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, September 27, 2007

Going north

I'm sitting here contemplating another aborted ride because of bushfire smoke. At least this ride was almost saved. Earlier there was some promising lightning to the north, but alas it didn't bring any rain with it. It's ironic that I was contemplating whether or not to head north this weekend when the phone rang. My mother has informed me that one of the bicycle shops in Brisbane city is having a closing down sale. I can't remember the name of them off hand (and neither could she), but apparently I've bought touring equipment there previously. It didn't take long to put the pieces together.

The plan is a weekend in Brisbane, with a Sunday ride on or in the vicinity of the Sunshine Coast. Hopefully I'll get time for a century -- as I desperately need one. I'm figuring the recent flooding in that area might keep the bushfires away for a while yet. One can only hope so. I might also get to purchase some of the touring equipment I'm looking for right at the moment. The shopping list currently includes a Zefal HPX frame pump, a Topeak or Blackburn pannier rack, and a handlebar bag of some description. I'm not sure I'll get that lot this weekend, but it's something to work with.

  • In other news, I passed a rocket on my ride to work today. I am, of course, feeling extremely proud of myself as a result. It came as I was picking my way through the gridlock as usual, and passed a "sports" car (an ironic term if ever there was one) with a sticker that said the words "Lil' yellow rocket". Obviously the owner has spent a lot of money on the ability to go really, really fast (or at least look the part), and they were just as owned as the rest of them. I still pwn.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Correct Weight?

Right now there is yet another discussion about the weight carried by touring cyclists in the touring section over at I seem to be among the minority as I have never actually made any attempt to weight my equipment before setting off on a tour. It would seem that most people will get out the bathroom scales and weigh just about everything, then go through their equipment and look to remove any little item that might save a kilo or two. To be honest, I've never really seen the point.

My own strategy on this issue is to decide on the basis of each item rather than the overall weight. Having now done a few tours, I have a fair idea of what I will or won't use during the tour (with further decisions being made after some research into my destination). Even before my first tour, I made sure of taking a short weekend tour in an area where I could get out of trouble easily if I needed to.

Once the utility value of each item is determined, that pretty much decides the weight of the equipment I'll be bringing. In short, if I don't need it, it stays home regardless of the weight issue, if I need it, I'll bring it. If that means I have to pay a few dollars in excess baggage charges on a flight (or fly with another airline), so be it. It's better than getting stuck in the Scottish rain with a leaking tent. There is a little room to move in terms of replacing equipment that might be deemed a little heavy -- but then there's an old saying to be ware of: "Cheap, lightweight, durable. Pick two".

I also think a lot of people make too much of a fuss over the weight of their bike or their equipment, and not enough over the weight of themselves. If we guess that the average person weighs around 75kg, it's clear that dropping 2-3kg of weight before the event is not going to be massively difficult to achieve if done properly. Personally, I'd rather do this than leave behind something I considered important just because I wanted to knock 2-3kg of my luggage weight. Admittedly, body weight doesn't come with airline baggage charges, but it still has to be hauled over mountains.

Another area I'm considering more important these days is the volume of what I'm carrying. This can actually determine the number of panniers one needs to bring along, which can, in turn, add to the weight -- not only the panniers themselves, but also the rack on which to mount them. Personally I've never really been a fan of front panniers, largely because of the requirement to remove them every time the bike is taken on a plane.

The current system I have doesn't require a great deal of dismantling when I box my bike at an airport, and the rear rack stays firmly in place. In short, keeping my equipment less bulky wherever possible pays off. Of course, weight and volume often go hand in hand, but not always. All things considered, it appears to me that getting out the scales (or buying some since I don't currently own any) seems a slightly redundant exercise. As I said before, if I don't need it, it's not coming anyway. I really should publish a packing list some day -- when I get around to it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Needy Numinbah

There are some days when one senses that one isn't at their best. That was a perfect description of yesterday for me. I suspect the problem might relate to the illness I had earlier in the week, but the instant I set off for yesterday's ride I could sense a problem. I opted for a ride through the Numinbah Valley circuit, figuring that 130km would be a solid ride without being overly taxing. Granted, it's hilly, but if I'm going to have any chance in the Alpine Classic in January, I'll have to get used to that.

