Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Flypast

I am not normally one to look back on the year and reminisce, but there again, I have never chronicled the goings on in my humble little existence before either. So with that thought in mind lets look at the highlights(that I can remember) of the year two thousand and ten in numbers.

Two- The number of children I started the year with..........and ah, yep just checking, the number I finished it with!

Five- The number of bicycles that I have been able to collect over the last year. 3 MTB, 1 Road and 1 hybrid.

Two thousand four hundred and fourty- The number of kilometers that I rode the above bikes for this year.

Ten- The number of official Mountain bike races that I competed in this year.

Nine- The number of official Mountain bike races I finished. Damn that Mebbin mud!

Two- The number of times I went over the handlebars this year.

Seven hundred and twenty eight point eight- The number of hours that I spent with a Boeing 737 strapped to my back. Yes, that is over 30 days.

Ninety five- The number of nights that I was able to sample the hospitality of some 3 or 4 star hotel on a layover. Hey, it saves wear and tear on my mattress!

Three- The number of home brew batches that I put down. I did have quite a bit of assistance with drinking them. Thanks to those selfless individuals that saved me from drowning under that 150 litres of beer!

Two- The number of months that passed without a drop of alcohol passing my lips. Cycling influence there.

Eighty Six- The number of times I drew on my white work shirt when my damn pen failed to retract!!

Twenty five- Way too small a number for the times I was able to ride with friends this year.

Ten- The number of mince fruit pies I ate in the last few days.

Three- The number of kilograms that my mass has increased by due to said pies and a little christams cheer.

ONE-  loving and supportive wife that lets me do all of the above. Without her backing up there would be no time to acheive much at all. Thanks Rebecca.

Here is to another great year in Twenty Eleven and may the skies continue to be safe, the mountain biking flowing and all of my family and friends remain healthy and happy.

See you next year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Who ate all the pies?

Well, I managed to survive another christmas. A family christmas at home this year with no travelling meant the comfort of being in my own home. This is the first in nearly ten years for us and it was nice to have my family around. It did entail some collateral damage though. Due to the requirement to eat far too much rich food and sample way too many fine (and not so fine) drinks, my waistline was an early casualty. Coupled with the deludge that Queensland has endured over the last few weeks, curtailing any exercise involving two wheels I am starting to puff just walking up stairs! Not good. On the up side, santa was very kind to me this year. He must have checked my undie drawer first as my sock and undie count was zero, while my new digital SLR camera count was 1! Woo hoo!!

To set the scene, about twelve months ago I purchased a mag trainer so that the weather would not interrupt my training schedule.
Well, after one ride on a "go nowhere bike" I very gently pushed it into a corner. I definitely have an issue with putting the hurt on myself yet not benefiting from being outdoors. Fast forward to the big wet of 2010. I have been shuffling my ever increasing girth around the house, looking sideways at the trainer, thinking "yeah, I should" then "no way, the boredom will do my head in".

What to do? There will be no MTBing for a while yet. Way too wet still. Do I really want to pedal my heart out only to go nowhere? Do I need to? Er...well yes, probably!

Too much of the above demands that I do something. Luckily for my sanity the weather report is finally inaccurate. Instead of the precipitation that is forcast, my alarm wakes me to partial sunlight! Yes sir, right here in the sunshine state. Real sunshine.

 So I saddle up. The road steed will suffice today. I don't normally stop during a road ride, but today was an exception. Here is the view from Cornubia toward Mt Staypleton and that folks is sunshine, albeit weak, but sunshine nonetheless! Speaking of weak, that is how my legs felt today. It is surprising  how quickly fitness fades away especially when it is overwhelmed by way too much good food and perhaps a little too much neck oil. Actually, is there such a thing as too much good food?


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Well, it is that time of year again. Time to eat too much, drink too much and not to ride too much. I hope you can all take some time out to enjoy the holiday and all it brings. A small shout out to all those who have to work tomorrow. I hope it is all direct tracking and speed cancellations.

Best wishes to anyone who reads this drivel and I hope Santa has something cool for you. Fingers crossed for some big boys toys.

Friday, December 17, 2010

When will the riding start again?

I am guessing that this question is on the lips of most mountainbikers on the east coast of Australia at the moment. The amount of rain and almost unprecedented flooding is great news for the health of our river systems, but bad news for the plucky MTBer. Trail damage, component damage and fungal growths from being constantly wet have all conspired to keep a lot of us sitting on our backsides for far too long now! There is going to be an explosion of trail shredding once the rain decides to stay away.

