Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Aficionadi ...

No one has ever made a T-Shirt for me before ...

Actually I've just realised that's not quite true: my mother (at my request) had a T-Shirt made up for me a few years ago which looked something like this ...

... but let's face it while it seemed really cool when I asked for it ... walking out the door whilst wearing it in public is another reality and I think it ended up being used as a painting t-shirt.

But I get distracted ... other than that one T-Shirt, no one has ever made a T-Shirt just for me before, and although this may still be technically true, Chris Hardinge of tasendurance.com fame has probably done the next closest thing with his new 'aficionadi' range of T-Shirts ...

Check out these two cool t-shirts (you can click on them to see bigger versions on his site) ...
Image of Definition - Black   Image of Checklist - Asphalt
I really wanted the 'tassie mountain biker' one on the left, but it looks like print runs are limited to just 50 and my size was already gone, so I purchased the "The Checklist" T-Shirt on the right which you have to admit is pretty well tailor made for me ...


But this has created a problem ... you will notice that the T Shirt lists most of the best rides in Tasmania and in doing so spells "I RIDE TRAILS"  ... 

The Problem is, apparently I don't ride trails, "I RIDE TRAIL".

Yep, up until the moment I bought this T Shirt and googled "S57" I had never heard of the S57 track despite the fact it is virtually in my own backyard ...

This fact is almost as embarrassing as that moment when I first walked out into public wearing my "When God made me he was just showing off" T Shirt and realised that this type of T Shirt is really only appropriate for those under the age of five.

I shall therefore be going out and checking the S57 trail very soon (though rumour has it that the S57 is actually on private land and now illegal to ride - anyone know?)

In the meantime I shall be suggesting to Chris that he seriously consider a T Shirt of my own design ...


Now is that a best seller or what?

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PS.  In case you're wondering, I bought my T-Shirt with my own money (though Chris did send me a discount code) and although I've corresponded with Chris via email, I would walk right past him on the street and not know it.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Gumleaves Bush Holidays ...

Gumleaves Bush Holidays on the East Coast is one of those places I've driven past for years thinking I should go and check it out someday ... but never actually got around to it.

But then Kim had the monsters this weekend, I wanted to go for a ride and I wanted to spend some time with Kim and the monsters ... and well Gumleaves just seemed like the perfect solution ...


If you check out their website (or drive past their sign) then you'll know that they sell themselves as having an "adventure fun park", mini-golf, a tennis-court and even a lake you can row around and given it's only an hour from Hobart, this sounded like a great place to take the monsters for a night away from home ...


It cost us $50 a night for an unpowered camping site  (2 adults, 2 kids)  plus an extra $30 for a family day pass to all the activities (which covered from when we arrived on Saturday to when we left on Sunday).  This cost probably explained why we had the place pretty much to ourselves as there seems to be quite a lot of free or cheap council camping on the East Coast now so I guess you'd only come here if you wanted to make use of the facilities ... and make use of them we did.

Over the few hours we had left to us on Saturday after setting up camp, we rode our bikes around the park, had our first go at some of the obstacles on the adventure course, went and watched the deer get fed, played tennis, had a second go on the obstacle course, ate dinner, went for a row around the lake, toasted marshmallows, ate chocolate and watched all of the wallabies and possums come out and feed at night under the stars ...






Do note the lifejacket and helmet on the bike ...






After a rather enormous breakfast on day two, we again watched the wallabies feeding around us, went and had another 'game' of tennis, played again on all the obstacles, had a game of mini-golf, watched Kim (who was the only one brave enough and light enough) have a few goes on the flying fox and still managed to pack up the tent and be on the road by noon giving us time to hang Markus's shoes up on the "shoe wall" on our way out (noting that by the time we got to Orford he wanted us to turn around and go back and get them),  have a lazy lunch and play on the beach at Orford and still be home and unpacked by 4pm.



Note Markus's shoes on the right hand side.
They are now hanging up on the shoe wall.

Flying Fox.
Kim, flying over the little lake..


