Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Testing The Waters

An acquaintance that helped massively during the construction of Wallum Froglet has proposed a mountain bike ride that takes in ALL of the single track in Daisy Hill, Cornubia and Bayview. This sounds like a heck of a challenge and will potentially kick some attendees arses!

So in the interest of self preservation I thought that I should see what it feels like to ride all of the single track in Cornubia and Daisy Hill.

I had some company for the Cornubia section of the ride, with Owen coming along for a pedal.

After Nirvana we bombed down Trail 9, a trail that I hardly ever ride. Mainly because it goes nowhere and you have a solid climb to get out again. But today I had to suck it up on my own as this is where Owen bailed out to head for home.

As I crested the hill and was about to dive down Turning Japanese it began to sprinkle with rain. Not heavily, just enough to make the ground nice and grippy. And the wood slippery....best to take it easy

I was trying to head in a clockwise direction and take in the trails with minimal backtracking. There would be plenty of k's without too much backtracking!

A few more showers passed through during the ride but nothing that would make the trails unrideable. Damn. I was going to have to keep going!

I must say that I was pleased to finally have all of the Daisy Hill trails under my wheels and be heading toward home. My legs were definitely starting to feel the ride. I had neglected to take much in the way of food with me and was paying for this folly now.

The final trail out to West Mt Cotton rd was painful. My legs were toast, my butt was sore and the trail was actually quite overgrown, with a few trees down across it necessitating some climbing over or under these obstructions. Actually, it was nice to get off the bike.

Was I happy to roll out of the bush, onto the road and grind my way home? Actually, hell yeah! I felt much worse than I did last weekend when Dean and I did 115km. I am not sure if this is because of my poor calorie intake(which was almost perfect last weekend) or if it was the fact that this ride was purely single track.

The stats for the day are laid out below. Man, that was a tough 48ish km/30mi. I say ..ish because the gps doesn't calculate the correct distance in tight single track. It underestimates the distance becase it only records when a parameter changes, so cuts a metre off here and there in corners. On a ride like this it might miss as much as 1km/.625mi. Not much if you are on a motorcycle but plenty when you are crawling home on your lips!

Adding in Bayview will see another 16km/10mi added to the ride just to get to Bayview and back. Then adding in the trails down there will see this ride not too far short of an Epic!

Bring a Vegemite sandwich folks...and taxi fare.....

On another note, it is the second anniversary of A View From Above. Yep, two years ago I was inspired enough by other blogs I was reading to have a go at it myself. I would just like to say thanks to you, the readers who have encouraged me with comments.....or stony silence when appropriate!

I am looking forward to "living the dream" for a long time yet and hopefully sharing my adventures here in the blogsphere...possibly with only the odd temper tantrum seeing as I am in the terrible twos now. ;)


Monday, May 28, 2012

Super Heavy

There are different classifications for aircraft types, mainly for wake turbulence separation. Most of these separation standards have been established through bitter experience.

I operate in the Medium category (Large in the Wiki page) and being up to 79 tonnes (174 000lbs) anything lighter than us had better not fly too close behind. And so the pecking order goes up to Heavy, then Super.

There is only one aircraft in the Super category at this time which is the Super (Ugly) Airbus A380. They are not sure what separation standard to set, time and distance wise, behind one of these puppies. For the time being they are erring on the side of caution. And so am I. I don't want to be the first person to find out I was following too closely!

The video below was shot at Sydney (YSSY) this morning. It is only smart phone vision, but you get the idea.

Home now after five days on the road and actually looking forward to mowing the lawn, chasing the kids around and riding some 'cycles!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How We Rolled

It has been four days now and I can still feel it in my legs.

Compressing the thousands of photos and hours of video into a mere seven minutes feels wrong but I am confident that these seven minutes capture the essence of our weekend.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

I am trying the Youtube version here and have added the Vimeo version to the original post. I am on an iPad at the moment which is definitely favoring the Vimeo version, quality wise, but I have been told that on a PC the Youtube version is better. I used the Vimeo tutorial to set the best compression parameters as opposed to loading it "as is" to Youtube. Your thoughts on the best quality version would be appreciated.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sweet Soreness

I have been savouring the slight soreness in my legs yesterday and today.

