Audax Australia
This is the umbrella organisation running long distance cycling events in Australia Their website includes a calendar of events.

A place where cyclist can keep track of their mileage and any number of other statistics, as well as an attached forum.

A set of discussion forums covering almost every conceivable cycling related topic.

Cycling Adventurer
The Cycling Adventurer has tossed in the structured life of an urbanite to explore the world by bicycle. A well-written site detailing how he came to cycling, and what he learned along the way.

Crazy Guy on a Bike

Bicycle touring journals from all over the world, including a couple of my own.

Johns Cycles

This is my LBS on the Gold Coast. While they cater more to the racing market, their service, advice and workmanship is the best on the coast.

St Kilda Cycles

Importers of all manner of things hard to find in Australia, including the legendary Schmidt hub dynamo & E6 lights.


Wonderings and wanderings out and about in Portland, Oregon, US

The Journey
The journey begins in Perth, Western Australia.

Lance Notstrong
The "other" Lance!

Ms Mittens
The Wired Cat on-line

Iron Gambit

Aussie Writer and Cycletourist
A blog chronicling the writing and cycling of a seaside baby boomer.

Up in Alaska
Jill's subarctic journal about ice, bears and distant dreams of the midnight sun.

The Kin Chronicles
Taking mediocrity to a new level of ordinary.

Riding and running with a vengeance.

London Cycling Diary
Pedalling across the capital since August 2005.

CouchPilot-2-BikePilot (Zin's cycling blog)
Living an adventurous life with Type-2-Diabetes.

The adventures of Crazy Biker Chick
... Including cycling, adventuring, cooking, knitting and ranting.

Redneck Espanol
The two wheeled Spanish redneck.

Treadly and me
"Work is something I do between riding my bicycle".

Womanist philosophy and theology. Cycling, climbing, art, single-motherhood and fire-twirling.

Adrian Fitch's random rambling.
A bit about cycling, a bit about genealogy, a bit about radio but mostly a lot about nothing at all.

Geo's big adventure
The life and times of Geo.

It's about the bike
Musings on the cycling life.

Various cycling tidbits.

Industry Outsider
A blog about bikes and stuff.

Tweed Coast Treadly
An old man's bicycle riding diary.

A cyclist's life in Tenerife
(Canary Islands).

Bike to work to live to bike
It's never too late to get back on the bike

Stupid Hurts
Just the random scribblings of a guy with a bicycle

I'm not drunk enough for this
Really, I'm not.

What can I say? Just read it.

Mozam's cycling adventures
A random collection of the things I like to do most, and mostly that is to ride my bikes, bicycles that is... My musings from competitive riding, long distance endurance to puttering around the neighborhood..

More cycling blogs

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

That's two

I have had better weeks, and it's not over yet (these things are supposed to happen in threes, right?). It was an astonishing twist of fate that prior to my crash on Sunday, I was already booked into see a doctor this evening. There were no unexpected complications from the crash itself, but the reason for the visit was related to a longer term problem -- that someone with my pathetically weak skin happens to live in the skin cancer capital of the world.

To cut to the chase, at 9am on Friday morning I am having a melanoma (i.e. a skin cancer) cut out of my skin. Being a cyclist, of course, my first through was "oh no, there goes another weekend of riding" . The next thought was "this is probably going to hurt a little bit". Basically I'm going to be left with a scar to add to my burgeoning collection, and a couple of stitches probably for a week and a bit. I've only ever had one stitch put into my skin before, and I rate it considerably more painful than having a tooth pulled.

What's astonishing about the whole situation is this. The mole is on my back a little below my left shoulder. I never leave my apartment without a shirt on. I'll be making sure to ask my doctor about that on Friday, but if anyone else can shed some light on that in the mean time, I'd be very interested in finding out more. It may mean I have to be a little more selective in which fabrics I wear in future. It might also mean even more night riding -- when am I supposed to sleep?

I wrote in my journal over at after Monday night's ride that I don't stay down for long. At 9am on Saturday morning, I meet up with an on line friend from Harvey Bay who is something of a celebrity over at Basically if OLN or anyone else plans to make a documentary about cycle touring in South East Queensland, it would be in their interests to email me for more details. That should provide some inspiration.