It's amazing what you can fit into a weekend, and not a bad way to spend the last day of summer 2014 if I do say so myself.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hellfire Cup (Reprise)

I have not been on a mountain bike since Wildside.

What concerns me more though is that I haven't wanted to be on a bike since Wildside.


Other than a few commutes into work on my electric bike, I've basically been sitting around waiting for the desire to ride to return, but it just hasn't, and so I figured if the mountain won't come to Mohammed, then it is time to for Mohammed to go back to the mountain ...

And, I further figured, what better option for getting back on the bike than heading out to ride the Day 2 Hellfire Cup Trail which I didn't get to ride due to that stage being cancelled during the event.

This worked really nicely as not only did I have the GPS of these trails (they were given to all competitors in the event) but Kim and I had decided to take the monsters up to Gumleaves for the night (after she'd taken them to surf club in the morning) so I had a morning all to myself to go riding and these trails were (almost) on the way ...

That's what I call serendipity.

And it was ... well, after I managed to find all my gear which had just been shoved in various places after Wildside finished and then navigated my way to a start point about half way around the course on Weilangta Road ready to ride ...

Yep, once on the bike it all came back to me, and for all of about 1km everything went swimmingly.

Then I came to the spot where the GPS trail headed off the gravel road and down onto a rough, but rideable, trail and off I set with a cry of returning joy ...

This is not actually the track, but I thought a photo was in order.
Ten minutes later I was back at the same spot with a slighter smaller smile on my face because after plummeting down the track following what looked like blue tape markers, I finally spared a glance at my GPS and noticed I had ridden completely off the GPS track.

So, I returned to ground zero, cycled a hundred metres down the road to make sure I hadn't taken a turn too early and then set off down the trail a second time, slightly more slowly but confident that a junction I had passed on the way down the first time must now be where I wanted to go ...

Twenty minutes later I was again back at the same spot having explored some wonderful trails, but none of them going where I needed to go, and meanwhile I was now completely flummoxed as to what the heck was going on with this GPS track as it wasn't following any trail I could see.

In fact, as I was to discover over the next hour, either I missed a whole lot of good track (very possible) or the GPS track that was provided was more 'conceptual' than 'actual'.  Here, take a  look yourself and see what I mean ...


I started on the left hand side of the map and was trying to follow the blue GPS line provided.  The red line was my actual route (and the dead ends it entailed) and to give that some context, each one of those black squares is a kilometre, so sometimes I was more than 500 metres off the GPS track.

Normally this type of exploration would just be part of the process of finding new trails, but I had a girlfriend and two monsters who were expecting to rock up at Gumleaves around 3pm to find the tent up, the air beds inflated, the fire wood cut and the camp chairs out ready for some serious marshmallow toasting and at my current pace, they were going to get there before I did.

Fortunately, after these early misadventures, the GPS and actual track seemed to move into a much closer alignment, so the only challenges were getting over or around the trees that have blown down over the track, the many climbs and a constant worry about snakes (strangely I didn't see one the whole way round on the bike, but then saw three as I drove back over the Weilangta Road section that I'd just ridden on my way to Orford).

Maybe that's the Serendipity I was searching for?







I don't know if I missed some great sections of track in that early section, and I did skip over half of the days stage choosing to just ride the northern most loop (starting at the road that heads off at Emergency meeting point 181) but I'll be honest and say the best I can say about this loop is that it was good to have ridden it.

Cutting out the dead ends and backtracking, the first few kilometres are all about working your way uphill on a pretty well maintained gravel road, which is fine and sensible for getting you up to the top, and then it does get fun, with some pretty nice riding along older bush tracks, but they weren't blow you away amazing tracks, and they certainly weren't worth the long grind back along Weilangta Road to where I had (stupidly) parked my car on what was probably close to the highest point on the route (next time if just doing this loop I'd park either at Sandspit Forest Reserve or more likely the Northern End of the Weilangta Walk and get the uphill riding out of the way first).






