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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Friday, April 27, 2007


I just found out via email that the start of my 600k ride has been moved. It had been set down for Willowvale, a suburb of Ipswich, to which public transport would have been easy. It's now been moved to Atkinson Dam, in the middle of nowhere, to which public transport is non-existent.

Logistically it presents a challenge -- a train from the Gold Coast to Ipswich on Friday night, and a ride of some interminable distance to Atkinson Dam, finding somewhere to eat dinner, and trying to get to bed early enough to get a decent amount of sleep prior to the 600. In a strange way, I'm finding the logistics of the whole exercise to be quite exciting. I've just got through spending a chunk of time on planning a route, and the chance to explore some different roads in the dead of the night is really something to look forward to. Bring it on!

The pictures in this post are from a dawn ride to Little Nerang Dam yesterday morning. It was raining lightly on the way out, but the air had a certain crispness to it after the rain stopped. Photography is often difficult at this level of light, but a dam wall makes a great tripod.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Small Change

Small Change is one of the standout tracks on the most recent CD from Gersey, and it's appropriate as I'm going to use this post to talk about some of the music I've been listening to recently, which is just a small change from all the cycling-related posts I normally write. That said, I'm sure the world will manage for a while.

Before that, however, I have another matter to address. My very good friend Rodney Olsen has been wrongly imprisoned! This Friday he will be held in a Fremantle prison, and his release will be dependent upon people making donations for research into Cystic Fibrosis. You can read more about that here. I'm going to donate $20 myself, and I defy everyone who reads this post to match it.

The most recent CD I bought was Black Holes and Revelations from Muse, and it may well be the album of the year. From the opening track, the rhythms and the voice of the lead singer grab your attention, but what's most impressive about this album is the lyric. It's rare these days that a band has the balls to tell it like it is in the world today, but these guys don't hold back. Tracks like Soldier's Poem and City of Delusion ensure that we are right in the picture. Yet tracks like Invincible move beyond that, almost providing hope for the future if things change in the world.

What Was Left from Clare Bowditch and The Feeding Set might also have been a contender for "album of the year" if I hadn't taken so long to get around to grabbing a copy. Why I took so long on the strength of the previous album is a mystery. The acoustic arrangements on this album make it easy to listen to, with a real laid-back feel. Some of the more melancholy aspects of contemporary life come out in the lyrics, and there's almost a yearning for something simpler.

Wincing the Night Away is the third album from The Shins. They had a hard act to follow after Kissing the Lipless, and seem to have gone for a slightly more contemporary sound. For all that, however, the distinctive sound of The Shins is still in evidence, largely through the voice of James Mercer. They also combine great song-writing with sweet melodies, and of course, the notoriously strange song titles.

The fact that I named this post after a track from No Satellites, the latest album from Gersey, and the fact that this was on my playlist when I still had this listed on my blog template some time ago, says a lot. They also had an impossible album to follow up in Storms Dressed as Stars (arguably the greatest album of the last decade), but they have just about pulled it off. They have a uniquely atmospheric sound, and the lyrics to complement that perfectly.

The only downside is that they are so good, they'll probably never get the airplay they deserve, simply because the great unwashed simply aren't cultured enough to appreciate probably the best Australian band for a decade or more.

Moo You Bloody Choir from Augie March is a title that would do The Shins proud. The album itself isn't half bad either. A lot of the tracks seem to have a mellow, late night feel about them, although both times I've managed to play it have been late at night, which might explain that. Nevertheless, the lead singer's voice is gratifying, and musically the album is comfortable to listen to.

It's also worth mentioning that I am, for course, still regularly listening to both albums released by Sarah Blasko. If you haven't taken a listen to Sarah yet, you have simply deprived yourself of the opportunity to hear the most beautiful voice in the world. It's said of some exceptional singers that they "could sing the phone book". A recent ABC TV program, Spics & Specs, had Sarah sing an excerpt from a cook book, and she actually pulled it off. I think that says a lot.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Next they'll be selling me a bridge

Last week at work a client tried to sell me their car. Apparently they got bad advice when they bought it, didn't like the repayments, and wanted something more practical. For some reason he figured I'd like the repayments better than he did. Needless to say I politely declined the offer. His last sales pitch was that I could pick up young ladies in it (his exact words). I actually thought young ladies had better things to do than sit in gridlock all day, but I'm sure there are people with more expertise on that subject than myself, so perhaps I'll defer to them.

