Wednesday, 7 January 2015

MyGov

I went to the Doctor's today to get some skin cancer scary thing on my leg checked out and whilst there I was reminded that I hadn't updated my address details for Medicare.

So at lunch today, I logged onto the Medicare website to update my address details.

Where I was reminded I had to use MyGov to do this.

So I searched through my old emails until I found my random alpha-numeric user-id (yes, you can't use something as simple as your email as your user id, you get sent a random alpha numeric id).

I then had to get them to send me a new password ...  which of course required SMS phone and a secret pass code identification.

I then logged in, which required another SMS phone identification, and I had to answer another of my secret questions.

Then I went to change my address, and I had to answer yet another secret question.

I then finally got to change my address (yay) and I was asked to fill in a satisfaction survey (which I did saying what an excellent service it was as I do like the idea of being able to notify Government just once of an address change and then have this flow through to all Departments).

Two hours later, I got an email (I kid you not and wait for this ...) asking me to log into MyGov ... to read an email notification (yes, they couldn't just email me the email).

So, I looked up my special username again and typed it in.

I then typed in my password (I remembered it)

I (of course) then had to enter another SMS code that was sent to my phone, and then I finally read my email ...


Yep, after all that - it didn't work.

Surely, only the Government could make making things easier ... so much harder.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Magnet Mine Township

If you don't know Oliver, then you should change that.

He has a map of Tasmania with little yellow flags on it for everywhere he wants to ride ...


I like that map - it has the right attitude.

He also does cool things like publish Velocipedes Monthly, painting Giant Blue Monsters on cycling overpasses ...



And he even sends me posts of rides he's done.

Just last week he made my day by providing reviews for all the routes he's ridden over on tassietrails.org, and if that's not enough for you to want to go right on over and stalk him on facebook ... he even has this superpower whereby he can repair his own bike without having to take it into a bike shop (true story - I saw him use this very superpower today).

The only problem with Oliver is that, unlike me, he can actually ride his bike ... like properly - he can ride through mud, up hills and he can even jump over branches and other technical stuff.

This is actually Oliver's brother, Uriel ...
Oliver was probably already off around that corner in front ..
or the one after that.
So when it turned out that both Oliver and I were going to the West Coast to chase down some trails over the new year break, and that we had some overlap in those trails, it sort of made sense to join up somewhere along the way, and fortunately, this thought actually occurred to Oliver and he then did something about it (this is not something we introverts would do).

And that's why we found ourselves parked outside the Waratah Waste Transfer station late this morning excited about going for a ride through a tip ...


Well I was excited, Oliver may have looked a tad dubious.

Sorry, back to the story: Waratah has a gorgeous, but completely unknown, mountain biking loop sitting right on its own doorstep, and having this great asset, decided it's best use was to use the trail head as a waste centre (which has been on fire every time I've gone there).

But, if you're silly enough to ride through the tip and onto the somewhat scratchy trail that heads out the back, and if you don't get put off by a few deep looking puddles, you will get onto this ...

Magnet Mine Rail Trail
Magnet Mine Rail Trail

It's the old Magnet Mine Railway, and before you get too excited, for a lot of the year this trail is just a wet, unpleasant mess to ride (trust me, I've tried, and if you don't believe me, then take this clue from a strava ride of the route titled: "Fuck.  Hills. And Mud.  oh yea we went to waratah, population us" from some girls that rode it in December 2012).

We however pinged it with the track conditions today and although there was the occasional muddy spot, today's riding was sweet (particularly with Oliver out front picking the lines and acting as snake (x3) and cobweb clearer).

Magnet Mine Rail Trail



Cutting on the Magnet Mine Rail Trail
 

Oliver - he moves so fast he blurs.
but not as much as his little bro ...
 

 

From the tip, it's pretty much a long gradual downhill for around 10kms as you drop just over 200 metres over the length of the railway.

There is a creek crossing at just before the 8km mark ...





This is where the riding abilities between Oliver and I first became really apparent ... I got to the creek, looked at it and just jumped off my bike and walked across knowing that that was the only way for me to get across.

