Author Topic: RIDES 2018 — add yours here  (Read 21313 times)

Andre Jute

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #45 on: February 20, 2018, 06:28:26 AM »
We used to swim in a pool in Grobbelaar's River, which ran through the centre of town -- bilharzia, what bilharzia? -- even though it was streng verboten and the town had a perfectly good swimming pool. (In the middle of the desert no one was permitted to build a private swimming pool.) A block away was a suspension footbridge over the river, and a lower bridge for cars. One of the boys would take the tyres off the wheels of his bike, then ride on the bare rims on the swaying side rails of the bridge until he fell off, bike and all, into the river. We'd be waiting below to rescue his bike so that he could try again. I don't believe he ever made it all the way across.

... a clear view west to the hills of the Congo, about 140 kms away, about as close as I recommend the casual visitor go.

You're right about that road up into the Congo; those people seem to believe that the mere fact of your presence on it is an urgent invitation to take potshots at you. This -- https://www.goodreads.com/comment/show/34615372 message 30 -- happened going the other way, but was not untypical at the time. John Braine wrote in one of the London broadsheets about another journey up that road described by Andrew McCoy in one of his books, that it is a place a sane man goes only in divisional strength and under air cover. Pity he told me too late...

Andre Jute

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #46 on: February 20, 2018, 06:36:18 AM »
Huh?  :-\ I think you may have me confused with John's question to Jim, Andre.

You're right, Dan. Apologies. Rather than attempt to edit it, I've removed the post.

John Saxby

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #47 on: February 23, 2018, 01:38:45 AM »
More notes from the hilly bits of the Gold Coast:  After struggling on my first ride up the Mountain Rd from Currumbin Creek 10 days ago, I returned to do a couple of rides this week, one of nearly 90 kms to the upper reaches of the Mountain Rd., the second of about 65 kms. Both had Significant Hilly Bits, the Mountain Rd a short 14% section, and then a more extended 10% grade. My shorter ride included two very steep short sections, maybe 1.5 kms in all, but on both I was in 1st gear all the way.

The Mountain Rd is one of the most attractive routes I know, a narrow twisty up-and-down up to and along a ridge through forests of gum trees, conifers and bamboo, interspersed with palms, occasional upland pasture, and banana groves. It's a common cycling route, partly because the motor traffic speed limit is 60 km/h and sometimes less. I regularly see other riders, almost all of them young and fit roadies on trick plastic bikes, going a lot faster than me.

The standard reference to upland coniferous forest in Canada is to “air like wine”; here, that seemed less à propos, because the scent was strong rather than delicate. “What then?” I thought. The obvious answer was “air like a high-end cough drop”. Now I understand why the koalas, with their daily fix of eucalyptus leaves, seem stoned much of the time.

That's the visual and the olfactory note. On the first steep section, 14% and more, I had plenty of time to enjoy a deafening chorus of cicadas, maybe stirred to making a row by the combination of an overnight rain and a warm morning?  Who knows? It's years since I heard such a racket, and it took me back to rainy seasons in Southern Africa. There's birdsong too, of course, much of which I don't recognize. The strident crows, magpies, and ibises I know from elsewhere, though, and this time, I saw and heard a big white cockatoo. Nothing musical about its raucous screech, but it's magnificent to look at. (On a flat bit near the ocean, I also saw a couple of wild turkeys pecking at the grass, moving at their own pace thank-you-very-much, with insolent disregard for nearby babies, cyclists, and whatnot.)

On this ride, I went up to Freeman’s Organic Farm, a few kms form the NSW border. The farm was established in 1915. This was a catastrophic year for many Australian families--not to mention the Turkish, British, and French families, against and with whose sons the ANZACs fought at Gallipoli—but Arthur Freeman and his family managed to create a farm in that awful year, high in the hills amidst a rich forest. (And the road, back in the day? Probably no more than a wagon track.) The farm is still productive, and the farm stall is popular, offering avocados, bananas and other fruit and veg, with picnic tables, shade trees, and a splendid view. As luck would have it, the stall was closed on my visit, the family members tending their crops, so in splendid isolation I settled down under a tree for my mid-morning snack.  (Photos 17-18-19 below.)

The climbs were easier this time round, if not easy, and the prolonged downhills were worth all the effort. I used the brakes more than I normally would, still getting used to the terrain and the near-total absence of guardails. (I reckoned that the dense vegetation over the nearby edge would stop any cyclist fairly quickly, but I didn’t want to test that assumption.)

