area had sweeping views or exotic forests similar to those around Mullumbimby, but around every corner there seemed to be something different.

The problem for me was that the heat was now rising to ridiculous levels. I figured that once I reached Lismore I might be able to find a way to keep myself occupied until the heat dissipated enough to ride in again. There were two problems with that. Firstly, Lismore wasn't a particularly interesting place, and secondly, the heat was showing no sign of slowing down. When it reached 40 degrees C, I basically gave up on waiting and decided to just ride anyway. I did, however, visit an open-air cathedral in Bexhill, about 10km before Lismore, which was more interesting than anything in Lismore.

One thing that did happen in Lismore was that I encountered someone who was apparently down on his luck, and needed change for bus fare to Ballina to start a new life. I figured I wouldn't miss a few dollars, and decided to help him out. He said all he had to give me in return was the Lord's blessing. A southerly change would have been all the blessing I needed in the heat. I rode out through Rock Valley, and contemplated camping near Rock Valley Hall, before pressing on gingerly. The Hall wasn't really secluded enough from the road, and offered little shade for someone dying in the heat.

20km later I reached Cawongla. There was more disappointment here, nowhere to camp, and a sign misleadingly claiming the local store was open. It was now 14km to Kyogle, over the MacKellar Range. In my favour, however, was the fact that light was fading, and consequently, the temperature had eased slightly. My lights could help me out if it got dark, I could make it. I seemed to feel better climbing the range and descending the other side.

Kyogle wasn't really what I wanted -- the one eatery that was still open in town advertised pasta but didn't sell it. It was, however, a comfortable enough place to spend the night. I didn't bother putting up the fly on my tent. It was far too hot, and I figured if it rained I'd be better off just getting wet in those conditions. Lo and behold, during the night the southerly change did arrive, and things cooled down considerably. Was it Karma, or just coincidence?

The next morning was a return to the familiar ride from Kyogle to the Gold Coast over the MacKellar and Nightcap ranges, through the Tweed Valley, Urliup and back to the coast. 119km. Simple really. It was a hazy, overcast morning, which seemed to give the early mountains an eerie quality all of their own (not to mention lower the temperatures considerably on yesterday). I love riding this route, it was in the closing stages of my first "long" tour in 2000, and has concluded many other big rides since then.

A few instances of abuse after Murwillumbah highlighted what I was coming home to. Fortunately I hadn't really been away long enough to be "softened" this time. As it was, the rainforest and the dirt road of Urliup (look in the archives if you want a picture of that) kept me away from it for a while. I don't know how much longer that will be the case, given that the Tweed Shire Council have some irrational desire to seal/pave Urliup Road, but for now I'm grateful for it once more.

My legs were just about shot when I returned home, but I can live with that. I will, however, need to reconsider whether this particular long weekend is the best time for cycle touring in this area. The summer heat is just brutal, and while I survived this time, the cooler times of the year are much easier to deal with. The volume of water that I've been continuing to drink since returning some seven hours ago is testament to that. I'll write some more concluding thoughts later, right now, I need some sleep.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A dilemma

It was around 4.15am this morning that I finally gave up on any attempt to sleep in the ridiculous heat and humidity that just will not go away right now. Normally this would mean going for a ride, but I had an eye on the upcoming long weekend (i.e. tomorrow), and decided that as my legs had been showing visible signs of tiredness on yesterday morning's early ride, I would be better off to just rest them and "only" ride to work today.

This was alright while I was able to spend time on multimap looking up possible routes and whatever else. However, it was shortly after my arrival at work that I felt a little underdone. It seems to be a fine line, or maybe it's just addiction. Whatever it is, I always feel vaguely frustrated if I haven't had a decent ride for a while. Apart from commuting, I've had only one other ride (that was just 38km) since Sunday's epic. I'm even tempted to sneak out for a few kilometres this evening after work (even if I have an early start in the morning) just to get the feeling back.