In hindsight, the only thing surprising about this was that this car sounded like a reasonably up-market one (although I only have his word for that). Most of the time people are trying to dump cheap heaps of garbage on me. Isn't it funny when people make bad decisions and try to pass them off onto other people who were more prudent?

Monday, April 23, 2007


I had a complete change of plans on the weekend (as if that's unusual) and decided to undertake what ranks as one of my favourite rides in the world. The ride that I call "repentence" is basically a loop to the south-west taking in Nimbin and Mullumbimby and passing through places like Repentence Creek, The Crystal Castle and The Channon. It's a ride of spectacular scenery, magical forests and stunning views. It also has a shortage of flat ground. Yesterday I did it in reverse, and found the scenic wonders started early, first Bilambil and then Urliup.

Through Murwillumbah and Uki, into the Tweed Valley. I was watching the clouds playing games with Mt Warning.

The ride proper started at the foot of the Nightcap Range, which had to be crossed before the descent into Nimbin. Climbing it from this side it has a real early kick, before easing into a manageable gradient. The hill on the other side of Nimbin, however, is a different matter entirely.

Having ridden around Tasmania, having done the Great Alpine Road, the Grampians and numerous other climbs on the Great Dividing Range, I think I'm within my rights to boast this as one of the hardest climbs in the country. I was almost vomiting at the top, but I held on and conquered it. There was another steep climb out of The Channon, and I was glad to reach Dunoon for some much needed water (despite having already consumed several litres).

The forests on the climbs between here and Mullumbimby are magical, and the way the roads wind around the hills is a delight in itself. There were four more of them before Mullumbimby, and I got to watch a storm building up to the north (although it didn't deliver the rain I was craving). Here the scenery was about all that inspired me, oh and a little anger at being tailgated for 4km (which I took out on the next climb).

After Mullumbimby is was the short, sharp climbs all the way to Murwillumbah in the late afternoon sun. This is a truly lovely stretch of road on the old Pacific Highway -- it's the idiots who use the new one who have been denied here. One of the locals on a mountain bike joined me for the last few kilometres into Murwillumbah, and the last few hills. As usual I took the opportunity to impart some local knowledge of some of the back roads that even he didn't know about. I think I do that as much for vanity as anything else these days.

After Murwillumbah it was back on the Pilgrims' Road, before returning home through the darkness, and the glow worms, of John Hogan rainforest. This actually has three substantial climbs in 10km, the last of which is Bilambil - always Bilambil. Unfortunately the rainforest stretch here is a little shorter than that of Urliup, where I'd normally go, but that's part of doing the ride in reverse.

The final cruise up the coast was blissfully uneventful, and I was accompanied by a mist of ocean spray rolling across from the South Pacific. Sometimes this city isn't so bad after all. It left me to reflect on the closing stages of a ride of 260km, and 3,160 metres of climbing. I'm preparing for a 600k, and this ride did shorten me up a little. On the positive side, there are few rides in the country as hilly as that one (the ASH Dash and Alpine Classic are all I can think of). I'll be OK, but I may reconsider certain elements of my strategy after this.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Incompetence goes national

There seems to be a bit of conjecture over this story at the moment. Apparently some TV producer is no longer content with setting up cameras at random Gold Coast locations and filming the "world's worst drivers" as they usually would, they want to find people who are too incompetent to even get a licence and see if somehow broadcasting their incompetence nationally might "cure" them.

Of course, it's a very stupid idea -- these people don't need to make idiots of themselves on national TV. Any fool who can't get a licence in Sydney or Melbourne normally needs only to move to Queensland to get one -- as anyone who has seen the rampant incompetence on the roads in this part of the would will attest. Maybe the entire show is based on a false pretence to begin with, much like every other so-called "reality TV" show. I could complain on and on about it, but it's much more fun (and no less effective) to just aim at ridicule.

