Monday, August 26, 2013

Back To Blackbutt

With the weather finally acting "normal" again we decided it was time to ride some of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT) again. This time as a family.

The plan was- number 1 child and I would head from Linville to Blackbutt, trying to beat the growing darkness after our late start due to kids sporting committments. Number 2 child and The Boss would drive up to Blackbutt to meet us. We would stay the night then all ride down the trail to Linville again on Sunday morning. I figured that this would make an easy introduction to cycling for The Boss.

Kicking off at 4pm made for golden light along the trail as we turned the pedals out of the old Linville railway station.

Number 1 child was super pumped about the ride as well. A year older than the last time she rode it and on a larger wheeled bike I knew she would smash the 22km(14mi) steady climb up to Blackbutt.

We made good time but the sun soon slipped behind the hills and the air quickly felt chill.

This didn't mean there wasn't time to stop and smell the flowers though.

With Number 1 now having clip in pedals she was a bit hesitant about bombing down into the creek crossings where the bridges had once stood. She took it carefully but always with a grin on her face.

This year I had made a careful study of Google Maps and my old GPS traces to pinpoint the location of an Aboriginal Bora ring just off the rail trail. Last year I had tried to go by memory and had failed miserably thus enduring the wrath of a not-very-happy 9 year old!!

In defence of my memory, I had the correct area in mind but I just lacked the detail to nail it down. Not so this time around though! We found it!! This ring is in a pine plantation but to their credit when the pines were sown, they left the Bora Ring intact. They even went to a bit of trouble to fence it off from the forest road.

It is a little difficult to make the ring out in photograph. Lucy is standing on the mound that forms the other side of the ring and when I paced it out, she was 19m(yards) away.

Needless to say, she was CHUFFED.

We rolled into Blackbutt in a glare of AY-UP lights just after dark where we were whisked off to our accomodation and plenty of country pub food.

Next morning after a slap up breakfast we were all back at the trail head ready to get underway. The Boss, in her 50m ride from the car(the first in years), had already been swooped by a stroppy magpie! I hoped it wouldn't be an omen for the day....

We were soon climbing the 1 kilometre of uphill trail before the trail went downhill all the way to Linville. The Boss had Number 2 child for company along here. He was very excited to have Mum joining us for the ride.

This being her first ride with us and not knowing what to expect, there were a few moments of consternation until the trail did really go downhill. This is why this ride is great for beginners as it is 21km of gentle downhill where if you chose to pedal it just propels you even faster.

We soon rolled past all of the points of interest, including the Bora Ring again. 

Before we knew it we were back in Linville and the kids were straight into the old railway carriages to play.

I jumped on the bike and blasted back up the trail to pick up the car from Blackbutt. This made for a very nice social morning capped with a solid ride for an hour. 

Arriving back with the car I loaded up a hungry family for a pit stop at the Fernvale Bakery. All up it was a very pleasant way to spend a day and we might hit another section of the trail once the kids sports have fizzled out for the year.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Winter Ride

Being a bit infected with deadly man flu, I thought I had better take it easy and stay off my bikes. Well, the ones you need to pedal at least. With the winter weather finally acting like winter in the sub tropics, it was time to go and scrub my new tyres in.

The standard south east Queensland/northern New South Wales route was selected for it's mix of interesting scenery, curves and generally quiet roads. A very nice 350km(220mi) loop.

I had some new AlpineStar SP-8 gloves to break in on this ride, as seen here modelled by young Will.

I made my way down to the border along the Mt Lindesay Highway. The road is as rough as ever in places and I had the added excitement of coming around a 35km/h bend to find the road pretty well completely covered in loose gravel( the white substance on the road in the video). The road maintenance crews had been patching potholes and not bothered to put a "loose gravel" sign up. Typical. But, as I was taking it easy it didn't cause me any concern, it just ruined the rest of that section of twisty, bumpy road.

The Summerland Way down into NSW is always a very nice ride with thickly forested hillsides overlooking the greenery of the valley. It opens out slightly as you approach Kyogle but it still very pretty country.

