Monday, 27 February 2012

A ride after work ...

Tonight, prompted by Kim, who was keen to get back on the bike after the Otway Shorty, we decided that rather than go home and veg out in front of the TV, we'd set off for a bit of a micro-adventure - an after-work ride around the river.

We basically just headed out along the intercity cycleway as far as Albert Road, then cut off down here, along Gormanston Road and then through Benjafield Park to Central Avenue.  We followed Central Avenue all the way to the end allowing us to then cross the busy brooker highway over the old railway overpass.

This dropped us off onto Gepp Parade (turning right carefully) which I much prefer to the cycleway as you follow it around the domestic / industrial coast onto Howards and then Goodwood Road.  Crossing Goodwood road at the lights, we cut right onto the barely used cycletrack up over the hill (most cyclists choose to just follow the smoother, gentler road shoulder) and onto the pedestrian / cycle path over the Bowen Bridge.

One final sprint along the East Derwent Highway to the turn off to Saundersons Road on the right, and that was pretty much our flat, fast warm up out of the way .. we were already over half way there.  How cool!

This is where my memory of the route got a bit foggy, not having been this way for probably 15 years, but it was simple enough to follow Saundersons Road around until just past Risdon Street, where we jumped off onto an obvious, but unsigned, coastal track behind a metal gate and found ourselves on some narrow single track skirting our way into Porters Bay and the East Risdon Nature Reserve.

Track around to Porters Bay (looking back the way we came)
I was very glad to see a sign at Porters Bay which banned dogs, cats, cars, motorbikes doing wheelies,  horses (but only fast ones) and fires ... pretty much everything except bikes ...  I approved.

Just coming out of the bay, the track heads up the hill but a bit of single track continues to wend its way around the coastline.  We tried our luck with the coastal singletrack, and although nice riding, we quickly realised it was taking us to a dead end and so turned back and resigned ourselves to a bit of a push up the hill.

The track quickly branched, and having no idea which to go we randomly chose the right (straight ahead) fork and rode and pushed our way up the spur.  It was a good choice (thought the left fork may have been a better one), and we quickly found ourselves up on top of the ridge riding up through beautiful open bushland.

Typical Government Hills trails

Ignoring a few indistinct tracks coming in from the left (one of which was the other end of the left fork) we came out at a T junction, turned left and hurtled back down another spur which ends next to a huge pylon.  There are some great views over the EZ Zinc Works and unusual views of Mt Wellington from here so we stopped for a look around and to snap a few pics.

Zinc Works

Backtracking 50 metres up the track, we took a right hand turn (left if you were coming down the hill) onto some obvious single track which we followed down into Shag Bay.  It was a beautiful track down, though not to be ridden with attitude ... coast and enjoy and be aware of walkers.  There was at least one big drop going down this way which needs to be looked out for.
Crossing Shag Bay we found ourselves riding along a rocky ledge right on the coast.  I remember lifting my tyre up over one particularly nasty little bit, when I heard a terrified squawk behind me and turned just in time to see Kim slip off the ledge and crash down into the water below.
The 'Accident'
'Twasn't a pretty sight, but nothing broken and fortunately she was able to continue.

From Shag Bay it is a small push up a hill before you get onto the newly gravelled Shag Bay Historical Trail and from here it is a lovely ride back along the Clarence Foreshore Trail all the way back to the Bridge ... OK, so there are a few twists and turns, but basically all the way to the bridge.  Be careful not to miss the turn off the main concreate cycleway onto a small gravel track when leaving the Geilston Bay Recreation area - this track takes you right around the coast and is much more pleasant riding.
Geilston Bay

New Cycle Bridge at Geilston Bay

Gravel Track - don't miss it, but ride slow around blind corners.

All up we covered about 28kms and climbed 350 metres in around 2 hours, and it was a simple ride straight from the CBD.