It seems the main objective of "reality TV" seems to be making viewers with small penis issues somehow feel talented, intelligent and good-looking, by showing them the absolute dregs of society. Fortunately, I already am talented, intelligent, good-looking and suffering from absolutely none of the aforementioned issues whatsoever. Consequently, I'm going to steal a march on the producers by voting the entire cast of the show off my TV with the "off" button before they've even set up the voting mechanism (if there is one).

I think I'm on a winner here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

April Animation

This ride hadn't originally been in my plans. Having ridden the 200k and 300k parts of the "super series" earlier in the year, the plan was to fix up the 400k in Toowoomba last month. A crash and a severed wire in a headlight ruined those plans, and with the next big ride being a 600k over the first weekend of May, I needed something in between to maintain the confidence to handle the big distances and keep a rhythm going. It was for that reason that I got the train to Banyo on Saturday morning and lined up at the start.

This ride started the same way a lot of others of this kind do -- me trying to foot it with the fast group and being left behind early on. Fortunately I'm comfortable riding solo as it gives me the chance to ride my own event and focus on what I need to do to complete it. The first checkpoint came after a lumpy 49km or so at Dayboro, and a very good bakery. It was after this that the real ride would start with the climb of Mt Mee. Recently on most of my climbs I've been methodical rather than powerful, and this was the same. I turned it over comfortably without ever really putting the hammer down, sometimes I just want to enjoy the switchbacks rather than try to mess it up.

Riding across the range welcomed me to cool air and sweeping views in all directions. Mt Mee is one where you can never really be sure the summit has been reached until the final descent on the other side. That descent is a bad time for a person to remember that they left the brown underpants at home. There are still plenty of switchbacks, but the gradient on the north side is much steeper than that on the south (having climbed it as well, I know). I'm fairly confident on the mountain descents these days, and I zoomed down. The next was an out and back stretch along the Neurum road toward Kilcoy, where the second checkpoint was located.

This is a pleasant enough road, but riding it twice takes some of the excitement away. The most intersting thing was an old Werris Creek boy like myself bumping into an old Tamworth boy at the second checkpoint (look them up on a map). He was wondering if I've "gotten over" having grown up in Werris Creek.

After returning from Kilcoy the next stretch was a long stretch toward Peachester. Long, because the wind was coming in almost directly from the East by this point. I knew there was a climb here, and I was relieved to find it (along the way passing a fully loaded cycle tourist, just to make me jealous). The sign said it was 1.8km at 10% -- I fancy the gradient was a little less than that -- or perhaps I'm just getting stronger after all. Peachester was reached with it's sweeping views over the Glasshouse Mountains, but those would have to wait. I still had to detour toward the Sunshine Coast first.

Before then I had to backtrack after taking a wrong turn out of Beerwah. The route slip had said "head for Landsborough", which I did on the road that had a sign directing me to Landsborough. Little did I realise that there was another road from Beerwah to Landsborough, and that was the one I was supposed to be on. It didn't take long to realise I'd taken a wrong turn, but finding my way back was a little more difficult and time consuming.

After getting back on the right road, I passed Ewan Maddock Dam and found another checkpoint. I had actually stopped for a Subway snack at Beerwah -- figuring that I'd get more here than at the next checkpoint at a service station. I then returned to Beerwah on the same route, before lining up the final assault. I'd have the job of riding straight south through the Glasshouse Mountains on sunset (a surprisingly flat route), before picking my way through the northern suburbs of Brisbane in the darkness.

The second part of that equation proved probably more difficult -- as I'd never been to Redcliffe before. Along the way I'd passed a group of hoons milling around on the side of the road. The road itself was black with tyre marks, and there was a heap of smoke in the air -- smelling of rubber. They were all milling around as if something had gone horribly wrong, but I wasn't sticking around to find out what.

After passing through the final checkpoint at Morayfield, it was now a matter of finding my way to Deception Bay, Redcliffe and back. I quite enjoyed this stretch, just cruising along Moreton Bay with the scent of the ocean always nearby. I would have liked my first visit to Redcliffe to be accompanied by daylight, but it wasn't to be.