As far as the weekend is concerned, the plan is a train to Caboolture, then riding up to Crows Nest via Toogoolawah (somewhere around which I'll camp on the first night), then over to Lake Perseverance, Ravensbourne (find another campsite around here), back down to Esk and to Ipswich for a train home. That is the loose plan -- I may well screw it all up tomorrow morning if I feel like going somewhere else. I'm thinking of a possible alternative route between Wamuran and D'Aguilar on the early stretch as I've ridden that twice this month already.

As I related before, the hardest part will be finding quiet places to camp away from basically everyone else who will be running around on this weekend (Queenslanders are notoriously loud at campsites -- not the thing for anyone planning to sleep after a day in the saddle). The second night should be easy to resolve, but I'm still not sure about exactly where I'll pitch on the first night. An early weather forecast suggests there might be some storms around on those three days. I'll believe it when I see it, but it might cool things down a little. My excitement for this tour is now building -- even if it was a little muted earlier in the week. 19 hours to go.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Some would say that it's silly to ride 173km over two mountains with a total of over 2,400 metres of climbing in the middle of the summer heat in Queensland. After yesterday I'd probably agree with them. That said, I'd probably do it all again exactly the same way. It was obvious fairly early that it was going to be a hot day, and the delay in having to detour around a triathlon course probably didn't help things. Nevertheless, I managed to make reasonable, if not spectacular progress through the gorge to Canungra, and up the old winding road to O'Reillys.

The road winding up the mountain has a gentle gradient for about 15km, and a lot of old-world charm. Personally, I think narrow winding roads like this should be heritage-listed and never altered in anyway beyond basic maintenance. In other words, f*ck the hoons. The fact that a few of them wipe themselves out there isn't necessarily a bad thing, and certainly no reason to destroy a part of our heritage.

Of course, the forest at the top where the gradients steepen has as much charm as the road has character, with all sorts of creatures calling it home. There was mild frustration at the picnic ground at the top -- with "improvements" making water refills difficult. It was virtually all downhill back to Canungra, but the temperature rose by 16 degrees C in little over an hour on that descent.

In Canungra I had a decision, do I ride home the normal way, and possibly forego a century and the back climb of Beechmont on account of the heat (it was 34 degrees C at this stage), or do I just climb it anyway. I opted for the latter option. The western climb of Beechmont is much harder than the front road. It's gradients are steep and it sees little breeze. Early on it wasn't such a problem, but the kick near the Marian Valley monastery was a killer. I made it, just. I've had some great times up on Beechmont Plateau, but I've never been so glad to reach the summit as I was on this sweltering afternoon.

I now had to ride the familiar roads across the plateau to Lower Beechmont, before the descent back to the coast. The trouble was that my legs were toast after the last climb, and with the northerly blowing like crazy on the mountain, I really had to take my time. Fortunately, the scenery provided plenty of compensation for that.

The final descent back to the coast, and even the final 15km from Nerang were strangely quiet. Not that I was complaining about this fact. Somehow I found the power to finish the ride strongly, before heading straight for a cold shower on my return. I know I made plans to destroy summer this year, but it's going to be a little more difficult than I thought. Still, this gives me century number three for the month (and year), and takes my total climbing above 12,000 metres. Next stop, Crows Nest next weekend.

Ten signs you're cycling in a Queensland summer

1. Your biggest fear about crashing is landing on the road and cooking.

2. You think your chain needs lubing, then you realise that what you hear is actually the trees whistling for the dogs.

3. The best place to wait for a red light to change is determined by shade rather than traffic conditions.

4. You only refrain from riding through puddles because you don't want to scald yourself.

5. You go riding in a lightning storm actually hoping to get struck because it might cool you down a little.

6. The main motivation for wearing gloves is not to burn yourself on your handlebars.

7. You discover that ashphalt has a liquid state.

8. Your biggest fears about riding at night are dehydration, heat stroke and skin cancer.

9. You get four hours of sleep the night before a century ride and consider yourself "well rested".

10. You put on arm-warmers the instant the temperature falls below 30 degrees C.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mt Nimmel and the nine-year itch

"Nimmel" is an aboriginal word meaning "Conspicuous mountain". It's actually ironic that Mt Nimmel should have ended up with such a name. For one thing, at a mere 489 metres in height, it's quite a bit smaller than the surrounding peaks of Springbrook, The Cougals, Mt Gannon, Mt Tallebudgera etc. In my case, I've only managed to get around to riding up it after climbing any number of other mountains in any number of other parts of the country (and in New Zealand for that matter).

