Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not enough time.

There's nothing in the world quite as enjoyable as cycle touring. It's just one of the most relaxing ways of seeing the world. For some reason my touring bike has been hanging in the shed for months, unnoticed and unridden. A bit of tinkering and it's ready to ride once more. I couldn't resist putting the panniers and rack bags and handlebar bag back on and taking it for a little spin.

The Surly Long Haul Trucker is a wonderful touring bike. Mine is the 26" wheel version and it's just lovely to ride. It becomes more stable the more youy load it up. We're planning a weekend tour in the next few weeks, so I'm ready now - although possibly with slightly more carrying capacity than I'll need on an overnight trip to Bruny Island.

This is the bike I rode the Mallee Routes on a couple of years ago. The ride is on again this weekend as it traditionally is on the AFL Grand Final weekend. Wish I was there!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The hard way to the Airwalk

Eating breakfast on Saturday I could see the hills that mark the edge of the World Heritage Area north-west of here still had a good covering of snow on top. Despite the windy season being well and truly upon us it's still a good time to be outdoors. And there are miles and miles of dirt roads and tracks in the bush near home, so this weekend was high time to get out and explore some of it.

Keith, from up the road, is a keen and accomplished cyclist who knows the hills and trails of the Huon as well as anyone. He suggested a relatively straightforward mountain bike ride from Judbury down to the Tahune Airwalk and back - a round tip of about 80 or so kilometres mainly along forestry roads along either side of the Huon River. It's pretty rugged country, lots of hills and not too many people. We set off about 8.30 on Saturday morning.

The weather was cool and overcast as we rolled past the few scattered houses and inched up the hill behind Russell River. Keith showed his local knowledge by picking tracks to cut the distance or to provide a more interesting ride. He pointed out the site of Denny King's old Sunset Ranch. We copped a bit of rain, but it wasn't enough to bother putting a jacket on. We made the visitors centre at the Airwalk about 11am. There weren't too many people about on what was becoming a cool and windy day. We took a table and tucked into a very fine lunch.

The weather turned a little on the way back, though sheltered from the worst of the wind by the rugged hills, the temperature dropped and intermittent rain meant rain jackets and long pants were needed. On one long uphill section we were pelted by hail, which meant the puncture gods knew exactly what moment to put a sharp pointy rock in the path of my front wheel. A quick stop and we were on our way once more.

From the top of this climb we had a long and very enjoyable descent down towards the bridge near the Ta Ann veneer mill. By my reckoning, the temperature had dropped to well under the five degree minimum that had been forecast but if you keep pedalling you stay warm enough. The final climb over the hill after the Denison River was a killer, and I had to walk the steeper sections. Keith was waiting on the other side for the exhilarating 70km/h descent down back across the Russell River and the final spin into Judbury.

I really enjoy riding on the road, but this was a ride to equal any I've been on and had some other benefits besides. We saw some magnificent countryside and in what turned out to be a 90km ride we saw just three cars. And the even better thing is there's lots more trails to explore. Yet another joy of living in such a magnificent part of the world.

4,220km so far this year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gently Around the Channel

I'm getting ready to run a few 100km Audax rides over the summer.
Having ridden a few dozen rides organized by others I think it's fair
to say I've never really appreciated the amount of work involved. The
last few weeks have given me a good hint.

One of the good things about the process has been thinking about what
makes a good ride. Another benefit has been riding the courses, which
I'm slowly working my way through so I can check the distances and put
together the cue sheets.

Bicycle Tim and Keith joined me on Saturday for the run through of the
"Channel Challenge". Although what I thought was 108km turned out to
be closer to 120km it turned out to be a delightful traverse of some
of Southern Tasmania's best coastal scenery and had some brilliant
climbs as well.

The route went from Ranelagh to Cygnet, across to Kettering and back
via the coast road. I was confident it would be a winner because I've
never had a bad ride around the Channel.

Though my climbing clearly leaves a lot to be desired, Tim and Keith
kindly waited for me at the top of each major ascent and we enjoyed a
great lunch at Fleurty's cafe and cake at Cygnet's Red Velvet Lounge.
Although the wind was very blowy and I wasn't feeling that strong, I
hope the people who eventually take part in this event have as good a
time as I did Saturday. Wonderful scenery, great food and terrific
company, stuff of the most memorable rides.

The endless cycle resumes.

Yes, I've been slack, but I've had a lot on. This snippet from the tail end of the obituary of Ian Hibell, long distance cyclist. The Economist said it best.

— A cyclist can travel 1,037km (644 miles) on the energy equivalent of one litre of petrol.
— Regular cycling can make you as fit as someone who is ten years younger.
— A cyclist consumes 1/50th of the oxygen of a car making the same journey.
— A twice daily half-hour commute will, over a year, consume the energy equivalent of 24lb of fat.
— In 1949, 34 per cent of all mechanised journeys were made by bicycle. Fifty years later that figure had fallen to 2 per cent.
— The rate of serious heart disease for civil servants who cycle 20 miles or more a week is 50 per cent lower than for their sedentary colleagues.

4,130km so far this year.