Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Ramping It Up

What seems mere days ago is now a very distant Week 6! Here we are, going into Week 9 of the training program. While I am starting to feel the benefits of the program (especially the off-bike strength training) I am starting to feel a little stressed that my gear isn’t sorted. I am still working my way through tyre selection and this can’t be hurried. It is simply time on the trail that is needed there. My hike a bike (HAB) training is going okay but I still haven’t even tried slinging my bike onto my back yet. I have been filling a 35 litre pack with as many bottles of water as I can, which yields me about an 18-19kg load. It hurts after just 5km so I am slightly concerned about a 25kg bike strapped to a makeshift backpack for 35km ......

Last week....er....I mean the week before, Week 7, I managed to get away for a longer, fully loaded overnight trip. The forecast wasn’t looking good with a high chance of showers predicted. Oh well, 90% of success is just showing up as they say, so I pedalled out from home for that old favourite, D’Aguilar National Park. Actually, I was hoping to get through the forest and out onto the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail but my near-lunch time departure put paid to that plan. No, I would just ride as far as I could and camp where I dropped.

The route was one that I had taken many times in my prep for the Tour Divide and it was quickly evident that the Cannondale certainly doesn’t roll anywhere near as nicely as the Muru. I quickly squashed that mental hurdle by reminding myself that the TD bike was built to roll distances of up to 300km a day whereas the AZTR will see me lucky to punch out half that distance per day. Horses for courses.........but the buzzing from the new Rekon and Ikon tyres on the ashphalt kept singing “draggy, dragg, draaagggg” to my mind. Don’t panic though, that tread will come into it’s own on the AZ dirt!

As I finally hit the Gap Creek Reserve dirt the tyres inspired confidence, as I expected they would. I just need to find some rocky trails to thrash them over to test their resilience.

I took the climb up South Boundary Rd a little gingerly as I wanted to save my legs for tomorrow’s ride. No good ripping my legs off on day one, right? As I climbed higher up the hill it began to look much more certainly like rain. Checking the BOM Weather Radar site there wasn’t much showing and anyway, I was out here, with all the gear. There was nothing for it other than to just get on with it.

Once I reached the Boombana picnic area though it was getting prematurely dark and decidedly moist. I was wet, but warm so I pedalled on through Mt Nebo. Neither of the two food outlets were open by this time so I though I would push on to Fernvale, about 2.5 hours away, on the rail trail. Dave Wicks happened to text me as I was sitting in a bus shelter, contemplating my options. When I told him about my plan I received a screen shot of the radar and a “good luck!”  Hmmmm, I might need it!

Entering Dundas Rd, which is the start of the drop off the range the rain started getting heavier. The cloud also descended so that I was riding through a fog with maybe 50m visibility. Great!
I came to an intersection where I knew I had to go left...or was it right? Hmmm, it has been a few years since I have been up here. Shining my light around I spied a new addition to the water tanks on Dundas rd - a bush camp!!

Now a bush camp isn’t much more than a 3 sided shelter with a bench seat but on a dark, rainy night it was a frickin’ Hilton hotel!

While I would have to forgo dinner that night, a dry camp site was much more preferable to a very wet, dark slide off of the range down the appropriately named “Whoa Boy” fire road with it’s 50 odd water bars and 30% grade. Fernvale was a loong way away with no certainty that I would make it before the pub stopped serving food. Yep, squashed Full O Fruit it would be! I quickly set up my hammock and crawled into bed for what would be a 12 hour rest. Heavy rain on a tin roof makes for great sleeping weather!

Next morning, once I eventually dragged my backside out of bed, I quickly packed up. While it wasn't raining at the camp site, the weather radar indicated that there were many heavy showers around, with some of the heaviest heading for the rail trail and my "Plan B" option of riding south to Ipswich.

“Plan C”was hatched. I rode back up Dundas Rd to Mt Nebo rd, then turned off down the Goat Track. It had not been raining up until this point but of course as soon as I started down the Goat track (the wrong way), the heavens opened. I hid under a tree for 10-15 minutes hoping it was just a passing (very heavy) shower but once I was finally soaked I thought “well, I may as well be moving forward as standing here”.

The rate of rainfall was biblical and I could barely see where I was going. Not good on a one-way-downhill dirt road. Imagine my surprise when a woman on a mtb ground up the hill through the tumult! We exchanged a “g’day” and that was it. I took comfort from the fact thst I wasn’t the only lunatic in this neck of the woods........

Once onto the main road the rain eased and had stopped altogether by the time I arrived in Samford. Lucky for me, one of the first places I saw was Spoke cafe’. “They will be understanding” I hopefully told myself. I parked my bike up and wandered in, dripping water all the way. Quickly ordering lest the pool developing underneath me drown a passing child I exited stage right for an outside table. Dripping away I downed a huge hot breakfast and small bucket of coffee. Ahhhh, bliss.....