It truth, I did attempt this mountain nine years ago, and failed dismally. I later found out that mechanical problems on my bike that day inhibited me considerably. I would discover today that the early kick which beat me in 1998 is actually the hardest part of the entire climb. Shortly after this early kick, the gradients levelled out a little as they often do. This time it settled into a pattern of short, steep ups and downs, each gradually gaining in height. The views were telling their own story.

I watched a line of cloud moving across from the coast, and wondered if I'd be caught in the rain on the descent. As it was, the climb was too pretty to worry about those things. After a consistent grind through some eucalypt forest, the vegetation opened up as the gradient got steeper for the final assault. I then realised that I'd managed to hit a patch of greenery that I had thought was actually on Springbrook when looking at the mountains from the coast.

Some short steep sections followed, but the summit was something of an anti-climax in the end. I reached it, and the end of the road before turning around and descending quickly. There is some debate about the pros and cons of whether or not cyclists should wear underwear. All I'll say is that some brown underpants have a use of their own on this descent.

I found a dirt track, leading off to the East before I reached the bottom. I was tempted to follow it, thinking it might be the "missing link" between Mt Nimmel and Austinville that I've read about on some maps (but not others). It's ironic that I chose not to follow it on this day, because I ended up detouring to Austinville later anyway. I felt I needed some extra kilometres, and the rainforest at Austinville would provide the ideal setting.

My thighs had some arguments on the dirt sections, but that didn't really last long. I coasted home fairly easily after this, wondering if there were any more riding possibilities in this area. The possibility of a back track linking Mt Nimmel and Austinville is an interesting one. It's something I'll have to explore further on the next opportunity, which could be at least a month away.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Enough already!

Four flat tyres in 10 days is ENOUGH!!! I am quite proficient in changing them thanyouverymuch, I don't need any more practice now. I did notice, however, that along with the fateful piece of wire that found it's way inside, there were two or three other pieces of glass trying to work their way into the tyre. Once again I ask the question, if every other drink commercially available is only sold in cans or plastic bottles, why doesn't it apply to beer as well? If people are that worried about the taste of it (and surely nobody will notice after three beers) they can always go to a pub and drink it from a glass there.

Then, of course, I'd need to solve the problem of all the broken glass and other debris from car smashes on the roads of the Gold Coast. Fortunately, I provided that answer in my previous post.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I think this is called a "rant"

After riding past yet another car smash on the Gold Coast yesterday, I'm now a little more cynical (if that's even possible) about the state of the roads, or perhaps more accurately the road users, in this part of the world. In case anyone didn't see the little rant early in yesterday's post, basically a couple of morons on a 4wd/SUV decided it would be fun to smash into the driver of another car and then speed off laughing about it.

Sadly, about the only thing surprising about incidents like this these days, is that there are still people who find them surprising. A little later in the day I turned to a friend and said "I will wager you anything you like that no charges will be laid as a result of this". Not surprisingly, he didn't take the bet. And yet, while incidents like this (which had plenty of witnesses, one of whom gave registration details to the police), and others similar continue to go unpunished, there are still people (most of them in government) who express surprise that the road toll continues to rise.

I've asked this question before, but it bears repeating -- what is so difficult about just enforcing the law? I've lost count of the number of different ways in which governments have tried to dance around the issue, most of them involving "public education campaigns" as they are laughably called. At different times we've even seen people trying to bring in new laws, which are a complete waste of time in a culture of blatant disregard for the law, which seems to be a fact of public roadways these days.