It was pleasant all the same, but by this stage I was getting a little tired. There are a few aches and pains that arrive after 300km in the saddle -- especially if the saddle itself is almost ready to be pensioned off. After getting off the Peninsula, I put the hammer down and finished the ride a little faster. I'm not sure exactly what the time was, but I still had around 4-5 hours to spare on the time limit.

The next of these rides planned is the 600k in the first weekend of May, then there is another in the last weekend of May -- I'll probably select the 400k that day. It may seem odd to do the 600k before the 400k, but on this occasion, the first weekend just happens to be a long weekend in Queensland, and I might need the extra day to recover for work. In the meantime, I need to keep the long rides going -- I'll probably look for consecutive century rides this weekend.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Putting a face to a name

One of the things rarely (if ever) mentioned about cycle touring, is trying to visualise a route in the planning phase. I'm not talking about picking out hills with a topographic map, or scouting the amenities in various towns along the way (as much fun as this can be). I'm referring to the more basic things, such as the terrain and scenery.

Last weekend two of the roads I used were no more than lines on a map. I had a 'vision' of what I'd be riding through, of course. It was based on other things I'd seen in the vicinity, yet when I actually arrived, I was astonished by just how different things really were. I knew of course that there would be a Clarence River gorge, but I had just imagined it looking completely different to the way it appeared on my arrival.

The thing is, now if I look at a map of that area (as I may do again when planning future long weekends), I actually have a clear picture in my mind, based on the experience of having ridden that road. The picture now seems to much clearer than the 'vision' I had before. This was especially true with many of the places I rode in New Zealand last year. Already I'm poring over various maps before my Scotland tour later in the year (even if I'm highly unlikely to stick to any route plan that I make now). I've even seen a few altitude profiles, but the excitement comes from wondering what I'm actually going to see when I get there, and just how things will pan out when I put a 'face' to those place names.

  • In other news, it seems I have to update my blogroll again. I thought it was a bit of a gee-up when someone turned up with the same blog name that I'm using, but apparently it's for real. More importantly, Zen Rao has a great writing style, so go over and check it out.
  • In other news, someone else has a blog. This guy doesn't write much, but I can't escape the fact that back in 1990, he was my hero.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter escape part 2


I awoke the next morning to a flat tyre. Instinct told me it was sabotage rather than anything I rode over late on in the previous day. The fact that the German backpackers from the campsite decided to swerve at me later in the day made me even more suspicious. Either way, it was nothing I couldn't deal with. I fixed the flat tyre and got on my way. I passed the villages of Mallanganee and Mummulgum, separated by a solid but beautiful climb of the Richmond Range.

Things passed uneventfully after this for a while, I just wound my way along toward the old ruins of Dyraaba (or so I thought). I took a detour through this area along yet another rocky, stony old dirt road, but it seemed most of the monuments and things I was supposed to be seeing here were hidden away on old properties that couldn't be accessed by anyone other than the property owner. It was pleasant enough, just not really what I had been expecting.

In the end I did pass through the actual village of Dyraaba (yes, there was something there). Evidently it was once a busy place that time seems to have forgotten over a number of decades. There were even some old ruins here too. After this I had just about had it with rocky dirt roads for one day, and decided to head for Kyogle and stay at the caravan park for the final night. It's pleasant enough without being overly special.

Of course, the ride home from Kyogle is one that I've now done many times, but it's so pretty that I continually enjoy it. It opens with the climbs of the MacKellar and Nightcap ranges, before descending into rolling country in the Tweed valley. The odd thing about it is that I was just 30km into the ride (and about 90km from home) when I started thinking about this ride as being "over" -- simply because the two climbs were now behind me.

After this there isn't a lot to tell. The southerly wind was still behind me, and it seemed to make things easier. There was the prospect of a heavy shower just outside Murwillumbah, but it never arrived. I did, of course, take the route home via Urliup, revelling in the fact that this place still retains some old world charm, but unfortunately it still leaves me with around 25-30km of suburbia to negotiate to the finish.

The coastal strip was surprisingly quiet for the final stretch. At least it was quiet in terms of volume of traffic. The idiots were still about. I rode past yet another car crash on the way home (I discussed that in another post), and evaded several other idiots (not all of which were in cars incidentally). It's astonishing that after that 25-30km of idiots I was suddenly glad to get home. Still, it is the Gold Coast, so there's no real reason to be at all surprised.

