Thursday, December 14, 2017

Grabbing Life With Both Hands


Things have been trundling along for me with everyday life stuff going on. You know, the usual rat race stuff of going to work, taking kids to school, mowing the lawn when it gets to be 22.8mm long...... plus some riding. Being blessed with great trails right out my back door probably likely sees me taking the riding a little for granted. 

Since the Thunderbolt Challenge back in April there haven’t been any riding challenges on my horizon which can make it a bit hard to find motivation. Well, there was The Great Cycle Challenge in October, but that was spread over the whole month, not a specific, self supported race challenge.

I have been toying with the idea of racing the Arizona Trail since late 2015. It is meant to one brute of a race. Tougher mile for mile than the Tour Divide Race even though it is “only” 750 miles in length. Anyway, my leave ballot was recently open and it looks like I will get time off next April to have a crack at it. This won’t be confirmed until January but with the race starting on the 5th of April,  I have less than 4 months to get my shit sorted!

Since the 2015 TD race we have had a frequent, infrequent catch up here in Brisbane between Dave Wicks, Mark Meyers and I to discuss all things bikepacking, reminisce on the 2015 TD and sample a few cold brews. Since mentally committing to the Arizona Trail Race in the last week or so I have been telling myself to get an email out to them both so we can gee each other up about it over a beer. 
I wish I had.

Today I learned that Mark passed away last weekend. Details are sketchy as to the reasons but whatever they turn out to be, he has been taken from us too soon. He was in training for the Hunt 1000, his next bikepacking expedition and we had discussed it during our last bench racing session. We will all miss his dry wit, raspy chuckle and cheesy grin. To Mark’s family I offer my condolences and thank them for the time that they allowed him to spend with us, on our bikes.......or drinking beers and laughing.

Mark showing me the first few kilometres of the TD route, pre race 2015(and helping to settle my butterflies!)

While very sad and waaay too soon, to me it is another lesson that we need to be out there, living life, going for it as you never know how much time you have left. I am going to get stuck in and knock this AZTR750 out of the park because if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well and time is precious.





RIP Mark.

Mark and I, Spray River Trail Banff 2015






I am going for a ride...........

Monday, October 30, 2017

Winding It Up



My updates have been a little thin on the ground lately. Sorry about that but I have been a little busy pedalling my various bikes around the countryside.


Our trip to Tassie was a raging success, in both riding and weather terms. Capping the trip off with a 80km/9hour epic over the top of Mt Wellington on the 23rd was probably not the best use of time but was interesting, none the less. (More on that trip in another post)

I managed a 60km road ride yesterday, which with me returning to work today, will be my last chance to ride in October. That means the distance total you see here will be it for my Great Cycle Challenge. It does not mean that the total money raised needs to remain at $4200 though!

Please feel free to continue donating while I give my legs a little rest.........thanks everyone. ;)

Cheers.



Monday, October 23, 2017

Quick Update


While I have some internet access and a few spare moments I will tantalize you with a quick taste of our Blue Derby experience .


I will keep it short and to the point, Derby trails are without doubt THE BEST trail network in Australia and are easily the equal of anything I have seen or ridden in New Zealand!


Our 3 day taster of trails included the iconic Blue Tiers trail, an epic 17km trail that traversed from alpine tundra to lush Tasmanian forest and finished at the historic Weldeborough Hotel.



From Weldeborough we shuttled up to the top of Atlas Trail. Atlas is another epic descent through ancient  temperate rainforest with the added challenge of long sections of granite boulders and slabs to add some technicality but also includes plenty of World Trail's signature fast/ flowy trail. 


To cap it off,  we were blessed with 3 perfect days of blue skies and top temps of 20°C! Perfect riding weather while Brisbane was STILL wet! (7 days straight)

Today, we are near Hobart and are planning an Epic climb over the back of Mt Wellington, along the North/South track to Glenorchy, then a tootle into Hobart.  It is going to hurt!


Oh, yeah, for the Great Cycle Challenge I am sitting at 993km of my 1000km goal so I should be able to comfortably tick that off today. 

Let's see how mush further I can go.....


Cheers. 

Geoff's artwork exactly reflects our sentiments....

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bloody (Beautiful) Rain


Well the riding has been seriously slowed due to incessant rain. It has rained for 5 straight days now with showers still on the forecast!