Work has also been playing a hand in sidelining me lately. The bi-annual simulator session had been looming in my near future and finally materialised.

Much refresher study and contemplation has paid off. I am through for another six months. This time around day one consisted of a flight from Jakarta, Indonesia to Perth, Western Australia. A Volcanic ash encounter about one hundred nautical miles south of Soekarno-Hatta International airport caused multiple malfunctions on the aircraft. There was an actual happening in the 1980s that raises the hair on the back of your neck when reading the report. The upshot for us was an immediate turn back to Jakarta with one engine failed due to pyroclastic adhesion inside the engine and the unknown life expectancy of our still running engine. The engine very kindly held on until we made it back to Jakarta safely.
Day two is the fairly standard base check with an engine failure on takeoff in 125 metre visibility, a single engine hand flown approach. No runway sighting, so go around and try a different approach with a single engine landing and an emergency culminating in a passenger evacuation. Easy peasy!

I need a good ride, so please, no more rain for a week or so.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thunder Struck

Arcing out of Sydney the other day with a majestic, yet menacing line of thunderstorms approaching from the west, there is no better feeling than the weight of responsibility lifting when you spot an opening just made for a 737.

Hell week ahead with sim and a line check. The silver lining is four weeks away from it all from next sunday. I love my job, but sometimes you need your personal space.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Build it and they will come

It has been far too wet to ride off road here in south east Queensland for the last few weeks. The next best thing is to get out into Cornubia Forest and help build some of the trail network that has recently been approved by Logan City Council.

This first new trail has unofficially been called Donkey Kong. Hey, we need to call it something so we all know what trail we are talking about! I must admit to not really remembering what Donkey Kong, the 70s/80s game was about, except for the angry ape throwing barrels. No apes or barrels spotted so far in there. Well, no barrels anyway. There are however some stunning little vistas from the higher ridges.

To give you, the potential rider/walker/runner an overview of what to expect, the trail starts out quite business-like in that it needs to gain altitude so as to be able to traverse the higher slopes at acceptable angles. This means some leg work will be required in the first five hundred metres or so. Then as we approach the higher ground we have incorporated a few flat rest sections which will be finished off with a dilemma section. The dilemma will be to either watch the trail or to look down to the east and take in the forest view! Safety first or daydream? You decide. Once you reach the top you will have travelled about 1.3 km and climbed approximately 150m. Pay your dues going up............grin like an idiot (ok, talking about myself here) going back down.

Of course all of this is but a glint in the eye of a few dedicated trial builders and the LCC officials at the moment.......................but it is growing, slowly..............I helped grow about fifty metres of it on monday morning.
After...2 hours in the outdoors.

The trail is skipping ahead as difficult pinches are approached and crossed. We are waiting for the heavy materials such as recycled wooden bollards and concrete posts to arrive so we can turn these tough sections into properly built, benched trail supported by retaining walls that will stand the test of time.

Look out on MTB Dirt and other media for a trail building day. While not set in stone yet, when these days come around it will be a great opportunity to come along and get your hands a little dirty. The satisfaction of riding trail that you have built with your own hands is highly underrated! Who knows, we may be able to organise a BBQ and cool drink afterwards ;)

For another perspective on the trails, check out Jimmy's Blog.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The NEW wheels on the bike go round and round!!

I managed to get out for a 6km ride this morning as part of some trail maintenance duties here in Cornubia Forest. My first impressions of the new wheel set is how light the steering feels now! I didn't think it would be so noticable but I guess the laws of physics are pretty rigid. As a test, the next time you have your front wheel out of your bike grab it by the axle, give it a gentle spin then walk around changing directions as you go. Notice the force on your hands? The faster it spins, the stronger that gyroscopic effect. If the wheels are lighter, less force is required to change direction!

The second thing I noticed is how strong the wheels feel. Zero flex so far. I was running a bit much air pressure to start with (about 30psi) which I dropped to about 20-25psi on the trail and the grip level was impressive especially as it was a little wet this morning.

I am not really sure how they feel for climbing yet. Although I climbed about 350m, I am still feeling pretty weak from more "man flu" and will reserve judgement on their climbability until another day.

