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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Monday, July 28, 2008


Goomoolahra, Springbrook

I am convinced that mountains are the greatest thing in the world. For me there is nothing that quite matches the thrill of conquering a big climb, and taking in a spectacular view at the summit, the reward for the hard work. Yet I also find the physical release of taking on the mountain to be rewarding in and of itself too. Then there are also the changing vistas along the climb, the different views offered at different points of a switchback road. Yes, mountains are the greatest thing in the world.

Best of all Lookout, Springbrook

Anyone who caught any of the Tour de France over the last couple of weeks would have marvelled at the spectacular scenery of the Alps, and some of the super-human efforts to climb those passes. While there is nothing in Australia that can really hold a candle to the Alps, I've been making the best of what I had in recent times. The nearest noteworthy climbs in this part of the world are Springbrook (soon to be featured in a magazine article if I have anything to do with it) and Binna Burra. Two climbs very different in character, but equally beautiful in their own way.

Orchids in bloom on Springbrook

Springbrook is the more direct climb, passing through stunning rainforest, only really offering the views at the summit. Binna Burra on the other hand, is different, climbing steadily onto the Beechmont Range, then rolling across the plateau offering sweeping views in all directions before taking to the rainforest for the final climb. As I said, two beautiful climbs so different in character. There are times when I can't decide between the two, and seek a way to fit both into my schedule. With habits like that, perhaps it's just as well I don't live in the Alps. I probably wouldn't find time for anything else.

Rosins Lookout, Beechmont

Hinze Dam from Lower Beechmont

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Songs with a spiritual link to bike touring

Lake St Clair, Tasmania, January 2004

I made the following post in reply to a thread on this topic at For whatever reason, I thought it worthy of a blog post.

For me the answer usually depends on which CD I had on high rotation immediately before/after the tour in question. Yet there are a few individual tracks that stand out.On my first tour across northern New South Wales in Australia it was "Weir" from Killing Heidi. There seemed to be something about breaking free and taking a risk that I got from that song, perfectly suited to a first tour. 18 months later, when I was riding across the high plateau near Queen Mary Falls in Queensland, the song was "History" from the Verve. It always takes me back to that ride, as does "Storm Clouds" from the same CD -- largely because that day ended with a sudden downpour.

"Pink Bullets" from The Shins reminds me of those tranquil, overcast days on Tasmania's East Coast -- especially Triabunna and Maria Island. In fact, most of the tracks on that album ("Chute's Too Narrow") take me back to some part of Tasmania. "We Are A Brutal Kind" came up on the West Coast, and when one takes a look at some of the damage to the natural environment around Queenstown, it's easy to understand. I actually missed seeing them play in Brisbane because I was flying to Hobart to start the tour on the same weekend.

Have a listen to "Building Bridges, Digging Caves" from The Boat People for a song that perfectly encapsulates riding along the west coast of New Zealand's South Island, or at least it does in my mind. Then there was the Glaswegian band Travis who's big hit was "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?". Imagine hearing that in a Scottish pub near the end of a month-long tour during which you've been rained on almost every day (true story). Some of the songs on their latest album also come to mind when I think back on that tour -- particularly "Battleships" and "Selfish Jean" (no, I don't know why). There's also that song from the Manic Street Preachers called "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough". I first heard that on the flight from Australia to the UK, and listened to it several times, so that song now seems to be permanently associated with that trip. It was also appropriate as I was feeling a little unlucky in love at the time, but that's another story.

And finally (at last I hear you say), there were two different Manic Street Preachers albums that hark back to my two tours in Victoria, Australia. In Western Victoria it was songs like Epicentre (when I was riding away from the coast across the plains and rolling hills toward the centre), Freedom Of Speech Won't Feed My Children, Let Robeson Sing and The Year Of Purification (I could name half a dozen other songs from Know Your Enemy if I really wanted to). For some reason, "Outside of Me" from Killing Heidi came up on the Great Ocean road. I'm almost certain that was just a matter of which CD I was listening to at the time.

In 2004, in Eastern Victoria, there was one particular Manics track -- "Solitude", that seemed to express a solo tour perfectly ("Solitude sometimes is"), and also "Cardiff Afterlife" from the same album. That tour also came as I was discovering Sarah Blasko, and tracks like Sweet November (the tour was in November), Cinders (one of my all time favourite songs) and Perfect Now. Perfect Now seems appropriate because for me it suggests falling in love with something/someone, but somehow knowing that you can't stay there, and knowing that the view you have of it at that moment is idealised and the reality could never match up with it.