Sunday Night I'm supposed to be taking a full moon night ride over the Beechmont Range to take in some stunning moonlit views, and I'm not ruling myself out of that yet. Somewhere in all this I'm also supposed to be training for a 400k randonee in Toowoomba on March 17. I'm going to stop now before I start writing stupid cliche's about life being a "roller coaster", but if fate wants to slap me a third time, and I'm warning it, it better be prepared to have it's backside well and truly kicked.

Night air

I have not been idle since Sunday's crash. Monday night I took a great ride out to Tallebudgera Valley, just getting away from the insanity of the coast for a while. The best stretch of that particular ride is the narrow strip of road toward the end where the vegetation closes in, riding past it closely when lit up by the night light seems to create it's own ambience.

Last night I took the MTB up to the Spit in the darkness. There were some serious sand patches on the track, but I'm getting better at dealing with those. They aren't so scary anymore. Hitting sand at the wrong angle provides some interesting moments, particularly that point where the the back wheel slides out and I have to decide whether to put the foot down and bail or whether the situation can be saved. Fortunately, the sand usually provides a soft landing if there is a problem.

I bought a dirt cheap cycling jersey from Rebel Sport on the weekend. It seems to do the job just as well as any of the jerseys that are usually bought for three times the price. I guess one has to pay a premium to look like a mobile advertising board. What astonishes me is that it was also half the price of the "factory seconds" jerseys made by Cannibal down at Tweed Heads. I can't help thinking that somebody here might be a little guilty of extortion.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I can't think of too many nice things to say about this weekend. Basically the only thing I've managed to conclude is that someone somewhere with an over-inflated sense of self-importance has decided they don't want me to ride from the Gold Coast to Ballina and back in a day. Last year I had to bail on an attempt at that ride after a run of flat tyres caused me to turn around and head for home before I ran out of patches and spares -- but at least I still managed 177km that day.

Today seemed to start promisingly enough. My legs felt good, I got into a good rhythm early. Then a flat tyre hit just 5km into the ride -- yet another piece of broken glass (I won't go into that rant again). I fixed it a little angrily, then went on my way. I hadn't lost too much time, and once I hit Sexton's "hill" near Banora Point I started feeling good once again. A heavy rain shower followed, which drenched me enough not to have to worry about getting too hot for the next couple of hours. Things were looking good.

Between Kingscliff and Cabarita is a rather ugly subdivision known as Casuarina Beach. This was built in 1998 (and even now all the lots aren't sold), so there is no conceivable way that anyone can have any pretence of this place having any "history" at all. Yet for some unknown reason, some idiot came up with the idea of paving all the roundabouts (of which there are a surprising amount for the place that really is the arse-end of the world) with cobblestones! The thing about cobblestones is that they become frighteningly slippery when they get a little wet -- which is exactly what happened this morning.

Fortunately I managed to anticipate my crash, get the speed down and sustained only bruising and a mild loss of skin. Nevertheless, some of that bruising was on my back, which would have made carrying a camelbak for the next 230km a little painful, so after a minor adjustment to my brakes to repair some minor damage, I turned and went home. It's astonishing what a fall does to one's confidence. It took some time for me to get that back. Fortunately I ran into some old friends in Kingscliff, and we all rode home together. I perhaps could have pressed on, and might have done so had it been a long audax ride or something, but I really needed to get back and check over the bike (and myself).

What irks me about this is that I was able to anticipate the fall, but not prevent it. I don't know whether it was the sudden loss of confidence on that particular surface that prevented me from approaching it in the correct fashion, but really I shouldn't have leaned into the turn at all. In the end, that mistake cost me what was promising to be a very nice ride, and my blood is still boiling 12 hours later.

Mark my words, I WILL complete this ride.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

12 months ago today...

It was on this day in 2006 that I added another dimension of self-sufficiency to my cycling armoury.

Traditionally I had never been mechanically inclined. Apart from something simple like changing a flat tyre or applying some lube to a chain, my solution was always "take it to a bike shop". In fact, when I broke a gear cable in 2004 at Wilson's Promontory on a bike tour, I simply rode with only one gear on the front for two days until I got to a bike shop to do the repair.