Overall, however, it was quite a rewarding weekend. The scenery of the ride was pretty, the little historical monuments were interesting, and and the traffic was quite reasonable once I evaded the usual Gold Coast snarl. It was also nice to be riding in some cooler air after six months of summer. There is, however, a lingering feeling that I've just about done all the touring there is to do in that area. I'll find something else there to interest me in time, of course. However, it's now time to move on and find somewhere else to occupy my long weekends for a while.

The Crows Next/Lake Perseverance tour to the north is the next on my agenda during the June long weekend. It will also be a final chance to try out the cold weather gear I plan on acquiring for Scotland in July. Before then, however, I've signed up for a 300k audax ride in Brisbane for Saturday. Far from being burned out by this tour, I'm actually quite enthusiastic about my next cycling challenge. Bring it on!

Easter escape

As I've mentioned in other posts, I did manage to get away for the long weekend. I gathered my things and set off on the Friday morning -- a little later than I had intended, and headed west through what is just about the sole route by which a person can head west from the Gold Coast for any real distance, the gorge road through Canungra and Beaudesert. This is always a beautiful ride, but unfortunately I delayed my getaway a little longer than I should have (I was waiting for bushfire smoke to clear) -- the idiots were already on the road in large numbers.

This eventually settled down as these things often do, and once I cleared Canungra and got away from the Gold coast a bit, the moron quotient dropped a little, and I was able to start enjoying the ride. There was, however, a slight feeling of frustration that these days I have to travel so far for "the real tour" to begin. Nevertheless, this section of the ride offers it's own rugged beauty among an otherwise desolate landscape.

After I reached the unremarkable town of Beaudesert (where my so-called "backstreet shortcut" backfired), I turned and headed south, aiming for Rathdowney and on to my old campsite at Mt Lindesay. That would have to wait, I turned straight into the type of headwind I haven't seen since New Zealand last year. Not only was is blowing a gale, but it sprung up in the timeframe of a split second. With no hills and very few trees in that landscape, I basically just had to cop it. Eventually I was able to grind it out and reach Rathdowney, but by now I was resigned to just taking my time.

I paused at the "museum" in town, and had a look in the information centre. The staff here work hard to promote the area's relatively few attractions, but beyond Mt Barney, there isn't really a lot that can be said about it. I pressed on into the wind late in the afternoon, and finding that the despondency that once arrived along with winds of this nature wasn't there. I can only guess that I'm used to dealing with it by now. Eventually I pushed my way up the long, but pretty climb of the pass at Mt Lindesay to reach the lovely obscure campsite in the forest.

This is truly a beautiful area, but I had almost forgotten just how lovely it was in the time since my last visit. In forestry areas, one can never be truly sure how long something like this will last, but the serenity of this place is just amazing. There is truly nothing like setting up camp in a forested grove and listening to a bellbird song.

The next morning was the coolest I've experienced this year -- 12 degrees C. There was no complaint about that, but I was less than impressed with the smoke coming from some burning off that was taking place somewhere else in the forest. I headed south past the villages of Woodenbong and Urbenville, noting that this time I appeared to be on the road before the idiots started. It left me free to enjoy the scenic delights of the area.

It was 14km beyond Urbenville that I turned south, on the road linking Upper Tooloom and eventually rejoining the old Bruxner Highway to the south. This would turn out to be the hardest ride I've encountered in 2007 to date. The combination of headwind, hills and a dirt road that hasn't seen a grader in at least a decade made for slow going. Initially I passed a lot of plantation forests, but soon the landscape took on a wilder quality.

Further south over the first pass, the ride became even more interesting. Shortly after dropping into the Clarence River gorge, I came upon the old "Queensland line". For those who don't know, this was where a line was drawn connecting Brisbane and Adelaide during the second world war, aiming to protect the more densely populated south-east section of the country in the event of an invasion. It was called the Queensland line because much of Queensland was going to be sacrificed to any invaders. There were also old tank traps here (no, I don't know how they were supposed to work).

