Friday, 31 May 2013

Pace 17 ... The big questions.

So - back to the important questions of life.

Just before the stock market went south (and hence I was feeling slightly less broke) I sold what few shares I still had in my SOUL and put down the deposit on that new Tiderace Pace 17 Tour I had paddled up in Sydney.

That was the easy part ... now I have the big decision to make ... should I get a red one or a black one????

I know ... the red one would obviously be faster (especially if someone else paddles it) and will probably look cooler in photos, but consensus from the lay people I've asked is that it looks cheap and horrible (I tend to agree hence my comments that this boat looks a bit like a moose in my previous post).

Unfortunately there aren't any images of black ones on the google-verse (formally known as the internet) so putting my full artistic talents to use ... I've created one of my own so that I could visualise it in it's full glory  ...

Pace17Black.JPG
I know ... my creation should be on display at some great museum of art, and no it is not my attempt at surrealist modern art.

Just for reference, this is the red alternative :
Pace17_45.jpg
So ... I'm leaning towards the slower, scolding in the sun, black one despite knowing that it will probably show up every scratch and dint and look horrible and ragged after just two months weeks  ... but let's just say that I'm less than locked into this decision so don't be surprised if (when it arrives in a couple of months) I find myself sitting in a red one.

In the meantime ... I have to figure out how to pay for the balance I owe, and given that I've already sold my soul .... anyone want to buy any body parts?

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Tahune MTB Marathon (exploration)

If you haven't heard of it, the Tahune MTB Marathon was a brilliant mountain bike race that ran for several years starting and finishing at the Tahune Airwalk, where (unlike the Frickin' Convict 100) you get to ride across the 'bridge' that is the centerpoint of their advertising no matter which event (50km/100km) you entered.

Sorry, had to get that convict thing off my chest.

Tahune MTB Course ... 
Unfortunately the race was last run back in 2010, and many of the best sections have been lost to encroaching bush ...
Track, Oh track ... where art thou track ...
and overuse by 4wd's ...

Track, oh track, please get me of this track ...
Now, I usually get down this way at least once a year and ride the 50km course, often throwing in an extra side trip to Reuben Falls and Glovers Bluff, but I have never, and I mean never, ridden the second half of the course in it's entirety.

Which is why, when prompted by Kim's suggestion that "we go riding somewhere, and I don't care where" I decided that this weekend could be the weekend that we'd finally ride that other 50km loop ...

To help you get your bearings ... the white loop is the full Tahune MTB route (ridden in a counter clockwise direction from
the Tahune Airwalk).  The red line is the usual route I ride when following the 50km course.  The blue line
(for reference) is the current Tasmanian Trail route and the big white loop in the middle is the loop we planned to ride today.
Regular readers will be pleased to hear that for once we didn't stop at Banjos and have a horrid breakfast, but that's about as far as the good news on this trip goes.  Once we had our bikes unpacked, we made it exactly 1km from the car (we parked near the Southwood Bridge) before we lost the track when it was meant to turn off the road onto some actual trail ...


If you zoom in on the image above, you can see me searching around trying to find the trailhead, and trust me there was no track there to be followed unless you wanted to go bush bashing big time.

We therefore skipped this short little bit and headed down Edwards Link then Edwards Spur 3 and then (I think) Edwards Road and finally Edwards Spur 1 ...  We followed this beautiful little overgrown coupe road down the hill and around plantation getting excited about being about to hit some single track ...


and instead we just found ourselves at the end of a track with a wall of bush in front of us in all directions ...
Searching for the track ...
Unperturbed, we had a good search around for the track as you can see below ...


But it was all to no avail.  We were in for a big bush bash (for who knew how long or how far) or a back-track.

We opted to backtrack, and to be honest that was pretty much our day, even though we cycled another 25-30kms from our turn around point to complete a 40km circuit.  It was just that the riding was all on roads ...



So there's still sections out there that need exploring in my book ...

Blue line was out actual route ...
But another day, another day.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Flying with bikes (Virgin vs Jetstar)

So I've been doing a lot of flying with my bike over the last year, but without even thinking about it, I've been doing it all with Jetstar ... mainly because they've had the best prices for when and where I wanted to fly.

My usual luggage ... except Bec. 
But today I flew back from Melbourne with Virgin Australia ... and was I in for a nasty surprise ...  they'd move to a piece system for their check luggage.

I wonder if I'm the only one who remembers when VirginBlue first started flying in Australia and they had the coolest bike-friendly policy ever ... a bike just counted as 5kgs of your overall luggage, regardless of the weight, and that was super cool.  For many years I didn't consider flying with anyone else ... Virginblue rocked.

Then they wised up and changed their policy so that a bikes weight was just counted towards your normal baggage limit ... which given the stuff I used to shove into my bike box was probably a fair enough move to make.

Today however I rocked up with my 14kg bike and my 5kg clothes bag (I like to keep my clothes separate so they don't get all dirty or ripped) and was asked to fork over an extra $40 for the pleasure of having a second bag.