On my second ride, I was a little pressed for time, so shortened my ride by skipping the Mountain Road (to be revisited next week, as far as the NSW border.)  I used a different route back to Southport from the Currumbin Creek Rd, one that cut out an unattractive piece of light-industrial suburb for a hilly road bordered by parkland back to Tallebudgera Creek. That has the additional advantage of passing near a coffee place I want to try, one of a local mini-chain.

No more riding for a few days, however. Last night and today, we are expecting about 100 mm of rain in 36 hours, the tag end of Hurricane Gita, I think, which brought much of NZ to a standstill earlier this week.  Our weekend will be wet and thundery, clearing early next week, with sunshine and temps in the mid-to-high 20’s—perfect for another ride up into the high gum forest.  :)

Have a good weekend, all.

leftpoole

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #48 on: February 24, 2018, 12:53:14 PM »
Picture 19..... What a lovely photograph it makes!
John

John Saxby

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #49 on: February 25, 2018, 12:37:49 AM »
Thanks, John, for your kind words :)

Sunday morning here is sunny and bright--the Coast is back to Standard Operating Procedure, it seems--so we'll take our granddaughters up to Freeman's to buy some avocados and bananas.

John Saxby

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #50 on: March 05, 2018, 07:32:34 AM »
More notes from Down Unda:

This past week (Feb. 27 & Mar. 1) I made two rides into the SW sector of the Gold Coast, following the Currumbin Creek road once more. The first ride was the shorter of the two, around 75 kms, on an overcast day on which the cloudy skies eased the temps and made for an easy there-and-back. (No photos from this ride for the same reason.) In any case, it was mostly uneventful, except for the fact that I finally had my first flat on my homeward leg.

I had expected that my tires would sooner or later suffer from the roadside effects of the Great ‘Strayan Pastime of beer-drinking, and feeling a slight case of squirrelly-rear-tire on a roundabout, I thought, “The glass has got me after all. Ah well, good thing I’ve got a spare tube.” ‘Cept that there was no glass to be seen, in either my tube or my tire. It turned out that the culprit was that other Great ‘Strayan Pastime, the barbie. I could see no obvious cut in my tube, and indeed there was none. Running a rag across the inner face of the tire, though, I quickly found the problem: protruding from the road side of the casing was a tiny stiff thread of steel, maybe 2-3 mm in length—what you’d find on a BBQ cleaning brush. (Or, if you were very unfortunate, the doctors might find it in your innards.) This had worked its way through the Supreme’s protective casing on an angle, and I found a slightly rusty spot on the tube, where it had rested for some time before finally making a pinhole in my tube.

No worries, sez I, removing the old tube and installing brand-new one, the most expensive 26 x 1.75 Continental MTB sold by MEC, bought in December before I left Canada, for just such a situation. BUT… It didn’t work. I installed it, using a few PSI to prevent a pinch, and inflated it after I had remounted my rear wheel. But, it wouldn’t hold any air beyond about 20 PSI. After a couple of fruitless tries, I said, sod it, removed it, patched the original (the pinhole conveniently marked by the residue of rust), and reached home with no further problems.

And the problem was…after putting about 20 PSI into the brand-new tube and submerging it in a washing basin, I found a pinhole in my brand new, unused Conti tube. Boooo. Crappy manufacturing quality, sez I but I patched the pinhole, and at least I had a usable patched spare tube. Except that I didn’t: I pumped it up again, and it still wouldn’t hold any more than about 20 PSI, and this time, I could hear air escaping—from the valve. Ha! sez I, I’ll just tighten the valve core. I did so, and it still leaked air. Ah jeez, I thought, this is like dealing with a telecom company. I removed the valve core, and replaced it with a new one bought from Chain Reaction Cycles in December for just such a situation. Two manufacturing faults in a Conti tube.  Boooo.  I’d have happily bought Schwalbe tubes, but they weren’t to be had in Ottawa in December.
 