My traditional habit of making relatively slow starts to rides can sometimes disguise problems. I set off over the first 50km or so, just focussing on riding myself into the ride, getting my rhythm and enjoying the scenery. Numinbah Valley has plenty to keep me occupied in that respect, and for a while I even forgot about any problems I might have been having. The ride comprises as series of short, sharp climbs and descents followed by a long gradual climb to 420 metres at Numinbah Gap. This part of the ride is genuinely beautiful, and has a real old-style character about it that so many other places lack.

It was after the descent into the Tweed Valley and the ride around to Murwillumbah that the problems started. I headed toward Tumbulgum on the Pilgrim's Road, and really struggled. This part of the ride should have been simple, but I didn't seem to have the strength to sustain any kind of rhythm at all. Ironically, I picked up a little in the hilly section through the John Hogan rainforest, but then I really struggled over Bilambil (the last meaningful climb of the day). In the end it was only my experience of surviving 300km+ rides that got me home at all.

To be honest I'm not entirely sure what the problem was. It wasn't a particularly difficult day for riding. It wasn't particularly hot or windy, and while there was a small amount of bushfire smoke around early, it was pretty well shielded from the Numinbah and Tweed Valleys (i.e. it was gone quite early). I'm guessing it's a lingering effect of the minor illness I had earlier in the week. Consequently, I'm making today into a "rest day", and instead looking to an early 50km before work tomorrow for salvation. The last couple of weeks seem to have been one continual disruption since the Mt Jerusalem ride, and it's getting a little frustrating.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Been away too long

It's almost hard to believe that it's been three months since the last time I managed a night ride through the glow worm infested rainforest at Austinville. Last night I decided I simply had to do something about that statistic. Everything seemed to start fairly quietly, but once into the valley at the foot of Springbrook, and heard the sound of the tyres on the dirt illuminated only by the E6 headlight, the reasons why became apparent.

If it wasn't the pristine air of the rainforest, it was the sound of the rushing streams, or dodging the forest frogs that crossed my path on a regular basis, or the glow worms lighting up the undergrowth on the side of the road. I also had to unexpectedly dodge a cane toad -- not because I have any compassion for them, but because it was absolutely huge. These ugly, destructive creatures appear to be getting bigger all the time. Perhaps I should have stopped and kicked it. On the way home I even saw a rabbit trying to negotiate a roundabout at Robina -- I had to look twice to be sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. Someone at Mudgeeraba was burning a little too much incense.

The overall feeling from the evening jaunt was that I had been away from these night rides for too long. The early morning rides that I had been doing virtually since my return from Scotland have been pleasant and rewarding, but there are delights in a night ride that just can't be found anywhere else -- even if I do make the effort to start before sunrise. I need the additional experiences, the special feeling that only comes from riding deserted roads while everyone else sleeps (or at least watches TV). This is why I paid for such expensive lighting in the first place.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Then there were two

Last weekend I spent some time re potting plants on the balcony of my little apartment. It was something that desperately needed to be done, and was probably overdue. Even if it was solely motivated by the fact that my newly planted passionfruit vine has already outgrown the pot that it was using. It was while moving another plant that I noticed it, something that appeared as nothing more than a weed at first glance, on closer inspection there was a slightly different, yet somehow familiar shape to it's leaves.

It was something I had seen before, but somehow different from the other weeds that I always seem to be removing. Yet closer inspection revealed that it can only be one thing -- passionfruit! It appears that I have the roots of a second passionfruit vine growing as well as the full-sized one that I purchased a couple of weeks ago. Just how it got there I don't know. I can only guess that it was the result of an old passionfruit from my old apartment falling into the pot and breaking down over time until the seeds germinated. Whatever it was, I'll be watching it with interest in the coming months.

