Saturday, September 29, 2018

Exploring New Roads And Remembering The Fallen

Again, I had some days off during the week and with crackingly great weather, thought it would be criminal to waste it by doing nothing (or staying at home if you like). Following on from the aviation theme of my last motorcycling post I had read of a roadside memorial to two RAAF pilots who had lost their lives in an F111 training accident near Tenterfield back in 1987. I decided that I wanted to pay my respects and designed a route around that location. The route would also be largely new-to-me roads too, making it an interesting prospect.

The route

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Day In The Dirt - Down Under

What the hell is A Day In The Dirt I hear you ask?
Well, click on that link and it will take you to the original US of A website for the ADITD and all will be explained. Except the bit about Down Under that is. Basically, someone (Red Bull?) decided that it would be a good idea to host a version of this weekend of everything dirtbike down here in Oztraylia. Hence, A Day In The Dirt Down Under (ADITDDU) was born.

I happened to stumble across it as a mate of mine works for one of the sponsors, Lusty Enterprises, importers of (sweet looking) Fasthouse apparel. He was able to score me a promo ticket or two for the weekend. I combined this excuse to attend with a ride on the BMW to get there, then a mtb ride out there as the location of Queensland Moto Park (QMP) is right by Mount Joyce mtb trails! Win, win, win!!

Rolling up it was obvious that the event was well attended with heaps of camping set-ups in the parking area already. It was only Friday morning!
Looking to the trails and there must have been 100 bikes ripping them up! It was free practice for anyone and everyone. I soon saw a big Red Bull emblazoned KTM cleaning everyone up on the track. Of course, it was none other than Toby Price. He certainly had that big Kato flying on the tight moto tracks!

There was ample room to move in the promo area. As well as displays from Fasthouse, Bell helmets, KTM and a few others there was plenty to eat and drink. I wandered around in the relative quiet of the Friday pre lunch rush, taking a few photos.

As it was still pretty quiet I jumped on the F800 and rode around a bit to check out the facilities. At the top of the hill I sat for a while watching the action spread out below me. Apparently QMP had linked up all of the tracks for the weekend so the laps were quite long. This is just a portion of the track.

Behind me there was a motocross/supercross track (not sure of the difference to be honest) and I watched the lads practice there for a while. Some shaky video that I did as an Instagram post is below.

My mate and I made a break for the mtb tracks just after lunch. He had taken my mtb and riding gear out in his car as he was working the stalls for the weekend which worked out awesome for us getting a ride in. A short 15 minute drive saw us at Mt Joyce for a few hours pedalling. I hadn't been to Mt Joyce for two or three years and was a bit shocked at the state of some of the trails. They were highly eroded and quite challenging on my 120mm travel bike. I had definitely bought a knife to a gun fight today!

Either way, I survived the ride but I won't be hurrying back. We have too many great trails on our doorstep to do the two hour roundtrip drive out to Mt Joyce.

Back at ADITD the Dirt Hustle races were beginning. This was basically a small, mostly flat track with just a few small jumps that was being raced by all manner of bikes. The first out were the pit/Posty bikes. The first three riders in this race were absolutely flying around the track, roosting the spectators and getting seriously sideways around most corners. One guy was on a little two stroke Yammi, with a doll strapped to his chest, sunnies and a fake hipster beard and was absolutely smashing it. He had everyone in hysterics as he roosted his way around the track, all the while the ultra-high-pitched Yammi screaming it's head off in a two wheel drift. He ended up coming in 2nd place but both he and the winner were flying and COULD ride despite their diminutive bikes.

Baby Dude from the Friday race. 
This is Saturday morning and you can see that they have had considerable rain overnight.

Unfortunately I didn't get many photos as I was just enjoying a post ride Young Henrys while taking in the racing - good fun in the dirt not to be spoiled by looking through a camera lense. 

I sort of wish I had taken more photos though as the next group out were all on classic bikes. There were Maiko's, Bultaco's, old Jap two strokes and this beautiful Triumph powered Rickman which was music to the ears as he powered past! He was rocking the full Steve McQueen look and watching these bikes I could have been time-warped 30-40 years into the past......

While the Friday was dry and trending to be dusty, overnight storms Friday night dumped about an inch+ of rain on QMP. This turned the dust to mud and added another complexion and level of difficulty to Saturday's riding. I am sure glad it wasn't my bike out there in those conditions!

Yeah, easy if you were just walking around taking photos.....

Actually, it sort of doesn't matter that I didn't get that many photos as this YouTube video by MXStore captures much of the feel and look that was ADITDDU. 
Enjoy the bikes and the vibe!!
 (baby dude at 2:50 if you want to hear what he sounded like)

If they run it again next year I am pretty sure I will be there. Now I just need to find a classic two stroke dirt bike to take along...........

Cheers and thanks for checkin' in.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Russell Island Exploration

I had a day free last week and decided that while it was still cool I would go for a look around one of The Bay islands. I had been wanting to take the kids on a ferry, then pedal around an island for almost ten years but it just never happened. Now that they aren't into cycling much I decided that that ship had sailed and I needed to go solo.

To make it a decent ride I would ride from home down to the ferry terminal at Redland Bay as we were only "about" 15km from the terminal. That would give me the chance to ride through the trails in Bayview Conservation Park to get there, adding some single track goodness to the day's ride.

Not being 100% sure of what to expect I decided to take the Plus size tyres in case I encountered sand.......after all, it was a sand island.