Unfortunately for poor Oliver, he then came down the track a few minutes later (he'd actually been waiting for me and not noticed when I passed) and I jokingly indicated where he should ride across knowing full well that any sane cyclist would just look at the water and jump off and push their bike, but not Oliver he actually trusted me and proceeded to charge off into the water.

Somewhat in shock I managed to flag him down before he found himself swimming down the  river, but I did leave him in a rather precarious position ...


After about the 10km mark we started seeing signs of the old Magnet Township, and the effects of the mine that had been there ...







At about this point, the track takes a sharp turn to the left and starts heading up another valley  (the old route shown on the 1:25000 maps to Waratah no longer exists on the ground).

The next few kilometres was my type of riding - the track was muddy and wet (OK, it was basically a river) and there were lots of cool old relics around to go and check out ... which meant things were pretty much at my pace - although Oliver found plenty of steep things to ride up and down.














Showing my greater navigational experience, I twice suggested routes we should follow.

Both times we ended up in scratchy dead ends which I then allowed Oliver to navigate us back out of.

Eventually though the fun had to end, and at about the 13.5km mark we started 'the climb' back out to the highway.  You regain most of those 200 metres you dropped coming down in the next 2.5kms (more if you're Oliver who decided to go and check out some side trail which also went up, up and up) and we managed to score three punctures in this short distance.

I somehow managed to get a front tyre puncture while I was pushing my bike up the hill (yes, it was so steep that even the air fell out of the front tyre).  I have no idea how this happened, and as the tyre re-sealed it wouldn't have been a problem - if my pump had worked (I am pump jinxed, I really am) but for some reason the air was coming out of the top of the pump and what should have been a 1 minute fix stretched out into 5 minutes as I had to do around a thousand pumps to get enough air in the tyre to continue.

I caught back up to Oliver and Uriel who were patiently waiting for me further up the road (somehow these two were cycling up this impossibly steep hill, and they were chatting to each other whilst doing so (which is my way of saying the hill isn't really as impossibly steep as I'm saying it is))

Anyway they took off again, but this time when I caught back up to them, Oliver's bike was upside down with a very nasty sidewall puncture.

I proceeded to provide lots of useful advice on how to fix his tyre - not one of which worked, but all of which managed to chew up an extra 5 or 10 minutes, allowing me to recover a bit before the final push (which I actually rode) to the top of the hill which opens up into a big open quarry.

This is where Oliver's tyre gave out a second time (yes, it was one of my great ideas which didn't work) and Oliver went to the option he was going to try in the first place - putting a tube in the tyre.

That worked.

From the Quarry it was about another 2.5kms of undulating road out to the highway.


At the highway, Oliver and Uriel chose to go for a quick scoot up to the lookout across the road (it's about a 300 metre ride in with a bit of a climb and worth the detour) whilst I decided to get a head start on the final 10kms back to the cars along the bitumen road (I had already been up to the lookout earlier in the morning).

Somewhat miraculously, despite stopping to check out an echidna, I managed to get back to the cars a few minutes ahead of Oliver so I did what any self respecting rambler would do ... I got changed as quickly as I could, threw the bike upside down and pulled out a cold soft drink ... so that when Oliver pulled in 2 minutes after me I could casually say "Oh yea, I've been here for ages".

And because Oliver's such a nice guy, he didn't say a single thing.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Dunkleys Tramway

Dunkleys Tramway intrigued me from the moment I first heard about it ...

Red Line is approx route of Dunkley's Tramway (9km), Blue line is the proposed circuit.
Yellow highlight is the short section I rode.
From what I could determine from TheList and the 1:25000 map series, Dunkleys Tramway (shown in red above) is about 9kms long and heads off from the Heemskirk Road (the trail head is 3.2kms north of the Trial Harbour turnoff north of Zeehan). It appears to link in with some old logging / mining roads at the northern end which would allow you to loop back to the highway and then ultimately back to Zeehan along the old Emu Bay Railway... a ride of around 40kms.

As a keen bikepaker, it wasn't hard for me to understand how this route got into the "potential list" for the West Coast Mountain Bike Project and I wanted (needed?) to ride it ...

So, despite the hiccups of earlier today (see previous posts) I found myself unloading my bike at the very unpromising trail head around 2pm to see how far I'd get.