Like the song says, it really does "hurt so good" and the feeling of achievement is becoming intertwined with slightly sore legs! Good associations, I think?!

The last week to Sunday actually turned into a 300km/188mi week! I suprised myself when I noticed because with all of my competing interests this year I have been lucky to tally up 200km/125mi a month.

What was even more suprising and pleasing was that the recovery ride I planned today kept getting lengthened, as my legs felt strong, my backside felt fine and it was a beautiful day again here in South East Queensland. I just wanted to roll on and on....

Some others no doubt enjoying some sweet soreness are Jason English and Jess Douglass. Respectively, they are the Kings of the Universe! Mens and womens World Champion at the Solo 24 hour MTB champs in Italy overnight.

Our own Matt Powell, from Brisbane, is the World 24hour Solo Single Speed champion and Rachel Edwards, also from Brisbane, is the 35-39 year old age group World Champion!

Well done to all of the Aussies, but to have four world champions at this discipline? Outstanding toughness!

Must be something in the water......or the fact that they all have blogs.....?

All of the results here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pushing The Boundaries

I have been tossing around the idea of doing some longer distance destination rides for a while now. To this end I have set myself up with some custom bikepacking bags from Revelate Designs and after setting a date, Dean and I were locked and loaded for our first bikepacking adventure ride.

The plan was to start in West End, Brisbane and ride through Gap Creek MTB trails, up South Boundary Rd to Mt Nebo. Then we would head down Dundas Rd in D'Aguilar National Park to Banks Creek Rd then into Fernvale. From Fernvale we would pick up the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and follow it up to Toogoolawah. Neither of us are wizzes with Google Maps, but this seemed like a solid distance, somewhere north of 80km/50mi that would challenge our abilities on a mountain bike, especially backing-up on day two, the return leg.

Operating a "red eye" on Thursday night/Friday morning wasn't the best preparation that I could have for a ride of this size, so the early rise to be at West End at 6:30am Saturday was just a bit of a struggle. After putting our bikes together, we were ready to start riding just before 7:30am.

Initially we rolled along the Brisbane river, under the Coronation Drive pedestrian tunnel and headed for Gap Creek. Just past the Regatta Hotel we remembered that we had not activated the gps route that we would need to follow through D'Aguilar Nation Park to find Fernvale. D'oh! So with this activated (and the gps distance zeroed) we resumed pedalling the quiet Brisbane streets.

Hitting our first section of dirt, we paused to grab a photo. A couple of Gap Creek's single tracks whet our appetite for dirt and it felt great to be hitting the trails even though we were on our 29ers and loaded up like supertankers.

Suitably warm now, we stripped off our winter layers at the Gap Creek car park and watched the literally dozens of mountain bikers rolling around, warming up for a cruise. It was difficult to actually get a shot without them in the background.

No more playing in single track for us though. We now started the climb up South Boundary Road to Mt Nebo, a ride we had both done many times before. This "local knowledge" helps massively when determining how much effort to put into the pedals. A known quantity, South Boundary is tough but we both knew we could easily surmount it's climb. It was the new-to-us, unknown of D'Aguilar National Park that was playing on our minds during this climb.

We were soon at "The Shelter" and I took it upon myself to watch out for drop bears while Dean snapped some photos.

From the shelter to Boombana cafe' is a relatively short ride made all the more pleasant by the climb into the cool, lush forest at the top of Mt Nebo. As we were playing MTB tourists today we decided to stop for a slap-up breakfast. Deliciously fresh food as usual but a large chunk of time was burnt while we waited, something that would come back to bite us later in the day.

Now that we were stuffed with food it was quite difficult to continue the pedal up to Dundas Road, our bodies greedily absorbing the food and not helping out much with powering our legs for a few kilometres. To add insult to gluttony we joined the route that was loaded into our gps here and watched as the virtual partner function showed us slipping behind on the climb!

Finally at Dundas Rd we were into D'Aguilar Forest for the first time. The waste transfer station at the entrance takes a slight shine off the fact though.