What really jumped out at me, not having done this circuit for 15 years, is just how much cycling infrastructure is improving in Hobart.  It's happening very slowly, perhaps so slowly that if you don't give it 15 years, then it doesn't seem like it is changing at all, but we are getting some pretty decent cycling paths and trails, and that's a good thing.

Now ... where shall we go next week?

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Lake Skinner (The blue bird's maiden flight ...)

I decided that even without the arrival of my new paddle, I had to to take 'bluebird' out for her maiden voyage this weekend ...  Lake Skinner seemed ideal.

Bluebird preparing to sail ... all packed up in a 40L backpack (including paddles)
It's about an hours drive down to the start of the Lake Skinner walk from Hobart, and then it was another hour and forty minutes hike up to the lake itself.

The track up ...

First views towards Lake Skinner

... and the lake itself.

Then with the aid of a bit of a wind (Alpacka rafts use a big 'airbag' systems for inflation) I had bluebird inflated and ready to go in under 15 minutes. 

... and after
This I liked.

It was a bit of a tentative launch from the slippery rocks, but without too much of a hiccup we were off to explore the lake ...

It was kind of special getting down to the other end of the lake and wondering how many other people would ever have made it this far.  There was a lovely copse of flowering leatherwoods down the far end, and I got to admire the burnt stags of trees from a long gone bushfire as I filled my waterbottle from an inflowing stream and drank the cold, clear water.

The lake was almost transparent, so I couldn't resist a swim when I got back and a bit of a snorkle around, although there wasn't a huge amount to see.

All up, bluebird is going to take some getting used to.  She can turn on a dime, but going forward in a straight line is a slow business (probably 3km an hour) which takes some getting used to after paddling my ski for the last year.  Still, her purpose is to let me paddle in places I couldn't otherwise explore, and for that purpose she's perfect.  Now I just have to think of where to take her next ...

Oh, and I neither named her bluebird nor designated her a female.  This was my mothers doing after first dubbing her a "lady bird" after seeing a picture of a red boat, then a bluebird once she saw what colour it was.  Personally, I think she reminds me of a imature dragonboat from Robin Hobb's fanatasy series.

The walk down took another hour and 15 minutes.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Clarence MTB Park XC Trails

I had tentative plans this weekend to head up the East Coast for some riding, but after fighting for several hours to get my replacement tyre onto my bike late into Friday night, and being none to sure of the outcome, I decided that a ride closer to home might be slightly more sensible.  I therefore decided to head over to the Clarence Mountain Bike Park and try out their XC course instead.

Having raced on part of the trail previously, I thought it would be a pretty easy spin, so was somewhat dismayed when I set off to discover a whole new section of XC track had been built heading up the hill.

This new section of track is the most brutal mountain park trail I've ridden since the black section of the Tarkine Adventures trail, and to be perfectly honest I didn't really enjoy myself.  The switchbacks on the ride up are steep and sharp and well beyond my ability, the track is often narrow with lots of hazards (high rocks, roots, narrow gaps), and then on the way down I was again defeated by the sharp switchbacks, loose soil and quickly developing ruts.
The New Track - well beyond my skills,

The real shame was that this new section really bruised my confidence on the rest of the XC course and so I found myself being pretty lame the whole way around. Still, it was good to get out there and have a bit of a shake down, however I think this one is for fit intermediate to advanced riders to enjoy ... and that's not me.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Priceless or just costly?

I've been having a bit of a bad run lately when it comes to gear damage, and it got me thinking - how the heck do people afford to live outdoor lifestyles?

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the life that I'm living right now, in fact, in the words of the Mastercard campaign ... it's priceless, but that said it's also pretty costly (and yes, most of it does go on my mastercard).

Because I got thinking about this, and because I've tracked every dollar I've earnt and spent since I was 18 years old (sad, but true) I went back and had a bit more of a look at what this year has cost me so far.   Here's the summary in case you're ever thinking of 'heading out there' and 'living simply':

The Murray Marathon & Victorian Mountain Biking Splurge
Five days of racing and fun on the murray river ... priceless.