These days I'm more inclined to do it myself, but it took something to bring out those instincts. That something was breaking a pannier rack (which basically held my full touring load) in New Zealand last year, and having to do an emergency repair on it. The positioning of the break (right near the frame mount) meant that simply taking it to a service station and getting it welded was impractical.

In short, I needed to hold it together for 600km* to get to a bike shop (including 100k of dirt), where I could obtain a replacement. It was on February 24, 2006 that I made it -- although when I crested the final climb of Mt Cargill and prepared for the final descent into the city, I wasn't thinking about that. I was merely thinking of negotiating a particularly treacherous wind without being blown into Otago Harbour. I'm as proud of surviving that as I was of surviving the 600km to get there.

* It would have been much less than 600 km, had I not been hammered by a headwind en route to Cromwell which delayed my arrival until the bike shop in that town had closed. Interestingly, the tail light mount on the replacement that I eventually bought didn't stand the test of time so well, and snapped off the new rack at Springbrook shortly after my return. I built my own replacement from otherwise useless spare parts, which is still holding together.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


It seems that time doesn't like me updating this blog. It's taken until now to get around to an entry I wanted to write three days ago. Monday night I took the mountain bike up to some single track on the sandhills at The Spit. That ride always has it's interesting moments with the way tyres tend to slide away when they hit a sand patch. I have to say that my skill at riding in sand is slowly improving -- it may have even saved my life after hitting a bump in the road at 62km/h last year.

On this particular occasion, the track was slightly more treacherous due to some storm damage that had gone through at some time in the recent past. Trying to avoid big holes while sliding through sand is always an interesting experience. Once I'd negotiated that, I was surprised to encounter some native wildlife up there. There seemed to be a colony of birds (I'm not sure which exact species they were) making the area their home. What was really surprising was that when I encountered them on the track, most of them seemed disinterested in flying away and were often content to run alongside me.

Obviously it took some trust on their part to do that, and I have no idea what I have done to earn that trust, but it happened several times during the course of the ride. It's quite staggering to think that something like this could happen in what is very close to the geographical centre of the Gold Coast (a city of 500,000 these days). Combine that with the restless sea breeze and the sound of the waves crashing in the back ground, and I could have been a million miles away.

It wasn't such a memorable night for the three canetoads that found their way under my wheels (although I really should have been in double-figures). I don't generally slow down for canetoads. Go and look up "canetoad" on wikipedia and you'll understand the rationale behind my thinking.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Every so often we are bombarded with statistics claiming that we are wealthier and supposedly smarter than ever. So why is it then that a quick walk outside invariably reveals more frowns than smiles? Why are so many people unhappy for so much of the time? Someone over at the FFC board managed to sum it up perfectly in just a few paragraphs. They might have been referring to Americans, but you could apply it to Australians just as easily.

Most Americans, despite their claims of being spiritual, loving, and optimistic, are actually filled with a bitterness and rage at anyone they think is doing better than they are. This bitterness is part of the reason why America is such a hyper-competitive culture that is eating itself alive.

Once people were content to be middle class. Now everyone wants to live a faux-rich lifestyle of bloated home and bloated debts. Even people who are the top of the ladder of money and power are filled with a desire to consume more just for the sake of consuming.

America is also a spiritually bankrupt culture. People go to church, but that church teaches a doctrine of intolerance and greed. Is it any surprise that Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Joel Osteen have an audience of millions? Most people in America suck. Period.

Now can I have my pills?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Weekend "away"

I actually spent last weekend in Brisbane helping my mother with things in her apartment. I did, however, sneak away for a couple of short rides, which is about as exciting as Brisbane gets. Saturday morning I took a quick 54km to Wynnum and back. It was pleasant without ever being overly exciting. Even the traffic in the city centre was relatively boring compared to the drama queens on the Gold Coast. At Wynnum I took a ride along Moreton Bay for a few kilometres, and rode out onto a pier.

