Moonie and Bob’s big walk

Do you ever feel like you haven’t been doing anything exciting recently? Do you ever feel like you haven’t done any thing worth telling people about when they ask you what you’ve been up to? I often feel like that, which I why I write this blog and I very much hope you enjoy my ramblings. Today however I do have exciting adventures to write about!

Now for anyone who hasn’t caught on with previous posts I recently bought a Surly ECR, which is a “semi-fat bike” with three inch tyres adequate for riding on most soft loose surfaces like sketchy roads, sand and purportedly snow. Living in Alice Springs there wasn’t a chance I would be taking the bike to snow. Living in Sydney though it is possible for snow to occur only a matter of hours away so this weekend I went looking for it!

I meet up with Simon from the FB group Fat Bikes Down-Under at Corin Dam in the ACT to start what I had presumed would be a leisurely ride and frolic in the snow. What transpired was entirely different.

Meeting Simon at Corin Dam we compared bikes and wheels. His 5inch tyres were wider but much smaller overall then my 29+

Meeting Simon at Corin Dam we compared bikes and wheels. His 5inch tyres were wider but much smaller overall then my 29+

From the Dam wall the ride quickly became a walk, and the walk quickly became a trudge, as we began the long accent from near the bottom of the valley (as a dam wall logically suggests in hindsight) up to Stockyard Spur where we hoped there would be snow we could ride out bikes in. I’d loaded up my bike with a frame bag and bar roll full of food, water and a multitude of warm clothing which meant the bike probably weighed in at about 30 kilograms, or in a more accessible unit of measure – too much!

I think this explains the gradient of the walk (Hike-a-Bike)

I think this explains the gradient of the walk (Hike-a-Bike)

The two kilometres to reach the top of the spur took over two hours of solid pushing to climb the 5oom, and with snow and ice starting about 100m from the top the last part of the distance was slow and treacherous. The rewards at the top were worth it though. I was greeted to a scene of beautiful snow gums, shin deep snow (15-20cm mostly), and weather that alternated between bright sunshine and snow flurries which were just enough to fill the tread marks in our tyre tracks as we rode.

As far as riding goes I am not sure I would describe it as successful. On my 29er plus semi-fat bike I spent the vast majority of the time pushing up hill and on flats. There were a few sections of downward slope which were rideable, but only where walkers had compressed the snow enough for there to be a firm pack to place the tyres on. As you can imagine in a fairly remote and hard to get to place there hadn’t been much compaction, and I would honestly guess that in the four and a half hours my little adventure took from car to car I rode for no more than 15 minutes.

I do think in a compacted snow field, probably something that had been groomed by snow-cats or something, it would be both possible and enjoyable to ride my bike in the snow. However for un-groomed fluffy snow I think it is safe to say I won’t be planning any more adventures of this type too soon. Not never, because it was fun, but not for now.

Anyway the rest of the adventure was fairly well adventurous, trundling back down the hill carrying my bike down the multitudinous steps back to the car. I think these photos should give you an idea of how beautiful and peaceful it is in the Australian snow, and also just how difficult it was “riding” my bike up there.

For any doubters out there. Here is the evidence of riding in the snow as demonstrate by yours truly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Australia, Life and Daily Interest | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Flashback – Great Ocean Walk 2007

Tonight I have been tidying my room. This means going through boxes of old documents I know long need and receipts from adventures long ago. Finding a folder of bank statements made me thing of some of the more fun things I did in 2007, one of which was the Great Ocean Walk in Victoria. This post will mostly be a few happy snaps, and is totally out of date, but the walk was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone.

****

Back in 2007 I was part of the UNSW Outdoors Club and enjoyed the company of their members of several trips including a rogaining (click this link if you mistakenly think it is a hair treatment), caving and bushwalking. One of the most enjoyable trips was to join a mate Ian, his brother and two utterly novice hikers on a 6 day bush walk along the Great Ocean Walking track. This 100km covers the section of coastline not occupied by the Great Ocean Road, known for being the most scenic coastal drive in Victoria as well as being a whole lot of fun in a gutless corolla.

Starting from Apollo Bay, and ending at the Apostle Bay visitors centre the walk is almost entirely isolated and away from the road, traffic and other people. It is well equipped with shelters and water tanks and the scenery is mind bogglingly good, especially with the luck we had.

I won’t go into the details of the walk because they are probably covered in a better more up to date manner by Parks Vic, however some of the highlights of the trip included:

  • The anchors of long wrecked ships washed up on rock platforms
  • Long isolated beaches
  • Campsites with cooking shelters on wet evenings, and the sort of conversations that can only happen after 5 days straight with the same people
  • being absolute shown how hiking should be done by a pair of 70+ Canadian women who were walking substantially faster, and more efficiently than us kids.
  • Dunnies with views. Seriously good views.
  • The whole walk!

To summarise the trip even further here are a few happy snaps!

Posted in Australia, Victoria | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Practicing for Cold Rides!

Now that I live in Sydney cold weather is even more of a novelty than it was in Alice Springs. Today is a full month into winter and I am walking around town in shorts and tee-shirt because it is so warm. Now that I own an ECR I am on a mission though. These bikes were made for snow and slush and mud and all things fun.
I recently found mud of a satisfying depth and consistency while riding around Sparrow Hill and Canberra. That leaves snow.

With that in mind, I am went up to the Blue Mountains today for a practice ride with my fully loaded Surly.