This was followed by the hardest climb of the entire weekend (with over 5,000 metres of climbing to choose from, that's saying something). A steep gradient on a rough dirt road that just went on and on. I'd been told by another traveller there was a shop (meaning a cool drink) at the top, and that thought was about all that kept me going. Oh, that and the fact that the views at the summit were spectacular.

I had a pleasant chat with the woman who ran the store, she was a very friendly person. There was a campsite just 4km down the road should I opt for it -- in hindsight I probably should have, but I wanted to press on for Tabulam. The remainder of this ride was basically a gradual downhill virtually all the way -- just enough to offset the wind, and I soon found myself riding the last few kilometres into Tabulam on a surprisingly deserted Bruxner highway.

Some country towns are welcoming of visitors, but some others get a little weird -- I saw both sides of Tabulam. The local store was next to a cafe that looked like it had been boarded up for years -- even longer than the billboards advertising it had been erected on the edge of town. The people in the shop had suggested a campsite on the banks of the Clarence River, but when I arrived there a bunch of local yobs in a ute (ironically riding illegally in the tray) got a bit weird about the idea that a "stranger" might spend a night in their town.

I decided to move on in fading light, I rode for another 10km or so until I found a roadside rest area. There were a couple in a caravan staying there, and I was able to get a site some distance from the road itself, so I decided to stay there the night. It wasn't perfect, but it would do. The group of German backpackers who arrived a little later in a kombi van made it a little less perfect.

Am I getting a little too cynical?

I just returned from a very rewarding and enjoyable four day bike tour. However, before I post a ride report, there is a little something I want to get off my chest (on another note) first. I want to know if living where I do is finally starting to mess with my mind.

I've read numerous comments on various cycling fora from people claiming they have some urge "to look" whenever they ride past the scene of a car crash. I rode past yet another one at Tugun yesterday on my way home from a weekend bike tour, and felt no such urge, or even any emotion at all.

Oh I'd have called an ambulance had there not already been one there (I can only assume the crash had happened a couple of hours previously), but I felt absolutely no emotion about the whole thing. My thought was more along the lines of "here we go again", before clinically picking my way through the resulting traffic mess. Honestly, you'd think Gold Coast drivers would have learned to handle this sort of thing by now -- given that it seems to happen so often.

This after having a number of drivers pass within millimeters of me and not caring. Last year I actually got hit by a car over in Christchurch and just kept riding without even changing my cadence or looking up (a full touring load does act as a useful cushion from time to time). When I got home all the tabloids were apparently screaming about another "horror weekend" on the roads -- I didn't even bother to roll my eyes.

I had always thought the ability to remain calm and clinical in such situations was an advantage -- a useful survival tool. I am, however, a little concerned that I may be becoming a little too desensitised to this sort of thing. Rarely these days does a week go by without this sort of thing happening, and the amount of broken windscreen glass on the roads seems to indicate that it's not just happening when I'm around.

Does anybody else feel like this?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


In the next week I'll be ditching my current email address and setting up a new one. After seven years I'm tired of typing underscores every time I log into it, and the spammers are starting to find it (incidentally, does anyone know a free e-mail provider that lets me keep spammers' IP addresses?). It's also picked up a few other miscellaneous bits of baggage, and while these aren't a problem, I don't really need them around.

There might also be some changes on this site in the future, too. I very nearly lost the archives after my photobucket "premium" account expired before I remembered to renew the registration. Sure, I would have held on to the text from those posts, but there are also 2,000-odd pictures that were almost lost, which would have probably left a few holes. Consequently, I'm looking for a way to archive the old posts in such a way that would keep the pictures without having to rely on an external source like that.

Ultimately, I think I'll sign up for one of those dot net URL's that everyone else seems to be getting into at the moment. what I'd ideally like to be able to do eventually is to have all the posts as well as my tour journals stored all in one place. The trouble is, right now I don't have a clue how I'm going to go about it, and I'm not sure whether I'm going to get time in the immediate future. In the mean time, any suggestions of how to go about this are welcomed.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Ballina coast

It had taken me a long time to get around to actually completing this ride. The first attempt last year saw a run of flat tyres that basically forced me to turn around and go home before I ran out of patches, the second attempt last month saw a flat tyre followed by a crash on wet cobblestones (isn't it amusing when a subdivision built in 1998 tries to make a grab at "history"?), so Saturday had a feel of "now or never about it".