Sunday was a little more interesting. I headed for Mt Glorious, with the intention of visiting Greene's falls, which I'd heard was flowing for the first time in about three years. It wasn't -- the rain actually started coming down just after I'd started the ride home. Still, it was an enjoyable ride nevertheless. The thing about Mt Glorious is that it's anything but a consistent climb. There are a number of "false" descents on the climb, meaning that a 100km ride ended up with almost 1,900 metres of climbing (so much for taking it easier this weekend).

The walk to Greene's Falls was a chance to pause and really appreciate the pristine air of the rainforest. It's a feeling of purity that is basically unmatched by anything else in existence. Even the prospect of being savaged by leeches (it didn't happen) didn't concern me. I really took my time here, wishing I was able to spend more time. A light rain shower only added to the experience.

The rain really started on the ride home (even if it didn't stay long). For a few glorious minutes it really poured. It created a surreal atmosphere with the mist closing in all around, a complete change from what it was on the way up the mountain. I also had a chat with some other cyclists at Mt Nebo who mentioned another way up the mountain, on the "goat track" -- a switchback dirt road from Samford. This is something I will need to check out for myself at some point in the future.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What was left

I heard the rain last night, I hoped desperately it would continue until I had the chance to ride in it early this morning. There are some who try to avoid cycling in the rain. I revel in it. There's just something liberating about those cool drops of water hitting your skin on an otherwise warm morning. After riding to work in the rain earlier in the week, I actually found myself reluctant to change out of my wet cycling clothes. I wanted to keep the feeling for as long as I could.

Alas, today there would be no rain for me. It had stopped shortly before I awoke to ride, and was in a process known as "breaking up" as I set out. It was a quick 47km before work, but the remains of the rain turned a routine ride into something beautiful. Watching the shapes being thrown around in the shadow of the mountains in the early morning light. People talk of coming to all sorts of realisations in these conditions, for me it was just simple observation of the beauty of the morning, and an escape from the rat race (albeit a short one), into another world.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Well look at that!

Surly Dave reports that for once, a court got something right. Regular readers of this page will, of course, be well aware of my cynicism about the legal system generally, so it's a red-letter day when something is done right, even if it is on the other side of the world. For those who missed the original story, apparently a cyclist in the UK was convicted of "inconsiderate cycling" for riding on the road rather than a sub-standard bike path (is there any other kind?).

Don't you just love it when bigoted morons with a badge who think to call themselves "police officers" start making up laws to suit themselves? Since when has there been any law, anywhere in the world, against supposedly "inconsiderate" behaviour? Granted, it would be nice if people were considerate of each other, but frankly I find it rather inconsiderate that someone would expect me to ride on a sub-standard bike path when the road is clearly the better option. And that's before I even start on all the "inconsiderate" motorists who already take up more of the road than a cyclist does, and even then demand more space rather than sharing three feet of it.

To be honest I'm at a loss as to why everyone thinks consideration is something to be "demanded" from cyclists, but not by cyclists. Well, actually, I know why, but regular readers of this blog are already aware of the disdain I have for the whole concept of "majority rules" (otherwise known as SHAMocracy). You can't have it both ways -- either consideration is something that's given freely by both sides, or something that's to be expected by both sides. And the fact is, 90% of all road users would have something to fear if "consideration" ever became the law. Something like that wouldn't upset me terribly, but I can't ever see it getting popular support.

So for once I say BRAVO to someone in a court for getting it right.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I had a rare complete day off the bike on Saturday. I spent most of the day wondering what the hell I was going to do now? Yesterday I decided to do something about it. The planned distance was only 164km, but there were a few twists. It all started simply enough, opening with a the seemingly pre-requisite climb over the Macpherson range at Tomewin. I know I do this a lot, but for a relatively small climb, the scenic delights it offers are many and varied.

I found myself riding through the Tweed valley, the thing immediately noticeable was the humidity from the previous night's storm. It would later become apparent the extent to which the storm struck here -- there had been virtually nothing on the coast.

After the obligatory short, sharp climbs en route to Tyalgum, it was time to take Swifts Road, followed by Tyalgum Ridge road, which then becomes Brummies Road. This particular dirt "road" (which is more like a track), was absolutely treacherous by now. It seems the storm had scattered all sorts of debris over it, and a few misinformed attempts at "roadwork" by the Tweed Shire Council were still evident and causing problems of their own. The surroundings, however, compensated for the fact that it was taking considerably longer than planned to get up here.

