Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Merry Xmas to all!
There goes another year for me. As a brief recap for the year it went something like this. I changed jobs 3 times. Yep, 3 times. I have had some niggling health issues that have made life a bit ordinary too. My anxiety and depression issues returned to a point where I sought help again in order to get them under control. Sounds pretty bleak? Well surprisingly not.
As much as each of the moments in themselves were a bit scary, or concerning or just downright annoying there was never a time when I felt alone. I always had support. The anxiety reared its head in January but Alison was there to talk it through with and my friends and family showed concern but tempered it with support for my decisions and understanding for the behaviors and moods that had been a precursor to it. I'm travelling along swimmingly again now.
Jobs. Just wow. I had a contract that was coming to an end and was stressed that it might mean I was unemployed for a period of time following that. At the last possible minute I was snapped up by a company in the same industry and immediately dropped in the deep end. It was hectic and somewhat stressful but I survived it and learnt a bunch along the way. I loved my work mates and really appreciate the opportunities that the position gave me. I would still be there if not for an opportunity that arose out of nowhere. I have been out of the arts industry for nearly 2 years and each time I have contact with it again I see what I am missing. Sure it can be hard work and often thankless but there is still nothing like seeing a performance come to life. It's a bit special. So a position as a Production Manager came up for QPAC, the Queensland Performing Arts Complex. I applied with no expectations as there was a strong field of applicants and the reality is that these positions are rare. I interviewed well and walked out thinking that if someone else got it, they were going to do a good job. I'd given it a red hot go. I can't tell you how happy I was when I got it. Stoked.
The health issues really were a speed bump as it turns out. After having things prodded into places I would really rather not have things put, it seems a couple of small issues were giving me grief in a long term way. Sorted now though with a bit of simple day surgery. Et voila! Here we are.
What has any of this got to do with my adventures? Well life is one great adventure isn't it. There have been some moments along the way but all in all 2013 was OK. My family is happy and healthy, I have great friends and I always have the potential for some really cool adventures. This year it's about converting the potential into reality. No promises but it could be a great 2014.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Have bike, will explore.

For a while now I have been toying around with the idea of doing some touring or bike packing style adventures. I guess it was a grasp at getting some passion for riding my bike back and a chance to combine riding my bike with camping, two of my greatest pleasures. A couple of things happened to align that meant I was able to both get my bike ready for such shenanigans and kit myself up with a few necessities like some bags and a bit of kit. In later posts I will go into more depth with the set up and what has and hasn't worked but for now the sheer joy of the weekend is what I want to write about.  In the most part I want to let the pictures do the talking. Maybe just a few words here and there to express the thoughts and feelings captured in the moment will be enough to get my message across.
My first (and at this stage only) trip was a ride from Esk in the Brisbane Valley to Blackbutt at the foot of the Bunya Mountains. Over the two days there was about 160 kilometres of riding on old rail lines and back via farm roads and part of the Bicentennial National Trail. The route formed a loop with the first day being the easier, gently climbing path along the  Brisbane valley Rail Trail. It's scenic, it's peaceful, it's relaxing.
The former station at Toogoolawah.
The riding is easy with a gradient of only 2-4 percent. It does go on for a long way though.

The easy riding made for a lot of chatting and planning of rides in the future. I can see how this kind of riding gets addictive. 
A snack on the rail trail.

Just below Linville on the Brisbane River. 

The totally relaxed pace of the first day and the increasingly fantastic scenery quickly made the woes of the world disappear.The salve for the soul that is cycling is only heightened by connecting with a journey rather than a destination. We had let the pace slip a bit and the goal of reaching Yarraman really looked like a trudge. It didn't matter. We had shelter, we had food, we had water. As it turns out we also had a pub with cold beers when we reached Blackbutt. Day complete.
Blackbutt Showgrounds. Not exactly roughing it but a great place to stop.

Some shelter for the bikes and us. There's even a bar!

Camp gourmand. 

The morning was foggy and cold. My sleep had been a little sketchy as I left my sleeping mat behind to save space. Lesson learnt. I still felt great though as the reflections on the day before left a warm glow and the thought of my home made porridge with cinnamon and a hot coffee really stoked the fires for another day. The simple pleasures of some tasty nourishing food and that black gold that is coffee were all I needed.

 By the time we had struck camp the fog had burned mostly burned away. It would make a comeback as we entered the valleys on our trek back towards Esk but the sunrise over the camp was still pretty awesome.

Packed and ready to roll.

The highlight of the trip was yet to come. The ride through the Emu Creek gorge was stunning. The pictures will tell the story much better than my words.
Heading out of Blackbutt. The fog returned

Rolling farm roads and great views.
Heading down into the gorge at Emu Creek.
A last photo before the drop proper. 

Emu Creek Gorge. The view was truly beautiful as was the creek itself. This area took a beating in the floods of a few years ago.

We started the climb out. We climbed a lot. The views on each side made it easier but it was still hard work. Massive granite rocks stuck out at us and the hillsides were covered in Grasstrees.

A rest about half way up
More stunning scenery.

Still climbing though....
...and still climbing....

...but still smiling!!

....until finally we got to the top and were greeted by this.

 When I reach the top of a truly challenging climb and can see the road stretching out in front of you with no cars, no houses and no people it just stirs the adventurers soul in me. Rients and I just took a few minutes to take in the view and the reflect on the ride so far. I was genuinely sad to leave the gorge but the possibilities ahead beckoned.

Farm roads and gates. Leave 'em as you find 'em.