Green where it was brown 1 week ago

This hasn't stopped me completely but where I was on track to hit my 1000km goal on perhaps Monday, here I am on Thursday still stuck on 880km. This is partly due to the fact that spare parts finally turned up for my broken Habit and it suddenly became a mad rush to get myself organised for a mtb trip to Tasmania. A trip that I honestly didn't think I would be going on due to a busted bike.


But here I am, sitting in Launceston, waiting for the other 4 guys to arrive on their Jet* flight. We will then head for the newly hallowed mtbing lands around Derby in Northeast Tassie. Here I hope to crank up the kilometres as best as I can. Dirt is much harder to rack the k's up on but at least I will be earning those donations!
Anyway, here's hoping my next post will be from Derby!(subject to standby travel....)

Cheers

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Munda Biddy Sampler


The Great Cycle Challenge rolls on despite a work trip getting in the way. Actually, this time around a work trip helped facilitate some more riding. You see, while it was nice and dry here in Perth, it has been quite wet at home which would have put the brakes on my challenge odometer had I been at home.

The day started with a pleasant ride out East from near the Perth CBD.  As I have mentioned in the past, Perth has some great cycling infrastructure with dual lane paths snaking all over the city. I followed one of these East toward the airport, occasionally taking to various back streets to get out to Midlands.

Ascot Racecourse

I had made a last minute decision to take the bike on this trip so had no pre-prepared navigation notes to follow, just a sketchy memory of which way to go. The sketchy memory came through for me with an "almost" flawless ride out to Midland and beyond to Bellevue and the start of the Heritage Rail Trail.


I have done this trail several times now so just got stuck in with climbing the range.

Darlington station

My aim was to get to Mundaring then make a decision on weather to keep heading East along the Kep Track to Northam or to turn South and sample some of the famous Munda Biddy Track.


The Munda Biddy runs from Mundaring all the way to Albany, 1000km (621mi) away on the south coast of Western Australia.


I did have a .gpx file to follow out to Northam on the Kep, but nothing at all for the Munda Biddy. Ah well, sometimes you have to live on the edge. The Munda Biddy it was going to be!!


I had a rough idea of riding down to Jarrahdale. Rough in that I knew it was south along the track but I had no idea whether it was 80km or 120km away. I also had no idea of the surface conditions and must admit I was thinking it must be like the awesome surface of the rail trail. FAIL on that one!! I did look at Trailforks and found one ride from Mundaring to Brookton Highway - quite a way from Jarrahdale - that quoted 46km. This was going to be a solid day but on the plus side, I did have ALL day! (plus lights)

Decision made, I quickly pulled into Woolies for some snacks and sustenance to keep me powering along for however long I needed to......


Did I mention it was a cracking bluebird day at about 20C(68F) and just a perfect day to be riding? Well it was! And even better, being a work trip, technically I was being paid to do this stuff....... ;) happy days!

Trail Marker Number 1

Anyway, I pushed off toward Mundaring Weir and the Weir Hotel. The track took quite a few twists and turns along here and all I had to go by were the Munda Biddy Trail blazes.

This turn obviously gets missed a bit!

Being on the CX bike I was smoking along and as a result I shot past about 6 or 8 corners. This was going to be a long day if I kept missing turns like this!


Anyway, after getting very good at feet up u-turns on gravel I was soon enough standing outside the Mundaring Weir Hotel. My neighbour, Chris, just happened to call and I was able to brag about where I was (Chris did a few years in Perth so appreciated where I was).


A little bit of  blacktop and I was back onto the dirt, looking for the yellow trail blazes. They eventually became easier to find and once I was past the maze of singletrack that is just South of Mundaring Weir they actually became very easy to spot and progress increased markedly. The trail also criss-crossed the Bibbulman Track a few times. It looked superb but alas, it is a walking only trail.



Progress increased, apart from the few hills that I had to get off and walk up as a combination of high gearing, skinny tyres and loose surface made it just not worthwhile hurting too much.


I don't want to bang on about it as every other article written about the Munda Biddy devotes many words to it but I must make mention of the loose gravel/sand (Pea Gravel) that is quite widespread, especially on downhill corners. I was running 35mm tyres at 60psi. Always going to be sketchy.

A very good section.

