Monday, May 28, 2018

2018 Arizona Trail Race 750 - Day 2

I awoke and it was still dark. Good, I didn't oversleep. I had set my alarm for 0430 and I tried to pry my eyes open to see what the time was now. 0420. Nice. Time to get up.
I jumped up and got into my kit as quickly and quietly as I could, mindful of the people camped just near me. I ate the second half of my Sonoita takeway buritto, washed down with a can of Starbucks esspresso, mmmmm, coffeeee, while I stuffed my gear into the bike bags. It was cold so I layered up a bit. I knew I would warm up quickly as there was a big HAB right from the get-go this morning. I had watched all the passers by last night push up to the top of the ridge.

So, I began Day 2 by walking that ridge too. Once at the top I was warm and for the next hour or two I grovelled along, riding a little, pushing a lot. The singletrack was very narrow along here and kept dropping into small drainages which climbed steeply on the other side. I felt good this morning but was getting a little frustrated at my apparent lack of progress.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

2018 Arizona Trail Race 750 - The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Here I was, panting hard, sweating harder, pushing my heavily laden bike up a steep, loose hillside in southern Arizona under a blistering sun, just a handful of miles from the Mexican border. 

I briefly thought "what the fuck am I doing here, no really..., wtf ?" as I rounded yet another tight, loose, rocky, climbing switchback. I stopped to take a pull on my water bottle, then my eyes swung out to take in the vista of the Miller Peak wilderness. 
Holy crap! From up here at 6000ft, the view was magic

I had been riding/walking with some guy from Idaho or North Dakota for about five minutes and he just kept his head down and pushed on. I felt like saying "look to your right!!"  

He was deep in the pain cave, just 45km into this 1230km race. The Arizona Trail does that to people. It gets inside their head. All of the stupid pushing up a fall line trail with no breeze. Have you ever noticed there is never any breeze when you are climbing in the hot sun? No breeze, just the quiet muttered curses? But then the yee-haws of the loose, steep, rocky drop down the fall line on the other side help to wipe that horrible memory of the climb.......until the next steep pinch.......

So, what was I doing, grovelling along the Canelo Hills section of the Arizona Trail on this fine Thursday morning I hear you ask? Lets rewind a little to explain how I found myself in this mess. You may wish to grab yourself a cold beverage before continuing......

Saturday, May 5, 2018

In Search Of How To Carry Your Undies

It has been quite a while since I have travelled anywhere overnight by motorcycle and hence, a long time since I have needed or purchased any motorcycle luggage. Being on a sports bike limits how much I can carry but the good thing about all of the bikepacking that I have done over the last few years is I have learnt how little one really needs for a few days on the road. Take my trip to the US last month for example. I took exactly one pair of long pants, one t-shirt and one pair of undies for a 3 week visit......yep, I travel light these days! Admittedly, I only had 4 or 5 days in "civvies" before I donned the bike-cycle riding gear for the AZTR but one really does not need much.

With this in mind I went luggage hunting today. When I first bought the bike I figured I would buy a Ventura rack and use the bag that I have owned since 1994 but on closer inspection (of prices) the Ventura rack systems had become stupidly expensive so I scratched that idea long ago. While visiting a motorcycle accessory warehouse a few months back to find a mate's son some goggles for mtbing I noticed some luggage options on display. 

I promptly forgot about them until a few days ago when my bro mentioned that the lads from Sydney were planning a weekend ride midway between Sydney and Brisbane in June this year. Some of the Brisbane guys are going down for it so I thought if I am not working that weekend I might head down (if it isn't raining...). That is when I remembered that I have no meaningful way to carry my undies....

Off to a few of the local accessory stores and I was soon in posession of something that looked like it might do the job.

NOT where I bought the bag, but close!

Nelson Rigg is a brand I vaguely remember from somewhere. I have no idea of it's likely reliability but with the amount of use it will get from me, it will last for years. There aren't too many UV rays inside the cupboard!

It fits ok as is but I will cut and sew the straps that go under the seat as I want a specific, tidy fit to the rear seat. That will mean it will be bike specific but I can always buy more strap to make it fit whatever I may add to the stable in the future.

The good thing is that at 24 litre capacity I can't fit too much in it. It apparently expands to 33 litres which will hold a helmet. Nice to have but I can't see myself using it for that purpose.

