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, April 24, 2008

Change of plans

This long weekend was supposed to be the long-planned (and long-delayed) tour of the Crows Nest region. However, a few timetabling issues from QR have put paid to that. In basic terms, to get a train to Caboolture on a public holiday (i.e. tomorrow) from the Gold Coast requires an hour sitting on a platform in Brisbane. I, for one, can think of far better things to do. As a consequence, that tour is being delayed until the Labour Day weekend (only a week later), the timetabling of which will require sitting on a platform at Central Station for just six minutes.

In it's place, I'm heading for the Border Ranges National Park, a vast expanse of mountainous rainforest to the north of Kyogle in NSW. I have visited this part of the world once before, quite a long time ago now, and have longed for a return. It's going to involve a couple of nights at the Kyogle Caravan park, and repeating the same ride twice in three days, but I can vary the Kyogle ride from this side of Murwillumbah. I may detour into Nimbin along the way, but probably won't as I've been there many times in the past. It will, however be the first time I've climbed the Nightcap range from this side, so that provides some interest.

All that is left now is for the Border Ranges to live up to it's hype, and for the Crows Nest tour to take place next time. Sounds like I've said that before.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tunnel vision

Yesterday was the long-awaited Burringbar Tunnel ride. I was expecting a relatively simple and easy cruise, with the daily distance promising to be no more than 140km. I should learn to never underestimate any ride -- ever. Yet for some reason, my own psychology continues to defy my experience. When will I ever learn?

Early morning rainbow at Casuarina Beach -- it gave me something to look at while I fixed a flat

First of all, there was the flat tyre on the infamous "beer bottle" stretch at Casuarina Beach. I had actually avoided riding through that subdivision for a little over a year, but my alternative route through Chinderah was blocked with a "road closed" sign, so I had little option this time around. In truth, the flat tyre would do little more than delay the start of the ride, and would be the extent of my mechanical problems -- I'd get off lightly.

A companion I picked up riding through the bush

Ultimately, there would be only three of us doing this ride. Dave from Tweed Coast Treadly, and his usual riding partner Mark. We set off over the beautiful climb of Cudgera Creek road, with it's pretty switchbacks in the rainforest, and great views over the Burringbar Range. This time we would head for Wabba road at the top, but I managed to find another access point which eliminated the 26% gradient that we had to contend with last time around. The view from this point was absolutely stunning, as it passed through a slightly higher cutting in the mountain.

Views from the start of Wabba Road

Roadside waterfall

We started to negotiate the muddy, leech infested, slippery trails of Wabba "road". I managed a minor crash here (my fourth in four consecutive months), but the bruise to my hand was nothing compared to what would happen when Mark broke his chain not once, but twice. I've carried my own chain tool since the famous chain-snapping incident on Tasmania's Strathgordon road in 2004 (when my own frozen fingers prevented me from using it anyway), now I was using it on someone else's bike. We eventually had to take six links out of that badly worn chain, which limited the number of gears Mark had at his disposal. Still, the climbing gears were available, and that's usually all that matters in these parts.

Dave climbing on Wabba Road

A gap in the trees

So it was on to Stokers Siding, and the track toward the Burringbar Tunnel. A narrow sealed road became a narrow dirt road, which eventually became a paddock next to the railway line. A little later on, the paddock disappeared, and we had to ride literally on the railway line. The sleepers caused a few (ok, more than a few) bumps. I realised that the best way to deal with them was to ride faster, but even that had it's limitations. The railway line has been closed (and accordingly unmaintained) for over five years. Without any trains using it, there's nothing to stop the incursion of lantana, which can result in a few additional scratches.

This is a joke, right?

Destination reached

The tunnel itself lived up to every expectation, and more. The glow worms lit up the roof like the night sky, there were bats sleeping in any isolated patch they could find, and even a waterfall at the southern end (inside the tunnel). I rode through the tunnel, before walking back to explore it on foot (it was around 500 metres long). This was definitely worth all the aggravation earlier in the day. Lunch followed, before mopping up the final couple of kilometres and a rickety rail bridge into Burringbar village. Somewhere along the way Dave had buckled a rear wheel (probably a result of his crash, which I somehow didn't see).

Now this one might be a challenge

I'm not sure what the final leech tally was for the day. I ended up with four, but that was considerably fewer than anybody else (who said being anal about sunscreen was a bad thing). I do know that with only a flat tyre, I got off pretty lightly in the mechanicals department as well. I was dead tired at Burringbar, and decided on the "direct" ride home over the Burringbar range and Tomewin. I started to feel better shortly after setting off (it's amazing what removing leeches can do for your stamina) and promptly slaughtered every hill that got in my way, including the 350-metre climb of Tomewin. The tailwind helped a bit too.