I'm sure that several others will leap to mind shortly after I press the "publish post" button. In the meantime, any tourers who read this might like to add some of their own to the comments section.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chris L takes on Henri Robert

The name "Henri Robert Drive" tends to send a chill up the spine of the majority of Gold Coast cyclists. I've heard a lot of "war stories" from people who have attempted to climb that particular approach to Mt Tamborine, but none who have succeeded. I'm sure there are others who have conquered it successfully, but for some reason I've only heard about those who failed. On Saturday morning I made a "spur of the moment" (i.e. I didn't feel like Wongawallan) decision to do something about that.

I'd spent the latter part of last week nursing a sore neck which was still only around 60%. I figured that I wouldn't need to turn my neck too many times on the climb, so I wasn't expecting a major hindrance. I took a nice, gentle ride through Nerang, Mt Nathan and Clagiraba to the start, and prepared for the climb by removing the leg warmers that I'd started the day with. I wouldn't be needing those anymore. I thought about removing the jacket too, but as it was still only 7 degrees C, I decided to stick with that for the moment.

The climb began gradually before hitting a "parabola" (i.e. a steadily increasing gradient) before zooming up steeply. I hauled a full touring load up a hill on the Isle of Skye last year that was 31% -- this felt even steeper. For the first time in my life, my pedalling speed fell below 6km/h, but I refused to stop pedalling. I wasn't going to let this one go under any circumstances. The gradient simply couldn't continue forever, and after around 1.5km, it started to ease, becoming almost flat around 500 metres later.

Now I was virtually on the mountain, but my altimeter told me to expect more climbing. There was one final kick, it was signed as 800 metres at 18%, but it didn't feel that difficult, and I had arrived. Despite all the hype about this climb, it felt like something of an anti-climax to actually reach the summit. It could have been the fact that it really was a short climb, but I couldn't understand why a lot of others had simply given up on it. For my part, I still had a full two hours to kill before meeting with friends for a short hike through the rainforest, and a tour of a glow worm cave, so I just pottered around on the mountain for a while.

The hike was interesting, if anti-climactic due to the closures of the side tracks. The glow worm tour was probably the highlight of the day, it was nice to learn something about the creatures I've been observing on my night time rainforest rides for years. That said, learning that they have cannibalistic tendencies when food (usually insects) is short makes me think differently, even if just about every other species on Earth has shown similar tendencies when desperation strikes.

The only thing left was a late afternoon ride home. I took the back way through Maudsland to avoid the idiots that would almost certainly have been filling Sufferer's Parasite by that time. It was extremely pleasant. Someone, somewhere was mapping a hike through another part of the Hinterland, which has given me cause to wonder about another region to explore. One day...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tosspot of the week

This week's clear winner is the Catholic Archbishop George Pell, who apparently hasn't taken his head out of his arse for long enough to see the problems his own country (much less the rest of the world) caused by overpopulation. He seems to think we need more people. Has this idiot not bothered to look around himself? Does he not think the world's resources are already stretched enough?

Does he not think there are enough homeless and starving children in places like Africa and India? Does he not think there have been enough wars fought around the world over increasingly scarce resources? Has he not noticed that EVERY Australian State Capital city bar one is facing a future of severe long-term water shortages -- the one exception being Hobart, which just happens to be the least populated? He's already proclaimed his ignorance of the larger global issues of climate change, so it's not surprising to see that he's overlooked the principle cause (i.e. rampant pollution stemming from the fact that the world has TOO MANY PEOPLE).

"No Western country is producing enough babies to keep the population stable, no Western country," Cardinal Pell said. "In many cases there is an increase in divorce and there is an increase in serial monogamy.

"Ruthless commercial forces are telling young people that this is the way forward, that this is the modern way, and they remain totally silent on the difficulty and damage this does to marriage and family life."

How does this idiot think that simply making more babies is going to ease or halt "relentless commercial pressures" or stem the "increase in divorce"? If all the whining in the media is to be believed, the average Australian family is already having enough trouble with inflation and the cost of living generally -- how is another mouth (or mouths) to feed going to fix this? How are more children from broken homes and divorced parents going to fix "marriage and family life"?

If this guy really gave a flying f*ck about those issues, he'd be telling people NOT to rush into marriage and children until they were SURE it was what they really wanted, and were prepared to COMMIT to the 25 years that it takes for children to grow up and leave home these days. It looks to me like he has another agenda, most likely more children that his kind can brainwash into following their misguided and destructive ways. Or maybe he just wants more little boys to fiddle with, he doesn't seem terribly repentant or apologetic for that at the moment, nor terribly concerned for the victims.