All that's really needed here is to start applying some penalties to those who break the law, including those who kill with cars, that might actually make people sit up and think twice about doing it. It's a well-known fact that in most hit and run incidents, the reason the perpetrator leaves the scene is because they have something to hide -- either culpability, or drugs or alcohol in their system. Surely it's time to introduce a law that automatically assumes culpability if someone runs away from one of these crashes. After all, running away from something like this pretty much goes against every grain of human decency, and the assumption would probably be correct in 99% of cases.

While we're at it, it might also be worth increasing penalties for those who are caught driving drunk. After all, nobody ties them up and pours alcohol down their throat, and nobody then makes them drive afterward. It's therefore not unreasonable to start fining people thousands of dollars for this, and issuing immediate on the spot licence cancellations (and car confiscations if necessary) for the more extreme offenders. If people think it's unfair, perhaps they stop and think about the victims of these crimes for a minute. The same thing applies to people speeding through or hooning around residential areas (which seems to be happening more and more often).

Of course, people would just whine that the above is just "revenue raising", but is that really such a bad thing? Personally I can't think of a better source from which the government could draw revenue than these idiots. After all, anyone who has a problem subsidising the government in this way still has the option of just following the law.

Most importantly, those who kill with cars need to start being treated the same as those who kill with guns and knives. After all, the end result is the same for the victim, and the victims are the ones laws are supposedly in place to protect. As things stand now, I could get in a car, deliberately run down someone I dislike, claim it was an accident and just walk away. This may be a little more difficult to change, given the number of weak-willed judges who seem to have been employed to deal with these matters, but I would think setting these people some guidelines as I alluded to above, and actually holding them accountable might make a difference.

Better yet, make me transport minister for a year. Admittedly, any government who did that would probably lose the next election (as road safety doesn't seem to be a vote winner these days), but I can guarantee that within 12 months, I would halve the road toll.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Rain, mist and leeches!

For such a relatively short ride, this was certainly eventful. My friend Martin decided to join me for a relatively short ride to Springbrook this morning. I finished the way with a total of 88km, barely a quarter of the corresponding 324km epic from a week earlier. We commenced in light rain and started by unwittingly riding to the site of a car smash (I'll refrain from using the term "accident" because it's rarely accurate). Apparently a couple of drunken f*ckwits in a 4wd/SUV had smashed into another car and driven away laughing about it. Fortunately in this case, the victim appeared to be only suffering from shock.

Light rain continued to fall as we commenced the long climb in the mist, first the 8km stretch to Salmon's Saddle. Apparently Martin wasn't feeling confident at this point because he didn't have small enough gearing for the near 20% gradients to follow. He wanted to wait for a bus ride home. Of course, knowing what I do about Gold Coast "public transport", it was obvious to me that he would have been better off waiting to hitch a ride on Halley's Comet.

Eventually we continued on the really steep pinches of Lyrebird Ridge, passing "Mibum lookout" (I'm not making that up). Actually, Martin surprised me in the ability to not only push those ridiculous gears, but also deal with the wet roads at the same time. In truth he did really well, but then, perhaps that's why he's placed in the top 5 in 24-hour MTB races in the past.

In those conditions, there was nothing to see from Best of All Lookout. There are, however, 3,000 year old Antarctic Beech trees, which make a spectacular backdrop for a photographic pose.

It was somewhere around here that the next piece of drama probably unfolded, but I didn't become aware of it until we stopped at the fudge shop (definitely worth a visit) on the return home. A leech had managed to find it's way into the front of my jersey, and latch onto my chest. It had sucked a decent amount of blood, judging by the mess it made when I squashed it. It probably dropped down from one of the rainforest trees somewhere, but just where I can't be sure.

There was even time for a detour to Purlingbrook Falls. There is nothing in the world quite like a gushing waterfall in the mist. There was a decent volume of water coming over it too, I can only guess that Springbrook has managed to get some rain that the 'Coast has not. It was a great way to cap a memorable day.