The second ride, the long ‘un, included interesting-enjoyable-challenging Things About Cycling, instead of just Irritatin’ Things About Crappy Global Supply Chains.  Starting before 7 AM on a cloudless Thursday morning, I cut through an hour-plus of suburbia, avoiding the usual press of motor and pedestrian traffic, and headed up the Currumbin Creek Road again, this time turning up the road to Tomewin Mountain. The combination of bright sunshine and a shaded road made for a beautiful ride. I paused near the top of the first steep short climb, my eye taken by a brilliant red fern amidst equally brilliant green and gold (Photo #20 below). Just beside it is an old waymarker, which is also a crude sundial of sorts (#21).

Local legend has it that St. Brendan and his band of brothers (so to speak) pitched up here after reaching Newfoundland, back in the day. One can hardly blame them, imagining a conversation like this: “Well done, lads, we’ve made landfall, and here we stay.” And in reply, “Jaysus, Mary an’ Joseph, Brendan, it looks and feels like bloody ‘ome! And we came all this way for this? Could ye not find us someplace with some sun??” And so they pushed on further south, and then west, and emerging from The Great Volcano (Wollumbin), eventually found themselves in a sunny, forested and well-watered place on the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range. There they planted ferns and made a standing stone-cum-sundial to remind them of home.

The road climbs steadily along the ridge towards Mt Tomewin—a big hill, really, about 460 m high—marking the border with New South Wales. There are splendid views all around. The one I like most is Mt Cougal’s twin peaks, #23 below. In my mind it’s “Mt. Bactria” – so named because just 500 metres before this view, I dodged an enormous pile of squished dromedary poo in the middle of the road. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Climbing higher, a cyclist passes under groves of bamboo, reaching 15 metres and more above the road. (#22, in a separate post). Their dense shade offers a welcome break from the heat and the burning sunshine. At the top of the climb, after a 10% grade lasting some 3 kms, the NSW border appears, and with it, a view S and E down into the old volcano, and far-off in the haze, towards the sea. (#24)

The border was my food break and turnaround point, and the long climb proved to be harder than I had expected—given the heat, I had probably left my food break too late, and in retrospect should have stopped to eat before reaching the border. There were some alluring springs gushing out of the hillside along the road as well, and I was tempted to refill my bottles. I decided not to do so, as I didn’t know where the highest cattle pastures might be, and didn’t want a case of collywobbles.
 
After a rest under a shady tree and some food, I made my turnaround, and took a shortcut on my downhill run. This one was narrow and little-used, despite being paved: its grades were 20% and more, so I made a mental note not to try the shortcut as a climb. Near the bottom, I passed by another splendid fern, this one coppery-red (#25 below).

The exertion of my climb to the border meant that I stopped for more food as well as a coffee a few kms further along at a very good café on the Currumbin Creek Road. It offers a premium BLT, I found: not just bacon-lettuce-tomato, but also a fresh fried egg and avocado.

Even that proved not to be enough to get me home. As the weather changed, I found myself battling an ENE headwind for the remaining 35 kms to Southport home. Passing a waterfront park and running low on energy, I heard an uptempo keyboard version of “Greensleeves” (!?) Wot? sez I—surely it's an ice-cream truck! (The one in our neighbourhood in Ottawa plays “Turkey in the Straw” at a similar tempo. There must be a global mini-playlist for ice cream trucks.) Blessed relief beckoned, in the form of a big banana milkshake. The fella in the truck asked me, “How’s the push boike to die, maite?” “Just fine, thanks,” I said. “It got me up Tomewin Mountain Road and back.” “All the why up the mountain?? You deserve your shaike, maite.”

There’s one more long-ish ride to follow later this week, weather permitting, to a recommended ‘Strayan pub in Tumbulgum, NSW, maybe 110 kms there and back. I’ll skip the mountain road for that, I think, and take the longer-but easier route along the Tweed River valley.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2018, 09:07:54 AM by John Saxby »

John Saxby

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #51 on: March 05, 2018, 07:34:48 AM »
And the remaining three photos to go with the post above:

Danneaux

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #52 on: March 05, 2018, 07:48:39 AM »
Quote
I quickly found the problem: protruding from the road side of the casing was a tiny stiff thread of steel, maybe 2-3 mm in length—what you’d find on a BBQ cleaning brush.
Great sympathies, John.

'Round here, I find similar bedevilment from exploded steel-belted truck tires. Sadly, the inner tires on dual-wheel setups seem to be oft-neglected for airing up and so run hot, hotter, hottest as they are too uninflated for the load and burst, scattering the carcass and steel bead fragments across the road. The larger remnants are easily avoided for they can be seen, but the fine wires cannot and -- Boy! - do they ever go through Schwalbe Duremes.