It really astonishes me that someone who claims to be a man of God can have such little respect for God's creation (and I'm talking about the world and it's resources here, something our species is chewing through at an alarming rate with our rampant breeding). Fortunately, it seems that not everyone is falling for it, with one Christian coworker of mine describing the whole "World Youth Day" shenanigans (how does World Youth "Day" last for a week?) as "not a Christian event". The more I think about it, the more I agree with her.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Spring has arrived

The flowers bloom

Spring arrived in this little part of the world on Sunday. I decided that 180km would be a worthwhile way to celebrate the occasion. On this particular day I was well and truly overdressed for the occasion, and that may have been a problem later. For the early part of the ride, however, I satisfied myself with a blast over the Macpherson range at Tomewin, before a descent into the Tweed Valley and a continued push south through the eternally green rolling hills.

Further south I came upon the turn off for Cadell Road. I've often wondered if someone tried to pre-emptively name this road after Cadel Evans, but if so they apparently lacked spelling skills. The ride back from here is, however, a delight to behold, first climbing steadily to yield great views of Mt Warning on one side, and the Border Ranges on the other, before a twisting descent through the rainforest of Mebbin National Park.

Mebbin National Park

Here follows one of the prettiest rides in the area, a ride truly worth savouring everytime. The ride alternates between rainforest, rolling green farmland, a bubbling stream and even a couple of waterfalls. My exit from the National Park indicated that the early morning southerly wind had become a northerly, meaning a headwind both ways. I attacked it earlier, but erred in that I chose not to gorge on Junk food to replenish salt and glucose at Uki. I would pay for that later.

I returned to Murwillumbah via Stokers siding on the detour, but by the start of the climb of Urliup I knew I was in trouble. I crested over the climb and continued, taking respite on the descent through more rainforest along the winding dirt road. This too, is truly a wonderful part of the world, as if I haven't said that before.


The climb of Bilambil to "celebrate" the return to suburbia seemed to take forever - and that's probably because it did! It may have been my worst performance on that climb in a decade. I made it over the top in a pitifully low gear, descended, and realising I was short on either salt or glucose, gorged on foods likely to provide both at the first service station I found. This replenished me quickly, and I managed to find form over the last 25km, being joined by an old friend unexpectedly for the last 10 or so.

The first day of spring has yielded a lot of beauty, but also a valuable lesson. I intend to take both on board.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tosspot of the week

It was quite a hot field this week, but the award is handed out jointly to every braindead moron in Queensland who has this annoying and dangerous habit of stopping dead in the middle of intersections or roundabouts (traffic circles for those in the US) for no readily apparent reason. I say "every braindead moron in Queensland" because I'm yet to see or hear of this catching on anywhere else in the world. It may also go part of the way to explaining why Queensland continually tops the national road toll in Australia year after year.

Guys, it's quite simple, make your decision before you enter the intersection, not half way through. If you still can't decide, pull over to the side of the road before entering the intersection to ponder your next move. If the thought that you might actually have to share the road with someone else really intimidates you that much, move to Weipa. In short, if you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen; if you don't understand the road rules and the rules of acting decisively and predictably, then just F*CK OFF!

Honourable mention this week goes to those two "cyclists" I've seen riding the wrong way around roundabouts in the darkness of the evening commute with nary lights, nor reflectors, nor bright clothing of any kind. Fortunately, my $600 lighting system illuminated them when I needed to be illuminated (and when they were incapable of it themselves), but the principles of the previous paragraph apply here too. This situation gives further ammunition to my scribblings of almost two years ago.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Dam it all...

Clarrie Hall Dam

Sunday's plan was to set off in search of Hell Hole Falls, believed to be somewhere in the south-western vicinity of Uki. The rain from the previous day and early in the morning here was expected to fill the falls with plenty of water and scare the tourists away, and it seemed like the perfect time to do it. A flat tyre inside the first 10km dampened my enthusiasm a bit, but that was soon patched and I was on my way again.


I climbed over tomewin, attacking the early steep pinch, to take a more scenic route into the Tweed Valley. This is one of my favourite passes, particularly the stretch across the top before the steep descent into the valley below. The rain returned in the Tweed Valley, the temperature dropping to 11 degrees C, yet beyond Uki, where the ride really started, the skies started to clear, leaving only remnants of cloud hovering around Mt Warning. It was time to move on to the next phase.

There is another world to explore in the area around the locality of Doon Doon. Today I would take a slightly different route, to Clarrie Hall Dam, then Commissioners Creek Road, then Rockface road, hopefully finding the falls at the end. It didn't quite happen that way. First of all, the turn off from Commissioners Creek Road had a different name for the first 100 metres or so, meaning that I followed that road for longer than I should have, finally backtracking, finding my way to Rockface road, and commencing the climb on the rutted dirt road.