In other news, with the minor illness of last weekend clearing up, I'm left to contend with an old foe when trying to determine just which rides I should do exactly when. Yet another bushfire is burning in the Hinterland. There was a time when bushfires in this part of the world were unheard of -- in fact, I don't recall seeing one in the first six years I lived here, now they seem to be a problem all the time. The weather forecast indicates it's not going to rain any time soon -- this could mean a train ride to the Sunshine Coast this weekend if I want to get some riding in.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Springtime in Currumbin Valley

It's perhaps surprising that it's been several months since I took a simple ride out to Currumbin Valley -- and perhaps even more surprising that a simple 70km jaunt should be the highlight of a weekend of riding. On the other hand, it wasn't a usual weekend. I had a visit from a family member who had just been to London and Florence, and was trying to fit my rides in between swapping travel stories. That might even have worked if I hadn't somehow managed to pick up a stomach bug on Sunday afternoon which basically took 24 hours to clear up, and effectively removed any possibility of a night time jaunt to Springbrook.

On the other hand, I suppose an "easy" weekend is a good idea occasionally. Saturday morning's ride in warm temperatures with the scent of blooming flowers in the air has whetted my appetite for other rides. Now all I need to do is shake off this current little set back, and make the effort to get out on the bike tomorrow evening.

The problem I invariably face after a lay-off of any kind is that idleness breeds idleness. Often it's just too easy to settle into a pattern of not doing very much, it becomes habit forming. While there is a deep-seated desire to get on the bike and explore new places, it's all too easy to slip into a comfort zone, a "do it later" mentality. I suffered from this a little toward the end of 2006, and I have no intention of letting it happen again.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Can someone explain this?

Just about every time I buy anything for my bike that requires any kind of assembly, there always seems to be a screw or a bearing missing -- and I'm forced to improvise. The most notable one was the pannier rack I picked up on tour in Dunedin last year, which was a couple of bolts short (which I salvaged from the broken rack that I'd already nursed for 600km). The most recent one was the mount for my E6 light just above the forks earlier in the week. The missing nut from that kit forced me to improvise, then make sure I carried a back up light on the first test ride (something I would have always done anyway).

This is something that seems to happen all the time.

In other news, I will be back to using my old Canon camera this weekend. The spanky new one that I picked up in Glasgow in July has decided to stop working. It should be covered under warranty, so I don't envisage any problems. One would assume I could just send it off to Kodak in Melbourne, but the way the corporate world is run these days, nobody can really tell. As to what happened to it, I have no idea. I had actually promised to give my old camera to a friend, but hadn't got around to it yet. It's funny the way things work out sometimes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Seeing the light

It seems to have taken forever, but my E6 headlight is finally on the way back. Right now I need it because I'm getting desperate do to a long night ride somewhere. I yearn for the serenity and beauty of the darkness. I've managed some early morning rides with my little back-up light, but it's just not the same. The early rides often tend to be a little rushed, and this can take away some of the ambiance. I now plan on moving it to a new position just above the front forks. This will enable me to fit a handlebar bag for touring without obscuring the light, and from my observations, the light beam on the road tends to be a little wider from that angle.

The next couple of things that I will need to find are a new pannier rack and a decent frame pump. My current pannier rack was a cheap one that I picked up in Dunedin after snapping a rack on my tour of New Zealand. It was largely a case of beggars can't be choosers, having already limped for 600km with all my equipment resting on a broken rack. I'll likely head to Brisbane for this particular search, and check out the Topeak range at Epic cycles. Most of their equipment is of a high quality, and if I have to pay a few dollars more then so be it.

As far as the frame pump is concerned, I'm still not sure about my options there. It may also come from Epic cycles. Essentially I'm looking for something that can cope with the rain without seizing up the way all my other pumps have. As someone who makes no attempt to avoid riding in the rain, this is probably the primary quality. I'm also after something that can deliver some decent pressure to a tyre after fixing a flat. Suggestions to the comments section please.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Jerusalem 200

Yesterday I needed a big ride, and I also felt like revisiting Mt Jerusalem. The only thing for it was to turn the old Mt Jerusalem ride into a 200km ride. There had been gale warnings on the weather forecast, but one thing I've noticed about "extreme" weather forecasts in this part of the world is that they consistently overstate the situation. So it proved yesterday, I set off with three hours sleep thanks to some drunken neighbours, and just decided to focus on discipline and riding myself into it during the early part of the ride.

