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..

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ultra vires

Martin and I set off at around 5.45am yesterday morning with the intention of discovering the real Mt Jerusalem. I had spent four years regularly riding over another mountain that I thought was the real one, only to discover at couple of months back that this wasn't the case, and that the real one was off to the south-west. Today would see a definitive answer to that. This time, the real Mt Jerusalem would be found, whatever it took.

As temperatures are now a little cooler, it was decided to start the ride through Urliup rather than finishing it there. I consider this to be the real start of the ride, coming 30km in as it does. It signifies the end of suburbia and the start of the interesting parts. We wound our way through the rainforest here, before descending into Murwillumbah, the negotiating 15km of low, rolling hills to Uki. It was here that the first climb of the day would effectively start, over the range formerly know as Mt Jerusalem, through the national park carrying the same name.

The Range formerly known as...

It was the first time I've climbed that range from this side, and the initial grind was tough, a consistent 10% grade on a rough dirt road. The view at the entrance to the national park provided ample reward. We continued to the top of the climb, through the forest, and onto the descent which would dump us 15km from Mullumbimby. For the first time ever, I actually passed Martin on a descent, something I've been trying to do for around five years. I was feeling strong today, and we arrived in Mullumbimby for food around 32 minutes earlier than expected, despite a headwind.


So now it was on to the climb of Wilson's Creek, and on to Huonbrook before taking the unsigned (and almost unmapped) track up the mountain. The Wilson's Creek/Huonbrook area is stunning in it's own right, and well worth the ride in and of itself, passing rushing creeks cloaked in rainforest. We found the turn-off for the climb out of the valley, but didn't see the second turn-off, and came to a dead-end overlooking some mountains. This led to backtracking and finding a different turn-off from Huonbrook road, which also turned out to be a false dawn.

Wrong turn, Clyde

Oscars Red Road through the rainforest

Now it was back to square one. Having come this far, we decided to ask for directions before giving up completely. Here, we were told that we had actually taken the right turn the first time, but there was another turn onto a track in the bush, which was the "road" we needed to take. We found our way back on to Oscars Red Road, as it's known by the locals, and discovered a muddy, overgrown track that was totally unrideable. Having come this far, we decided to walk until it levelled out at the top of the range. Here, we were rewarded with stunning views to the west over the countryside.

The view from Mt Jerusalem

The road down the mountain

The Nightcap range

Having finally reached the summit, we now faced a long, descent down a bumpy dirt road back into a little-known corner of the Tweed Valley. Hell-hole Falls can be accessed here, but that was a detour for another day. Today we were just enjoying the rolling green hills and the switchbacks on the dirt road as it wound around them on the valley floor. This was the sort of riding I could do forever, but after the delays in getting lost, and Martin suffering two flat tyres, we had to press on.

I know not the name of this rock

We found our way back to Uki from the South-west this time, and gorged on food that could be described as a combination of total rubbish. It's amazing what the body will call on for fuel in times like this. I had been having a particularly strong day, so I felt no reluctance to treat my body to whatever it wanted here. We headed back to Murwillumbah to commence the final climb of the day, the 355 metre push over Tomewin. The flowers on this mountain seem to be perpetually in bloom, and that thought inspired me to get over the mountain comfortably and surprisingly quickly so late in the day.

Flowers blooming on Tomewin

I had started the ride strongly, and was finishing it the same way. We mopped up the remains of Currumbin valley easily, and pushed our way through suburbia in fading light. At the end we both agreed it was one of the rides of the year, and yet at the finish I felt as though I could have easily done it again right away. It was yet another spectacular ride, discovering yet another beautiful corner of the world. I'm already thinking of a trip to Hell-hole falls in the near future. Watch this space.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Springing back

The bottom of Purling Brook Falls

Last weekend was designated as a change of pace. The change was a little more dramatic than I would have liked after picking up a head cold on Sunday, which forced the cancellation of the planned full-moon ride to Binna Burra. Saturday still provided the opportunity to escape to Springbrook for the day. I have a special relationship with that mountain, but on this day I was organising a bushwalk for my local group as an 'alternative' to the Lennox Head weekend that I couldn't make.

As it was, there were only three of us able to make it after some late cancellations, but it was a memorable day nonetheless. The intention was to walk the Twin Falls circuit before lunch, followed by a trip to Purlingbrook Falls, and Warringa Pool. The storms of earlier in the week didn't bring as much rain as hoped, but there was still some water around, and the drier conditions kept the leeches away.