Very pleased with myself, I must say!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Hoops

I decided several months ago that some lighter wheels were in order for my XTC 29er. The standard Giant rims are just that. Giant! To their credit they are very stiff, but popping them on the scales reveals that they are porky as well. 2.41 kilograms(5.3 pounds) with tubeless rim strips! Another good reason to change the wheels is from an aesthetic point. There is just too much GIANT branding all over the bike.

I wanted a reasonably light wheel set, that could still handle an 85 kilogram rider "floating" over some rough terrain. After quite a bit of research I decided on a set of Stan's ZTR Crest rims rolling around a pair of Hope Pro II hubs, laced up with DT Swiss Competition spokes. The Crest rims have a recommended maximum rider weight of 80kg, hence my opting for the heavier gauge spokes than if I was going for an all out lightweight wheel.
Once all the parts arrived I had the wheels laced up by a reputable local bike shop. Then a friend introduced me to the finer points of wheel building by showing me how poorly tensioned my new wheels were! The old axiom, "If you want something done properly, do it yourself" came to the fore. So I now know how to tension and true a wheel. Pretty simple really! Thank you Chris for the assistance. I guess that means a truing stand and  tensiometer will be on my shopping list.
Set up with Stan's Yellow Tape it was time for the scales. A very pleasing 1.67kg (3.67 pounds) for the pair indicates the effort to source the parts and oversee the build myself were worthwhile.
Putting the finishing touches on I elected to use the current tyres I am running on the Giant rims. A Maxxis Ignitor front and a Crossmark rear. I have had all sorts of problems to get the Ignitors to seat on the Giant rims (I run tubeless) and just quietly I was dreading pumping these tyres up. To my delight they both beaded instantly, as though they were proper UST Tubeless tyres, not the folding bead bretheren that they are!

Now it is just up to me to shake the cold that I acquired at work last week and to get out on the trails. Stand by for the low down on the high end wheels.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Life is for Living III

Some more time away with work was book ended with another two days of riding. Monday saw me with some free time and the weather on my side, so a road ride down to Cabbage Tree Point and back before picking up the kids from school fit the bill.

Steve and I are on an unofficial tour of Brisbane mountain bike trails. Tuesday saw us at the Gap Creek car park for an assault on Mt Nebo. Steve's first time up Nebo and I "apparently" mentioned that it was a 25km "nip" up to the cafe. Funny. I am sure I mentioned that was 25km each way with 1800 metres of climbing!

My weapon of choice for the day was my XTC 29er, while Steve had his trusty Stumpjumper. I will get him on some big wheels with my constant sniping :) The 29er is the perfect machine for a fireroad climb on a pristine November morning. The temperature should be in the low 30s(celcius) by now with moderately high humidity, but the days are in the low 20s and dry. It is a gift from heaven for mountainbiking here in south east Queensland and we are trying to make the most of it.

We quickly warmed up as we attacked the lower slopes of South Boundry Road and really appreciated the slight chill in the air. I had only managed one Mt Nebo ride so far this year, way back in May, when training for the Epic was beginning in earnest. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control, we didn't manage to get back for more hill training. Hills closer to home had to suffice.

"The Shelter" is a welcome sight as it indicates that you are succeeding in the battle of mind over legs. Placed about 2/3 of the way up it would be inviting if you were stuck up here in a thunderstorm, but we push on as our stomachs are starting to feel a little empty and the cafe beckons.

Boombana cafe is closed! WTF?!! Who cares if it is Melbourne Cup Day. We busted our humps to climb up here for a coffee! Once the shock wears off I wander into the Post Office next door and ask if there is another cafe? Yes, is the reply. Another five hundred metres over the hill and we were resting the bikes on the fence above and shortly after biting into a toasted ham,cheese and tomato sandwich. Ahh............the simple things in life are simply the best.
Saddling up for the run down the hill and I am suddenly aware of how sore my butt is! I have not been riding anywhere near enough these last two months. I will be making up for that though. Living life is my new motto. Our time here is fleeting and I want to make my dash count................

Back down Sth Boundry and we met a ranger armed with a chainsaw, attacking some of the many gum trees that were blown down across the road. We stopped for a chinwag and he quickly established he was a MTBer too. He lamented with us the lack of foresight that the Brisbane City Council have shown with regard to MTBing in Brisbane Forest Park. It could have a mass of world class singletrack snaking it's way up to Mt Nebo........................

One last pinch up Highwood rd to the start of "Dingo" and our legs were pretty toasted. Steve looks far too happy that the ride is almost over!

