Friday, November 2, 2018

Hunting For Inspiration Plus Some Island Magic

Well, October went in the blink of an eye and here we are at the pointy end of November! My 2018 Great Cycle Challenge sort of fizzled into a piss-weak effort due in part to a lack of mojo and a fairly busy work schedule. To be totally honest, every time I got on my bike to ride I would think "WTF am I doing this for?" It just felt like work. The usual joy of riding just simply wasn't (and still isn't) there. I am guessing I probably finished near the back end of the fundraising list. (edit: fark! Of the 13265 riders registered, only 5636 rider actually raised any money! I didn't do too bad then at 4516th place.....)
I can't blame motorcycles for this lack of enjoyment as I haven't really felt like riding them either, so I am not sure what is going on.

I thought I had a cunning plan to use October as a big kilometre training month to help me build fitness for the Hunt 1000 bikepacking ride being held near the end of November. I certainly doesn't feel like that has worked out and to further rub salt into the wound, our rosters were delayed by four days over the weekend and I note now on the Hunt website that registrations have closed. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018


I am now 12 days into my Great Cycle challenge and I have been really struggling for motivation to do my nominated kilometres. 1000km isn’t anything to sneeze at but by the same token, I knocked out 1600km last October, rather effortlessly, for this same great cause. (Well, maybe it wasn’t effortlessly but I can’t remember it being this hard).

Redland Bay

I am coming off the back of a vicious bout of man flu and I am trying to grab easy kilometres by riding my road bike. This might explain why I am lacking some motivation but worryingly, I just haven’t felt like riding my bike. Yesterday I faffed around most of the day until it rained (which I knew was coming) and then told myself “well, you can’t ride now”, letting myself off the hook but putting myself a further 33km behind schedule.

Today sees me needing 396km in the bag but I am languishing on 279km. 
Pardon my French but - Fuck!

What is wrong with me? I’m just not enjoying this like I normally would. I really hate saying I will do something and not following through. But following that line of thinking is making it feel like work, not pleasure.

Options when on the road.....

I am off at work again today. Up at 3am, at least it was an easy day (a mere 8 hours for a change) and I decided to just go “meh” on the Great Cycle Challenge. If I manage the kilometres good-o, but if I don’t? Well, tough titties. I will continue to ride as much as I can but if I have to use a gym bike to keep my training on track and my motivation up, so be it. If you would like to help pump up my motivation feel free to donate a little here.

Maybe I didn’t mention a little ride I have my eyes on in late November.......... 
Time for an uppercut!


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Pedalling For A Great Cause

Hey-ho regular readers. It is October again and that can only mean one thing. 
The Great Cycle Challenge.

I have nominated to ride 1000km again this October to help raise funds to find a cure for kids cancer. That means I ride 33km per day, every day for the month of October. 

Not my usual bag, but its for a great cause.

Great! You say, thats easy, right? Well, I have had a dose of the deadly man-flu these last 12 days and have been laid up as a result. Don't panic, all indications are that I am pulling through but it was a close scrape!

How does that effect my 1000km target? Well, it means I missed kicking off Day I with a decent ride. This time last year I was 205km along the way to the 1000km. Here we are at Day II and my total is a measley 37km. I am already behind the 8 ball.

I will do my best to get back on track ASAP. If anyone feels like chipping in to sponsor me that would be greatly appreciated and remember, it is tax deductible for us Aussies.

Alternately, I challenge you folks out there in Bloggerland to ride 33km once a week, all in one hit, each week for the month of October. 
Yup, you can either donate (please) or you can reap the benefit of feeling what 33km feels like, only you don't have to do it day after day. Just 4 times for the month will suffice.

You never know. You might just like dig those pushys out!


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

New Boots

This adventure bike means that I will be heading off the beaten track a bit more. I really don't want to wreck my road riding gear by taking it into the dirt and anyway, bits of that kit are designed for off road use anyway.

Take my boots for example. 
My road boots are Sidi  Vertigos that I bought way back here. They are great on the road bike but they will get trashed in the bush. I began looking for some suitable replacements about a month ago. I wanted something that could be walked in, as well as providing decent protection. Waterproof would be nice but at the end of the day, nothing is truly waterproof so that wasn't a deal breaker.
I liked the look of the Forma Adventure boots but couldn't find any to try on locally(or at the right price).

Forma Adventure boot.

 I did find an end of stock TCX Track boot that was at a good price at one of the local bike shops. It was my size but I wanted one size larger to allow for foot sewlling when my feet get hot (because it will get hot in Oz) so I left them be.

TCX Track boot

I tried on some AlpineStar Corizal boots at the AMA Warehouse and liked the fit, style and the way the buckles latched but they didn't have the right size either.
Searching around the interwebs I found a pair in the size I needed (US10) at BikeBiz in Sydney (at a much cheaper price too!). A few clicks of a keyboard and they were winging their way north to me.

First wear of the boots was on last week's Tenterfield ride.

AlpineStars Corizal boots.

This is what they look like after two days riding.

Good looking(IMHO) and comfortable almost right away.

 Initially, they were very stiff which made it hard to brake or change gear but they very quickly softened to allow the right amount of movement. Hopefully this doesn't mean they won't have enough ankle protection but in saying that, I didn't want a pair of MX boots that would be all protection and no walking comfort. There is always compromise somewhere if you want them to be real world comfortable.

Not sure about the waterproof abilities yet as this wasn't really very testing weather, nor was the crossing deep. My feet felt nice and cool though as the water splashed the boots.

I was a smidge nervous about going AlpineStars again as the last pair of AlpineStars road boots I had (admittedly, bought in 1998), the sole came off. So did the sole of my Bro's last pair of AlpineStars. His were of similar vintage (SMX I think) so lets hope in the  last decade and a half  er, TWO DECADES (shit has it been that long?!!) their quality has improved somewhat.
I will keep you updated on what these boots are like in the long run.

The next bit of kit I want is a well ventilated adventure jacket/suit. My RST suit, being black, is just too hot to stand around in and shows the dust terribly. I suddenly understand why most of the adventure suits are some form of browny-beige! Watch this space as I search out a suitable er...suit...but don't expect a BMW product. I don't plan on selling a kidney to buy one.....

I didn't realise it at the time but my last post was the 400th since I started this blog back in 2010! I wonder how many original readers there are? Rarer than Unicorn poo I would imagine!?


Damn! I loved that bike AND those boots!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Exploring New Roads And Remembering The Fallen

Again, I had some days off during the week and with crackingly great weather, thought it would be criminal to waste it by doing nothing (or staying at home if you like). Following on from the aviation theme of my last motorcycling post I had read of a roadside memorial to two RAAF pilots who had lost their lives in an F111 training accident near Tenterfield back in 1987. I decided that I wanted to pay my respects and designed a route around that location. The route would also be largely new-to-me roads too, making it an interesting prospect.

The route

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Day In The Dirt - Down Under

What the hell is A Day In The Dirt I hear you ask?
Well, click on that link and it will take you to the original US of A website for the ADITD and all will be explained. Except the bit about Down Under that is. Basically, someone (Red Bull?) decided that it would be a good idea to host a version of this weekend of everything dirtbike down here in Oztraylia. Hence, A Day In The Dirt Down Under (ADITDDU) was born.

I happened to stumble across it as a mate of mine works for one of the sponsors, Lusty Enterprises, importers of (sweet looking) Fasthouse apparel. He was able to score me a promo ticket or two for the weekend. I combined this excuse to attend with a ride on the BMW to get there, then a mtb ride out there as the location of Queensland Moto Park (QMP) is right by Mount Joyce mtb trails! Win, win, win!!

Rolling up it was obvious that the event was well attended with heaps of camping set-ups in the parking area already. It was only Friday morning!
Looking to the trails and there must have been 100 bikes ripping them up! It was free practice for anyone and everyone. I soon saw a big Red Bull emblazoned KTM cleaning everyone up on the track. Of course, it was none other than Toby Price. He certainly had that big Kato flying on the tight moto tracks!

There was ample room to move in the promo area. As well as displays from Fasthouse, Bell helmets, KTM and a few others there was plenty to eat and drink. I wandered around in the relative quiet of the Friday pre lunch rush, taking a few photos.

As it was still pretty quiet I jumped on the F800 and rode around a bit to check out the facilities. At the top of the hill I sat for a while watching the action spread out below me. Apparently QMP had linked up all of the tracks for the weekend so the laps were quite long. This is just a portion of the track.

Behind me there was a motocross/supercross track (not sure of the difference to be honest) and I watched the lads practice there for a while. Some shaky video that I did as an Instagram post is below.