Everyone's reaction after this ride was "never again", but it's amazing what 24 hours of reflection can do for your enthusiasm for this sort of project. This ride really was a special experience, and it's not everyday someone can ride along an old railway line before it's developed into a rail trail. The closest I've come to that was the track to Montezuma Falls in Tasmania some years back. Thinking back on it, it's definitely a ride I'd like to do again some day... maybe not tomorrow, but some day.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Back to Beechmont

After several weekends involving touring, slaughtering multiple mountains or toughing out 300 kilometres, last Sunday's 120km was a welcome change of pace. Martin and I decided on a simple ride up to Binna Burra, with a detour on the western spur of Beechmont to keep us entertained. This detour is fast becoming an obligatory part of this ride, and today it would offer another surprise.

The early part of the day was notable for the fact that my gear cable was about to die (and has since died), and for the fact that I didn't find any rhythm until the climb to Lower Beechmont. Once Lower Beechmont had been reached, the views began to open up on both sides of the range, sweeping for many kilometres in each direction. Further comes the final, steep ascent of Mt Roberts at the finish. I had decided that Mt Roberts must die today, but had to rethink that policy half way through that section, as Mt Roberts is a little more resilient than this. Still, it's time will come.

So now it was back to Beechmont village, and to the "detour". It is my opinion that the views from the western spur of the range are greater than those on the "conventional side". Of course, I've been riding the conventional roads for over a decade, and the western spur is a relatively new addition. We took in the end of Southwest road, turned at the loop, and detoured to the southern outlook over the Coomera Gorge, traditionally a good place to stop for food, sunscreen or whatever and just take in the views. Today a local farmer invited us to ride down his "driveway" for another view. It would be rude to refuse such an invitation, and what awaited us was truly worth the effort.

The sweeping views of Canungra valley probably aren't visible from anywhere else on the range, so this really was a special moment. It's truly amazing to think that a place like this can be visited so many times over more than a decade, and still turn on the surprises occasionally. The next stop at Beechmont is Hell Fire Pass.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tosspot of the week

A strange thing happened at the Kilcoy service station that doubled as an Audax checkpoint last Saturday. Some lunatic woman who was driving some oversized metal heap of crap decided to bring her problems to a complete stranger, i.e. me. Apparently she was annoyed at something some cyclist had allegedly done earlier in the day, and somehow decided that I had to know about it. For the record, I firmly told her she should take up the matter with whoever was responsible for it. Apparently she saw that as a cue to go and whinge to someone inside the service station. Evidently logic escapes some people.

What I want to know is just why she thought I had to know this? Did she actually think I gave a shit? Did she actually think I was willing or able to do something about it? Keep in mind here that I have no idea who was responsible, and almost certainly have never met them at any point in history, and even if I had, I only have the word of a complete stranger that there was a problem with their action to begin with. I'm not sure which is more stupid. If a plumber comes to your house and does some shoddy work, do you go and whine to the first plumber you see when you walk outside, or do you take it up with the guy who did the work? I know which I'd do if I want the problem solved.

Either way, when this incident happened, it provided enough material for another blog post under this heading, and another chance to use that tacky, but somehow amusing picture. A worthy tosspot for this week.

April animation

Mt Mee

It's probably about time I wrote this thing up. It was my first 300k for the year. In fact, I only had two rides over 200km this year, and the most recent of those came in February. However, I did have a couple of tours, and last weekend's "boot camp" rides through the mountains. I had enough condition. The rain that had been promised seemed to stay away on the day itself, with a southerly wind to keep temperatures down. That southerly would cause problems later.


Alan and I were the only two riders who actually made the start on time. There were more riders coming later (as it turned out, they wouldn't be far behind by the first checkpoint), so we set off, negotiating our way out of the northern suburbs of Brisbane, and eventually making our way toward the greenery of Dayboro, over the rolling hills.

Mt Mee

The climb of Mt Mee stood out as the next objective. Personally I enjoy this climb from the southern side. The gradient is very manageable, the scenery opens up new vistas around every corner, and early in the morning, the temperature is invariably pleasant. Alan had left the checkpoint a little earlier than I had, but I caught him on the climb, and we rode across the plateau and into Woodford and Kilcoy together. On the descent I got held up by a car, and didn't know the road well enough to risk overtaking them between corners. As it was they moved over and let me pass through, a rare piece of politeness on Queensland roads.

The Neurum road between Woodford and Kilcoy is one of the most underrated places to ride in Southern Queensland. Today it would have to be covered twice, as the ride heads out to Kilcoy and back. The ride back gave me plenty of time to look at the scenery, I was really struggling here, barely able to maintain 24km/h. In retrospect, nobody passed me, so I must have been doing better than I thought. However as far as I was concerned, I died on that section and would have to ride the remaining 160km or so from beyond the grave. A flat tyre at Kilcoy didn't help things.