The gear packed on the bike included:

  • Snow gloves (which I wore some of the time to see how easy it was to shift gears)
  • down vest
  • rain gear
  • extra thermals etc
  • 3.5 litres of water
  • stove and gas canister
  • tools
  • GPS
  • Food!
  • lots of Bike Bag Dude bags
  • k-lite dynamo lights

All in all I am pretty impressed by the amount of stuff I could fit on the bike without even trying to be efficient. I can see that with a bike seat bag or a bag on the back rack I could easily head out for a night or two without adding to much extra bulk or impacting the handling.

So…. The ride!

I had been reading the forecast all day yesterday and this morning and new that the weather had a strong potential to be miserable, which was exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately when I got to Faulconbridge in the lower Blue Mountains there was nary a cloud in sight, and the sun was bleating down.

So I loaded up and off I went along the lovely fire trail I had found described on the NSW Mtb forum last night. It was almost as flat as described, and gave me a good chance to play with the loaded bike. Just like my Long Haul Trucker the bike feels more stable and fun once it has a bit of load on it, and I couldn’t resist riding over every sand patch on the trail just to see if I could make the thing wobble. I couldn’t!

As I reached the point of the ridge, and the nice little lookout situated there, the wind dropped, the sun came out and everything was just spiffy for a spot of lunch and some chill time. Riding back to the car the wind picked up and the clouds came out. Looks like  picked my window perfectly if I hadn’t have been looking for the bad weather!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Posted in Australia, New South Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Surly ECR XXL four months on – Evading Clichéd Rides?

thegracefulcyclists:

The Northern Walker has basically written my summary of the Surly ECR for me, sure mine is a smaller frame and an 11 speed hub but all in all the bike is amazing. Just plain and simple and amazing and oh so very fun!

Originally posted on Northern Walker:

I’ve had my mahoosive Surly ECR since March.

In that time, it’s been on numerous trips over the trails near home, took part in a celebratory ride for the bike shop that assembled it (and was greeted with nod of approval from the Surly dudes), lugged bikepacking gear on an epic trip from Settle to home along the Pennine Bridleway and ferried me out for coffee on a hill when I just couldn’t take it any more.

Surly ECR in the Pennines

A sunny day on the trails. An ECR day.

It has a name – Ernie. My other half, who is barely 5ft tall and dwarfed by this monster bike, feels the moniker fits: ‘It’s just an Ernie… what else would he be called?’

You might already detect that I’m already rather fond of it (given that I don’t really think of it as a machine any more). It is, to paraphrase the Surly blurb…

View original 964 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fortnight of Fun

The last fortnight has been awesome, truly great and just plan good. Over the past two weeks I have had some great adventures in Alice Springs, Canberra and possibly even around Sydney though I might have to think a bit harder about that one to come up with an example.

Over the long weekend I was lucky enough to be able to go up to Alice Springs for the weekend and hang out with amazing people camping, slack-lining, walking, camp-firing and art auction attending. We had amazing weather (As always for this time of year) and camped under the multitudinous stars that are a feature of deserts every where. Although the whole weekend was amazing I think the two most impressive discoveries were a gorge full of carved aboriginal petroglyphs that have been dated to between six and eight thousand years old, and that crispy campfire bacon, roasted banana and maple syrup go quite well together.

 

This past weekend I have spent in Canberra in a similarly awesome weekend that involved lots of exciting things like cake, mountain biking at Sparrow Hill, a two year olds birthday party, a Global Wind Day Picnic, markets and lots of coffee! A big thank you to everyone who made it a second great weekend!

Oh, and the awesome thing about Sydney… Family of course. Thanks all!

Posted in Alice Springs, Australia, New South Wales, Northern Territory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just a normal Sunday

This weekend I had basically no plans. Unfortunately this has been a relatively common state of affairs lately as I have been travelling, which if I am honest is a rather lame excuse I am using instead of the term lazy.

Anyway like most under planned weekend I went with the flow and figured something would work itself out. A spectacularly uninteresting start of the weekend showed little promise with a significant amount of time spent in queues, but a trip to my parents to help them pack up their house proved the catalyst for things to change.

My parents, who from previous posts some might know as The Grey Wanderers, have been re-arranging a few things and decided it would be good for me to take a few things I clearly needed for my car (actually needed (there is no sarcasm there Dad)). As well as the things I needed we re-discovered their inflatable kayak in the back of the shed, so my Sunday morning was set!

So after an uneventful evening I awoke bright and early on Sunday, then rolled over and went back to sleep.

So after an uneventful sleep I awoke bright and not so early later on Sunday morning, and went in search of coffee!

Coffee in hand I pack the car and headed for the Lane Cove river where I knew there was water, mangroves, car parking. Somewhere in the back of my mind I also was aware there was access to the water from the car park from attempts at fishing with my brother years ago. I have no idea why we would have tried fishing with a dog and no bait, but that is off topic.

So I inflated this kayak with much scratching of head, substantial impatience and the help of an electric pump which produced inconsistent results.

Eventually I hit the water (not literally) and paddled merrily up stream to see what I could see. As usual that is about where the written part of the story ends, so look at the photos and make up your own tales or daring-do and adventure!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Australia, Life and Daily Interest, New South Wales | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Greenough Western Australia – happy snaps!

Occasionally I do some work. Mostly I like to check out places like this.

Posted in Australia, Western Australia | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment