Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Older, But Wiser....?

Here we are at the end of another year already! This one has gone particularly fast and has had a lot packed into it, although I am not normally much of a participant in the "NYE event" that a lot of people seem to get caught up in.

At a bit of a loose end today, I thought a final mountain bike ride for the year might be the idea and in fact managed to squeeze two rides in! The first with a mate who is making a comeback after a BIG accident in Whistler and it was great to be out. Great to see him on the bike again as well.

The second ride was a solo effort to take in the view from Mt Cotton. The colours of the Australian bush are quite dull at the moment with it being so dry but there is the odd splash of colour where Eucalypts are bursting through their old bark to show their new skin.

This can be a solid ride as there is a bit of climbing to summit the hill, but I felt like I was breezing along as I recounted some of the things that I have been involved with in 2013.

Obviously I am very proud of my family. My kids seem to be making leaps and bounds in both their education and their physical endeavours.

This has not been without some pain, with at least one broken arm and a hellish looking black eye being suffered. But they are out there, trying. And they make me proud to be their Dad.

A very special thanks to my lovely wife, who is like the glue that holds us all together. She lets me play like with the kids and gives us plenty of leash-up to a point!

As for me, this year we built another amazing mountain bike trail, Ginger Gully, and saw the MTB movement gain further legitimacy with the founding of SEQTA and the winning of quite a bit of money in the form of grants for future trail builds.

I managed to slip away for a few days at a time to indulge in some bike packing trips when work permitted and learnt many lessons and saw some amazing sights.

Work has gone from strength to strength and I thank my lucky stars that I am in an industry that I enjoy.  It may not make any money but it makes it seem less like WORK, right?

Yes, it has been a good year all round and I look forward to 2014 being even better. I have some big plans afoot for my mtbing and if everything falls into place I will let you in on them at the appropriate time.(insert wink). A motorcycle trip around the South Island of New Zealand beckons but before I can get to that one a trip to the Snowy Mountains with the kids must be seen to. 

Yep, it is shaping up to be a great year ahead and I hope yours is too.

Cheers and thanks for reading this year. May the wind be always at your back and your bottle cage always be filled with a cold one. See you all in 2014.................

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Another Day At Work

Thanks to OutdoorGaz for finding this link. This is a really well put together video of the Air Tahiti operation.

I just wonder when the fun police are going to jump on this filming while at work.....?

In the mean time, enjoy.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cross Training

Now, I spend a lot of time away from home with work. About 90 nights a year which means a day either side of that night at least.

That equals lots of % of the year and while away I really enjoy getting outside into the fresh air. Sitting around 3 and 4 star hotel rooms may seem glamorous but honestly it doesn't make for a good mental outlook. Every opportunity to look around the town I happen to be in is grabbed with both hands.

For the last 6 months I seem to have been grabbing lots of Townsville and Mackay opportunities. These towns are in the tropics so while southern Australia is shivering in it's ugg boots, these towns are warm and dry. So, I have been walking/running around Castle Hill in Townsville and along the beach in Mackay to help maintain what hard earned fitness I can while I am away.

This brings me in a round about way to the subject of this post, that being my shoes. My cheap Nike runners were just not cutting it on the slippery crushed granite slopes of Castle Hill. I felt an injury, maybe a uber painful knee injury, was just a matter of time if I continued to push my luck. I needed some decent trail running shoes.

But what are decent trail running shoes? I didn't know but kept an eye out for something that looked the business wherever I went.

Well, wherever turned out to be HarbourTown outlet mall on the Gold Coast about a month ago! I was dragging along at the back of the family outing, you know, the dad that carries all the bags and is looking for, no HOPING for, a crazed gunman to suddenly open fire so that everyone has to run away. Yep, that was me.

Anyhoo, we wandered into a North Face outlet shop where some trail running shoes caught my eye. How did I know they were trail running shoes? Well, I took a punt as they had great knobs under them like a tyre on a dirt bike and looked "runner-ish" on top. The next thing that caught my eye was the "over 50% off" price tag. I don't do discounts that don't at least start with a 5, so this was looking good.