Where to from here? The answer to that question was home, via the Kedron Brook bikeway, the Gateway Bridge and the regular Gateway Loop that I do with the kids. That would keep me from wrecking my drivetrain in mud but still give me a bit of a workout.
Little did I know......

First up was getting over the small range between Samford and Ferny Hills. Not a big hill but one with no shoulder for much of the way and an unusually high number of incompetent, ignorant drivers. Part way up I remembered there was an old rail grade that had been turned into a bike path, the Lanita Rail Trail. Checking my phone I saw that it was not far from my current precarious position. A few turns up and down some fire breaks and I was dumped out onto this exquisitely sealed bike trail!

Turning right I happily pedalled along for a few kilometres. Until I came to a sign that said “Samford ahead”. WTF?? I had kept the big hill on my left all the time, hadn’t I? Sure enough, looking at my Garmin I was heading West! That is not right!!

With a heavy overcast there was no telling where the sun was and my gut told me I was going the right way but my gut was WRONG! I must admit to being a bit befuddled for 5 minutes afterwards. It is mind-bending to have your picture of reality be sooooo far wrong and in my own backyard so-to-speak.
Grrr. Dickhead!

Anyway, righting my wrong I was soon seeking my way through the ‘burbs to the Kedron Brook bikeway. This bikeway is an excellent East-West corridor for cyclists. All the while Wicks was helpfully texting me screenshots of rain heading my way. What can I say? He is a helpful guy......

True to radar form, I pushed into a headwind with driving rain for the next hour and a half to two hours. It felt like I was crawling but I kept telling myself “this is all good training”.

That was until I was so soaked that I began to feel a little chafing........... you know........chafing. My mind IMMEDIATELY shot to Mick Eyb’s day one account of his Indian Pacific Wheel Race write up where he got soaked then his knicks almost rubbed the end off of his old fella.........causing him days of excruciating pain and embarassment.

Shit no!!! 

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!!!

 I had thoughts of calling my wife to come and get me but the thought of her telling ALL of her office buddies (and no doubt, she would!) that “I have to rescue him because his todger is getting rubbed away” was too much to bear! Even worse than........er worse than........having your todger rubbed away.....!

 So, still about 50km and probably 4 hours from home I adjusted my “position” a lot, stood and pedalled some and just generally dealt with it. I have never been so happy to have a little dick because believe me dear reader, I am sure that is what saved me from a week of unbelievable pain and suffering.......... :0 J

 Grabbing some hot chips and water at the base of the Gateway Bridge climb refreshed me a bit while I set a booby trap, dripping slippery water all over their outdoor eating area.
Things weren’t improving much but I was getting closer to home. 30ish kilometres to go but at least it was mostly protected bike path. But how wrong I was, again.

The pishing rain had swollen Tingalpa Creek to overflowing and as the Tingalpa Creek Bikeway that I was using followed said creek I soon came to an impassable sea of water which hid my route home. Backtracking around this blockage saw me add considerable kilometres to my ride, most of which was on wet, congested, Friday afternoon roads. No fun was had here at all.

 Eventually I reached the safety of Daisy Hill forest. I should have been in a canoe though, not on a bike as the amount of water exiting the forest was frightening!

I knew there were some deep erosion holes in the track in places but it was impossible to see anything with the sometimes almost 2 feet deep water flow!

 I somehow managed to avoid disaster and exited that forest, rolling down the final hill to home.

Boy, was I glad to be home! It had been 8 hours of soaking wet riding. I hadn’t set any speed records despite the decent effort I had put in, which was a little demoralising. I just have to accept this bike is a slow roller but it will come into it’s own on the sandy, dry trails of southern Arizona. Bring on the sunshine!

I still need to get this backpack thing sorted and also sort some minor shoe issues. The backpack thing is really the elephant in the room at the moment and I am thinking perhaps I just mail a pack, hiking poles and walking shoes to the Canyon Post Office and make it easy on myself......

 Cheers and thanks for reading.


  1. Hahahahaha - I feel for you Dave! Pre-retirement, I rode my MTB 20km to work in very wet conditions and suffered the same problem. Still had to make the trip home again so approached one of the women working in the lab next door to my office for some petroleum jelly. They hadn't got any but she asked me what it was for and I reluctantly told her. She kept a straight face and produced some strawberry-scented balm which she had. Five minutes later, it was all round the lab and surrounding offices :-( . I smelt really nice on the way home but at least it worked.

    Keep up the good work mate!

  2. Wow, can the weather make things even harder on you? Isn't it supposed to be summer there? Hope you are walking straight by now. Chafing is no joke, lol.

    Thinking back to the luck you had meeting up with your mailed packs on the Tour Divide, it might be a crap shoot to mail stuff.

    1. Crap shoot, yes. If it doesn’t arrive or goes missing I may be screwed for the hike. I wonder if you can buy packs at the GC store? I hope I don’t need to find out.

  3. Thanks for putting it all out there Dave. Well, what is left after most of it got rubbed away!


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