The climb of the Peachester Range is almost as pretty as that of Mt Mee. It was also the last noteworthy climb of the day. It enabled me to recover from the earlier exertions and move forward. I started to feel better on that climb, the steeper sections weren't overly taxing, and there were enough false flats to recover from them regardless. I reached the summit and the "secret control" feeling much better.

Peachester range

It's a long, gradual descent of the Peachester Range from the eastern side. I'd dropped of the back of the group as I'd stopped to adjust my brakes. We were all "reunited" shortly after Beerwah, and rode on to the checkpoint at the edge of the Sunshine Coast 31km down the road. We probably lingered here longer than we should have done, but riding off with a group of five for the last 120km or so was going to be easier than doing it solo against that southerly wind. We set off and headed down through the Glasshouse Mountains in rapidly fading light. It was too dark for the normally obligatory photo from this section, so we pressed on.

Further south, we returned to Suburbia at Caboolture, after negotiating some patches of roadwork that seemed to upset everyone else more than it upset me. After the riding I'd had over the last couple of weekends, it was all pretty familiar to me. I seemed to be spending a lot more time on the front than I should have, but by this stage I was feeling pretty good, and didn't have any problems. To me, virtually all suburbs seem to blend in together, broken only by a checkpoint at Morayfield.

We detoured out through Redcliffe, Shorncliffe and Sandgate (not necessarily in that order). It was a waterfront ride that might have been pleasant in the daylight. It wasn't too bad in the evening, but it offered no protection against that southerly wind. There seemed to be a lot of yobbos around, more than last year. I was wearing a red jersey (which seems to set off Queenslanders but nobody else), but it was covered by a jacket that I'd put on earlier to deal with a rain shower. As it was, we negotiated the yobbos, the headwind and everything else to make our way back to Banyo much later than I'd anticipated, but at least the second part of the super series was completed, and no, it's not my slowest 300k.

Overall I had reason to be satisfied with the ride. It did take longer than I'd planned, but under the circumstances that prevailed, it was a decent effort. About the only thing I would do differently next year is have a few more rides exceeding 200km. My longest ride to date this year has been 208km, and I struggled on the finish of that one. I really should have found time to do a 250+km "repentence" ride in the Byron hinterland, but that's just a lesson to learn.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Closing the epic

Since my next major ride is just a day away, it's probably time to finish writing about last weekened. On Sunday Martin and I decided to head for the Tweed Valley once again, this time climbing on Brummies Road, a dirt road that climbs around 400 metres, with the gradient reaching 20% at one point. First of all though, we had to climb Tomewin again. From Tomewin it became apparent once again that most of this mist was clustered around the Tweed Valley, but this time it disappeared shortly after we hit the Valley floor.

Again, we had to head out through Chillingham and Tyalgum to get the ride properly started, but this time we took a short detour on a dirt road. It probably didn't add any distance, but it was prettier than the main road. More importantly, it added a few hills and an extremely refreshing creek crossing.

It was after climbing the rolling hills toward Tyalgum that the real ride started. It's a product of taking Swifts Road and Tyalgum Ridge road out of town, and into the Wollumbin National Park. Now the road climbs, varying between steady and steep over a spur of the Mt Warning range. Initially it passes through open farming country, before hitting the rainforest at the top. Much of the climb is just a long grind, it's all about continually working the mountain until it stops. However, the rewards are definitely there.

The ride across the top of the ridge offers it's own challenges, one in particular involves a creek crossing and a short but steep climb out. It's easy to have a minor crash there (I won't say anymore, lest I incriminate myself). This is then followed by a screaming decent back to the valley. This descent was made a little more troublesome by a few 4wd ruts in the road. It became fairly obvious on our return to the valley floor that someone had ignored the "road closed" sign to inflict this damage.

This road conveniently descends right into the prettiest part of the old Tweed Valley ride, and we lapped it up. There are some places that you just need to go and this is one of them. It has rainforest, creeks and streams, mountain views, just about everything a valley ride needs. The final part of the ride comes out near Mt Warning, ready for the final ride into Uki, and eventually home.

Uki is a pleasant place for a lunch stop, but we were soon on our way. With the main interest of the ride over, it was now a case of mopping up the likes of Stokers Siding, Murwillumbah, Bilambil and of course, Urliup, which always provides a pleasant diversion. I made a point of slaughtering Bilambil right at the end, in fact, I even eased up on the Urliup climb to conserve the energy to do it. Needless to say, that provided a final feeling of satisfaction to end what had been a spectacular weekend of riding.

Tomorrow I have a 300km randonee lined up north of Brisbane. Bring it on.