After clearing the southern end of suburbia, I headed out through Urliup, skirted around Murwillumbah, where a hoon convention was on according to some signage, and headed for Reserve Creek Road. There are a couple of shortish climbs here, and I noted the return of the greenery after the dry spell during June/July/August. While the gale warnings had overstated things, the wind that did appear was quite invigorating, the ride took on a feeling of something I 'needed'.

The next object was the climb over Cudgera creek road -- around 190 metres on a dirt road with a heap of switchbacks, before a sharp descent into Burringbar. My cornering on the descent was poor, but not enough to present any major problems. Soon I resumed the journey south as far as Billinudgel (where the three-year roadwork "project" has finally been completed), before heading west over the hill toward Main Arm, where I would turn north for the days main event.

The climb of Mt Jerusalem is always a challenge with gradients exceeding 10% on dirt roads. It also leads to the highest point on this ride (274m). There was a little mud around as a shower had passed over a few minutes earlier, but the southern approach has a unique feel all of it's own with the combination of forest and the old hippie cottages. There are also little surprises in the forest if one keeps their eyes open. There are plenty of opportunities to see them, as it's a climb that really requires settling in and grinding for a while.

Descending Jerusalem is the exact opposite of the climb in more ways than one. While the climb is a grinding affair, the descent is a fast, furious, white-knuckle affair. Fortunately I had warmed up descending Cudgera Creek Road earlier. I was also fortunate that the kombi-driving idiot who didn't know which side of the road he was supposed to be on didn't show up until I'd completed the descent and returned to a flat, sealed road along the bottom. It didn't take long after this to reach Uki, and food and water.

After Uki it was just a matter of catching the tailwind home, and finding enough detours to accumulate the 200km I needed. I detoured along the hilly Bakers Road in skirting the hoon convention in Murwillumbah once before, before heading across to Tumbulgum, then doubling back to return home through the John Hogan rainforest, before mopping up the last 30km of suburbia. All in all an extremely memorable day, and something I need to more often. Just how I'll find time to do that along with all the other places I "need" to ride is another matter.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Now I've gone and done it

It looks like I'll miss this weekend's Glorious Mee ride for the first time in six years. I'm still waiting to get my light back from St Kilda Cycles, and I'm fairly certain it won't be ready for Saturday. Instead, I've just logged onto the audax website and submitted my entry for the 2008 edition of the Alpine Classic. For those who aren't aware, this is an organised ride in Bright, Victoria, and is rated as one of the hardest rides in the country. The 200km edition (i.e. the one I've signed up for) is estimated to have 4,000 metres of climbing, and in the mid-summer heat.

This might sound like suicide for someone who traditionally doesn't like heat, but it's not all bad news. First of all, it's likely to be a drier heat than what I deal with in this part of the world, and having grown up in that environment, I can say from experience that it's like knocking 10 degrees C off the temperature. Let's also not forget that my lead up rides will be in the aforementioned Queensland Summer. Then, there's the matter of my prior experience in rides of this nature. I've done the Wonders of Glorious Mee (Queensland's hilly ride with over 3,000 metres of climbing) five times. Last year I went to Tasmania and completed the ASH Dash, despite taking a wrong turn, doing an extra 10km including the climb of Vince's Saddle for a second time.

Of course, I now have the matter of organising all the transport options, which looks like a flight to Melbourne, a train to Wangaratta and a ride to Bright the day before. It's a challenge, but this is what cycling is all about. Now I just need to put the little Audax ride booklet away so I don't sign up for any more attempts at madness between now and then.