Mt Gannon and surrounds

Twin falls

The Twin Falls walk was beautiful as always, but the real interest came 175 metres down the mountain at Purlingbrook Falls. The descent to the base of the falls was lovely as always, but today I was going to be walking out to Warringa Pool for the first time ever. That ultimately passed through some of the prettiest rainforest I've seen in the area, or anywhere else for that matter.

Purlingbrook Falls


Warringa Pool

One of the people on this walk had some information about some other walks to explore at the western end of Tallebudgera Valley, which are evidently more interesting than I had anticipated. Apparently the "private property" sign at Mt Cougal Road may not be as "private" as first thought, but I'll give that further consideration later. The day finished with afternoon tea at the Fudge shop, watching the clouds roll in, in preparation for another downpour presumably. It didn't rain on me, but there was a good soaking later that evening apparently.

Another memorable day. Now I just need to shake of this head cold in time for Martin and I to go in search of the real Mt Jerusalem this weekend. More on that later.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The first of Autumn

The Autumn leaves have arrived in this little corner of the world, lighting up parts of the countryside shades of red. In truth this webpage has probably missed out on the greatest display, as I left my camera at home for Saturday's 100km warm up. I made no such mistake the next day.

I opened with the almost customary climb over the Macpherson Range at Tomewin before continuing south through Murwillumbah and Uki, where this ride really starts. The rolling hills of the Tweed Valley offer a seemingly eternal blanket of green, and Mt Warning a.k.a Wollumbin or "Cloud Maker" almost always lives up to it's name early in the morning. Today I was pushing against a south-westerly wind, but the rolling hills effectively killed it. 76km from home is the Cadell Road turn off to Mebbin National Park, now it was time to climb again.

In truth, this climb could be best referred to as "rolling", but each roll gains height, some of them steeply, and virtually all of them on dirt. At the higher points, the scenery seems to have difficulty choosing between rainforest or spectacular mountain views. This time I could look upon the Border Ranges differently, having visited there relatively recently. These climbs are followed by a screaming descent, this time made a little more treacherous by some loose gravel that some bright spark had dumped on the road. They almost qualified for a Tosspot of the Week award, except that it happens so often in these parts.

I continued through the gravel, over more rolling hills, before climbing out of the campground, beyond the National Park, and back to Brays Creek Road on the old Tweed Valley ride. This really is familiar territory now, but always beautiful. A large portion of the dirt road has now been sealed, but even that can't detract from the beauty of this area. There's little wonder that I've spent so much time here in recent years.

Beyond this really remains little to tell. The south-westerly wind was still hanging around when I came out of the forest and headed north for the ride home, with the traditional Stokers Siding detour. A brief shower came through at Urliup, but didn't stay around for long, and the tailwind on the ride home meant that i made short work of what was left of the 179km day. Another day, another pretty century. I'm still left wondering if we'll actually get a 'winter' this year. So far I've seen nothing to indicate it's likely to happen.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tosspot of the week

This edition goes to the idiot in the hotted up heap of shit with the vapid "Nismo" plates on Bundall Road yesterday morning. He broke about 55 different traffic laws in a totally futile display of hooning, engine revving and general stupidity, which did absolutely nothing to prevent him from being OWNED by the gridlock. One of my greatest moments of satisfaction is riding past gridlocked idiots who have spent lots of money on the ability to go really fast, and yet are just as stuck as the rest of the suckers. If all the media whining about fuel prices is even moderately accurate, this guy is probably an additional $20 out of pocket for his efforts. It's just a shame Queensland doesn't have a police force, he'd probably be a few thousand dollars poorer if traffic fines were applied.

There's no ownage; like self ownage,
like no ownage; I know...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The lost weekend

About the only nice thing I can find to say about the weekend passed is that it's over, and that whatever happens next weekend will almost certainly constitute an improvement. Having already been forced to cancel a long-weekend tour, I now had little time or motivation for riding due to a death in my family. With my mind on other things, I basically just didn't feel like it.

I did force myself into a ride of around 110km yesterday on The Black Magic, at least I think it was around that figure. I can't actually be sure because my cycle computer was only working intermittently. If all the external factors were removed, it was just about the perfect day for a ride. The temperatures were cool, the air was crisp and clear, and most of the yobbos either surfaced late or were heading in the opposite direction.

Urliup creek

It was when passing through Urliup that I had a profound realisation brought on by a combination of the rainforest and events of the previous 24 hours. When someone close to you departs, it makes you consider your own life in a different context. This person passed away at a time when they were making plans to travel, to explore different places, to move on to another phase of their life, and yet they fell agonisingly short of those goals.