I had now reached the junction with Condowie Road. Last time I'd abandoned the climb to Brummies Lookout as the rain at the time was making it a little slippery for those gradients. This time I pressed on. The road kicked up steeply at first before levelling off toward the summit. Then I noticed the 500 metre walking track to reach the lookout itself. I'm sure it was longer than this, but being overgrown and rough as it was, it's not always easy to tell. I was grateful for some of the mountain biking I've done over the last couple of years, it's really honed my bushwalking skills, and I was able to reach the summit fairly comfortably (if a little cautiously).

Getting back provided slightly different challenges. For some reason the track seemed a little harder to follow, but there are certain "landmarks", natural features one can memorise along the way to point them in the right direction.

The remainder of the ride home was a screaming decent of Condowie road, then back to Tyalgum, through to Murwillumbah the conventional way, then home via Urliup. It was all very pretty, but nothing was really able to complete with the excitement of finally making it to Brummies Lookout. Had the storm clouds that were building up actually done anything it might have been different of course. For me the next question is now where do I want to explore next? At present I really have no idea.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Can someone please tell me exactly why we're taught that anger is somehow "bad"? This is a serious question that stems from some observations I made yesterday. Essentially I was having "one of those days" -- the ones where everything that can go wrong seems to do just that, and where things that don't normally bother me start to become irritating. It started with a road closure that interfered with my morning ride, and just seemed to snowball from there.

Later, as I was riding to work, and picking my way through the gridlock, I noticed that I was finding it all a little irritating. This is odd, as I normally enjoy passing millions of dollars worth of other people's debt, and I do it so often that it really shouldn't bother me, but for some reason it did. Then I noticed that as a direct result of my annoyance and impatience, I was suddenly doing it slightly more efficiently than normal.

This mood continued when I got to work, tasks I'd been putting off for one reason or another now became an annoyance that simply had to be eliminated, they were also dealt with efficiently. It was then that I realised that anger has it's advantages. If used properly, it becomes a very powerful tool, which can prevent other thoughts from obscuring our focus. Sure, it can be misused, but the same applies to virtually any other tool available to us at any given moment -- and most of those aren't a product of millions of years of evolution.

I believe that we feel anger for a reason, and that it can and should be used for a positive purpose, as a positive force. I have had so many people in life tell me that my temper is a bad thing, that anger is bad. These days I realise this is absolute rubbish. There are few natural things in the world that are inherently "bad", and anger is as natural as the air we breathe (probably more so). The key is learning how and when to utilise it, to control it, but never to suppress it. Admittedly, this is still a work in progress as far as my personality is concerned, but then, I have plenty of time to get it right.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Scotland 07 is on!

It looks like my riding plans of 2007 are now coming together. Last week I was informed that there would be a few extra dollars in my pay packet. A few calculations quick calculations have since indicated that it looks like I'll be able to afford the trip to Scotland in the middle of the year after all. Of course, now the planning starts, and sometimes that can be almost as much fun as the ride itself.

I'm likely to fly into Manchester as my sister is living there currently, before getting a train to Inverness a few days later. From there I'll likely ride in an arc taking in John O'Groats (the northern-most point of Scotland), the west coast and the borders and hopefully finish in Edinburgh. That's a very rough early intinerary which is almost certain to change quite a bit when the time comes, but it's something to work with. I'll probably find my share of detours and side trips along the way as I do with every other tour.

As to my more immediate plans, I'm a little torn when it comes to this weekend. Part of me is looking for a big Tweed Valley ride, but another part of me suggests that I should look for something a little more modest after last weekend's epic. Once again I'll go with how I'm feeling at the time.

Monday, February 05, 2007


It seems that in my absence from this computer for last weekend's ride, I was tagged not once, but twice. IronGambit wants me to reveal six weird things about myself, so here goes:

1. As of today I have cycled over 2,500km in 2007.

2. I actually like wearing lycra, and have been known to walk into busy supermarkets on my way home from work like a lycra-clad superhero (so there).
3. I actually enjoy sneezing, and find it liberating.