The first few hundred metres of this track could really put you off going any further as it is scratchy, hard to ride and fairly uninspiring, but then you go through a little clearing and dive into some forest and the whole world changes ...





The next 1.5kms of trail is just gorgeous, and pretty much ridable as it is now (though that's under my definition of ridable - not most people's).

Unfortunately that's where the good news ends.

Just north of where an overgrown spur comes into the track from Parting Creek Lake, the trail emerges into an overgrown bog and after pushing and carrying my bike through this for a few hundred metres, I decided I really didn't have the heart to tackle seven more kilometres of these conditions this late in the day, and so I turned around and tried to make my way to Parting Creek Lake ... but was defeated here by thick scrub.

And that was my trip to Dunkley's Tramway, and my riding for the day - I finished with a total of 4kms of riding for aorund 500kms of driving (I continued on up to Waratah for the night).

I'd got stopped by rain, soft sand, bogs and thick scrub, but I'd still had a good day.

I did drive into the northern end on my way north later in the day, and was rather perturbed by the steep climbs and descents before the track became impassable to my little car.

However what this short ride has got me thinking about is a greater Zeehan loop, that maybe looks something like this (in red)...


Building off an existing little loop out to Parting Creek Dam, a bit of trail construction (from the dam to the highway) and a bit of clearing of the currently overgrown section would create a great little loop for beginner riders out from Zeehan.

This could also serve as an alternative exit/entrance to the Heemskirk Range trail, and who knows if Dunkley's could be cleared it would also make a nice start to a longer route out that way as well.

Hmmm ... I wonder if I could convince my boss that I need to relocate to Zeehan for a few months to do a little bit of volunteer trail building ... I mean work.

Trial Harbour and Ocean Beach

Not every trail ends in an "Hallelujah" view ...

Trial Harbour, Tasmania
Nope, some end in a muddy bog, some (far too many) in thick overgrown scrub and some end in soft sand.

What is less common is to have all three of those endings in a single day.

Yep, you guessed it ... Lucky me got all three today.

The plan was beautiful ... head over to the west coast and just ride lots of trails.  The reality (as I've already mentioned) was somewhat different with sheets of cold rain drenching the landscape.

After my aborted walk up Mt Owen, I pulled into Zeehan with plans of heading out along the Dunkley Tramway which is one of the proposed 'Stage 2" routes for the West Coast Mountain Bike Project, but the weather in Zeehan, if anything, was worse than it had been in Queenstown and my enthusiasm for that little adventure was sitting on a minus six out of ten, so after another cup of coffee and a bit of a ponder, I decided to head down to Trial Harbour and see if I could cycle down Ocean Beach to the Henty River.

Ocean Beach from the North, near Trial Harbour
There were two thoughts behind choosing this route: (1) it was on my possible list of rides for this weekend and (2) I figured that even if it was wet and raining, the coast would still be magnificent.

The latter of these two things I will never know because as I approached the coast, the clouds and rain magically disappeared behind me and I was greeted by glimpses of blue skies.

Yay.

I drove through Trial Harbour and followed the little track out of town to where I no longer trusted my pretend 4WD to escape from (about 600 m down the track).  I then threw the bike out of the car and set off to see what I would see ...


There's a good off-road track down to Ocean Beach (and there's even Parks signs showing the route goes to Little Henty River).  It's about 1.8kms from the Trial harbour bridge carpark to the beach, so next time I'd just park there and ride down.

The beach itself was magnificent and every bit as wild as I'd hoped for ...







But unfortunately it was also steeply banked soft sand and completely unridable ...



At least it was unridable on my narrow little tyres (yes, I am already thinking fatbike) and after wandering down the beach for about a kilometre, I decided to turn around and call it a successful fail.

I returned to my car via a little dune diversion which is where I got some great views ...

Yes, I did decide to ride (push) up here ... voluntarily.
The trail back out to Trial harbour


I got back to my car just after noon, which by my reckoning meant that I had thus far driven about 400kms to ride approximately 2kms of trail.

That sort of ratio deserves a slap up lunch I thought ... so back to Zeehan it was (430kms driving).