In Urliup's rainforest yesterday, it dawned on me that I take many of these things for granted. For all the complaining I do about "bogans", "yobbos" and "tosspots of the week", I have an extremely fortunate existence. I have my health, I live in a beautiful part of the world, and at different times in my life, I've had good people to guide me when I could have made wrong decisions. I was also reminded that we should always focus on the things we think are important, because life is a gift that we all enjoy only for a limited time. It's such a waste to expend that time on things we don't consider important just to try to impress others.

Mt Warning from Tomewin

Further along the ride I followed Glengarrie "road" across the Tomewin ridge, and had my fifth minor crash for the year in as many months. I really need to get a handle on this -- one of these days I might actually lose some skin if I keep this up. Further on, a centipede tried to hitch a ride on one of my gloves -- and that was about as exciting as the day ever was.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Border Ranging

Mt Warning and the Tweed Valley from The Pinnacle

It was only on a spur of the moment that I opted for this tour, the plan was to delay the proposed Crows Nest tour by a week. As it turned out, the Crows Nest tour had to be cancelled (yet again) because of mechanical problems with my bike. I'll make it happen eventually. That wasn't going to stop me completing this ride last weekend, however. I had varying options for travelling over the familiar terrain this side of Murwillumbah, so I opted for the early climb over Tomewin to start the day. I had the company of a local rider I met at the bottom of the climb, and plenty of time to talk touring. I received another recommendation on North Queensland (among other things). I must give that some serious thought.

Tweed Valley waterfall

The Tweed Valley opened up after the climb, I parted with my companion at Murwillumbah, and continued south-west, through the lush greenery of the valley, onward toward Kyogle. This is a very pretty ride, but one that I've completed a few times from the other direction in completing tours. Yet it's one that I never tire of. I watched a rain shower move across Mt Burrell and the Border Ranges National Park after lunch, and started the climb of the Nightcap Range.

The temperature cooled at the top of the range as the rain arrived. It was light rain, and not enough to make me bother with a jacket, but I did appreciate the drop in temperature. A new backpackers' has opened at Wadeville, behind the local store (Wadeville Woolies). I considered taking a campsite here, but opted against it on the grounds that Kyogle was a better base for attacking the Border Ranges climb from the west.

the view toward Mt Burrell

A leech dropped from a tree, but was displaced before it had time to take a bite. Further on I descended into Cawongla, and slogged up the 11% rise out of the village onto the Mackellar Range. It had been over 12 months since I last noted this particular climb, and the gradient took some adjustment. In time it was conquered, and followed by a lazy descent into Kyogle. Here there is a plaque for Ray Smith, commemorated at a local lookout. It seems Ray Smith's only notable claim to fame was that in 1968 he was "accidentally killed". More information would have been nice, but the plaque disclosed nothing else.

Ray Smith lookout, Kyogle

A miracle happened in Kyogle. For the first time ever (as far as I can recall), the local supermarket was actually open. It has been closed every other time I've been in town, and I was beginning to wonder if it had opening hours at all. Although it was still fairly early in the afternoon, already the conversations between drunks in Kyogle were almost entirely composed with four-letter words. I thought it better to retire to my local campground on the northern edge of town where travellers might provide some more intelligent and enlightening conversation.

* * * * * * * *

This was the day of the return to the Border Ranges National Park. It would see a climb of some 1,100 metres, some beautiful rainforests, and a lot of dirt. I rode the first 15km or so out of Kyogle without any excitement. The temperature was warming quickly, but I was planning on picking up some altitude quickly and making this irrelevant. A couple of South Africans on a motorbike asked for directions back to the Gold Coast, then took the long way over the range in any case. At least they didn't stop and argue for an hour the way local bogans do here on the GC.

I had this view from a plateau around 400 metres above sea level, the climb was still to come

The road turned to dirt, then to mud as the climb kicked in, with one particularly steep section (17%) by a quarry before I entered the National Park. I saw a sign pointing to a side road back to the Lions Tourist Road, and wondered if the South Africans would take the really long way home. The climb kicked up to around 7% -- not normally a problem, but the muddy track presented some difficulties. This was where those long rides with Martin made the difference. I reached a creek crossing after a sharp descent, and headed off on foot in search of Selva Falls.


The beautiful Selva Falls

My bushwalking skills had improved immensely since my last visit to this region in 2001, and the track was negotiated easily despite the wet, slippery conditions. I seemed to outrun the leeches too. I think experiences like this are what living is all about, a beautiful rainforest setting, a rough, overgrown walking track that requires intense concentration, a combination of factors that leave many of the things in the "real world" behind. Yet for all that, there are still people who stay in the carpark without doing the walk. Incredible!

