Sunday, December 30, 2012

Punching On......After All, Its Boxing Day

Lots more flying to be had today with a double crossing of the continent. If we had gone in a straight line and for another 3 hours we would have been in Los Angeles!! Well, actually we would have been swimming, out of gas......but you get the gist.

 Some cool sights today with multiple crossing traffic high above Leigh Creek.

A QANTAS 767, 1000ft above us and going slightly faster. It was so close we could see the rivets on the underside of it!

Then, at the same time an A330 came the other way, 1000ft higher again. (And yes, this is legal)

How good are modern aircraft navigation systems? Here we all were, over the middle of the country, on the same track and all exactly aligned by GPS. This is the reason dilligent attention needs to be paid to altitude separation by both pilots and air traffic control!

Halfway through the day and the sun is setting to the west of Brisbane.

The moon going down behind the cloud at 39 000'.

Just a few days until new year and I am hoping (needing) to get out on a bike before the calendar winds down to the 31st. Until then, there is always this to get me by.....

Hope you Boxing Day was a relaxing one.


Friday, December 28, 2012

What Happened To Xmas?

Today was Christmas day for us here in Oztrailia. I hope you had a good one and the fat man in red was kind to you. My day started at 5am (Brisbane time) in Sydney. I was lucky enough to watch my kids tearing into some gifts that included a new bike for the youngest.

I managed to do ok as well with some new electronics, but by 7am I was on the way to the airport for my commute to Brisbane to begin work for the day. Things went a bit pear shaped somewhere here and after a soap opera like plot line I lobbed in Brisbane 1 and a 1/2 hours late for work!

 Well, we (um, crewing) managed to pull a reindeer out of a sack and got the show back on the road eventually. Despite nature's best attempt to foil us we got back into Sydney, found a new mount and speared off toward Perth. Well, we actually speared off toward Melbourne to avoid weather but eventually ended up at the point everyone bought a ticket to. Happy Days! It was by this time 11:30pm Sydney time and so a verry loong day out.

 I would like to put a big SHOUT out to all of the guys and gals who had to be present at the coal face today. Hopefully you managed to enjoy some of the pleasure that many take for granted, but also saw how the other half spends xmas and like me, appreciates what we have. I wish all of my readers (yes, both of you ;-) a great christmas and look forward to another great year ahead.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

James May on: Bicycles

Those geezers from Top Gear are not only funny, at least one of them is smart as well.

Here is a little piece on bicycles from Mr May. Thanks to Bike Snob for pointing it out.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Bordering (On Madness)

Today the Brisbane South Mountain Bike Club (BSMC) organised a social ride in the south western corner of the Scenic Rim, along the New South Wales/Queensland border as a part of it's monthly away social rides.

The plan was to ride up the range on Carney's Creek rd to Queen Mary Falls, then around past Killarney and back along the Condamine River rd. This was a ride I had been keen to do for a while and what better way to do it than with a group of like minded MTBers.

Pre ride planning saw my bike prepped the day before with my gear sorted out. The wheels nearly fell off of the operation that night though. Having caught up with good friends for dinner (and being child free for a week or so) I took it upon myself to assist with the demolition of some great red wine and before I knew it "pumpkin o'clock" had come and gone. An 80km(50mi) ride in 35C(95F) heat with about 5 hours sleep was going to hurt a bit! Not to mention all of those "antioxidents" at work in my body.....

Anyway, at the appointed time we set off from the corner of  Carney's Ck Rd and Carney's Ck Rd(?) with the talk being of how the climb a few kilometres down the road was going to rip our legs off. This was from experienced riders too. Gulp.

The morning was warming up quickly but I was glad that we had parked away from the climb so that I could warm up a bit before the climb. Small sections of cool shade taunted us as we made our way along here.

When we did finally get to the climb I just clicked down through the gears and spun at a nice, sustainable pace. Tony was kind enough to flat, thus giving us a small rest. 

But these were the fast pair so Chris and I took the opportunity to get ahead a bit. Chris was soldiering along on his single speed and making a pretty decent job of it so far considering that he had done about 30k and 700m climbing on it the day before. What you can't see in any of these photos is the slope. Rest assured, the "S' turns are to flatten the hill out a bit with his gearing...and they mostly worked...

Then came the inevitable...

I am not sure how long it took us to climb to "The Head", but somewhere around an hour is probably close enough. The views were amazing and it was now obvious how far we had climbed.

As we popped over the top the view changed to one of rolling pastureland on our right (Queensland) and dense forest on our left(New South Wales). It was simply stunning with bright red Flame Trees in full bloom dotted across the lush green hill sides. It felt all the better having bested that bloody climb!

The Rabbit Proof Fence ran along our left for quite a while here.

Shortly after this stop we met up with the guys who were doing the 40km(25mi) version of the ride. The club is trying to give everyone a ride distance that they feel comfortable with and it was good to see some takers for the ride especially as it is right before Christmas. So, with their car parked at the intersection of Spring Creek and Condamine River Rd we set off for the "loop" section of the ride.