4. I actually enjoy cycling in the rain (the heavier the better) and find it liberating.

5. I actually enjoy cycling in really heavy traffic (the heavier the better -- you get the idea).

6. Right now I'm listening to Gersey on my CD player. Apparently that's weird because I'm the only one who listens to them.

Apparently I'm supposed to tag six people, but since nobody else seems to be tagging all six, I shall tag Rodney Olsen, Crowlie (who also tagged me but I haven't yet figured out what I'm supposed to do), Geo, and Kin.

Esk 300k

I was in trouble basically before this ride even started. 36 hours before the "official" start I discovered that my transport options to and from Esk weren't available on weekends. This, in itself, didn't make things impossible, but having to ride to and from the start from Ipswich would make it a lot more difficult. The really hot, humid nights in the lead up didn't help sleeping patterns much either.

As it was, I still got off the train in Ipswich at around noon, and started to ride north. Ipswich is one of those places that's built to keep people in but not let them out again (anyone who's ever been to Ipswich can probably understand why). It seems every exit from the city is uphill. The most exciting part was the rather witty sign outside Ipswich North State School -- "INSS Rocks!" I made my way out of the urban sprawl and headed to a slight detour through Borallon and Pine "Mountain". This route, while hillier and slightly longer than the main roads, was much more scenic, and it's an area that I might consider for more riding in the future.

The remaining 50km or so to Esk after getting back on the Brisbane Valley Highway seemed to pass without any major problems -- except for the heat. The temperature had risen to 36 degrees C by the time I climbed over the wall of the rapidly dwindling Wivenhoe Dam. Normally this is the most scenic part of the ride to Esk, but the lack of water was really evident. As it was, I was running a little short on water, and arrival in Esk (where is was now 35 degrees C) couldn't come fast enough. At the "official" start there were probably around 10 riders (although I didn't to a head count). I was wondering how many would finish.

The initial part of the ride was a loop through Eskvale and Toogoolawah, with a first checkpoint over at Lake Somerset after passing through Mt Beppo. I had been planning to pass through that area last weekend for a tour until fate intervened. I took note of the "free" campsites along the way, before joining up with Matt (a.k.a Recumbent Guy) who I'd actually known from, and the bike-qld mailing list. It's actually quite interesting to meet someone you've only ever conversed with "online" -- especially considering my slightly controversial past over at bike-qld. Fortunately, Matt and I tend to agree on quite a few things, there's an old saying about great minds thinking alike.

The ride itself started to become difficult around Mt Beppo as the wind was picking up from the East. Matt and I basically held on grimly until Lake Somerset, where pretty much everyone agreed with my "this is insanity" suggestion. Needless to say, returning from Lake Somerset to Esk with the same wind behind us was considerably less stressful or eventful, and we made surprisingly good time getting to the start of the Hampton leg of the ride.

The Hampton leg was originally intended to climb the range up to Hampton, but was removed from the route due to the state of the road. As it was, we still climbed a substantial portion of it. I got into a really good rhythm on the climb and would have liked to have finished it. Next time. This is where pacing alongside a recumbent rider gets interesting. I found myself faster on the climbs, but considerably slower on the descents. As it was, we all made it back to Esk, and were all set for the next leg -- even if a local police officer was "wondering" what we were doing riding at that time of night (funny how these people seem to be more interested in people who aren't breaking the law than those who are).

I had already ridden the next stretch south to Fernvale, but it was completely different at night. We joined a couple of other riders, Dave and George here but Matt and I left them behind on the rolling hills. Fernvale was just another deserted country town, and we then headed on a back road toward Lowood. The final stretch into Lowood is brutally hilly, but also very beautiful. In daylight I would have paused for a photo of the surrounding hills at the top -- as it is, I'll never forget the image of the moonlight silhouette -- nor the final, screaming descent.

