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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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Back to touring (soon)

If I actually have any regular readers, you will have probably noticed the absence of a ride report last weekend. This can be explained in simple terms -- there wasn't one. I had family visiting from interstate and there just wasn't the time. The practical upshot of this is that I'm now getting itchy feet all over again. A couple of post-work evening rides this week have basically told me one thing, I really need to go on a bike tour of some description soon.

I need the feeling of setting up camp in the bush and having nobody to disturb me for an evening, I need the feeling of riding to an unknown destination and finding my own way, I need that self-sufficiency, I need to escape from the trashy suburban culture that surrounds me. Fortunately, I know just the place to go (I think) over Easter, but more on that later. I'm in the process of putting together a big program of rides over the next six weeks, including two weekend tours and a 600k on May 4-5.

I also dropped a large amount of money on airfares for the Scotland tour later in the year last weekend. There was a little bit of guilt there -- so far it's more money than I've ever spent on any single item before. I'm sure it will all be worth it in the end, however -- even if it does leave me broke for a while. I don't have many day to day expenses, so it shouldn't take long to recover.

I plan on spending a little more money before then, however -- I'm investigating the feasibility of a water filter for touring. I noted on my Minyon falls tour earlier in the year (where it hit 40 degrees C) that sometimes it's handy to have access to more water sources than otherwise. I've noted a number of taps on water tanks these days have "do not drink" signs attached to them. I'm not sure what the point of having such taps is, but I see a water filter as a way of utilising that water. I'll see what develops over the weekend in that respect.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Why "education" just doesn't work

Recently on the bikejournal forum there has been a discussion about hit and run assaults. This has, of course, been followed by the usual calls for "driver education" in an attempt to do something about it. If I could just take a moment, I'd remind the chaps in that post that similar schemes have been tried in the past. There is a reason the national road toll keeps rising despite all the money being spent on supposedly "educating" people (and that's without considering all the money spent on "road improvements" every year for the same reason).

The problem with education is that without some serious law enforcement to back it up, it just doesn't work. I've seen it tried in this part of the world for years, without having any effect at all. There are two problems. Firstly, selecting a medium that might actually be effective, and secondly, most people will just think it's the message is aimed at "everyone else".

Here in Queensland they tried running "share the road" advertisements on television some years ago -- a response to a relatively large number of hit and run assaults on the Gold Coast for a city of only 500,000. Television seems to be considered the only "acceptable" way to educate people these days. The problem, of course, is that the cost of it meant that we ended up with a 30-second slot that only aired sporadically. I'm fairly certain that most people just blocked it out along with all the other advertising that we're bombarded with day after day. In fact, I'd suggest that if you asked anyone (apart from a few cyclists) to remember the content of the advertisements (or even that they aired at all) six weeks later, I'd say most people couldn't.

Secondly, 90% of drivers seem to have this idea that they are somehow "above average" while everyone else on the road is a menace. Consequently, if someone does see an ad on the television, or a slogan on the invoice telling them that their rego fees are due, they'll probably just assume that it's aimed at "all those other hopeless drivers", and that they themselves can just ignore it. This seems to explain why "education" seems to be such a popular "solution" in political circles -- they can be seen to be "dealing with the problem" without actually upsetting anybody.

If anyone is serious about solving the problem, pass a law that makes any hit and run offence an automatic 30 year prison sentence -- with the only involvement from a judge or jury in each case being to ensure that the suspect is actually guilty. ENSURE THAT THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY OF A REDUCED SENTENCE FOR A HIT AND RUN DRIVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. The shock jocks in the media will likely create a heap of hysteria in response, which will be a far more effective (and much cheaper) educational tool than any diplomatically worded advertisement, and I guarantee that after two sentences have been handed out, the number of hit and runs will decrease dramatically.

Education doesn't work. It just gives people the option of blaming someone else, and the government a way to be seen to be attacking a problem without actually doing anything about it (or losing any votes a long the way). The only way to reduce the road toll is to start holding people accountable for their actions, and that requires law enforcement. Unfortunately, the prospect of this ever happening is somewhat remote as there don't seem to be any votes in road safety these days, but I suppose that's just "democracy" in action.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sick of it

"I wanna die in the Summertime"... those are the lyrics of the Manic Street Preachers' classic. I now understand the significance of these words -- a corpse is supposed to get cold, so it might be the only realistic hope of cooling down a little in the near future. At the moment it's a difficult decision between that or trying to see out the 10 days remaining until the "official" end of summer. When it's really humid, your sweat doesn't evaporate either -- it sticks to your skin and clogs up the pores, which effectively nullifies the body's main cooling system.