There was a nice, but short, section of single trail just before coming out onto Weilangta Road, and I've read that the 1.5 hour one way Weilangta Walk to the Sandspit  Forest Forest reserve (which the Hellfire Cup doesn't use) follows an old tram line which has me thinking that maybe if that was cleared it might make an awesome alternative to the current grind up and over the hill to the reserve (I did poke my nose down here about 300 metres, and it did look promising, if somewhat overgrown, but time was against me and I didn't really want to rock up at Gumleaves at 7pm that night having to explain how my need to explore is as important as Kim's need to have a tent and campfire, so I turned around and rode over the hill instead).

I still want to get back out and ride the rest of the route, and I have no doubt I will, but today it was just good to get out and blow away the cobwebs and enjoy some solo time on the bike.

What ended this serendipitous day was that I still managed to get to the Triabunna Fish Punt for a late lunch and get back out to the highway in time to meet Kim and the monsters just as they drove past to join me for our next adventure at Gumleaves ...

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Beetles ...

I was wandering around one tree hill out near Acton Park today and there were hundreds of these beetles on the ground in clumps ...



I'm not sure if they were blown down by the recent winds, or whether this is normal 'beetle' behaviour but they were very pretty.

That's all I want to say about that.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Fire Alarms ...

If you've ever wondered, even just for a second, about any of the following, then I'm about to shed some light into your life:

  1. Why does this guy spend so much time out riding/paddling, doesn't he have a life?
  2. Why does his girlfriend and best mate get stuck renovating his kitchen while he's off cycling around Europe?
  3. Why does he spend so frickin' much on bike maintenance?
Well, let me explain ...

A couple of weeks ago, my fire alarm started beeping at me indicating that it needed the battery changing (oops) and so (about a week later) I finally got around to buying a new battery.

Which is when I somehow managed to break the fire alarm.

This kind of sucked, but it was also kind of cool, because it meant I got to buy a new one, so I was quickly engrossed on www.choice.com.au finding out all about the best smoke alarms (did you know there are different types for smoke vs flame fires? I didn't) and then after deciding that I couldn't decide which type to buy, I of course went for the option of just buying the most expensive one which picks up everything.


Then I went to install it and this brings me to the crux of why I ride so much ... I mean installing a smoke alarm is pretty easy right?

You just drill a couple of holes, screw the base in and you're done ...


But no, apparently that's not the case, and my ceiling now has more holes in it than a frickin' dart board.

And that's why I should be out on a bike or a boat whilst paying other people to fix my house and toys. 

Anyone know any good handypersons?

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine's ....

Kim was over the other day and it was one of those wet, rainy days, so we were inside and I was on my laptop doing a few things and she was on the couch behind me texting one of the monsters on Skype.  It was whilst I was engrossed in my own world that Kim piped up and said "I think you should get another laptop so I can talk to you when I'm here."

Now normally this would have alarm bells going off in my head because even I get that a statement like that is code for Kim saying she had come all this way to spend time with me and I was ignoring her.

But not this time ...

You see I had recently been introduced to the 'how do you put a giraffe in the fridge' quiz, and so I knew that I tended to overthink things (if you don't know what I'm talking about do the quiz - it's quick) and secondly Kim had just recently made the point to me that she is a pretty straight shooter and that she calls a dog a dog and a spade a spade.

So, I reasoned, if Kim had said she wants me to get another laptop so she can send me messages when she comes around to visit ... well that must mean she wants me to get a laptop so she can send me messages when she comes around to visit.

So I bought her one for Valentines Day ... and I didn't stint either ... I went the full hog and bought her a beautiful new 13" Macbook Pro with retina display ...


.. Yea, I probably don't need to say anything else other than that sometimes a dog isn't a dog, a spade isn't a spade and a Macbook Pro is not what your girlfriend wants for Valentines Day.

If however anyone reading this has a second hand entry level ocean ski that they might be interested in trading for a hardly used (and apparently ridiculously expensive) Macbook Pro ....  apparently we'd be very interested.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Wildside MTB - The Costs

Yes, my continual obsession with understanding the economic benefits of mountain bike tourism continues (See here and here for previous expositions on this topic), but in this case I felt justified because as anyone who has done Wildside MTB knows - it's not a cheap event to enter with the entry fee + one support person  alone costing $730.