Lost world

Now it was time to get back on the bike and return to climbing. I had descended to around 720 metres for this walk, so I had to climb again, up to the northern end of the park, and the Lost World wilderness. This area shares a boundary with Lamington National Park immediately on the other side of the Queensland border, and there is, by all accounts, a rough walking track linking the two. Now that would be an adventure. Yet the view "over" the Lost World is strangely disappointing, almost as if it fails to do justice to the spectacular, wild areas that surely lie within.

Tweed Valley Lookout, clearly showing the pinnacle attached

And so I continued, over rolling hills on the dirt road toward the eastern side of the escarpment. I now felt gratitude that I had a lighting system capable of finishing this ride in darkness should it be required -- I wanted time to really enjoy this one. There seemed to be a strange scent to the forest here, it reminded me of some of the moisturisers I've used to relieve sunburn after rides past. Perhaps some of their ingredients are sourced from rainforests, I'll never know. The Tweed Valley lookout proved that the "pinnacle" was, in fact, attached to the plateau. An optical illusion on a previous Tweed Valley ride had suggested this wasn't the case.

The Pinnacle lookout

After proving that the "pinnacle" (around 200 metres lower than the mountain's highest point), I was now under a moral obligation to climb it and take in the view. It was, indeed, spectacular, as were all the other views from this side of the escarpment, stretching for hundreds of kilometres. It really is a great way to get a different perspective of some of the areas I regularly travel that give me so much pleasure. And yet, even now, this day wasn't finished.

My legs had some complaints about the final climb to The Bar Mountain over the mud, which was still rather slippery, but the scenery provided plenty of inspiration, and left plenty of oxygen in the air. The Bar Mountain itself ultimately proved a disappointment. Walking tracks branched off from a picnic ground here, but I could find no mention of the Collins Creek Falls that I'd read about elsewhere. That will have to wait for another day, but there was still one final twist in this tale. If the local graffiti "artist" at the picnic ground ever reads this, s/he would be advised to learn how to spell the words before trying to write them -- what exactly are "hippeys"?

Hanging Rock creek falls

I descended, nay, plummeted down the mountain at a gradient-inspired speed that really was much too fast, losing a pair of sunglasses in the process, but somehow surviving, then I completely ignored the signs directing me to Kyogle and headed off down another route. If a map I had seen at the Sphinx Rock cafe the previous day was correct, I could find another waterfall. It all fell into place beautifully, and after a beautiful, deserted ride by a creek, I discovered an unsigned waterfall, small but pretty and totally uncluttered. It provided a great finish to a memorable day.

I returned to the main road near Cawongla, rode over that 11% climb again, and returned to Kyogle with over 2,200 metres of climbing in around 104km. It was a taxing but extremely rewarding day, and one that I may yet make an annual fixture on my calendar. Northern NSW truly offers some of the best cycling in Australia. Incidentally, that takeaway joint in Kyogle's main street that advertises pasta doesn't actually sell it. Given that it's been about two years since they last did, they should probably consider removing the sign.

* * * * * * * *

Mt Burrell and The Sphinx

Now all that was left was the final ride back to the Gold Coast to complete the weekend. I've done this many times over, and yet those two initial climbs out of Kyogle remain a challenge. Either that, or the previous day's ride took more out of me than I was prepared to admit. I got over the climbs and descended my way into the Tweed Valley, before negotiating the rolling hills toward Murwillumbah.

There are all sorts of little surprises in the Tweed Valley, and not all of them are natural features. A rather large property near Uki had a big "No Nightcap Dam" sign at their front gate, and a tee-pee in their back yard. There was quite a pile of other stuff there too, including a couple of caravans and various junk accumulated over an apparently long time. A couple of motorbike riders wanted to have a chat as I rode along. It was nice to have a chat, but it's hard to speak at a volume loud enough to drown out their motor and save enough breath to keep pedalling. Maybe next time I'll pull over.

After Uki the northerly wind picked up, which increased the temperature and slowed my progress. Fortunately, I had the option of returning home via Urliup, which threaded a needle through more rainforest and eliminated both the heat and the rainforest. After negotiating Bilambil and the last 25km of suburbia, it was done. Another memorable cycling weekend was completed. As noted before, this weekend's Crows Nest tour is delayed, probably until next month now, but there will be other fish to fry in coming weekends. I also have a 400k to prepare for, probably on the weekend following the Crows Nest tour (assuming it goes ahead this time). Bring it on.