I think the hot nights are the worst part of it, I don't really care how hot it gets during the day if I can get some relief in the evening. In 2007 thus far there have been a total of four nights in which I was able to sleep for longer than five hours. That probably explains why I've been in such bad moods of late, but it gives me the chance to get a few more things done around my apartment, so all is not lost.

In other news, I'm still dreaming of cooler climates, I'm in the process of sorting out my flight to London later in the year. At this point it looks like I'll be flying out of Brisbane airport about seven hours after finishing work, which basically means getting there within four hours -- for a 24 hour flight. That follows on after returning from New Zealand just eight hours before going back to work last year. No rest for the wicked.

Monday, March 19, 2007


It's amazing the way one day can contrast with another, and the way it can influence the way we feel about things. Saturday was a day for riding 182km in the Tweed Valley. I could and probably should have done more, but I had a feeling that I really needed to return there. Things have been a little stressful in my week, and certain emotions have been flying around, and I needed to put things into perspective. A misty morning managed to do just that.

I noted earlier that the temperature was a little cooler, the forecast northerly wind was actually coming from the south west early. I was riding into it to start with, but 70km in I realised it was going to swing around and come from the north east for the ride home. If that contrast wasn't enough, it was accompanied by a temperature of 33 degrees C, so much for summer easing off. The contrast that I did enjoy, however, was riding through the forested sections of Mebbin National Park and surrounds on the way home. There are all sorts of little hidden treats in this part of the world.

There were some less pleasant contrasts, the behaviour of a particular ute driver (who really shouldn't be allowed out without a keeper) was particularly nasty in a section of rainforest. Another contrast was sitting idle the next day -- that was not only frustrating, but also served only to make me lethargic. Far from the invigorating ride on Saturday. Why do people persist with this idea of "rest days"?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

By hook or by crook

Sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Yesterday afternoon's commute was no exception. The roundabout at the intersection of Upton Street and Ashmore Road is a notorious clusterf*ck. The kind you generally get when you get about 500,000 small town idiots suddenly thrown together in a "city". On this occasion, some ute driver had positioned himself in such a way that three of the four entrances to the roundabout were gridlocked (the fourth would have been if anybody had been coming from the Sorrento side).

Usually I can pick my way through this sort of thing, but yesterday the gaps just weren't there. The solution eventually required me to get off the bike, walk across the median strip in the middle of the roundabout, get back on the bike and pedal off before the gridlock moves. This isn't actually as difficult as it sounds -- in 2004 I actually crashed in the middle of some gridlock and still had time to get up and do some minor repairs before anything moved. Walking across the roundabout took just a few seconds, and I was on my way. Apparently they'd moved by the time I returned for the ride into work this morning.

Or had they? This morning I had to contend with yet another unannounced road closure along the way. The Gold Coast seems to be developing a reputation for this sort of thing lately, and I'm not entirely sure why. I ended up having to ride across a substantial portion of grass to get to where I wanted to be. This all could have been avoided with a sign or two on Bundall Road of course, but evidently that's too much to expect around here. By the time I got off Bundall Road and headed toward Upton Street, it was easier to simply keep going rather than try to turn around. Just as well I ride a bike that can cope with that sort of thing.

As I said, sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What price experience?

I was a little surprised to discover that this post seems to have attracted some attention in the blogging world -- particularly in view of the fact that nobody who read it left a comment. There is a long but well-written piece over at Treadly and Me, and another mention over at Spinopsys (which reminds me that I need to update my blog roll at some point). Something I noted about these "facilities" in a comment on Treadly's blog was the fact that not only are councils guilty of ignoring the wise words of experienced transportational cyclists, but so too are many so-called cycling "advocacy groups" who really should know better.

There is something in this that doesn't seem to reconcile with any other facet of life. When I first found an advocacy group roughly a decade ago, I had ridden considerably fewer kilometres than I have now (over 150,000km fewer to be a little more specific). Often when people made points about bike lanes and paths and why we supposedly needed more of them, I tended to just nod along -- even they didn't always serve my needs as a cyclist. I basically figured that "more facilities" had to be a good thing, without being overly bothered by the fact that many of them were simply sub-standard. Around that time and for a few years after it, it seemed as though people had some respect for my opinions on these matters, and the more I simply nodded along, the more that respect seemed to grow.

