A quick weekend in Brissy sees more of the usual; West End food and drink, GOMA, babies and skylines, with some rain along the way.
Clwedd, Jen, Hannah, Lil, Jeff, Megs, Zoe and I caught up at Kangaroo Point until the rain hit and we found shelter at the Pineapple Pub.
And the finale; beer, bingo and cocktails with Lyndal. We didn't hit the jackpot at bingo but found the best cocktail I've ever tasted - Genever's Blood - Beefeater Gin, Pedro Ximenez, beetroot gomme, strawberries, basil and lemon juice; topped with shiraz, garnished with basil sprig and a lemon wedge.
Day one in an iPhone nutshell - Noontime MTB, single serve airplane friend (who missed her connecting flight to NZ as we were two hrs late), and beers in Brisbane. Hard work.
I'm not sure where water purification has been my whole life. I guess I've always thought of it as an emergency measure, not something you can just do to make life easier/lighter on even a short back country ride.
I just invested in a SteriPEN for next year's trip, then Hawk gave me a Katadyn filter. With these two devices your water is filtered and purified. Today's stagnant creek water tasted as sweet as a highland stream, with no crunchy or slimy bits to be found!
The benefits are simple: today, instead of leaving home with 4 litres of water, I left home with 2, carried 500g of water purifying equipment and refilled my water bottles half way through the ride. That's a weight saving of 1.5kg; plus I feel like more of a man, hunter and gatherer style.
I wont be leaving home without these little babies from now on!
Spent 24 hours in Sydney, just long enough to be reminded of just how simple life seems to be in every other city in the world. I like to think I'm quite well traveled, and still find it far easier to do almost anything in cities like New York, Tokyo and London. Not all is lost in such a crazy city though, lots to photograph.
Started off with a stroll from Darlinghurst, through the gardens and to Circular Quay for sunset.
Through The Rocks and into the rat-race.
The day ended with a walk back up the hill and through the cross.
Virtually no sleep due to the sounds of the city penetrating the hundred and fifty year old walls of my house for the night, I ventured out early to find breakfast and a take a stroll.
I was very keen to get to the Museum of Contemporary Art, unfortunately, it didn't fulfill my high expectations; not all was lost though, I was able to take some photos of people taking photos of photos...
Then it was off to see the real photography at The Greatest Wonder of the World exhibition.
Images taken in the 1870's, on glass plates, blown up to poster size and larger. The detail was simply unbelievable, making you feel as if you were there with the people of the gold rush, standing outside their huts and shops, and showing them off with pride.
Enough time in the day left for a short roam around the city and a late lunch in Chinatown...
...before I carted my stuff to the airport.
Sometimes, just sometimes, donning a pair of good shoes is as fun as being on a bike.
I ran and hiked the 18km return trip along Alligator Creek to the falls on the side of Mt Elliot...there were many water crossing, much greenery, rocks, rainforest and boulder hoping, before it was time for a dip.
And time to ponder...before the return to civilization.
Certainly is nice to be in one place for a few weeks straight, making the most of the tropical north as it cools down after the wet. Cooking , exploring the burbs and spending time with my best friend!
The weather still seems to go from one extreme to the other.
Headed 'up' on Saturday. Climb took 41 mins (750m gain), descent took 9 mins; punctuated by moments of sheer terror as my mind wondered just how much traction two 6x1cm contact patches actually afforded me on melty tarmac...
Then of course today I enjoyed some of what I call 'Couch boarding', better than TV...today's episode included 3 turtles, countless flying fish, 1 flying stingray(!), an alarmingly low flying bi-plane and a big brown thing that made a huge splash...
Not a bad locale when the weather is like it has been!
And some images from it...
Just to prove I'm domesticated, photographic proof of my latest acquisition...although I entertained the idea of buying other vacuums, I couldn't go past this baby!
Commute. Not only weekends and holidays are for fun!
And yesterday it was the Paleranda loop. 64km of mostly pain; sand, rocks and mud.
I've been puting it off for a while, waiting for the weather to be a little more reasonable, but in reality once you're inside any rainforest canopy the weather is perfectly cool and bearable. So I headed 277km south yesterday and parked at Airlie Beach for the 16km commute to the trailhead. The initial few kilometres of trail certainly lull you into a false sense of security; perfectly formed and maintained superhighway (designed to take a quad bike for emergencies and maintenance) with scenic stops, and before you know it you are at the first campsite 8km in!
Then the challenges start - mossy babyhead size rocks, clay based climbs, thorned vines and at least one fallen tree every 500m (some requiring jungle detours of up to 5 mins - try squirming through dense jungle with a bike and you'll understand...). Twice during the ride I was removed from my bike by a swinging vine, complete with facial and throat lacerations and I was forced to walk up clay based climbs numerous times, imagine!...It very quickly became apparent that the person who had designated this trail rideable:
1. Had never riden a bike before,
b. Owned their own helicopter that conveniently dropped them at the 2km sections of suitable trail, or
iii. Was in fact the best rider in the world.