Greatly enjoying your reports and photos as always.

All the best,

Dan.

Andre Jute

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #53 on: March 05, 2018, 01:41:36 PM »
Super report and pics, John, especially the enticing view over NSW.

rualexander

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #54 on: March 08, 2018, 07:31:07 PM »
A wee ride out yesterday to the local windfarm to see the remains of 'the beast from the east' snowstorm, and to start the breaking in process on a new half price Brooks B17 Special
Put the studded tyres on but still ended up walking about a mile as it was the wrong type of snow, thawing and wet with a layer of slush underneath that was hard to get any purchase on, and kept building up under the mudguards an jamming.


Andre Jute

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #55 on: March 08, 2018, 11:16:20 PM »
Are those copper rivets in your new saddle or steel reflecting your jacket?

There's a certain purity about a snowy landscape, well captured here; shame you had to push to see it.

rualexander

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #56 on: March 09, 2018, 12:42:29 AM »
Yes copper rivets, B17 Special.

John Saxby

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #57 on: March 12, 2018, 10:09:41 AM »
A change of scene from Rual's snowy landscapes. (Same copper rivets in my B17, tho'!)

This is my last despatch from Down Unda, for this year’s visit at least:

Last Thursday, I made a ride of about 105 kms into the hills of northern New South Wales. I followed the coastal route—bike paths, dedicated lanes, and a few kms of roads—to Coolangatta, the southernmost centre of the Gold Coast, and its adjoining town of Tweed Heads in NSW. The Tweed River drains the bed of the ancient volcano, running east to meet the Coral Sea at Tweed Heads. The Tweed Valley is south of and roughly parallel to the Currumbin Creek just across the border in Queensland. It’s a much larger river, and is navigable by riverboat from the coast to Murwillumbah, some 35 kms inland. The sides of the valley are fairly steep, and an inviting network of secondary and tertiary roads means that a cyclist does not have to follow the busy main roads along the valley floor.

The 30 kms or so from Southport to Coolangatta are almost entirely flat; today, however, the ride required some work, as there was a stiff south-easterly, gusting to 50-plus kms. The sky was a mix of sun and cloud, with squalls in the hills and out to sea. The sea looked angry, with heavy surf and big whitecaps as far as I could see.

The 20–plus kms from Coolangatta to Tyalgum, my turnaround at a big bend in the river, are hilly and forested, and cut with streams feeding the Tweed. The road west from Coolangatta climbs onto the northside heights overlooking the Tweed—dairy pasture being steadily colonized by suburbia—and then plunges to cross Bilambil Creek at a tiny village of the same name. [Photos #26 & 27 below]

From Bilambil, I took a slightly roundabout route to Tyalgum, lured by a small nature reserve marked on the map. The road narrowed and climbed, and despite a roadside warning that “Heavy Vehicles Use This Road”, over the next 14 kms I saw only two cars and one cyclist (grinning broadly as she shot by me on her descent). I was in the lower range of the Rohloff on all the hills, usually between 2nd and 6th, and occasionally in 1st, but the grades were manageable, and nearing the ridge I found myself in—a rainforest! This is the Duroby Nature Reserve. [#s 28 & 29 below]

The combination of shade, greenery, birdsong, and a narrow, empty and well-surfaced road, all made for a delightful hour’s ride. Happily, what goes up also comes down, and from the ridge in the rainforest I enjoyed a swoopy 3 or 4 kms down to the river itself, where I met the little-used secondary route on the north bank of the Tweed.
 
I stopped for lunch at the Tyalgum Tavern, established 130 years ago beside the river. (#s 30, 31 & 32 below.) The tavern has survived the transition from its rough-and-ready early days in the lumbering and agricultural economies along the river to a relaxed bar and bistro serving the village, the river cruise boats, and wandering cyclists. Their soup of the day was a nicely spiced and filling sweet potato and lentil; augmented with excellent bread, steamed veg and calamari, it made for a good late-morning meal. I bought a small jar of local forest honey for the family, and set off on my return leg.