My mate and I made a break for the mtb tracks just after lunch. He had taken my mtb and riding gear out in his car as he was working the stalls for the weekend which worked out awesome for us getting a ride in. A short 15 minute drive saw us at Mt Joyce for a few hours pedalling. I hadn't been to Mt Joyce for two or three years and was a bit shocked at the state of some of the trails. They were highly eroded and quite challenging on my 120mm travel bike. I had definitely bought a knife to a gun fight today!

Either way, I survived the ride but I won't be hurrying back. We have too many great trails on our doorstep to do the two hour roundtrip drive out to Mt Joyce.

Back at ADITD the Dirt Hustle races were beginning. This was basically a small, mostly flat track with just a few small jumps that was being raced by all manner of bikes. The first out were the pit/Posty bikes. The first three riders in this race were absolutely flying around the track, roosting the spectators and getting seriously sideways around most corners. One guy was on a little two stroke Yammi, with a doll strapped to his chest, sunnies and a fake hipster beard and was absolutely smashing it. He had everyone in hysterics as he roosted his way around the track, all the while the ultra-high-pitched Yammi screaming it's head off in a two wheel drift. He ended up coming in 2nd place but both he and the winner were flying and COULD ride despite their diminutive bikes.

Baby Dude from the Friday race. 
This is Saturday morning and you can see that they have had considerable rain overnight.

Unfortunately I didn't get many photos as I was just enjoying a post ride Young Henrys while taking in the racing - good fun in the dirt not to be spoiled by looking through a camera lense. 

I sort of wish I had taken more photos though as the next group out were all on classic bikes. There were Maiko's, Bultaco's, old Jap two strokes and this beautiful Triumph powered Rickman which was music to the ears as he powered past! He was rocking the full Steve McQueen look and watching these bikes I could have been time-warped 30-40 years into the past......

While the Friday was dry and trending to be dusty, overnight storms Friday night dumped about an inch+ of rain on QMP. This turned the dust to mud and added another complexion and level of difficulty to Saturday's riding. I am sure glad it wasn't my bike out there in those conditions!

Yeah, easy if you were just walking around taking photos.....

Actually, it sort of doesn't matter that I didn't get that many photos as this YouTube video by MXStore captures much of the feel and look that was ADITDDU. 
Enjoy the bikes and the vibe!!
 (baby dude at 2:50 if you want to hear what he sounded like)

If they run it again next year I am pretty sure I will be there. Now I just need to find a classic two stroke dirt bike to take along...........

Cheers and thanks for checkin' in.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Russell Island Exploration

I had a day free last week and decided that while it was still cool I would go for a look around one of The Bay islands. I had been wanting to take the kids on a ferry, then pedal around an island for almost ten years but it just never happened. Now that they aren't into cycling much I decided that that ship had sailed and I needed to go solo.

To make it a decent ride I would ride from home down to the ferry terminal at Redland Bay as we were only "about" 15km from the terminal. That would give me the chance to ride through the trails in Bayview Conservation Park to get there, adding some single track goodness to the day's ride.

Not being 100% sure of what to expect I decided to take the Plus size tyres in case I encountered sand.......after all, it was a sand island.

I eventually rolled into the ferry terminal about 5 minutes before a sailing and was hustled onto the ferry by the deckhand's "c'mon, we gotta go". I hastily parked the bike on the bow, securing it with my helmet strap, then found a seat. Gathering my wits for a second after the hustling, I wandered around the boat playing tourist.

Plenty of people do this twice a day, 5 days a week and I am sure they don't notice it any more but wow, the bay is pretty!

We went via the clockwise lap of the islands, stopping at Karragarra, then Macleay then finally my destination, Russell Island. The trip only took about 30 minutes.

Russell Island is the largest of the bay islands and has a population of somewhere around 3000. That probably swells on the weekend as mainlanders slip across for some R&R.

Straight off the boat and I was into the first little coffee shop that I saw. After all, it was morning tea time and I needed to get my bearings. I was going to follow a route that Neil Ennis and his mates had followed around the island back in January. I knew Neil would find all of the good stuff so why reinvent the wheel?

Setting off anticlockwise I soon noticed that this place was like a small country town. In places it was very much like some of the country towns where my cousins lived from the dirt/grass covered streets to the car relics lying around. I very soon got the impression that not much changes on Russell Island and that they might in fact like it that way......