That was all well and good, until my experience increased to the point that I started to question some of these assumptions. At around about the time I started touring in the early years of this decade (and consequently riding in different places), I began wondering just why things were as they were (and still are in most cases). Was it really a good thing to have a heap of facilities that didn't serve the needs of myself or very many other cyclists? Why was it that a city like the Gold Coast, which has a higher annual budget for cycling "facilities" than entire states, should have such a high incidence of hit and run assaults and cyclist fatalities? Were the facilities really the answer?

Was it really a good thing to invite a heap of people to suddenly take up cycling without any form of education, training or even (in some cases) a clue? Would it not lead to these people deciding cycling was "too dangerous" and quitting? Or worse, campaigning to have cyclists banned from many roads? Interestingly, when I started to ask these questions, I found that the respect many other people held for my opinions started to diminish. People who had been emailing me asking whether or not something was a good idea stopped contacting me. I even had one person at one meeting tell me that I wasn't qualified to comment on the positioning of a particular bike lane because I was an experienced cyclist and therefore didn't know what I was talking about -- true story.

There have been similar incidents in dealing with tabloid "journalists" making anti-cyclist rants. Once a person has been around long enough to realise that feeding trolls is not an effective means of eradicating them, and consequently points out that bombarding these idiots with responses just encourages them, they're often sneered at. Even more so if they can provide examples of exactly this happening exactly the same way in the past.

So what I want to know is this, why is it that experience, that intangible quality so valued in so many walks of life, should be sneered at when it comes to cycling advocacy? How is it that years spent dealing with "facilities" and traffic conditions should be detrimental to one's knowledge in these areas? How is it that a person who has made cycling the major (or indeed only) part of their daily transportational routine is suddenly clueless on the skills required to do so? In short, why is the person now managing to do what so many "advocates" claim to want the world to start doing are either ignored or insulted for pointing out the reality of a given situation?

There are a number of possible explanations. It's a well-known fact that survival is the main objective of most committees, and anything left over for whatever they're supposed to be representing is a bonus. Treadly pointed out that many of the things that experienced cyclists refer to (such as education and law enforcement) are perhaps less obvious than simply building "facilities". Indeed, many may see the removal of a sub-standard and dangerous bike lane as a slap in the face for cyclists, and perhaps this could cost a club members, which weakens a committee's position. It's far easier to try to attract inexperienced cyclists by adding a bike path and claiming "look what we've done", even if it doesn't really benefit anyone.

Perhaps there's also a certain self congratulatory effect of what was mentioned above. If someone can claim to have had $X million spent on "facilities", or been published on the letters page of some tabloid newspaper, they can make a claim that they're "making a difference" or "changing the world". Again, the more obvious policies will attract more pats on the back than some of those less obvious but more effective (particularly in the long term).

Personally I'm not really concerned about having millions of dollars spent on "facilities" or reading back and forth arguments on letters pages. All I really want is to be able to ride whichever road I choose to ride for whatever reason without having some idiot trying to run me off the road. That will only happen once a few boneheads get some training in dealing with traffic, and when the police start removing those who fail to comply. Those of us who have ridden a few kilometres have long known this, but I'm not expecting anybody else to start paying attention now.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Didn't feel like it

Yesterday just seemed second-rate in so many ways. I'm guessing it's probably a function of the seemingly endless summer -- almost six months in and another three weeks (at least) to endure. I got up feeling lethargic, and decided to ride anyway. I'd been planning a ride in the Tweed Valley, but just didn't feel like it. I decided to head west and hopefully escape the coastal humidity. For once it didn't work.

Near Canungra I decided on a climb of Mt Tamborine, only to find the last kilometre of the road was closed for some construction work was started over six months ago. After that I decided to hell with trying to find anywhere else to ride. I had just had enough of the heat, enough of trying to find water every 40km, enough of dealing with Queensland's notoriously aggressive drivers. I just wanted out. I spent most of the afternoon surfing the Internet in front of a fan and wishing I could cool down somehow.