There was even time for me to pick up a flat tyre on the ride home. Not really a problem as I've dealt with a few of these lately, but it was still annoying. The temperature on the coast managed to hit 30 degrees C on the way home -- that was annoying too (it had only been 17 on the mountain). Perhaps I should have taken Martin's advice and ridden back up the mountain and stayed there until nightfall.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Zig zag road

It's always interesting to discover new places to ride. This particular route was one that I was going to inspect from the other side a couple of years ago, but never really got around to it. I hadn't really planned to check it out today, but somehow it came up.

I had started with another disgustingly hot and humid morning (which would later become a disgustingly hot and humid day), and caught the northerly down to the southern end of the 'Coast before heading for Urliup, with plans to visit the Garden of Eden, high in the hills of Tomewin.

Pretty much everything unfolded as I'd expected -- although the humidity brought with it a haze that effectively extinguished any mountain views. The promise of cooler temperatures on the mountain, however, gave me enough motivation to commence the climb of Tomewin from the southern end. Usually fatigue is supposed to weaken you as you climb, but on this occasion, there was still some cloud cover at the summit, which had the opposite effect.

It was then the usual detour down Garden of Eden "road", before heading east across the ridge on Glengarrie "road". There was, however, something different about this stretch today. It seems the Tweed Shire Council have once again decided to "upgrade" a "road" that nobody uses, meaning that long sections of the rougher stretches had been dug up. Effectively it was like riding through a garden at times.

It was on one such "garden" that I had the back wheel slide out. Riding at a relatively slow speed gave me plenty of time to recover and avoid crashing, but it did give me the opportunity to stop and talk to one of the locals on the mountain. Evidently there was a second way into Bilambil -- a dirt, switchback road called "the zig-zag road".

The zig-zag road actually took out quite a bit of distance, and a couple of decent climbs. It was an interesting detour, but overall I still think the "old road" on this ride has more to offer. It wasn't long before I was back in Bilambil and commencing the long ride home into the wind, made a lot thicker by the humidity of the day. How humid was it? Well I don't recall the sun actually shining properly at any stage of the day -- even after the clouds had cleared.

I really hope it's not like this on the long-weekend tour in just two weeks' time.

Friday, January 12, 2007


A thread over at bikeforums asks whether journals of bicycle tours "gloss over the bad bits", or skip the less enjoyable aspects of the trip. I have to admit that I don't generally get the time to read as many as I would like these days. I have, however, written a few of them, so I do have some input on this topic.

Personally, I filter what should or shouldn't be included on the basis of what sticks in my mind. There are so many things that go through my head on every ride that it's ridiculous. Sometimes they're thoughts that have absolutely no relevance to the ride itself at all. Often on a bike tour (particularly in the less interesting stretches), I'll be riding along thinking about how I'm going to deal with something else going on in my life at the time -- seeing that particular issue from a new perspective and coming up with ways to deal with it. The point of all this is to illustrate just how many things go through my mind during a trip.

Often some of the emotions I was feeling at a particular time of the day will have disappeared completely by the time I get around to writing about them. Sure, I can jog my memory pretty quickly by looking at the map (or simply starting the process of recording the day's events) and thinking of where I've just ridden, but that isn't going to bring back every thought from the last six hours. Consequently, I take the view that if a particular emotion doesn't come flooding back at that point, perhaps it wasn't in my head all that strongly to begin with.

I don't believe that I skip over the bad things, but then I'm also a great believer in an old business expression: "Things are never as good or as bad as they seem". Often something that I thought was the end of the world a little earlier will appear as something that wasn't so bad after all by the end of the day. A classic example was snapping my pannier rack in New Zealand last year. I actually thought for a few horrible moments that my tour was, if not over, then certainly seriously impeded. By the time I came around to publishing this in an online journal (i.e. by the time I next had Internet Access to do it), I had put together an "emergency" repair which had managed to last over 200km.