 While I did have 8-10 "oh shit" moments where I thought the front was folded and gone, the Sammy Slicks I was running seemed to grip on their side knobs and right me at the last moment. It certainly made it tougher but in no way was it terribly difficult to navigate. There, Pea Gravel done. Lets not speak of it again.


I pedaled on.and on.......and...on. I couldn't beleive how isolated it felt being on the trail, even though I was probably not at any time more than 50 odd kilometres from Perth city. I didn't see another soul all afternoon, apart from the two road crossings where cars were whizzing by at what looked like warp speed after my ant like progress through the twists and turns of the Munda Biddy.


I made a point of not looking at the distance measured on my GPS as I find this always underwhelms me. You know, you think you have done 100 miles and really you have only done 15.......anyway, I eventually came to Brookton Highway which I knew from my look at Trailforks in Mundaring was 46km away. Shit. 46km? That was tougher than it should have been!


Here I found a fly in the ointment of my Southward progress. There had been a controlled burn conducted in the last few days and it was still smoldering in places, so the trail was closed. There was a gravel road alternate which navigated around the burn. While I was a bit bummed, on the other hand I was down to about 200ml (6oz) of water with no prospect of getting a top up before Jarrahdale - however far that was away......


The dirt road was very wide and consisted of red gravel. It was quite smooth and it reminded me very much of the Kimberley region of Western Australia.


This is a massive state but the soil seems to be the same from top to bottom. I soft pedalled along this 19km diversion so as not to increase my thirst. I was thankful it was quite a cool day and my water consumption was low as a result.

I could see an area called Gleneagle on my GPS and was hoping that there might be a small town or shop there. There wasn't.

There was a campground which was pretty bloody grubby with rubbish everywhere-too close to the Albany highway-and no campers, whom I was hoping to cadge some water from. :(

Looking at the GPS I could see the Munda Biddy snaking around to the East before swinging back toward Jarrahdale. It crossed a sealed road, a sealed road that went straight into Jarrahdale. Being about 4pm I decided to just roll along the seal as I wasn't really sure what I would find in Jarrahdale. Yeah, yeah, do your research, I know....but this was spur of the moment and you have got to live on the edge occasionally!


I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was only 14km to Jarrahdale as it looked further on my 1 3/4" GPS screen. It proved to be a rather pleasant roll into town although apparently I did miss some really nice sections of the trail that ran through an old P.O.W. camp and along an elevated ex railway. Oh well, next time.

50ml left....and I hadn't really drank for 2 hours.....

Once in Jarrahdale I quickly found the general store and went mad in the fridge, emerging to sit in the late afternoon sun with water, chocolate milk, chicken sandwich, fruit cake etc.......and settled into it.

Food and lodging - both top notch!

Sitting at the table next to me were two guys I took to be hikers. Chatting, it quickly emerged that they were from Victoria and doing an End to End of the Munda Biddy on bikes. We chatted away for a bit when I learned that the general store also had a B & B upstairs. For a modest price I could get a room with continental breakfast. I could also have dinner in the Jarrahdale Tavern with my newly found friends. SOLD!

Jarrahdale Tavern - the photo does not do it justice.

After draining the Jarrahdale water supply in the shower (did I mention it was getting cold now?) I doused myself in deodorant (only travelling with my now stinky riding gear)  and wandered down to the Tavern for dinner. Dave and Ross turned out to be brothers from Bright and Ballarat in Victoria and were taking 3 weeks to do the Munda Biddy. We enjoyed a great meal, even better beers and discussed all things mtbing for quite a while. Well, until about 7:30, when we all decided we were stuffed and elected to turn in for the night.


The stats for the day were -


Day 2


I was up early the next morning and tucked into the continental breakfast my hosts had left out. I wanted to be on the road early to beat the traffic and to give myself plenty of time to get back to the hotel as I would be more or less following my nose. 

I headed out of town and turned right onto Nettleton Road as instructed by Jim, the owner of the Jarrahdale Bed and Breakfast/Store who promised me that it was a nice quiet road with not much climbing. Thankfully he was bang on the money with only a half dozen cars passing me on the entire road and what hills there were, were very gentle.


When I finally met the South Western Highway at Byford I was instantly back in the bustle of a city with cars whizzing along the road and it took a few minutes before a break large enough for me to safely cross the highway emerged. Talk about leaving a time warp! Yuk!