I wasn't too happy about that.

Now don't get me wrong ... it's their airline, so it's their rules, and I'm OK with that ... but for flying with bikes, Virgin Australia would have to now be my least favourite airline (however I don't fly Tiger), whereas Jetstar with their variable luggage limits (so you can upgrade from 23kgs to 30kgs check in for something like $7) and multi-piece check in are at the top of my airline booking list.  Who'd have thought that would happen five years ago when I was terrified to fly Jetstar in case I went 1kg over the luggage limit ...

Sorry Virgin, not even Branson can make you cool this time.

Disclaimer: I hold a pathetically small holding of Virgin Australia shares, which from memory I inherited when they were split off from Toll or something and which aren't worth selling because I'd probably lose most of it in brokerage.  I don't however hold any Qantas shares ... which kind of makes me think "Why am I even bothering typing this disclaimer?"

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Revenge at Lavender Farm ...

Call me juvenile, but when Bec. wasn't looking I couldn't resist sneaking into her fancy-smancy bathroom with the (reputedly) heated floor and undertaking a little male re-decorating ...


...  aka the lifted toilet seat.

My work there was done ... time to go home.

Mount Beauty Big Hill Mountain Bike Park

I had two goals this weekend ... One was to ride the trails up at Falls Creek and the other was to get into the Mt Beauty Mountain bike park and explore the trails there.




There were some challenges to this second goal, the primary one being that the trail map (available from the information centre for $3) showed a pretty complex series of tracks which we had to find our way around ...




Secondly, as we discovered out there, there are an awful lot of trails which aren't on that map ... like most of them and there is a distinct lack of on ground signage, especially on ground signage which relates vaguely to anything shown on the trail map.

In hindsight this is probably why I kept coming across articles saying that this was a mountain bike park that needed local knowledge to find your way around ...



Our one stroke of luck came when sitting in the local bakery.

I was taking Bec through where I roughly planned on riding today when the lady who came to take my not empty cup noticed the map and asked where we planned to ride.

I proudly showed her my route plans, to which she observed, in one of those 'I better be polite, but this customer is snake bait' tones of voice .. "Geez ... I don't know if I'd go that way... " before moving onto the next table.

I immediately called her back and she basically pointed out that I was choosing to ride up all the intermediate blue runs and down all the easy green runs (I'd read that the survey track was a good downhill flow ride) and she said she always rides it the other way around.

She made sense, and on the principle that local riders know their own trails I decided to take her advice.

Which is why we started our ride heading up the Survey Track, whereas my whole reason for coming here had been to ride down it.




Now the problem with taking some strangers advice is that while they may be a knowledgeable good samaritan who has just made your day so much better, they equally may have ruined it and gone on making lattes oblivious to the chaos they have just caused in your life.

In this case ...




Well it wasn't perfect ... there was at least one spectacular crash, and we took more wrong turns in one hour than I've made in the whole rest of the year, but the ride up Survey Track was fun, it was the rest of the park where we got lost ... and I think that would have happened no matter which way we went.

I guess the upside is that if you're going to get lost somewhere, this isn't such a bad place to do it ...



































As you can see from the photos above the tracks are old school single trail. They're rough, narrow and often unpredictable in terms of what's around the next corner and you're never certain where you are or where to go.

I kind of liked it, but don't come here thinking you'll find your way around in an hour or so ... like maybe I did ... this is a park that needs lots of time to explore and learn its intricacies.

I reckon it would be a gold mine to have on your doorstep, but for the rest of us who just drop by, come prepared for the confusion.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

High Country Lavender Farmstay

So I'm pretty sure I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the attractions of this weekend in Bright was that Bec had already handed over the big money for our accommodation ( http://www.highcountrylavender.com.au/)  and so all I had to pick up was the nightly cost of an extra bed at $20 a night.

Sweet!

Well, that's what she told me, but it seems she may have missed some details ...

You see my bed is in a little annex of the main studio area and there are some slight differences in facilities, for example here is Bec's nice log fire (yes, I do have to light it and keep it going) just metres from her bed ...

Her backup heat pump ...

And let's not forget her spare oil heater and electric blanket ... just in case.

... and of course her bathroom is just 3 steps from her bed (and probably has central floor heating to keep her tootsies warm) ...

You know the saying that you get what you pay for ... well my accommodation is slightly less luxurious. No heat pump, wood fire or heated floors for me ...

Nope, if I want to go to the toilet at 3am in the morning, I have to get up, put my beanie and puffer jacket on and head outside across the cold concrete veranda to the out-house ...

My bedroom door is the one closest ... the toilet is down the other end of the house past the BBQ ...

True story.

The Fungi of Fainter Falls

On our way back from Falls Creek, Bec and I decided to go and do the short walk out to Fainter Falls.

It was only meant to be 900m each way, but it took us quite a while as we got somewhat distracted by taking photos of Fungi ...

Oh, and there was a waterfall as well ...