Sure I could write about the uncertainty of the repair at the time (and I did). However, at the time I was feeling those emotions, I was too busy trying to find a solution, so I'm not sure it would have come out the same. Perhaps that's what happens to other people too. It's just a change in perspective about a particular event when reviewing it at the end of the day. Perhaps the subsequent reflection on the events of the day make them seem a little different. On the other hand, I guess it doesn't really explain those who write about what a wonderful journey they had before concluding "I will never do this again", but as I said at the start, I don't get around to reading that many journals these days.

Maybe one or two of the readers here have an opinion on some of my ride reports.

Oh yeah, the picture above is from somewhere near Little Nerang Dam earlier this week.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


What is it about big rides and chain problems right now? When I headed to Hobart for the ASH Dash last month, I had a rear derailleur fall to pieces. Not such a surprise, except that for some reason the shop to which I took the repair found a reason to pull my chain apart in the process. This wasn't so bad until Saturday Night's 300k, when the chain problems surfaced again. I was able to get through the final stages of that ride (although I had a chain tool with me if needed), and limp through two commutes earlier this week, but now I'm basically riding this chain with one link removed, and basically putting as much wear as I can on it before replacing it at the end of the week.

I just hope some of my other big rides (starting with a tour on the weekend of January 26) don't end up like that.

* * * * * * * * *

In other news, I'm about ready to remove the music selections from the right of this page. These days I don't really buy enough CD's to keep it updated as often as I should, and if the truth be told I'm growing increasingly disillusioned with the music scene generally. While everyone would have you believe that everyone is doing something of real quality and depth, most of it is just shallow rubbish. Even the few artists/bands who are doing something decent struggle to get any air play. Gersey have been one of the best (in fact, probably THE best) bands in the country for around seven years now, yet very few people will have heard of them.

For the record, the last CD I bought of any interest was from an alternative band Dappled Cities Fly. Most of the tracks on that have a good sound, and they're not afraid to move around a little bit -- basically the antithesis of most of the mass-produced crap that seems so popular right at the moment.

Monday, January 08, 2007

300k -- finally!

I have waited a long, long time for this one. Up until the weekend, I had never ridden 300km in a day -- despite having gone beyond 280km on no fewer than five occasions. Technically I probably still haven't -- given that this ride started in the afternoon and continued through the night. On the other hand, there were 310km covered between arrival in Caboolture and the return there for the train home (plus another 14km on the 'Coast getting to and from the train), so I'm claiming it.

This ride arose from a desire to participate in the Audax 200km night ride starting and finishing in the town of Kilcoy, north-west of Brisbane. It was getting to and from the ride that would present the extra kilometres I was seeking, as it is 50km from the nearest train station in Caboolture (actually, by the route I took it was a little further, but who's counting?).

The ride from Caboolture to Kilcoy is quite a pleasant one. There are early views of the Glasshouse mountains in the distance, and some very pretty bushland to pass through, particularly on the Neurum road detour. Arrival in Kilcoy presented a bigger turnout than expected, until I realised there was a 50km ride being run at the same time as my 200k. The early part was on a familiar route, passing Mt Kilcoy, one particularly nasty wooden bridge where I had a very nervous moment, and returning to Kilcoy on the Jimna Road I used en route to Mt Buggary last September.

It was after leaving Kilcoy (again) and heading for Esk that the drama really started. First of all, my chain was making some noises it shouldn't have been. I'd had a rear derailleur repaired in Hobart a few weeks ago, and they had told me they'd needed to take the chain apart to do it. I began to wonder if that was the problem. Then I discovered a slow leaking flat on the rear tyre -- not a problem as I had a spare tube, right?

Wrong. The MTB tube was still in the saddlebag, and wasn't going to be much use to me out here. Oh well, it was only a slow leak, if I pump it up enough I might make it to Esk. For some reason I also started thinking of last week's knee problems -- although they gave me no problems at all tonight.

All of these concerns somehow cancelled each other out, and I was able to relax and really enjoy the night. The temperature was glorious, as were the twilight views of Lake Somerset (which I'd see again later). Someone in a passing car even shouted encouragement (normally they shout abuse on the Gold Coast). I did have to re-pump the rear tyre before Esk, but even that didn't bother me.