... and riding the Victorian MTB trails ... priceless

but, there was a cost ...

  • Murray Entry Fee $425
  • Accomodation $761 (Most of this was after the Murray as the event provides free camping)
  • Flights & Ferries $862 (includes Bec's airfare and my ferry trip)
  • Food $421 (Restaurant meals)
  • Car Fuel $359
  • New & Replacement Gear $444 (ok, maybe some of this wasn't 'essential')
  • Merchandise $80 (hey you have to buy the T Shirt & Cap!)
  • Miscellaneous $636 (cash withdrawals, mainly food)
  • Rudder Repair $220 (Yea, next time I'll go the retractable rudder)
 Total cost $4,207 ... and that's not counting having to buy the ski in the first place.  Gulp.

Cockle Creek

Caving, camping, kayaking and snorkelling at Cockle Creek ... priceless

but ...
  • Repair to supposedly waterproof camera after it got a little bit wet: $320 (disgust at Panasonic)
  • New tyre for car after getting a flat and then driving on it for god knows how long: $140 
  • Fuel - probably about $40
  • Campfire wood from BP: $15 (I list this because I can't believe what a rip off it was)
So a 'cheap' weekend away down south: $515.
 Mt Ida and the Pieman River

Exploring the coast and rivers of West Coast Tasmania... priceless


but, it creates new dreams and wants ...

Cost of new toys: $1,275

Wondering if I could get faster ...

Not coming last in a paddle race ... priceless (well I'm sure it will be)

However, to achieve this status, so far I've spent:
  • Next Level Paddling lesson (one on one): $130
  • New Jantex Gamma Paddle & Bag $640
  • The Kayak Forward Stroke DVD $40
So far this year: $810, and just for the record at the Browns River race this week it didn't make any difference.  Though I guess technically I didn't use my new paddle, and I guess I should actually watch the DVD.

Frederick Henry Bay Paddle
Paddling across Frederick Henry Bay ... priceless

Capsizing playing on Stephan's Outrigger and drowning my Gamin Forerunner 305: $449 (to upgrade to the new 910xt

The Otway Shorty
50 kilometres of gravel roads and single trail near Forrest ... priceless

But, you guessed it - not cheap:

Airfares: $392 (for two)
Entry Fees:  $110 (for one, really should pay Kim for this ...)
Car Hire & Insurance:  $153
Accomdodation: $235
Fuel & Food: $120
New Tyres and Shoes; $267 (OK, so I didn't really need the new Gortex cycling shoes, but thought I'd slip them in)

Total cost: $1,277


So, I'm not even through February yet, and by my count so far I've blown just over $8,500 on my little adventures and I've still got my two biggest planned adventures (and expenditures) for the year to come, I think it might be time to go and visit my bank manager about lifting my mastercard limit ...or maybe just skip the country.

Actually, it really doesn't matter, because it's true ... whatever the cost ... the year so far has been, well ... priceless.


A bit of a confession - there was a second reason for this post. 

Whilst up in Victoria over Christmas,  a small 'freckle' on my left arm which had been getting larger and darker over the previous months, suddenly became quite sore when it got rubbed, then it started bleeding and of course I googled 'skin cancer' read lots of stuff and then started to worry and wonder ... I had to go through the uncertainty and doubt of waiting two weeks to get back to Tassie to see a doctor about it, then getting it cut out and biopsied (another 10 days waiting, including a delay as they sent it off to a second lab for checking) before I got the results back ... I got the all clear, but it did get me thinking ... there's no use being a rich person in ten years time if I'm also dead, so I decided to splurge a bit on myself and enjoy the now just a wee bit more.

Look after yourselves, plan for the future, but enjoy life now as well.  As Baldrick once said to me "My new years resolution is that I'd like to have another one, just like the other one ... only a little bit better."