I eventually rolled into the ferry terminal about 5 minutes before a sailing and was hustled onto the ferry by the deckhand's "c'mon, we gotta go". I hastily parked the bike on the bow, securing it with my helmet strap, then found a seat. Gathering my wits for a second after the hustling, I wandered around the boat playing tourist.

Plenty of people do this twice a day, 5 days a week and I am sure they don't notice it any more but wow, the bay is pretty!

We went via the clockwise lap of the islands, stopping at Karragarra, then Macleay then finally my destination, Russell Island. The trip only took about 30 minutes.

Russell Island is the largest of the bay islands and has a population of somewhere around 3000. That probably swells on the weekend as mainlanders slip across for some R&R.

Straight off the boat and I was into the first little coffee shop that I saw. After all, it was morning tea time and I needed to get my bearings. I was going to follow a route that Neil Ennis and his mates had followed around the island back in January. I knew Neil would find all of the good stuff so why reinvent the wheel?

Setting off anticlockwise I soon noticed that this place was like a small country town. In places it was very much like some of the country towns where my cousins lived from the dirt/grass covered streets to the car relics lying around. I very soon got the impression that not much changes on Russell Island and that they might in fact like it that way......

I stopped to take this photo of a relocated house not 5 minutes into my ride and as I was pedalling off, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dive bomber coming straight for me.

I waved my arm up as it approached and it's wings crisply cut the cool morning air, making that familiar flapping/slapping/shwooshing sound that we all know and dread as it took evasive action, peeling off at the last moment. "Great, the maggies are out and I'm gonna get bombed all day" was my first thought. But it wasn't to be. This was the only aggressive little bastard that I encountered the whole day. Maybe he was off his meds?

Pedalling on and the crunch of gravel under the plus size tyres soon soothed my adrenaline spiked heart rate. These quiet back streets were rather pleasant and I shared waves with locals sitting on their decks enjoying the cool morning sunshine.

I pedalled around the edge of  a cricket oval, Jackson Oval, with views back to the mainland. Nice but I would hate to be the fielder looking for any westward sixes!

The route took me on a tour of lots of back streets of Russell Island. Like I said, many of these houses reminded me of towns from my childhood.

The local cement works had some relics slowly rusting away in the paddock next door. It was nice not to be in a hurry for a change and just take some time to look around.

I wonder if they have to mow the street or if the traffic stunts growth?

I was soon down at the south western corner of the island. Rocky Point park was a nice spot to stop and enjoy the serenity, nibble on a Cliff bar all while marvelling at man's ability to generate electricity......

Where the powerlines come across from the mainland.

I now turned east across the bottom of the island following the power line along Glendale Road. The problem here is that Glendale rd crosses a wetland/swamp for about 500m before emerging onto solid ground again. It didn't look too bad so I trudged in, trying to find a way around the water and through the waist high grass. 

The Fucarwie Tribe

This always fills me with dread here in Australia because you just know that there is a black snake or a brown snake somewhere under all that grass. I tried to make as much noise as I could and tried not to let my legs sink through the grass to touchdown on the ground underneath. 
Eventually I could see that there was no way of keeping my feet dry and at least I could see where I was putting my feet if I just took the plunge straight into the water. It was only ankle deep and did stink a tad but I was able to increase my forward progress by about 400% and was out of the quagmire in less that a minute as a result. And I only stunk a little bit.....

Yeah, that wasn't pleasant......

Emptying my shoes I pressed on toward the south eastern corner of the island.

There were MANY places for sale. This one looks back toward the mainland.

More quiet streets eventually led down to a little beach with a picnic area and playground. Lions Boulevarde camp ground looked like a great little spot to camp. 

Unless of course the midges and mosquitoes invade the place after dark. The park faces North Stradbroke Island which can be seen in the left of photo. Beyond that is the open Pacific Ocean.

Making my way up the eastern side of the island was very pleasant with plenty of waterfront housing looking across to North Straddie.

A few more back streets then I found myself outside the Russell Island RSL. It was tucked away and without some loud signage I would have not even noticed it. Being around midday by this time I wandered in to find quite a few people chilling out. Ordering a "works burger" was probably a mistake as once it arrived I actually struggled to fit it all in, despite having ridden up a 60km hunger by that point. Mental note - a regular burger will be just fine next time!

I then slowly made my way up to the most north-easterly point of the island where the Royal Brisbane Yacht squadron have their facilities. The gate was open so I rode in, asking the couple of people present if they would mind me having a quick look. They mentioned that it was a private site but sure, I could have a look. Nice setup with lawns, clubhouse and a pool but I didn't take any photos.

From here I meandered back to the ferry terminal and waited about 20 minutes for the next ferry. It was doing the clockwise loop again so the first stop was back on the mainland at Redland Bay. I always marvel at the shallow nature of Moreton Bay from the air and this shallow nature was reflected in the meandering course the ferry took to stay in the deepest channel.

Back on the mainland I made a beeline for home. It is a shame that Bayview is in a direct line home as I had to again sample some single track on the way home. I was starting to feel it in my legs by the time I neared home. I have certainly lost some fitness from my peak in early April.

The day turned out to be just over 100km(62mi) of which about 22km(13.5mi) were on the ferries. Not a bad day at all and probably more efficiently ridden on a cyclocross bike. There was only one section of sandy trail that lasted perhaps ~500m, so skinnier wheels might be the go next time.

I wonder if I will ever get the kids out there.....?