It would seem that I am blowing my own trumpet suggesting that if I find a trail beyond challenging it mustn't be rideable to anyone, but the fact is that the two other poor souls I came across felt the same way, and they hadn't even hit the most challenging part yet!
The funny part about cycling like this is that it does not mix well with photography, all of the images I took that should depict steepness, rockiness, slipperiness and unrideable hellishness just look like Sunday trails...so you get me smiling instead!
Sometimes you are rewarded with views, not this time. And the straw that broke the camel's back...the trail ended with five flights of stairs...
Now to take that all back! Luckily I also ran into a couple of great guys who lived in Airlie and were heading up to the lookout just out of town for sunset. They brought me back down to earth. Rather than me blaming 'the man' for calling this a riding trail, they made me realise that this trail is all they have, they rode it when it wasn't legal because it was there, and the only thing within' hundreds of km of their homes. They also said it was rideable, just not right now; they actually attempted it a day earlier and gave up after navigating one too many fallen trees and destroying a derailleur. One statement hit me more than all the others though, one of them said that you need to have the right mindset before attempting the WGW. Something I definitely did not have after driving 300kmm and stepping out of the car with NOFX blaring...my mind was ready for fast action, satisfaction and a smooth ride! Ha!
So I guess arriving with the right mindset and Parks being given the chance to maintain the trail after the wet, I might have a different take on this journey...but guess what, the last section helped take my mind off a few things.
Although in reality I felt like this...a remnant of Cyclone Yasi...
Stats: Moving average of 9.3km/h, 1.6km of ascending...28km in 5 hours. I guess my recreation is some people's idea of hell!
Almost the entirety of my time in Brissy was actually spent working at Amberley, not ideal. However, Tuesday was a day off so Paul and I decided to play in the city...well, drink in the city...
As golden hour enveloped the city, we found my favourite Boundary Street establishment, The Archive bar.
We arrived, sat, drank and ordered dinner. It wasn't until over an hour later that we realised our dinner had not arrived, they were the first free beers for the night...there were far more to follow as Paul seemed to play the bar staff with his dry British wit (read: lighthearted condescending snobbery), even after the bar had closed!
We decided to drink the entire beer menu and, although I may have finished the night microwaving a frozen hotdog in a 711, we awoke only slightly rusty and headed out for a greasy breky at the Gun Shop before we explored the city on share bikes. A conservative estimate would have had us cover 25-30km; we were a little sore the next day, not the greatest riding position when you're not used to it...especially on the climbs.
Before heading back home I caught up with the cyclone god-daughter that is Zoe, and what better to do on a hot summers day? Wish her parents had a full size human tub too...
She's got a sweet ride too.
Breky and a plane flight back to the 'ville. Was a busy few weeks, now time to relax.
It was the Centenary weekend in Canberra so I headed down early to fit in some fun before work started. The first Wig & Pen beer is always a welcome treat. Centenary Ale to be precise.
Of course that was after I had fixed myself with a new set of wheels from Steve's Shop, couldn't help but splurge on the somewhat unique Voodoo Agwe. Not a bike good at anything...except fun.
Eddy seemed happy to have me stay at his new 'country house', although somehow I felt someone was watching me at all times..
Saturday was a random selection of venues, galleries, cafes and pubs; finishing up at the lake where a convenient pop-up bar had been established for the Centenary celebrations. Following much cider, Centenary ale and a couple of cocktails we headed to the Spiegeltent to see Mikelangelo and the Dead Sea Gentlemen, funny!
Myself, Sarah and Eddy posed for a quick shot before the sun went down.
Sunday Eddy and I headed out for more gallery fun, Lautrec was well worth the delay of having to buy timed tickets... Of course it was Brodburger for lunch then we ventured home through the Arboretum, more than one high ratio gear would have been ideal. Not to be so, it hurt a lot, a little more when Eddy phoned me from the bottom of the hill I'd just ascended saying he'd not ventured the way I'd gone and would wait at the bottom...
Home cooked dinner at the house was much needed after the impromptu detour.
Monday was Canberra's birthday. Rach and I ventured to the lake to join in with the celebrations, we quickly grew tired of the crowds, especially after a weekend of quiet and serene galleries and bars; so we met up with Steve and had a drink or two before heading back for the main show.
Martin Ollman snapped this brilliant shot, now, I'm not usually one for posting other people's pics but you can see Rach and I in the silhouettes atop the left hand wall! I'm also not a huge one for fireworks, but this final sequence FILLED the sky with fire, truly amazing!
It was great to be in my favourite city to enjoy it's birthday with great friends! Next stop, Brisbane.