Another awesome day on the bike, in good company and absolutely knackered. It must be time to head to work to let the legs recover before then next installment of our "Tour de Brisbane", Bunya.

Oh, I almost forgot. I have finally put some of the bush in my back yard to good use with the beginnings of a junior MTB trail.

A certain little red headed girl approves but is asking where the north shore equipment is.............

Life is for living part II

Work,weather and life in general have interfered with having fun until last week when Steve and I were finally able to sneak out for a ride at Nerang.

Maybe it is time to take some risks.

Ride Today

It was awesome to be back in the bush, on my bike chatting with a mate about "stuff". This is one of the reasons I ride..............................................

Heal tomorrow......................

Life is for living

The last three weeks have been a reflective time around here. Since my last post we were informed that my father-in-law's cancer was far more advanced than any of us thought. Unfortunately he succumbed to it all too soon, after only being diagnosed in February. He fought with all of his considerable strength and remained dignified, at home, until the end.
The day of Paul's funeral turned from the miserable rain that had persisted for days into one of those spring days in the Southern Highlands where the air is crystal clear, the gardens ablaze with colour and a crispness in the air that makes your skin tingle. Just the kind of day we were hoping against. Why, oh why, couldn't the rain stay for one more day?

I took my little boy for a walk, obstensibly to remove him from the house, but in reality probably to help me collect my thoughts.There were gardens in bloom everywhere you looked and I turned the camera over to my six year old for a while......

Friday, October 15, 2010

Still wet!!

If you were going to have a shoulder reconstruction this is definitely the weather to have it. To Gaz and are not missing much! Heal well and quickly both of you.................and enjoy this from Big Wheel Building. I love this guy's work.

A day in the Whistler alpine. from lacemine29 on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wet weather dreaming

Just sitting around waiting for the weather to improve I found this beautiful montage on Big Wheel Building.

Marble to Crested Butte, and back, via credit card. from lacemine29 on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What a difference a day makes

Out on the trails for a quick hit before heading off to work again tomorrow.

How puurrrfffect they were too! Where did all that mud go?

Cornubia was shinning this morning. Here on Jack's Track amoungst the Grasstrees I was doing some web clearing. No not the interwebb, the original type.

Here is a small hitch hiker that I picked up. On the bars is fine, but unfortunately they usually end up strung between my arms as I grip the bars or worse still, on my chest. I only hate spiders slightly less than I hate snakes..........

 'till next time. Follow that singletrack.........

Karingal 4 Hour

Sunday morning dawned cloudy and cold. Well, cold for this time of the year here in Queensland. A quick look outside confirmed what I had been hoping against for several days now. Rain. Lots of it. Bugger. I continued to drag myself around the house, eating some breakfast and thinking that I did not really want to ride around in this weather for four hours. Bloody bugger. I couldn't not turn up either. Being a member of the club and knowing the massive amount of effort the other members had put into track preparation and setup, I HAD to go! "Oh well" I told myself. I am only in the social category today so I will just trundle around and have FUN. The bike that best suited these conditions was my Kona Unit single speed. The words Single Speed and Karingal 4 hour were not to be used in the same sentence as far as I was concerned, but the weather had tipped my hand and out of bicycle preservation I HAD to ride Stanley.

Getting the bike out of the car it proceeded to bucket down again. I still felt like I was moving in slow motion.  Not really wanting to do it. Once down in the start area the other guys from the wednesday morning ride crew were set up under a shelter kindly supplied by Chris. This was very civilized and proved to be the first bright point in the day. Hellos were exchanged and I had dawdled for so long that it was race time already. The rain held off for the pre race brief and all that I heard was that social riders were to start at the rear of the field. No problems. I can do that. So I did. I made sure I was absolutely dead last away. Climbing the first hill I couldn't help myself and passed about twenty riders. They must have been saving themselves for later.
Early on when you could make out the colour of my kit. This didn't last long.

I continued to cruise around chatting to Deano and Chris at varying points. It was very wet but the Maxxis Ignitor on the front wheel was gripping the drowned earth with aplomb and giving oodles of confidence. What wasn't giving quite as much confidence were the brakes. They were fading to nothing, being ground away by the mud. Luckily the BB7s are simple and easy to adjust which I did until the pads were no more.