Most of the rest of the morning consisted of battling ever increasing morning traffic which is the same as traffic in any major city - just bloody awful. There were flashes of brilliance when I would find one of Perth's great bike paths but these tended to petre out into nothing, then I was back on the road, dodging idiots who should have got out of bed just 5 minutes earlier.


I eventually found my regular river loop bike path and trundled along the Swan River and around to a cafe' that I like to frequent when in Perth and in possession of a bike. The Bayside Kitchen is a great location to kick back and watch the water. As a bonus they do awesome food and coffee too!


From here I ambled back around the river with no particular goal in mind. It was too early to head back to the hotel and the riding was too easy on the flat bike path not to keep riding, so I did keep rolling around the place soaking up the glorious day.


Eventually doing nothing in particular got the better of me and I went back to the hotel to prepare for work that night. All in all, a great morning on the bike that felt soooo easy yet yielded 86km(53mi) for the tally.




So, at Thursday lunchtime - Day 12 - I sat at 737km(457mi) for the month. I might not quite make my self imposed 14 day/1000km but it will not be far off.


 Is 2000km for October still possible? 
Time for a controlled burn........



Cheers and thanks for checking in.



Sunday, October 8, 2017

Great Cycle Challenge - The Rest Of The First Week

WEEK 1


Ok, just a quick bulk update from the first week of my Great Cycle Challenge.

Everyone should be up to speed with Day 1 as per my previous post.

Day 2 

was a gentle recovery ride which found me trying to find the flattest possible route because I didn't want to climb any hills after Day 1! 


203km on Day 1, no flats. About 5 minutes after the above photo was taken,
10.5km into Day 2, pffffttt-flat! Maaannn!! 

The rest of Day 2 was a bit wet and very gentle.




Day 3 


was a day to cover some kilometres as I was about to head off to work for four days, with almost no opportunity to ride. I managed to bang out 65km (40mi) which is two days worth of riding. Not bad as I was still feeling Day 1's effects.


Chillertek rang for a chat about 15 seconds after I took the above photo so I had a nice chat to him while pedalling along the waterfront!

To cap Day 3 off, I added a new steed to my stable! Woo Hoo!! 
Yup, going fat-ish with 3.0 rubber and staying with the Lefty. That makes two Leftys in my stable now, which reminds me that I must update my "My Rides" page as it has changed significantly in the last few months.



Day 4

Day 4 was a "rest" day mostly spent in Sydney with a little work tacked on from mid afternoon.


Day 5 


I actually managed to find a cheap flat bar hybrid bike that I was able to pedal south along the Gold Coast on a crackingly stunning Spring day. Not too hot but warm enough to see plenty of beach goers out enjoying themselves.






I managed 52km which is almost two days worth of riding. Not bad for time away from home.


Day 6

was a full day at work with no prospect of any pedalling. This was fine as I need to be a bit careful and give myself some rest days. I don't want to end up overtrained and sick or worse still, unmotivated!

Day 7

was an early start for a ride with the kids and a good mate and his keen young fella. I got a first ride on the new Cannondale and spent the ride quietly noting things that would need adjusting/changing. I must say, this is a normal process with any new bike I buy and overall I was pleased with how the 3 inch tyres felt and handled. I will give some more thoughts on the "Beast" once I get it more sorted. Another 30km in the bank today.


Week 2


Day 1 of Week 2 started out early again, this time with a gravel grinding loop around the south eastern area of Brisbane's bushlands, which are quite substantial. I was accompanied by a couple of mates who were keen to check out some of the trails they hadn't seen before.

We didn't get far (like 500m) before we had our first puncture of the day. Cyclocross tyres and rocks can be a hazardous combination as Josh found out. His only spare tube used already with another 64-ish kilometres to go......


The ride threw up a little of everything from the singletrack above, to open fire trail below...


To hike-a-bike route finding......


Unfortunatley, it seemed to be a day that orange bikes suffered from rapidly deflating tyres with our second flat (well, sort of flat. The Stan's sealed the hole but it just needed topping up with air) of the day at about the 36km mark. Thankfully, that was the last for the day with my 60psi Sammy Slicks going on to record zero punctures despite copping a caning at times.





That sees me sitting on 444.5km(276mi) on Day 8 of the challenge. I might go close to knocking out a kilometre-for-dollar ratio of 1 at this rate......that is unless the dollars begin to flow in again.......



Thanks for checking in.
Cheers.