I stopped to take this photo of a relocated house not 5 minutes into my ride and as I was pedalling off, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dive bomber coming straight for me.

I waved my arm up as it approached and it's wings crisply cut the cool morning air, making that familiar flapping/slapping/shwooshing sound that we all know and dread as it took evasive action, peeling off at the last moment. "Great, the maggies are out and I'm gonna get bombed all day" was my first thought. But it wasn't to be. This was the only aggressive little bastard that I encountered the whole day. Maybe he was off his meds?

Pedalling on and the crunch of gravel under the plus size tyres soon soothed my adrenaline spiked heart rate. These quiet back streets were rather pleasant and I shared waves with locals sitting on their decks enjoying the cool morning sunshine.

I pedalled around the edge of  a cricket oval, Jackson Oval, with views back to the mainland. Nice but I would hate to be the fielder looking for any westward sixes!

The route took me on a tour of lots of back streets of Russell Island. Like I said, many of these houses reminded me of towns from my childhood.

The local cement works had some relics slowly rusting away in the paddock next door. It was nice not to be in a hurry for a change and just take some time to look around.

I wonder if they have to mow the street or if the traffic stunts growth?

I was soon down at the south western corner of the island. Rocky Point park was a nice spot to stop and enjoy the serenity, nibble on a Cliff bar all while marvelling at man's ability to generate electricity......

Where the powerlines come across from the mainland.

I now turned east across the bottom of the island following the power line along Glendale Road. The problem here is that Glendale rd crosses a wetland/swamp for about 500m before emerging onto solid ground again. It didn't look too bad so I trudged in, trying to find a way around the water and through the waist high grass. 

The Fucarwie Tribe

This always fills me with dread here in Australia because you just know that there is a black snake or a brown snake somewhere under all that grass. I tried to make as much noise as I could and tried not to let my legs sink through the grass to touchdown on the ground underneath. 
Eventually I could see that there was no way of keeping my feet dry and at least I could see where I was putting my feet if I just took the plunge straight into the water. It was only ankle deep and did stink a tad but I was able to increase my forward progress by about 400% and was out of the quagmire in less that a minute as a result. And I only stunk a little bit.....

Yeah, that wasn't pleasant......

Emptying my shoes I pressed on toward the south eastern corner of the island.

There were MANY places for sale. This one looks back toward the mainland.

More quiet streets eventually led down to a little beach with a picnic area and playground. Lions Boulevarde camp ground looked like a great little spot to camp. 

Unless of course the midges and mosquitoes invade the place after dark. The park faces North Stradbroke Island which can be seen in the left of photo. Beyond that is the open Pacific Ocean.

Making my way up the eastern side of the island was very pleasant with plenty of waterfront housing looking across to North Straddie.

A few more back streets then I found myself outside the Russell Island RSL. It was tucked away and without some loud signage I would have not even noticed it. Being around midday by this time I wandered in to find quite a few people chilling out. Ordering a "works burger" was probably a mistake as once it arrived I actually struggled to fit it all in, despite having ridden up a 60km hunger by that point. Mental note - a regular burger will be just fine next time!

I then slowly made my way up to the most north-easterly point of the island where the Royal Brisbane Yacht squadron have their facilities. The gate was open so I rode in, asking the couple of people present if they would mind me having a quick look. They mentioned that it was a private site but sure, I could have a look. Nice setup with lawns, clubhouse and a pool but I didn't take any photos.

From here I meandered back to the ferry terminal and waited about 20 minutes for the next ferry. It was doing the clockwise loop again so the first stop was back on the mainland at Redland Bay. I always marvel at the shallow nature of Moreton Bay from the air and this shallow nature was reflected in the meandering course the ferry took to stay in the deepest channel.

Back on the mainland I made a beeline for home. It is a shame that Bayview is in a direct line home as I had to again sample some single track on the way home. I was starting to feel it in my legs by the time I neared home. I have certainly lost some fitness from my peak in early April.

The day turned out to be just over 100km(62mi) of which about 22km(13.5mi) were on the ferries. Not a bad day at all and probably more efficiently ridden on a cyclocross bike. There was only one section of sandy trail that lasted perhaps ~500m, so skinnier wheels might be the go next time.

I wonder if I will ever get the kids out there.....?