Lunch was at the community hall in Anduranbah. The last of the dehydrated food was consumed with great gusto. My bolognese was just the ticket for a hungry rider. We ate and drank to fill the holes and just chilled in the quiet sunshine. This was much to the amusement of some passing locals who looked at two cyclists in the back of nowhere with no small amount of scepticism. You could see the "Crazy bastsards!" written all over the faces.


We came across a bearded dragon in the middle of the road. This little guy was not moving for two crazy guys on bikes. I waited for him to scurry off as I approached but in the end he won the stand off and I went around. 

We just rode then. The roads were quiet and the two of us just pushed along at our own pace. We would regather at the intersections or tops of hills Sometimes we rode together and talked of future trips, we talked about gear and we talked about what we were about to complete. We also talked about the meat pie and chocolate milk we were both about to devour when we got back to Esk! The rail trail into Esk was a fittingly relaxed way to end the ride. The 3% gradient climb on the way to Blackbutt turned into the slight roll home towards Esk. Even the magpies who had been so ferocious on the way out took pity on us. After the food and drink was consumed at the bakery and we had a rough wash down it was time to drive back to Brisbane. The chatter all the way home was of the places we passed and how we could explore them. Every little dirt road was a possibility. Endless possibilities.

Mission accomplished.

I have to add a very special thanks to Rients. Not only did he plant this little seed of bike packing in my pea like brain nearly two years ago but he also helped endlessly with gear selection and bike set up. It is such a boon to have a person who has used the gear, made the mistakes and learnt the lessons and is willing to pass on the knowledge. My bike and gear were nearly perfect on the trip and I owe that in no small part to his help. Rients also set up the route and and provided the means to get to Esk for the start. And lets not forget the burgers at his house to finish!! Cheers mate.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Strava says I'm feelin' good.

I've been quietly knocking out a few rides over the last month. It's been very busy with family and then work stuff too though so my musings have taken a back seat.
There is a definite correlation between the number of rides I am doing and the state of mind I am experiencing. While nothing of late has been earth shatteringly huge or set land speed records or done anything other than get my arse on a bike there is no denying that each and every time I get out and ride the resultant mental state is overwhelmingly positive. So what does that pile of bollocks mean? I really love riding my bike.
I have made a regular booking for Thursday nights with Stokesy and Rients and so far the rides have been very relaxing. A roll through the local trails or a jaunt up Camp Mountain on a beautiful summers evening is a damn fine way to end a day. I think that as the fitness levels of all three of us increase the pace will undoubtedly follow suit. Right now though it is cool to chat and pedal.
I have still maintained the occasional solitary ride too. I just love getting on the road bike and just going. I haven't had time or the fitness to bash hundreds of K's but a good solid couple of hours gets me to some very cool places. I love the Winn Road loop that takes me out around North Pine Dam and the back roads of Samford.
I am regaining my single minded desire to make the time and effort to get on a bike, any bike and go pedal it. I am racing this year in a few events but rather than the hurried, often stressed out feeling of needing to "train" I am just enjoying riding. For the first time in over a year I am starting to crave the physiological payoff that comes with having a crack.
My new bike helps too. Yeah, I said it. I have a new bike. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the support of Cyc'd for Bikes and Giant. Since 2010 these guys have helped me out in more ways than just with bikes. I try to give back where I can and I only hope that my appreciation shows through. The bike? Well it's a 2013 Anthem Advanced X1. It really is about as perfect a bike for me as I could ask for. I will do a full review in the next few days. I have only just got it set up properly and done a few short rides. This weekend promises something a bit more solid to give me a much better feel for what it's really like. The truth is, I have a great platform, with the running gear I love with a carbon main frame. What's not to love.
So there it is. Strava says I did some rides. My state of mind confirms it. I love it when a plan comes together.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Beer Burner.

Out and about on the first day of 2013. I must say that this year the holiday season has been blessed with very mild summer weather. I even got up late and didn't leave for my ride this morning until 9am! That's unheard of in previous years. While it was still warm, there was a lovely breeze to keep it bearable and particularly on some of the small descents the conditions were just awesome.
I wouldn't really class todays ride as a training ride. It was slow with only 790m of ascent in the 50 odd K's. I may have slightly over indulged last night in some fine Australian ales and was really planning for a ride to burn off the festive cheer and to start 2013 in the manner I wish to continue. No New Years resolutions for me, no half arsed promises. Do what I can, when I can, and enjoy it!
My legs felt like they had 5 beers in them, which they did. I got over the Settlement Road climb by reminding myself how crap the ride profile would look if I turned around and went home. This effort was only to be trumped by my grovelling progress up the short pinch on Gap Creek Road. At least when I made it over that I had started to feel a little better. I wasn't about to set any land speed records today but perhaps a ride of respectable size for New Years Day was on the cards.
The plan for the ride was to get as far from home as quickly as I could so that I had no choice but to make a decent fist of it. I got over to the river beside Jindalee where I took a moment to sit down, drink a bit and splash water on my head to cool down. That was like a magic tonic from a fairy tale! I got back on the bike, sped up the first climb and was half way along the Centenary Cycleway before I knew it. Nah, not really. I was just as slow as ever but I did feel pretty good.
I returned along the Corro Drive bike path and was rewarded with no traffic, a clear run and a favourable tail wind. It was nice to sit up and just roll along and enjoy the scenery. Even the short blast along Roma Street was easy with no hassles. When I got home I just turned the hose on myself and sat there for a few minutes. Great way to cool off.
So there it is. 2013 has started. Giddy up!
Beer Burner.