Some cycle-therapy on the commute today seems to have settled things down a little. Lane-splitting at 40km/h tends to do that. The ride home was an interesting one. In typical Chris L fasion it involved me having to detour to a surgery to have two stitches removed after an operation 10 days ago, then detour again to buy some groceries. Of course I walked into the store like a lycra-clad superman, and ended up being asked about various cycling clubs by an attendant who had just taken up road cycling. I did throw in a mention of Audax of course, but I think she was looking for something a little easier to start with. It's amazing who you meet when dressed like superman.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Rain is GOOD

It didn't actually rain today, but it was earlier in the week. Most of the rain feel at Springbrook in the Hinterland, which is the way it usually works. This morning I decided I had better things to do than waste time in suburbia, and decided to head for Springbrook. The perfect opportunity to see what rain creates.

It's not just waterfalls. This place seems to provide an oasis from the relentless heat of the coast. Cresting the hill near Wunburra Lookout and arriving on the escarpment was like walking into a refrigerator. The rainforest and wildflowers were everywhere, as were the mountain views. It's a constant source of astonishment that a place like this can be so different from some of the surrounding lowlands, and always good for a quick escape.

Friday, March 09, 2007


I awoke at 1.45am this morning, and gave up on any attempt to sleep at around 3.20am. Of course, becoming an insomniac is quite normal during a Queensland summer, but this hadn't been a particularly warm night by March standards. I can only assume the cause had something to do with sleeping short hours becoming habit-forming over the course of five months. Perhaps I'll make a slight change to my sleeping arrangements next time that happens in an effort to break the habit.

As it was, I decided to do some cleaning up in my apartment for a while before heading out for a ride. I'm still waiting to hear back from St Kilda cycles on the fate of my primary light, but my back-ups can do a job early in the morning until sunrise. After sunrise I was riding through Tallebudgera Valley before detouring to a short climb (2km at around 7%). I was watching the clouds lift out of the valley after last night's storm (we could use a few more like that incidentally).

The thought that came to mind was that insomnia had revealed the true beauty of cynicism. It was the cynic in me who had realised that trying to go back to sleep was a waste of time, which allowed me to expend that time and energy on other things. One of those other things was productive, and the other was very beautiful. Cynicism gets a lot of bad press for supposedly being a "negative" emotion, but in situations like this, it's benefits should never be forsaken.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


They say these things happen in threes, well after a crash and a minor (unrelated) operation I had number three this morning. Actually, I sense it was related to the crash a week and a half ago. One of the wires attaching my headlight to my generator has broken. It should be a fairly simple and reasonably quick repair -- I've sent it back to St Kilda Cycles express post today, although having it back in time for this weekend is unlikely. I do, however, have enough spares to cover that and everything in between. Hopefully this is now the end of my run of back luck.

It says a lot about the way we now spend "money" that I have acquired a rather useless piece of stationery that I'm unlikely to ever use. The problem relates to the fact that sending a package "express post" costs $8.40, and for some reason I couldn't use EFTPOS under $10. I ended up buying some of that correction tape that does the job of liquid paper for another $2. I figured it might come in handy, but I have no idea when.

In other news, this story is further proof that one can never be too cynical. Just when I thought I'd seen the height of human stupidity (and there are plenty of contenders in this part of the world), someone goes and surpasses it. Personally, I think it would ahve been better if someone's mother had declared a Jihad on their unborn fetus with a coat hanger.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dumb, dumb, dumb

Dumb # 1: The four cyclists I saw on the ride home from work yesterday who developed an, umm... "highly original" means of negotiating a particular intersection. Honestly guys, it would have been quicker, easier and certainly a lot safer to just wait for the light to change.

Dumb #2: The idiots in the Gold Coast City Council who keep designing bike lanes which position the cyclist on the left of left-turning traffic (substitute right for left if you're in North America, then you'll understand how stupid it is). That's a classic recipe for the left-hook for a cyclist who's attempting any manoeuvre other than a left turn. The one that's just been put in near Pacific Fair Shopping centre will kill someone in the next 12 months. They've even decided to paint one green on a roundabout not far from where I live -- just to make the blood stand out a little more I presume. Fortunately, I'm a rather arrogant sort of fellow, so the abuse I get for blatantly ignoring the bike lane doesn't bother me a great deal.