Some welcome downhill turned to undulations, with a slight accent on the down which suited us just fine. We were rolling along nicely again, happy to be in the bush and away from civilization. Then we came to a steep section of trail known as "Whoa Boy". This was FUN! Although, on my fully loaded bike I was making an effort not to get too much air over the water bars, lest my lightweight rear wheel explode on landing. We stopped a few times to let our brakes cool and to marvel at the steepness of the trail. It is hard to capture the steepness of terrain in photographs, but I think this one does a fair job as Dean follows me down the drop. Horizontal is somewhere just above the top of the photo.

At the bottom of Whoa Boy we came to a three way intersection. Our gps trace had us going through the only gate that had a "private property" sign on it. Being generally respectful folks, we didn't feel very comfortable taking this gate but with no other way around we pressed on. We had been told that the owners were okay with mountain bikers passing through. Just show a little respect and all would be good. We passed through the block quickly without seeing anyone and were much relieved to pop out onto Banks Creek road and continued our roll toward Fernvale. Banks Creek rd proved to be a pleasantly meandering road, if somewhat exposed after a morning spent under the forest canopy, that crossed several streams (or the same one several times) where we could ride along and chat. Equally pleasing was the fact that we were now almost 10km ahead of our virtual partner.

Signs of "civilization" began to emerge as we edged closer to Fernvale. These took the shape of illegal, unregistered trail bikes. They didn't trouble us other than feeling the urge to wheelie past us at speed. Geez, I for one was impressed.... 

Into Fernvale and there was only one place to go of course. The Fernvale bakery has some of the best pies and pastries around and yes, we were hungry again. We would be slightly more circumspect about the amount we inhaled this time!

While resting we perused the gps and noted that we had covered 60km/ 38mi! With our maps indicating another 44km/28mi to Esk this ride was going to be just north of 100km/63mi, not the 80km we had been planning on.

Topping up our water we were then on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail heading toward Lowood.

This section was advertised as family friendly and proved to be in excellent condition. We made good time along this section and passing through Lowood in quick time.

Rolling hills with views across to D'Aguilar and Mt Mee Forests greeted us on the ride from Lowood to Coominya. The odd railway bridge added to the interest.

Sadly, these bridges are out of bounds and in fact, most of them have been demolished. Instead of putting a rail on either side and lining the sleepers with a walkway, our local governments who administer these trails are shit scared of litigation and ongoing maintenance, preferring to knock them down and force users to wade through dodgy low level crossings. Why can these bridges be saved in other (relatively poor) countries, yet not here? These old rail bridges add immensely to the enjoyment of these trails and it saddens me that such experiences are being ruined by fear of litigation.

Just the other side of this bridge the trail  was heavily grassed. It paralleled a road, so the only sensible thing to do was ride this bit of tarmac and go a little easy on our legs. Easy on the legs gave us the opportunity to arse around with the camera.

Another water stop at the Coominya store and we got chatting to the girl behind the counter. She couldn't comprehend that we had ridden from South Brisbane, or that we were going on to Esk. Her loss I guess.

The ride out of Coominya to Esk was 24km/15mi and proved to be slightly uphill on grassy, rocky trail. As the sun was starting to get low in the sky we really needed to just crunch out these kilometres. We rode in silence, one behind the other to get it done. The sun, in our eyes, was making it hard to see the trail surface in the longish grass. I did not see a small snake until it was going under my front wheel! Trying to lift my feet up, while still clipped in, provided Dean with some entertainment. He was so close that he ran the snake over as well, but didn't even see it go under his wheels. Washouts were another hidden hazard, but we kept it upright as we pressed on.

At around the 100km/62mi mark we took a slight wrong turn along what looked like rail trail. There was no signage, but that was nothing unusual. We jumped the gate and pressed on.

When the trail petered out at a road crossing we decided to jump on the tarmac and ride into Esk as it was getting late. 1km later we crossed the rail trail again! How we missed it I have no idea. A combination of fatigue and sun in the eyes maybe? I took a moment to relax on the trail side furniture and contemplate our navigational error!

 Anyway, this last section past Mt Hallen into Esk proved to be extremely pleasant and I was glad we rode it. More bridges....

Golden fields, lit by the setting sun.....

And 29er tracks.

Rolling the last 200m into Esk and my rear wheel jumped sideways. I heard a stick skitter off into the bush, but thought nothing more of it. Dean said "I think you have a puncture". No, it felt normal and sealant would be spraying out if I had flatted. We rolled on into Esk and booked into the first pub we saw.