At least I had some brakes. Chris had lost all rear brakes and had decided to call it quits as Karingal is a track that demands at least a rear brake in these conditions. So Dean0 and I continued to circulate and chat and generally laugh at this absurd situation. That was until I was climbing a steep pinch, standing and putting in the big ones when my chain gave up the ghost, went "ping" and I duly kneed the handlebars about as hard as I could!! Some choice words escaped my lips but luckily no one was around to hear. Shortly after this Dean0 turned up, laughed and commiserated me on "losing" in the Daisy Hill Wednesday Morning Crew bragging rights challenge. Oh well, I was in second place after Chris's retirement, Rich's locking his keys in his car and Dr Geoff and Coaster pulling the pin early that morning. I decided I was going to finish the lap and scootered the flat bits, coasted the downhills and pushed up the climbs. I messed with some other riders minds by pushing up behind them as they struggled to grind away up the hills. I had a chat with Outdoorgaz while he shot photos of the race for our club. Most of these shots here are courtesy of Gaz, so thanks again mate for putting up with the wet to document our stupidity!

The end result was a Nightmare on Elm St scenario for our respective washing machines........yet we were still smiling?

Stanley hates me, but I think he secretly had fun too despite throwing his chain. I gave him a spruce up today with a new front axle, front brake pads, bottom bracket and with a new rear wheel to build as well as new rear brake pads to install.Oh, and a chain! Most of these maintenance items were due anyway, apart from the brake pads.

Thanks to BSMC and For the Riders for a great day out and and awesome prize pack just for turning up!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Junior River Loop

The two weeks of the school holidays have come and now they are almost gone. Unfortunately I have spent most of them away with work and the kids have gone to a vacation sports program. I did however have one free day with the kids. I put it to them. "What would you like to do today?" Ummm.........lets go for a ride!
So a short notice, little leg friendly ride route needed planning. Flat terrain is a must as the kids seem to lose interest very quickly when the trail points upwards. Rivers in Australia have very little drop to them so the logical choice was a loop around the Brisbane River.

We drove to West End for a quiet spot to start and what a glorious day it was. Clear and calm, if a little warm. The track along the river makes me a little nervous due to there being no barrier between an overconfident six year old and a splashdown!

We had a quick stop at Southbank for morning tea where several biscuits met their end and plans were made to bring bathers next time for a quick dip in the lagoon.

We then rode past the Kangaroo Point cliffs, which was new territory for me. While we explored the various shelters along the waterfront a heavy shower crept up on us. We took shelter under a large tree but ended up pretty well soaked. Luckily the warmer weather meant that we weren't uncomfortable for long. Leaving our shelter we happened upon a waterfall cascading over the cliffs. We were definitely in the right place at the right time. Very difficult to drag the kids away from this one.

From here we worked our way around to the Story Bridge and had a bit of a search around for the access to the bridge. Exploring with two small kids in tow is always tricky as you can not put too many unnesessary kilometers into their little legs lest they blow up ten kilometers from the car! So with a bit of road cycling past the Story Bridge Hotel, dodging cement trucks ( I must have looked like a duck trying to herd my ducklings along a busy road) causing more hair loss and greying we found the access ramp to the bridge.

Then a cycle through the lunchtime crowds along the north bank walkway to our lunch stop at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately the gardens were off limits with temporary fencing lining the riverfront, so lunch was eaten sitting on the riverbank. Well I ate. The kids were sucked in by that magical pull bodies of water seem to exert on small humans! So ham and cheese shrapnel was being sprayed in the name of safety. It is very difficult to get the right amount of volume while choking down your lunch.

From here we rode underneath the Riverside Expressway and followed our nose to the access ramp for the Kurilpa Bridge. Surely designed by a blind committee, this bridge has polarised opinion on it's styling. Lets just say in my opinion it beats swimming the river, just don't look up at the tangled mess of it's structure.

Photo borrowed from QLD Public Works Dept.

From here we retraced our tyre tracks to West End and managed to climb into the car just as another heavy shower was passing. The ride had been fun as well as surprisingly long in distance. I was very impressed when I noted the GPS read 19.5km. Well, more proud than impressed. The kids had managed the distance with no whinging (apart from Miss 8 blaming me for her leaving her sunglasses behind in the car) and seemed to have gas left in the tank. It certainly helps when there is plenty of beautiful scenery to take in as well as Chicken Crimpy bikkies and chocolate milk to fuel the legs!
I may not have had much in the way of quantity these holidays, but we made up for it with a quality day out.