The waterproof cover might be handy but luckily Australia is pretty dry which is a good thing as the cover is quite bulky and probably takes up 15-20% of the bag's capacity! I will have to screw it down into a tiny roll and tie it so as to minimise the covers bulk.

So, now to sit with a beer and just look at it for fifteen or twenty minutes  errr, brainstorm a solution to tidy up the straps underseat shitshow......

Yes, I am a bit OCD. ;-)


Friday, May 4, 2018


There was a lot of arse kicking on the Arizona Trail in early April. Mostly, it was the trail kicking our arses......... but I got the last laugh.

Pardon my French......but......FUCK YEAH !!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Beautiful One Day, Perfect The Next

That line - beautiful one day, perfect the next - has been the tag line for Queensland tourism for as long as I can remember. I recall it as a boy, growing up in country New South Wales so it goes back at least as far as the early '80s. While it might not be strictly correct every day of the year, it certainly describes Autumn here in South East Queensland. We have cool mornings, in the region of 13C(55F) and getting up to a very pleasant 25C(77F) during the day. What makes it especially pleasant is that the humidity is gone, making it feel 5 degrees cooler. 
Perfect riding weather!

So, after an early start where a mate and I bashed out 60km on our road bikes (bicycles), I came home and wheeled the R1 out of the shed. It had been (quite) a few years (5+!!) since I had rolled down to Tyalgum in northern NSW for a coffee and today was too good of a day not to ride.

I had a quick faff around with my new GoPro 6. I took it off charge and it decided that it wanted to keep turning itself on after about 10 seconds! After 30-45 minutes of searching the interwebs for a fix and some swearing at it, the little bugger was sorted! Bloody half baked technology.....

I would be taking the Advancetown road from Nerang as it is a sweet, if heavily policed, slice of motorcycling heaven. I planned on just tootling along so the prescence of mobile revenue collectors didn't worry me too much.

Once off the motorway and through Nerang it was a pleasure to tip into the never-ending corners that weave their way around the western side of Hinze dam. The surface is mostly good and while I was a little rusty, skills wise, I wasn't anywhere near boy-racer mode so really enjoyed the cruise.

I stopped in Numinbah for a quick photo outside the local hall and noticed that the cafe' seems to be operational again. A good reason to come back.

Crossing the border into NSW, the little parking area at the viewpoint was chockas with bikes and cars so I continued on down the mountainside. This section of road is narrow and bumpy and it was still wet (as usual) after overnight showers. This section of NSW gets the highest rainfall with 2300mm (92inches) per annum on average. Hence, the strip of green moss in the centre of the lane....... I was being extra careful !!

After a bumpy but fun ride I rolled into Tyalgum. There seemed to be more options for food than 5 years ago (was it really that long since I had been here?!!) but it was still too early for the pub (I don't drink when riding-hard and fast rule) and the "mumsy" cafe' didn't appeal. The general store looked very inviting so I decided to check it out.

It was a good choice as inside there was a little bit of everything from groceries to a cafe'! I grabbed a chicken salad roll and a coffee, then retired to the bench out the front to soak up the glorious morning and read the local newsletter.

I was having such a nice time on the bike I decided to extend the ride over to Murwillumbah, then loop around through Chillingham and then back over Natural Bridge and the Advancetown Rd to home. More glorious miles ensued.

Climbing back up to the border crossing and the little viewing area was clear, so I stopped in for an overview of northern NSW. It is a cracking view! (not really relayed in a photo)

Looking from QLD across the border into NSW, this is the view.

Retracing my steps from here I had a pretty good run with almost no traffic until I got to the sweet section of bends on the western side of Hinze dam, where I got stuck behind a caravan and several cars. Oh, well, it had been a mostly traffic free day, with zero mobile revenue collectors spotted, so I couldn't complain.

The 50km of motorway was over fairly quickly and painlessly and I was home about four hours after setting out. Another 260km (161mi) was on the odometer.
Funnily enough, it had been 2 years and 2 months since I was sitting at that border crossing lookout with my brother and his mates and come to the realisation that my suspension was shot and needed rebuilding. That process took about 6 months (long story) but the funny (sad) thing is that this is the first real ride I have taken the bike on since that rebuild! I have been worried, thinking I would need to set it up for me but I guess Teknic set it to my weight and specs when they rebuilt it because it handled really well today. I don't ride enough to know where it needs tweaking but for now it is good enough.
Good enough will do.........