As I was emptying my seat bag in our room I noticed that the bottom was covered in Stan's sealant! Our only mechanical of the day was just 200m from the finish and the Stan's had done it's job by sealing the hole. Just a small amount of air needed adding to bring the tyre up to proper pressure. Another win for tubeless tyres and my kind of mechanical!

We decimated a couple of steaks, even though they hung over each end of our plates, and couple of beers, then followed these down with a pizza chaser. This MTB touring certainly builds a hunger!

Totals for the day? Well, we were way off with our planning. We covered 116km/72.5mi with 1900m/6200ft of climbing! Even though Toogoolawah was our goal, we had only just made Esk at sundown. It was going to be very interesting to see how we backed up for the return journey. Needless to say, we were in bed and asleep very early, with the alarm set for 6:15am. We were conscious of the time we had wasted today and felt we needed an early start to account for any variables on Sunday.

Sunday dawned foggy and cold. We loaded up and rolled out of Esk at 7:50am. Hardly the crack of dawn, but a visit to the bakery for a coffee was necessary to kick start the day, although, my legs felt pretty good actually. Obviously, good food and lots of sleep help in the recovery stakes.

We made good ground this morning. It became clear that we had been pushing steadily uphill the evening before, which accounted for our slower than expected progress and weary legs. The bonus for today was that we were smokin' the distance for little effort! And doesn't Dean0 look happy about that?!

As the fog cleared it gave way to another cracking clear day here in south east Queensland. You have to love our winter weather.

We found ourselves back in Fernvale in what felt like no time at all. Another visit to the bakery for some morning tea was in order. After a stretch on the grass we, slightly reluctantly, pointed the bikes uphill and began what would proved to be the challenging section of today's ride.

Banks Creek Road proved to be a hot, exposed ride that brought some sweat to the brow. The views from the top of the climbs made it all worth it though.

We fell into silence again as we approached the private property gate. It was open today. That meant unlike yesterday, someone was around. We climbed the hill in silence, avoiding the huts until we came to the hut at the top of the hill. You have to ride right past this one and today there was a woman standing there. Nothing to do but ride up with a smile and say hello! She and her partner proved to be most accommodating and asked where the rest of our group was. You know, the group that came through a few months ago? Yes, we knew the group and now we know the property owners. We were pleasantly surprised that they were happy to have us ride through their place. Obviously, we were out there because we enjoy it, not to cause trouble. So, on we went.

The walk up Whoa Boy was a nice respite from a mountain bike seat, even if it was a bit steep. It rises about 500m/1600ft in 4km/2.5mi. The up side of this grade is that we gained almost all of the elevation we needed in a short time and before we knew it we were back at My Nebo Rd, passing many walkers along the way as well as a few illegal dirt bikes along Dundas Rd.

We quickly passed through the Boombana Cafe' again. This time just for a popular caffeinated cola beverage and a water top up. I briefly contemplated swapping to a new ride.

We then dropped down South Boundary Rd toward Gap Creek, gaining speed all of the way. There were not too many photo stops from here on in. While the legs were feeling suprisingly good, the shadows were growing long again and it was time to head for home. But not before we hit up Rocket Frog trail in Gap Creek. Any fatigue was forgotten about for about ten minutes as our legs seemed to gain a new lease on life. Out onto the tarmac again and that lease had expired. We now rolled the ups and downs toward West End and The End.

Back at the cars we were dusty but elated! We had not had any crashes, nor any mechanicals bar my self sealing puncture and we got to experience a whole variety of new-to-us terrain.

Apart from the unknown distance, the other variable was us. We were both unsure of how we would handle this ride but I am pleased to say that we both held up extremely well. While tired and a little sore, I could have easily done another 20 or 30km  each day if needed.

The final details were 226km/141mi with 3700m/12 150ft of climbing.

Time for a lie down....

The Video

The stats from day two.

But where to for the next challenge...............................?

Monday, May 14, 2012

That Word

With a bit of free time this crisp autumn afternoon, I decided on a quick ride through Cornubia over to Daisy Hill and return.