Pretty soon we came to another section of road that tilted up rather steeply. No problems. Just dump a heap of gears and spin, spin, spin. Well, until my bum went numb from not moving on the seat with all that damn spinning!

We soon broke out of the trees and were greeted by another stunning view. This wartime Nissin hut was probably shifted here decades ago and it was easy to see why. It has a commanding view across the whole valley! Someone, once upon a time sat on that verandah, taking in the majestic views and breathed the clean, cool air that being 3500ft above sea level brings. I wonder what they thought about?

Not far past this idyllic spot is the official lookout. It pays tribute to a Lincoln bomber crew who lost their lives on nearby Mt Superbus back in 1955 while conducting a medivac flight.

One day I plan on visiting the crash site, but that will have to wait until I find another day to squeeze into the week.

The next few kilometres were steadily downhill toward QM Falls and passed quickly, yet pleasantly. The shop provided a much needed coffee and toasted sandwich to fill the hole that all of this climbing had created.

Several motorcyclists stopped in as well and I took a few moments to admire the various weaponry that had assembled. I must get back out here on my motorbicycle soon.

From the cafe the road dropped down a steep, winding hill which I guess is why the motorbicyclists frequent this road. We breifly stopped at Dagg's Falls before getting back to the business of  screaming downhill.

Turning into Condamine River rd we began the trek back toward the cars and the 14 river crossings of the Condamine River. They would be much appreciated as it was quite hot now and there wasn't much in the way of shade.

This pleasant section of road passed quickly enough, but on each small climb the body was telling me that it wasn't overly thrilled to get the heart rate up again. So we took a few more breaks.

And got a bit wet.

Exiting the tree cover again we ground our way across open paddocks, into a stiff headwind and were before long back at the finish point for the 40km riders.

This left somewhere around 15km of mainly downhill before we were back at our vehicles.

Al was keen to get going but my legs would only go around so fast. He found a few picturesque spots to wait for the rest of us Freds.

The ride down The Head proved to be an interesting one. I had the new experience of cars pulling over to let us past as we were going far quicker than they were, even though we weren't even pedalling! Screaming down a narrow, winding mountain road in a pair of shorts, jersey and a small foam helmet was a hoot and yet we all lived to tell the tale!

Back at the cars and we had covered 77km (48mi) with a bit over 1500m (4900ft) of climbing in under 6 hours total time. Notice that first climb from the 6km to the 10km mark!!

Not a bad day out at all and if anyone is interested in coming along for any of the future rides with BSMC, just check out their website or get in contact with them. You don't need to be a member and you will have a great day out and maybe see some new-to-you country.

Cheers....I need a lie down.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Magical Mystery Tour

The last week or so have been taken up with the serious side of work. Yes, it has been the time of year when you are marched into the "lurching cave" to attempt to hang onto your license and hence you livelyhood. No pressure.....

That being sorted out, it was time for a tour of all points AUS and some INDO time too.

The first person to correctly guess the location of this monument will win.......the prestige that comes with being the first person to correctly guess the location of this monument!

After a week or so of ultra responsibility, I think it is now time to bring out the rebel within.

Livin' on the edge.......

Cheers and have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Record Run

Well, I have previously expressed a desire to ride the Great Divide Route in the US of A. While in the country of inexpensive food and tipping a couple of months ago, the reality of actually doing it was rammed home to me as we drove north out of Pinedale, Wyoming.

While comfortably ensconced in our speeding RV,  I looked out to the east at the imposing Wash River Mountains, cloaked in thunderstorms, towering above 10 000ft, patrolled by roaming bears and thought to myself "how frightening would it be to be out on a bicycle in THAT?!" The Tour Divide route crossed those mountains right where the storms were. All of the romance that the movie "Ride The Divide" created around the race evaporated in a loud "pooof!".

The harsh reality of riding the 2400 miles (4400km) alone, tired, hungry, lonely (and did I mention lonely?) increased my respect for those that have tackled this route in the past. This year's race winner, Ollie Whalley from New Zealand, set a new race record at 16 days plus some change.

This well made video on Jay Petervary's record setting Individual Time Trial brings back some of the romance.........but the lingering terror of the reality is still vivid in my mind.

 I am glad I saw the reality of the landscape from the comfort of a RV and I can now understand why otherwise well prepared challengers drop out after just a few days.

Has it changed my desire to "have a go"? The sort answer is a reserved "no". But...........

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Helmet Hunting

Number 2 child and I hit up some bike shops today, mainly because it was too hot to do anything else.

While in there we started trying on a few small helmets as I have been thinking it is nearly time to take the kids for a gentle ride around the block on the motorcycle. Clearly, we need something to protect their "scone" while doing so.

Now I know what to look for when buying a helmet for myself. Fit, ventilation and then style is the order I work in but how do you determine a good fit with a child? How can they know if a tight, snug fit is right or if it is too tight and going to hurt after an hour?

If anyone has any helmet buying advice I would be pleased to hear from you. While I am not planning on purchasing a top of the line lid for the kids, I do want to purchase a well fitted, safe helmet.
 But I am resigned to the fact that we will not agree on the syling.....