A small tertiary road took me along the north bank of the river, water on one side and cane fields on the other. Climbing from the river, the road turned to gravel for a couple of kms, and I rode through a quiet stretch of mixed forest. When I reached the secondary road taking me to the southwestern edge of Tweed Heads, a short ride along a ridge led me down to the river again--here, oxbowing its way to the sea through a broad shallow valley. I found my way to the covered cycle path beside the bridge across the river, thankful that I was not on the noisy, busy, ugly four-lane highway just above me.

The ride north was uneventful—uneventful is Good—and the morning’s stiff southeasterly turned itself into a brisk tailwind :)

A few final notes:
  • Things I Didn’t See in my six weeks of riding included only a couple of touring cyclists. I did see one fellow on a fat bike festooned with bikepacking gear. Unfortunately, he was on the other side of the road, going south when I was heading north, and there were a couple of lanes of traffic between us, so I learned no more about him and his bike. On the other hand, the fatbike was a bilious green—say, a slightly greener shade of Kawasaki green—and even across the width of the road, I had to avert my eyes. Why do manufacturers do such things? Why do people buy them? Maybe he got a deal, because no one else would even consider it? Or was it a custom bike??
  • The Raven handled the road conditions and the hills with no fuss, just as I had expected it would. My fenders/mudguards and mudflaps marked me as a Tourist From Someplace Wet’n’cold, but I didn’t care. I rode through were several rain showers, especially in the past couple of weeks, and my feet stayed dry. The 800 or so kms that I covered in my 10 or a dozen rides helped me to regain some of my fitness, as I’d hoped. That said, I found some of the hills tougher than I’d expected, even with the Raven’s low gearing.
  • The harsh sun and the heat at this time of year can be very difficult--it's best to finish your ride by, say, 11 AM if at all possible. Even with my skullcap and neck protector, and regular slatherings of sunscreen, my skin around my face and neck suffers. Checking the forecast before my ride to NSW, I noted that the UV index was 11, "Extreme"--this, on a day of mixed sun and cloud. Jaysus, sez I, I've never seen it beyond 8 or 9 in Ontario. What's beyond "Extreme", I wonder? Maybe the "Catastrophic" used in the road signs... All this serves to underline the usefulness of doggerel I learned very young, growing up in a military family with years of experience East of Suez: "Now the worst of yer foes is the sun over'ead/And you must wear yer 'elmet for all that is said./If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,/and you'll die like a fool of a sojer."
  • I took advantage of being just across The Ditch from Ground Effect Clothing in NZ to buy a pair of lycra shorts and a pair of quality liners. Both show the quality of fit and construction I’ve come to expect in Ground Effect’s stuff. They’re the most comfortable cycling shorts I’ve worn. At a price around CDN 90 each, postage included, they’re extremely good value.
  • I disassembled and packed my bike today in readiness for the long journey home, which starts in a couple of days. This step was unhurried and straightforward, a good omen, I hope, for the unpacking on Saturday.

Signing off for a week or more – next posts and photos will have no ocean views :(, but some pretty serious rivers in springtime spate.

Safe journeys, all.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 12:06:47 AM by John Saxby »

John Saxby

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #58 on: March 12, 2018, 10:19:07 AM »
...and below, the last three photos to go with the notes above.

Ooops!  Just noticed a typo/confusion in my notes and captions:   When you see "Tyalgum", you should be seeing "Tumbulgum".  (Lovely words!)  There is a Tyalgum, but it's a tiny wee place, further west, beyond Murwillumbah. I plan to visit it sometime -- there's a farm nearby which makes A-grade mustards, jams, and preserves, and mint jelly to die for.  Apologies for the confusion -- those who checked the text against the sign on the hotel have probably already caught the mixup ;)
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 12:08:35 AM by John Saxby »

Andre Jute

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Re: RIDES 2018 — add yours here
« Reply #59 on: March 13, 2018, 01:03:02 AM »
Checking the forecast before my ride to NSW, I noted that the UV index was 11, "Extreme"--this, on a day of mixed sun and cloud. Jaysus, sez I, I've never seen it beyond 8 or 9 in Ontario. What's beyond "Extreme", I wonder? Maybe the "Catastrophic" used in the road signs..."

Beyond Extreme UV Danger lies Omnidirectional Malignant Melanoma aka ODM^2 (pronounced "ODM squared", see http://thorncyclesforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=8225.msg55477#msg55477), and the only higher rating, equivalent to DefCon 5, is Australian Everyday Sunshine.