I took a slight inland route down the Tweed Coast as far as Cabarita to avoid the sprawling and somewhat ugly suburban development that's rearing it's ugly head south of Kingscliff. It seemed to work because the inland route was much prettier. Chinderah, surprisingly seemed like a quiet, relatively low-key place. It would be a theme for much of the day. The ride down the Tweed Coast was relatively uneventful, I've been here many times. There was a headwind building up, but that didn't bother me unduly.

The first place to stop for additional water and so on was Ocean Shores. Probably once a small sea-side village, but now sprawling untidily over the hillsides surrounding it. Parts of it still have the village feel about it, but that's slowly changing. There is currently some massive roadwork going into re-routing the Pacific Highway (again) in this area. It's been going on for two years now. This must now be the most re-designed road in the country. There are still parts of the old highway that can be used, that was a charming place (contrary to what the tabloid press used to say about it), winding through forests and over ridges with coastal views.

The new highway by contrast is a charmless place, useful only for convenience. I was glad to leave it behind at Byron Bay. Byron itself seems to be defying it's reputation for attracting the "alternative" crowd, yet the town centre seems determined to become another Gold Coast. There are resorts springing up everywhere (all of which look the same), but on the edges of town there are some very pretty areas.

After negotiating the southern exit of Byron, the next town was Lennox Head. This place has still managed to obtain some of it's charm. It's always refreshing to visit a quiet, windswept beach that isn't surrounded by "resorts", and just be surrounded by the ocean spray. There is a little tinge of sadness about such places these days, as I don't think this experience will be available in this part of the world in a generation or two. I might spend a little more time here in the next few years to make the most of it.

The wind was picking up on the final stretch into Ballina. Again, it didn't seem to worry me (although it did slow me down), perhaps it was just the knowledge that I would be changing direction soon anyway. Ballina was reached soon enough, but while the surrounding areas were pretty, the town itself definitely wasn't. I negotiated another treacherous patch of roadwork and continued on my way, finding the turn off to Teven, where the drama would really start.

I had passed up opportunities to take on more water in Lennox Head and Ballina because I expected to refill at Teven, and because it wasn't a particularly hot day. The problem arose when there wasn't water (or much else) available in Teven, pretty though it was. I struck out for Eltham before deciding that Nashua was closer, but there was nothing there either. Fortunately I'd drunk enough water *before* the ride that I had a little in reserve now. Eventually I made it to Bangalow and managed to top up the reserves.

Now it was just a matter of returning to Mullumbimby and finishing it off on the familiar Burringbar route. There was a decent climb a few kilometres out of Bangalow, followed by a screaming descent, then another climb up the ridge. Again there was more "roadwork" but this time it was unsigned (not that I trust signs anyway). Roadwork or not, the views on the ridges definitely make things worthwhile.

The final ride into Mullumbimby was easy enough, except that my usual water station wasn't available. Apparently they've decided the drought is bad enough that faucets need to be removed from taps to prevent their use. Oh well, Burringbar was only 20km away. There was some climbing to do to get there of course, but again the scenery made it worthwhile.

I detoured down the old Stock Route road to avoid the roadwork. It says a lot when taking a dirt road is easier than negotiating the surface of a highway. Burringbar was reached easily enough. The lights went on there as night started to arrive, with the final ups and downs to get to Murwillumbah. Often at this stage of a long ride I'm thinking only of getting home, but I was really enjoying the night air this time.

I took my time winding through the rainforest of Urliup, again a dirt road to savour before "development" takes over in a few years. The final climb of Bilambil was basically the only stretch of the entire ride that caused any problems during the entire 291km, but it was negotiated easily enough, as was the final suburban coastal strip. It was surprisingly quite for a Saturday night, but traffic is rarely a major concern for me anyway.

Ultimately I was glad to have finally managed this ride. Despite reputations there are very few coastal cycling experiences around here to compete with what's offered in places like Victoria, Tasmania or New Zealand. I'm glad to have finally discovered one.