Shortly after leaving Esk it dawned on me that I had no idea at all what the time was. I had assumed it was getting late, but somehow I was so lost in this ride that keeping track of that simply didn't occur to me. I was more concerned with the moon sailing through the sky and lighting up Lake Wivenhoe in such a way that can be viewed for hours, but never photographed.

A little later just after the climb at Wivenhoe power station I renewed acquaintances with Lisa from Inverell who I'd ridden with for 170-odd km on an ill-fated 600k attempt last year. We had something to talk about as about 35 cars suddenly went past at high speed. If 35 cars suddenly pass at high speed at 1.00 am it usually means one thing. Our suspicions were confirmed at the next intersection -- there were about 50 hoons out for some drag racing.

Fortunately, the road ahead had more corners than the road behind, meaning they weren't going our way. Even more fortunately, they were surprisingly polite when we passed them. At least it gave us something to talk about. At the next checkpoint it was clear that my rear tyre was now going to need to be patched. This was the first time I've done this in the dark, and it took a little longer than usual.

The tube patched and the offending piece of glass removed, I set off again, and discovered my front tyre now had a similar problem. I just pumped it and figured I'd deal with it later (i.e. preferably when it was daylight again). The remaining ride to Kilcoy to "officially" finish was up and down, with one almighty climb before rejoining Lake Somerset. I negotiated these and watched the light starting in the eastern sky. Daylight comes about 4-4.30 am in these parts, which was about the time I made it back into Kilcoy.

I was offered a ride home and declined -- I wanted to finish off this 300 properly. I started feeling a little tired on the Neurum road (for the second time in 24 hours). I fixed the front tyre properly to keep myself awake, and pressed on. One again the scenery on this road provided the inspiration, as did the prospect of making it to Woodford and a bakery for some breakfast.

The final stretch back to Caboolture was almost surreal. My legs were just about shot, but continued to find enough for the rolling hills as they came along. I was counting off each of the "failed attempts" in the 280's and 290's. I did raise a fist when the 300 came up, however, the end of the ride was something of an anti-climax. As I rode into Caboolture, I couldn't help thinking what an unremarkable dump that place is. I'm sure it has some redeeming qualities for someone, but it's just not for me.

As to where I go next, well, there is a 300km ride starting from Esk early next month. It's another all-nighter, but after this experience, I think I'll give it a go. Transport to and from Esk shouldn't be as difficult as there is apparently a bus service there from Ipswich (to where I could catch a train). On the other hand, it's only 67km from Esk to Ipswich, maybe I could just ride it.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Made it

I'll be heading to Kilcoy for the big ride after all. It seems the knee that I could barely walk on at 4.30am yesterday morning was able to ride to work at 7.30am without pain, and hasn't troubled me since. Of course, whether or not it's up to riding 300-odd km tonight is another matter, but I guess I'll find out soon enough.

The pictures in this post are not from yesterday's ride to work, but from an early morning ride to Little Nerang Dam two days ago. I was so caught up in ranting about other things at the time, that I just totally forgot about it. Let me again point out that this is nothing more than a 47km training ride -- sometimes I feel like the luckiest man in the world.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I need a :cry: emoticon

36 hours until my first big ride of the year, and an oooooold knee injury has flared up. It was originally a running injury from 1997 (i.e. my running technique sucked), but it apparently flares up once every few years (2002, 2004). Normally a bit of anti-inflammatory gel and some rest cures it. The problem is that this may not be an option this time.

The inadequacy of public transport on the Gold Coast basically means I'll be forced to commute today -- even if I have abandoned the 42km or so I was planning before work. Instead I'm spending that time poring over maps for a long weekend tour I'm planning for later in the month. Either way, the next 36 hours will be very interesting.