The road continued to climb, the turn off to the right that was supposed to lead straight to the falls was fenced off as "private property", almost certainly illegally. I'm sure there's a "tosspot of the week" post there, but I have another nomination in mind for that right now. As it was, I continued to climb, realising that I probably wouldn't reach the falls, but might find the summit of the climb anyway. The climb continued, levelling out in places, but generally continuing to gain height, while offering no views.

At the northern face of the mountain there was an intersection, and a heap of wildflowers. The "road" turning off to the East went straight into the valley below, but I decided to press on with the climb, wanting to finish it off. It crested at around 460 metres above sea level before starting a gentle descent. The gentle decent would have been nice to continue, but it wasn't to be. I soon found the end of the "road" and the start of a "trail", where the final destination became obvious.

The final descent to the wall at the northern end of Clarrie Hall Dam was too steep to even consider riding in the muddy conditions. Even walking was treacherous enough. At one point I used the brakes to lock up the wheels of the bike completely, and it still slid down at walking pace. Eventually it was negotiated, and I was left with a simple ride home. I grabbed more food back in Uki, before taking the "conventional" route via Murwillumbah, Urliup and Bilambil. A few squalls of rain along the way made the return interesting, but I was able to negotiate it comfortably enough.

The only option left for finding these falls is now via the old Mt Jerusalem, with a detour from another map that I have seen. This ride was rewarding in and of itself for other reasons, but I still intend to find those falls one way or another.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Stinson track, Christmas Creek

The day after this ride, and continuing on this seemingly endless quest to bring this blog up to date, the day after the adventurous night ride saw one of the most incredible walking experiences of the year to date. The initial objective was the 6km ride to the start of the track. It was actually quite a bit hillier than I'd expected, and thus took a little longer to cover. I was in no hurry, as the group I was walking with weren't arriving until 9am, meaning that I'd had time to sleep in, then amble across the pretty ride at a snail's pace.

There were 13 of us in the group, following the track first to the grave of James Westray, a crash survivor (more on that later), and then on to Larapinta Falls. The early part of the walk set the tone, with the track criss-crossing the creek several times (the creek now swollen with the previous evening's storm), with some rather interesting footwork required at times. Whatever we had to go through, the surroundings made it worthwhile.

Several decades ago, a mail plane attempting a flight from Brisbane to Sydney had crashed in the middle of this wilderness. Of the seven people on board, three had been killed instantly. Of the four survivors, one (James Westray) had some hiking experience in the UK, and decided to attempt to tramp his way through the forest to a local farm for help. He would never be seen alive again.

Westray's Grave

In the meantime, the official search by whichever organisation was responsible at the time was called off. A local farmer, a member of the O'Reilly family (after whom a nearby mountain resort was named) decided to do his own search. It's believed that he stood atop a mountain, and noticed a fallen branch on a tree several kilometres away, and calculated that this was caused by the plane falling from the sky. Incredible as it might seem, he went to the location and found the three remaining survivors.

As they made their way out of the forest (now with an experienced navigator leading the way), they found the body of James Westray. Evidently he'd fallen down a waterfall, but still continued until he reached a place alongside Christmas Creek. It's believed that he stopped for a cigarette, and died while smoking it (I said it was a health hazard). His grave marks the spot. I don't know if it was any consolation at the time, but he did spend his final moments in some incredible surroundings.

Our intrepid group continued upstream, the track disappearing after the grave site. We were left rockhopping creek crossings, and surveying the ground to find the smoothest passage. It's possible that a few mistakes were made, but most of those were apparently corrected on the return by the same route. Along the way I found a new way to deal with a leech. When I took off a shoe to check for leeches, I found a dead one inside. There's probably a certain element of bad blood between myself and the leech population of the world, but this was taking things a bit far, even for me.

Several waterfalls were passed, en route to the big one, the famous Larapinta falls. The final part of the trek became considerably rougher, and our "official" leader decided she wouldn't make the final push. It was rather difficult, but pleasant all the same. I managed to twist an ankle, but not enough to compromise my ride home the next day. Whatever happened along the way, the final result was worth it.

Larapinta Falls

The walk back, being downhill along a route that we "knew" (sort of) was considerably quicker and less eventful than the climb had been. The most notable event was the local leech population attempting revenge on my right foot for the earlier death of their comrade -- I counted ten of them. Now it was time to say goodbye to the rainforest (until my next visit at least), and while the remainder of the group headed for the Beaudesert pub, I opted for a leisurely ride back to the Stinson Park campground, and another evening by the campfire. This time I'd use it to get my shoes dry (which had been drenched on some of the creek crossings). A pleasant way to end yet another amazing day. This is what living is all about.