  • In other news, some of you may have caught this story in which the notoriously poor response time of Queensland police has led to the death of a woman on the Gold Coast. I've written about this before, and the saddest part about this story is that it will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever had reason to report anything to the police in this part of the world. It's been an ongoing problem for as long as anyone can remember. I suppose the one positive to come out of this is that now the problem is actually getting some attention -- assuming the various stakeholders can stop the blaming and finger-pointing for long enough to actually do something about it (which is doubtful). It's just a shame someone had to die for the issue to finally get some attention.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


At the present time, the CD I have on high rotation is the latest release from the Manic Street Preachers -- "Send away the tigers". After hearing Your love alone is not enough on the flight between Brisbane and London, right from the start of that track, I remember thinking "Never has a truer word been spoken" . That track, combined with the fact that they've produced so many other great albums meant that I was always going to get a copy of this CD as soon as I was finished with my tour of Scotland.

Once again, this is a CD that grabs the listener, through a combination of great musical arrangements and engaging lyrics. The Manics are not for the faint-hearted, they can be dark and cynical at times. They aren't for people who are sufficiently vapid to "laugh along with the laugh track". This probably explains their relative lack of success in this country. Yet those who can open their minds a little and garner an understanding will invariably find something to love here. Even if it doesn't, it always sounds good!

Some of the highlight tracks for me (apart from the one above) include Rendition, Underdogs and the rather obscure and untitled "hidden track" at the end. A verse from this, perhaps, typifies exactly what makes the Manics stand out from so many others: "Keep you doped with religion, sex and TV; And you think you're so clever and classless and free; But you're still f*cking peasants as far as I can see". If that doesn't sum up popular culture perfectly, I don't know what does.

Monday, September 03, 2007

That's three

It's said that these things are supposed to happen in threes. The first one was the two bee stings on the Binna Burra ride eight days ago. A few days after that I injured an ankle after making an inspired decision to go for a morning run without warming it up properly. That injury doesn't bother me on the bike, but it did prevent me taking the long walk up at Springbrook yesterday. This morning was number three.

I'm riding along minding my own business, when I feel something rather heavy and sharp tear at my right ear. I look up to see a magpie flying away after it's attack. It drew blood, making it the first magpie attack I've had do that since 2002. It also managed to suitably gross out most of my co-workers, but actually the pain didn't stay with me all that long. It was just about gone within five minutes, perhaps I just have a higher pain threshold these days. Pain threshold or not, I think I'll be making a slight alteration to my commute route over the next couple of days.

That should now be number three, which surely means I'm due for a change in luck now, right?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Pots of gold

It is said that at the end of a rainbow is a pot of gold, so where is the gold in this shot? After having yet another memorable day at Springbrook today, perhaps the gold has simply assumed another form.

I delayed yesterday's plans to do the 17km Warrie Circuit walk at Springbrook (which would have been closer to 19 after detours) because my ankle was still giving me grief. A day later it was still doing the same thing -- albeit in a slightly less pronounced way. I decided to press ahead anyway, as I had options to back it off if I needed to. I felt strangely flat on the ride up the mountain this morning. My ankle doesn't cause any problems when riding, but there was some bushfire smoke around earlier (note: we still need a lot more rain), and perhaps that had an effect. As it was, the slow ride combined with the later than anticipated start meant that I was starting the walk 45 minutes later than I was hoping. Incidentally, the 'flat' performance continued on the descent much later.

This in itself wasn't the end of the world, but after starting the walk and treading some of the uneven ground, it soon became apparent that my ankle just wasn't up to 17km of this. Fortunately, there is a shorter, 4km option -- the Twin Falls walk. That was doable, and in truth, there were charms on that walk that I hadn't seen for a while anyway. This was the option I chose. Being a Saturday morning there were virtually no people around, and I really felt at piece in a place that I first fell in love with back in 1995.

I actually dreamed of moving here several years ago, I heard about a 10-acre property with a load of fruit trees that was for sale. I was never going to be able to afford it, but in my (then) 20-year-old mind, I had a grand dream of moving to the mountain and just living off fruit trees. That was before I had experienced the bite of the travel bug, and developed a desire to cycle tour in as many parts of the world as possible. One dream was ultimately sacrificed for another, but days like this always remind me of what I first saw in this place all those years ago. I may move on from this part of the world in the next few years, but wherever I go, Springbrook will always occupy a special place in my heart.