Speaking of later in the month, I'm having some thoughts about setting off on the Australia Day long weekend. Bluff Road to the west of Esk is the plan. Of course, this would require some decent daily distances (on dirt roads) to cover all the ground I intend to. Finding quiet places to camp on a traditionally busy long weekend also presents an interesting challenge, but I've marked a couple of State Forests on a map. All I need to do now is get the conditioning where I want it (Saturday would be an integral part of that), and just go.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

This is what they don't want you to see

This is the side of the Gold Coast the tourism promoters don't want you to see. My commute to and from work passes two brothels in Upton Street. That is not what this post is about, but it's interesting that there would have been such community opposition to their establishment in Bundall (something that passes for an "inner suburb" of the Gold Coast). Interesting because, although a passer-by can't see what goes on within those walls, it's a fairly safe bet to say that it's considerably more sanitary than what goes on outside them.

One idiot today was honking/abusing someone in front of them who had *gasp* actually stopped at a red light. How dare they! (spot the sarcasm). A little later some idiot in a bus wanted to have a go at me because he couldn't handle the fact that I was traveling faster than he was and had legal right of way in a particular traffic situation.

I can only assume that he had already been to one of the aforementioned brothels, but the lady he hired couldn't even find it with tweezers -- and consequently he had to try to compensate in whatever way was possible. Idiots like that amuse me more than anything else these days, I've been dealing with them long enough not to be particularly bothered by them. As I said, this probably isn't what Gold Coast tourism promoters want me to publish, but hey, I'm still waiting for my cheque for all those hinterland photos I've uploaded in the past. ;^)

Still, it could be worse -- I could have been on a bikepath. According to a news report last night, there have now been 30 assaults on bikepaths in Brisbane in the last 12 months. Of course, the police are promising a "crackdown", but anyone who has ever reported an assault to the police in Queensland knows how unlikely that is. While this comment would probably get me flamed on any "advocacy" themed BBS, I'll stick to the roads. Even with the idiots, it's much safer there.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Tweed-le Dum.

In a previous post I related that after the "discovery" of the dirt roads into Wollumbin National Park, I now have two imperial centuries that I can ride in the Tweed Valley. Today I finally got around to riding the second one, something I was originally intending to do last week.

Both rides share the same start, over the climb of Tomewin and through the canefields toward Murwillumbah. This time, however, I generally head through the town and south along Kyogle Road through Uki and Kunghur. Usually this stage is pleasant without being overly spectacular. Just a lovely warm up for the main attraction of the ride.

It's just past the Sphinx (above) that I stop heading south and turn around, on dirt roads now, climbing sharply toward the forests of Mebbin National Park. Once the National Park is reached, this becomes a truly special ride. Just me, the dirt road, and the surrounding forests. It's one of those rides in which it's easy to totally lose yourself to the moment, not looking at the distance on the computer, just focusing on enjoying the surroundings. Often when I ride through here, it comes as a complete surprise to reach the end of the road and rejoin the old Tweed Valley ride at Byrrill Creek.

This ride rejoins the old ride just in time for the really pretty section alongside Byrrill Creek, still on dirt (although another couple of kilometres at the end have been sealed since my last visit). The beauty of this stretch of the ride is that one never quite knows what they'll see down here. If it's not deeply enchanting forests, there are also waterfalls, the old hippy cottages and a variety of wildflowers.

After emerging from the forest it appeared as though I was going to cop a monster headwind for the duration of the ride home. This appeared to be the case for the first 17km through Uki to Stokers Siding. Consequently, I decided on a detour on the old Pacific Highway to throw a few extra hills at it. At this point the wind swung around completely (as it had already done several times and as it would do twice more during the day), and I found myself wasting that extra effort. I suppose a few more metres of climbing never hurt anyone.

The ride home, as always passes through Urliup. For some bizarre reason today there was some guy in a ute following me around through Urliup. I'm not entirely sure what his intentions were, and I'm not sure I want to know. As it happened, I was too busy enjoying the forests of Urliup to really notice him too much, and he disappeared at Bilambil, so perhaps I won't give it much more thought.