I headed straight up my new favourite climb, Wallum Froglet and was greeted by a little bit of trail art at the top. Now, many words have been typed on forums and spoken hailing the sweetness of this new trail, but this simple arrangement of gravel and stones is touching and quite frankly, made my day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

Arriving home from work at 6am Friday morning I was greeted with the news that wife and number 2 child were heading down to Sydney for a visit with the mother-in-law. "Sweet......er...ok Dear. If that's what you would like".

So, with zero sleep under the belt it was time to come up with a worthy use for this free weekend. After a bit of head scratching and wandering around in aimless circles, I struck upon the idea of riding the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail from Linville to Blackbutt. Even better, with no reason to be home Sunday, why not turn it into an overnighter and spend the night in Blackbutt? This would make it eminently do-able by a ten year old girl at just 22.6km/14mi each way. I could even test out some of my bike packing kit that had been waiting patiently in the cupboard for nearly twelve months.

So, after a win at junior soccer, we jumped into the car for the two hour drive to the trail head at Linville. I rode this trail a few years ago when I was starting out mountain biking and recalled the old Linville station as being quiet and unloved looking. Upon arrival Saturday afternoon it was a hive of activity. Several tents and caravans were dotted around the grassed parking area and half a dozen cyclists came rolling in as we began to set up. They were very friendly and we chatted about the trail for a few minutes before we were ready to roll.

Off up the line we went. Being almost 3pm, we only had about two and a half hours to make the 22.6km to Blackbutt before nightfall. A slightly tall order for a little girl who had been to a (lack of) sleepover with friends the night before and played a game of soccer at mid day. We each had our bikes set up with one half of my AY-UP light set, so there would be no stopping us no matter what interesting objects needed inspecting on the ride.

The gradient is pretty much all uphill going toward Blackbutt. This would slow us down a bit, however, steam trains being steam trains, that gradient was pretty shallow at about 3%. A little bit of grumbling was heard after a mere 4km/2.5mi which necessitated an M&M stop.

Shortly after this we happened across several cattle standing on the trail. Now with the trail going through cuttings and across high embankments the cattle had nowhere to go but to trot along in front of us, at a safe distance. This continued for a kilometre or two and proved a great talking point to take Miss 10's mind off her legs.

We continued along at an easy pace, taking lots of photos and looking at all sorts of stuff by the trail side. A small gangers shed made a great place to stop with it's bench and outlook over the paddocks around it.

The sun was slipping behind the hills by this time and a chill was starting to take the edge off this very warm, 29C/84F autumn day. Very soon we needed to stop and slip into some warmer riding gear. This was done in an equally scenic spot. If only I could do it justice with the camera.

The last 10 kilometres were a bit more business-like as the darkness descended and the whining increased.

She had done very well for a girl with little sleep and switching her head light on for a first taste of night riding once again moved the focus from tired legs to what fun it was riding at night. A short time later we rolled into Blackbutt and our accommodation at the salubrious Hotel Radnor.

Yup. Blackbutt really is a one horse town. I know what they look like, because I grew up in one...or near one. All very familiar surroundings for me, but very exciting stuff for a little city girl.
After a shower and a classic Aussie pub meal, we were bushed. It was off to our electric blanket equipped beds at an embarassingly early hour, yet there were no complaints from either of us!

Not setting an alarm, it was pleasant to wake up when we were ready and not because we had to. Still, we were up and about at about 7:30 and tracking down breakfast at the cafe next door to the pub. The food was tasty and the coffee surprisingly good. Refuelled, we loaded the bikes to check out main street Blackbutt. One shop in particular took our interest. Can you guess the reason?

After all the butt jokes had dried up we were back onto the trail and looking forward to the roll to the car. Only the first 2km were slightly up hill, then it was 20km/12.5mi downhill. Woo Hoo!

Various sites were explored. Everything is exciting when you are 10 and it was interesting to let Lucy lead the way as we rolled down the range.

Somewhere along here she began singing "On the Road Again" and many variations of Willie's classic were belted out over several kilometres.
Here is the real deal.

Back at the car and Lucy was beat. The stats for the weekend were 47km/29mi and 450m/1480ft of climbing.

The last few days were catching up with her and she rested while I packed the car. Not bad going and certainly squeezing a lot into a weekend for one so small.

Where to next then....?