Dumb #3: This whole idea that we somehow need more "facilities" like #2, which don't actually serve the needs of everyday cyclists (or anyone else for that matter), in an effort to somehow encourage #1 to get on their bikes. Personally I'd rather not appeal to idiots like that thankyouverymuch, and if criticising these facilities means the council refrain from building anymore, then God I hope someone from GCCC sees this post.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Beechmont owns you

Simply put, yesterday was a memorable day. I awoke at around 5am (as is normal at this time of year), knowing I needed to rest for the evening ride, but unable to bring myself to do so. The options were persist with a futile attempt to sleep on a morning that was simply way too hot, or get on my bike and go somewhere. It didn't take long for me to settle on option number 2. I chose the rainforest of Austinville because it was likely to be a few degrees cooler than the coast. I took my time and lingered, wishing I could spend the day here. If I could afford it, I'd buy a little shack out there and probably never return to suburbia again.

The evening ride was even better. I set off at around 4.30pm with the intention of seeing a mountain sunset. Even though it was swelteringly hot (as per usual), I managed to make pretty good time. I guess it was the determination to escape from the heat that drove me on. While the mountain sunset wasn't quite as spectacular as I'd hoped, the twilight views from the Beechmont Range were a delight to behold.

An interesting thing happened on the way back. Darkness had fallen just after passing the village of Beechmont, and the moon had continued it's rise as I slaughtered my legs on the final ascent of Mt Roberts. Actually, the moonlight views from here were spectacular enough, but returning through Beechmont I was able to behold the moonlight reflecting in the South Pacific ocean from a good 25-30km away, with at least one mountain range silhouetted in between. Scenery doesn't get much more spectacular than that, day or night. It was that moment more than any other that showed why I do this, why I put my body through the strain of climbing mountains.

It's the moment when Beechmont owns you.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


It's funny the way things happen. Within 24 hours I went from being despondent about a mention of the word "cancer" to being upbeat about planning a short bike tour for late April with Dave Mac. It's always interesting to meet other cycle tourists, so many seem to have their own ways of doing things -- probably more so than any other form of cycling, at least in terms of self-supported touring.

One thing we were both in agreement on is just how few people seem to understand the nature of cycle touring, particularly from the road-racing fraternity where anything that isn't a "training ride" is somehow seen as inherently "bad" because of the whole theory of "junk miles". The theory is, of course, absolute rubbish. If you take a person who only rides "junk miles", then compare their fitness level with someone who doesn't ride at all, I think I know who will come out on top in that one.

The planned tour itself will basically involve two days starting from Caboolture, with a ride through the Glasshouse Mountains, then along the Sunshine Coast, followed by Lake Boreen and a scenic back road through to Gympie. It passes through areas we're both keen to visit, I haven't actually ridden the coastal strip on the Sunshine Coast as yet (surprising as that might seem). Nor have I been to Lake Boreen, and while I did the back road to Gympie back in 2001 (finishing at Cooroy), it's an area that I've wanted to get back to for sometime.

  • I've long said that tabloid newspapers (which include virtually all of the supposedly "mainstream" newspapers in this country) exist purely for entertainment purposes, and nothing printed therein should be viewed in any other way. I noticed while shopping earlier today that one of them was running a headline of "Howard Bones Minister". Now, that can have a couple of different meanings, and I'm not entirely sure the people who printed the story weren't aware of that. I'm just wondering whether anybody in Parliament will have any fun with it.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm still here

I had the mole removed today. The procedure wasn't as difficult as I'd feared, and it won't keep me off the bike for long (I'll be back on it tomorrow morning actually). According to my doctor the most likely cause is something that happened during childhood, when most of the damage that ultimately leads to skin cancer is done.

Prior to this morning's ride I headed out to Currumbin Valley for a quick 65km. I was supposed to be relaxing myself, but my form on the bike was so poor that it probably worried me even more. Sleepless nights (which happen a lot in a Queensland summer due to the heat) can do that sometimes. I did see a few interesting things along the way -- there seem to be some new inhabitants in the valley.

They would have had to deal with a couple of storms that moved through the area last night. I heard some rain fall, but alas, I was too late to really watch the cloud lift from the surrounding mountains. I probably should have spent 15 minutes less trying to get to sleep.

I did, however, take a short walk at the end of the valley out to Cougals Cascades, largely on an "I haven't done this for a while" basis. That whole area is lovely, and getting out their early on a weekday basically meant that I had the whole area to myself. Sometimes I wish I could get out there through the week more often.