Riding into Kyogle I fuel the bike up, then myself with a coffee and the morning tea of champions, a meat pie. Having a cold I can't honestly tell if the pie is any good but I sense I have had better. It fills a hole though!

Leaving Kyogle I head out the Murwillumbah road. I have not ridden this road since about 2003, waay back when I owned my last road bike. Back then it was a narrow, bumpy bit of goat track and I am not expecting any different today. I am not disappointed.

But it does traverse through some amazing country. This area is home to the infamous hippy community of Nimbin. I say infamous slightly tongue in cheek as its detractors back in the day were probably just jealous that they couldn't drop out of society and smoke pot as well.

Nipping around the back of Mt Warning via Tyalgum there are some spectacular views over the valley.

Most of the roads are tight and twisty, staying under the tree cover but there are also some magic sweepers between the greenery of cow pasture.

Heading up and over the border via the Numinbah Valley is a must ride section of road. Not because of any great quality it holds but rather because the only other option is the multi lane Pacific highway. Been there-done that-got the flat spot on the tyre to prove it!

Speaking of tyres, I rediscovered how nice a new set of tyres feel. The bike just tips into and out of corners. It holds a line without any input from me. I just feels right.

The new gloves quickly softened up and felt good by the end of the ride. They will be perfect for hitting New Zealand with next year.

I am glad we finally have some proper Winter weather at last.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Why You Can't Use Electronic Devices On Aeroplanes

A mate sent me this beauty last week. 

The funny thing is there is a little bit of truth in the flight attendant's answer.


(I caint turn orff me pacemaker.......)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Never Work With Children or Animals

In a final post regarding the opening of Ginger Gully I would like to present Andrew's view of the opening day. Yes, I am banging on a bit about this but honestly I put so much effort into this build(as did everyone that came along) not to shout it from the blogospere.

You will see my kids and might even catch me trying to stay off camera for everyone's betterment. The numbers of rider that turned up (at our request) was very impressive and everyone looks like they are having a great time...apart from the little fella on the blue bike who clearly thought he was going to DIE!

We have been promoting our trail building efforts in a positive light, trying to encourage more participation and the proof is in the pudding. Pretty much everyone loves the trails.

So, fast forward to the next Saturday morning and our monthly trail care day where we do minor repairs to existing trails. After having about 60 people at the free BBQ we hoped there might be a flow on effect at the trail care morning, a mere 6 days later. 

Well, (insert tumbleweed emoticon here) we had a massive turn out of 5. Yep, thats right, 5. Three regulars, one new bloke(thanks Kevin) and one 12-14 year old boy who was actually at the trail opening day and decided not to do his usual ride but to come do some digging this week(thanks Ryan). I had to run off after just one hour to get to my kids sporting commitment, leaving just 4. Riding the trail a few days later and not surprisingly almost nothing had been done. Three small fixes of the ten to twelve that were on the list. No slight on the guys that were there. They just couldn't do it in the time allotted.

So what is the answer? Somehow we need to engage the volunteers so that they feel a connection and want to come back. Unfortunately we are working with a local government organisation that is setting an inflexible standard and our volunteers(me included) feel excluded from any decision making. Yet we provide ALL of the elbow grease that makes the build happen.

Maybe the volunteers need to be more charitable as well? Social commentator Hugh Mackay puts the case for "giving back" very eloquently in this conversation with the ABC's Richard Fidler. I find that Hugh puts into words the feeling that I have had for the last couple of years and couldn't articulate, even to myself. Don't worry, it isn't religious but please take the time to listen. It is thought provoking stuff.

Or perhaps W.C. Fields famous quote of "never work with children or animals" should be expanded to "Never work with children, animals or volunteers". Actually, it may not be that catchy.......

Cheers and thanks to all of the guys and girls that put so much personal blood, sweat and beers into making some freakin' awesome trails. 

You know who you are.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ginger Gully

Here is one to take you into the weekend. 

It may not be the coolest, raddest, ripping, stylin' mountain bike video that you ever saw but it s one that was made by us on the trail that we built, so its kinda special to me.

Enjoy Ginger Gully.

Even better, be there at 11am Sunday for the official opening with BBQ and drinks put on by the local council, then ride it (and the rest of Cornubia) with us.