Cutting to the chase, I decided to try a pair of North Face Ultra Guide (I just found this link, no research was done beforehand!) runners. They had to be better than what I was using....right?

I have been using these shoes now for about a month and have to say I am very impressed with their performance, especially as I know nothing about running or running shoes! They are very light and comfortable on the foot. The tread on the sole grips like shit to a blanket on the super-slippery crushed granite slopes of Castle Hill. So much so that I have not had one slip, not even a slight slip-grip even while running downhill. That in my books is awesome!

I assumed with the level of grip provided that the lugs might be showing signs of stress, especially after use on sealed surfaces as well. This isn't proving to be the case with no wear evident at this stage with about 50km on the shoes.

Who would have thought I would have any interest in trail running but here I am, getting out at every opportunity that I don't have access to two wheels and raising the heart rate. Oh, and having fun!

As a riding buddy of mine says its great to have the fitness to say "lets go hiking or riding or running or whatever" whenever you might like to and actually be able to do it. Not many 40 something year-olds can do that in this day and age. These shoes are a great addition to my arsenal of gear that lets me stay active and at this stage I would recommend them as no nonsense trail shoes.

Cheers and thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Skid Lid

Since I ambled back into motorcycling about 2 years ago there has been a need to update my gear as so much of it is almost 20 years old and/or clapped out. New boots, gloves and jackets have been procured to add some protection quality to areas where it was obviously lacking.

This unstoppable safety criteria met the immovable economic reality when it came to my skid lid though. Well, my little used Arai Quantum e stilled looked a million bucks even if the comfort lining was disintegrating, covering my noggin and shoulders with a sort of sticky, black dandruff. Nope, once I had it cleaned up and smelling fresh again I figured that it would do for the time being.

But.....Chillertek and I have been planning a motorcycling trip to New Zealand for next February and I knew in my heart that I would need a new helmet for that trip. His post regarding his helmet replacement project saw me revisiting the fact that my helmet was made last century! 1998 in fact was the year of manufacture and even doubling the conservative 5 year life recommended by the manufacturer saw me 5 years past replacement date. Yep, I reckon I got my money's worth there! Here it is below in June 2001 sitting atop my new R1 on a ride across the Fleurieu Peninsula . Both bike and helmet were new.

After much internet searching, telephone discussion and the fact that my brother got off his backside and bought a new helmet (I'll let him tell you about that) I felt ready to bite the bullet.

So I was off to the only bike shop that is open on a Sunday here in Queensland, the new Motobarn accessory warehouse. I had a firm...ish idea of what I wanted to spend and a couple of helmets in mind. These being a Shoei and a Shark.

I had issues with both though. The Shoei was blowing the budget and while the Shark was in the ballpark, it just didn't fit right and have that quality feel. That is when the salesman asked if I had seen the Kabuto range? "No, I didn't need a small tractor, I needed a helmet" I replied. No, Kabuto, not Kubota! "Oh, well no, clearly I have not", was my response. He proceeded to show me the range and I must say I was pleasantly surprised! They looked good, were very light, all the moving parts had a quality feel to them and it fit just as snugly and comfortably as a helmet well over twice it's price!!

I know that "you get what you pay for" in life and many say that if I don't spend a gazillion dollars on a lid then I don't value my safety, but if you want to push that line you would be driving a Volvo anyway, not riding a motorcycle.

Yes, there is a point where the marketing bullshit walks and safety meets cost. I "feel" that this helmet will balance that equation out but obviously really won't know until I actually get to try it out on the bike. I will keep you informed as time progresses, meanwhile, say hi to the Kabuto Aeroblade III.

Quality feeling vent actions, pinlock ready and inexpensive replacement visors. And VERY light.

Hopefully many miles of hassle free comfort lie ahead.