For the record, it's an even more expensive event if you decide to buy yourself a new bike just before the event and then have to spend all that extra money on tubeless conversions, extra bike racks for the car  (I blame cmc for putting that idea in my head) and all the other miscellaneous rubbish (tubes, tyres, brake pads etc.) that new bikes with different wheel sizes and braking systems require.

In my case this added well over $3000 to the event cost, but I'll only include a small fraction of that cost - specifically that which was directly related to the event (tubes, tyres, brake pads etc.) in the analysis below.


Back on topic, there are a lot of people who descend on the West Coast for this event, and ipso facto it should provide a big boost to the local economy, right?

Well, I think so.

So, in the interests of my obsession, and deciding to pretend to be scientific for this event I doubled, yes that's right, I  D-O-U-B-L-E-D, my sampling pool ...

This analysis is based on not one, but two people.

I hope you were sitting down when you read that bombshell, and yes there is no length that I won't go to in order to generate data to justify my opinions on things.

Oh ... and a big thank you to cmc and family for agreeing to be in my sample set (I will now return all of your kidnapped garden gnomes).

Unfortunately, I hadn't really thought through my sample set very well, because if I had I might have realised that as we were both travelling in family packs (2 adults, 2 children) and that we'd ask them for suggestions on where to stay and what to do over there ... well, we both ended up with pretty similar expenditure profiles.

In fact all I really got from including their data (I'll call them the cmc's)  was the realisation that they got better prices at most of the places we stayed at (darn it) and that not only was there something like 300+ riders between Jon and I in the race standings ... they pretty much trounced me on every financial metric as well ...


The event cost us just shy of $3,000 and the more frugal cmc's managed to come in at $2,500 despite spending two extra nights travelling which showed up in their higher accommodation expenditure (show offs).

(Not wanting to spread rumours, but I have heard that the cmc's were so hardcore in their desire to win our financial contest that they slept under picnic blankets on the first night just to save money and beat us ...  true story ... you can read back through cmc's blog if you don't believe me.)

What I'm really interested in though is local expenditure, ie. what portion of our expenditure actually got spent over on the West Coast (or at least in the local economy on the way there and back rather than back in Hobart).

Here's that answer ...


We spent about $1,200 and the cmc's about $1,500.

So the cmc's come out in front on the "who's helping out the locals the most" metric (of course) spending more in both absolute and relative terms in the local economy (they really aren't leaving me anything to claim victory on) with 56% of their money spent locally, and only 40% of ours spent locally (though I'd argue this is biased by their spending six nights to our four, plus I included nearly $600 of pre-race bike expenditure related to the new bike).

By far the largest expenditure by both of us in the local economy was accommodation, constituting 56% of our local expenditure and 68% (yawn, it must be boring to win everythng) of the cmc's local expenditure.

Looked at on a nightly basis, we spent $304 a night locally for our four night adventure and the cmc's spent $239 per night for their six night adventure. I'm not going to claim that, as it feels a bit like creating a special division just so I'll win something, and even I'm not that sad (but I did win that category).

What is scary is that these numbers are starting to look like the numbers that often appear in studies on the economic benefits of cycling to local economies, and if you multiply that by 400+ competitors you end up with something like $500,000+ being injected directly into the local economy just during the race, plus whatever portion of the race entry and support fees also flowed into the economy which could easily be another $200,000.

Which means that I've just done all of this work to maybe disprove my central premise which is that the economic benefits of mountain biking are usually overstated ...

On that note, I'm signing off and going riding ...


=====================
In breaking news, I strongly suspect that the cmc's aren't going to participate in further surveys once they've read this, so before I run away and hide from both them now that they know I stole their garden gnomes and Kim (who is still trying to find me from my previous post on her paddling skills) ... anyone else want to be my next guinea pig?