There were actually two checkpoints in Lowood -- separated by a loop of 31km. This loop was flat enough to make me struggle just a little. To be honest I'm not entirely sure which localities we passed through, I was just following the directions on the route slip. It was after leaving Lowood the second time that I really started to struggle. We were all heading South against a slight headwind, but it was that pre-dawn stretch that I always seem to struggle with, and it was on dead flat, dead straight roads that make staying awake difficult. Given the number of "training rides" that I've done in pre-dawn darkness, it's incongruous that I should find this difficult, but it always presents a problem.

At dawn we were all heading toward the town of Laidley, I dropped back from our little group. I actually fell asleep while riding three times in 15km. It's funny how the rest of the body falls asleep but the legs keep pedalling. It's perhaps lucky that I didn't crash during that time. A muesli bar, the onset of daylight and the promise of some minor hills between Laidley and Forest Hill woke me up, and we managed to make the service station/McDonalds at Gatton which provided the final checkpoint.

It was at this point that Matt and I dropped off the back, deciding to ride the final 50km together and let Dave (who was very kind to offer me a lift back to Brisbane after the ride) and George go. I was really feeling the effect of the extra 70km I'd ridden to the start, and with plenty of time in the bank, I didn't see any problem with using some of it. We headed back on almost dead flat roads to Coominya, before rejoining the Brisbane Valley highway. I would like to provide some details of the surrounding countryside, but the truth is it wasn't all that interesting.

On the final part into Esk I started to feel strong again. It was hard to believe I had ridden this stretch some 16 hours previously, and I was still riding. I just seemed to click into gear over the rolling hills. It was not far from here that I had a particularly memorable day on one of my formative bike tours, and I began to feel good again. I paused a couple of times to wait for Matt as he was finding the last few kilometres difficult, but with 5km to go I began to realise that I was running a little low on water, and that it was starting to get hot again. I pushed the "go" button and finished reasonably comfortably.

The next challenge, of course, is to complete a 400k. My immediate thought after this ride was "no way". However, after thinking back and realising that I had just done a 375k ride instead of the requisite 300 (plus another 12k to and from Robina station back on the 'Coast), it dawned on me that I'm already not that far off. Now I just have to find one that won't require me to ride 70km to the start.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Another view

Some time ago I made a relatively lengthy post on this blog detailing some of the reasons why cycling is such an integral part of my life. Yesterday I was reading an excellent post from Jill in Alaska on a similar theme. Her post mentions something that I had overlooked -- the fact that I find myself relatively reluctant to talk about my riding to people who don't ride.

The simple fact is, I've come to the realisation that people who don't ride on a regular basis just won't understand. That's not intended as a vitriolic or condescending comment, it's just a fact of life. If I try to explain to someone that I'm planning to ride over 300km on Saturday night, or that I rode hundreds of kilometres last weekend in temperatures up to 40 degrees C, or that I crossed about five mountains in the process, it's fairly obvious what sort of reaction I'm going to get. Indeed, I've even noticed this from a lot of other cyclists here on the Gold Coast where the overriding cycling philosophy seems to be "only in certain designated areas".

So I just ride, and don't bother explaining it to anyone, save the two or three regular readers I have here. For me riding is also an escape, an escape from an increasingly plastic world in which everyone is masquerading as whatever they feel as though "should be" in order to be popular (and expects me to do the same). A world in which so many things are over rated just so that they can be sold. When I ride I can just be myself for a while, without having to worry about everyone else's vain pretences.

It also provides stability in a world in which everything seems to be in a state of flux. People coming into your life and leaving all the time -- often I don't even bother trying to stay in touch anymore as it just seems like delaying the inevitable. The very world around me is constantly changing. Even on my rides this is noticeable -- dirt roads are being paved everywhere, suburbia is expanding, the hippie mudbrick cottages in the hinterland being replaced by charmless Mcmansions.

In such a world, it's the basic act of riding that never changes, the feeling is as great as it always was, and this provides some stability, some certainty in a time when everything else seems fleeting. The combination of elation and exhaustion at completing a century that crossed three mountain passes, or reaching that campsite on a tour after being belted with 90km/h winds and driving rain. It's this that keeps me going, and this that I can only get through riding a lot. It's this, or the promise of this, that keeps me going through everything else. It's this that makes me look forward to my next ride, my next escape.