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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mooloolah XC

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Forest Trail

Over the last couple of months I’ve been planning a cross-country ride I could bring some friends on. Today, those plans came to fruition.

Like our previous group ride, the idea was to start at a railway station, ride as far as we could, then catch the train back home.

Pre-ride greetingsPre-ride greetingsPre-ride greetings

Today we started at Caboolture Railway Station. The only problem was that the railway station has two car parks. I was so busy saying “G’day” to everyone that I forgot to check if anyone had gone to the wrong car park. As Murphy’s Law would have it, after we were ten minutes into the ride I got a call from some worried riders wondering where we were. Luckily I was able to direct them to a meeting point a couple of km up the road, and all nineteen of us continued the ride together through the pine forests.

Hill Climb

Hill Climb

The first section of our ride passed through the Beerburrum East State Forest. This was mostly flat, but was often sandy and muddy. Riding through sand can tire you out pretty quickly, so by the time we started climbing a few hills, we started to feel it.

Bike FuelBike Fuel

Luckily our route passed through several towns so there was plenty of opportunity to “fuel up” at local shops :)

Bike vs Mountain

The second section of our ride passed through the Glasshouse Mountains. They looked great today. Even though it was overcast, there was no rain, and the visibility was perfect.

MTB Pwns 4x4

There are some tough hills in the Glasshouse Mountains. This one was so steep it stopped a 4WD. We couldn’t ride it either, but at least we were able to push our bikes up the hill.

Chilling at the lookoutChilling at the lookoutChilling at the lookout

After the steep climb to the lookout, we all had a break and enjoyed the view before some more punishing descents and climbs near Mount Beerwah.

Streek Road, Glasshouse Mountains


Yes – I had a crash. Porfiri Road is steep, and my seat got stuck in my bike pants, which kept my body (and head) too far forward. I came off, and scraped my face and knee along the rocks. Thankfully I didn’t suffer any major damage, and my mates were really helpful getting me patched back up. It’s much safter riding in a bunch!

Porfiri Road, Glasshouse Mountains

As the day wore on, I became more aware of our deadline – we had to get to Mooloolah Railway Station by 3pm to catch the train. I pushed the pace in the third leg of the ride through the state forest at Beerwah. This made the going a bit too difficult for some of the riders who bailed at Landsborough Railway Station, allowing the rest of us to finish at Mooloolah.

And then there were seven

And so although we started out with nineteen riders (increasing to twenty, when another rider joined us at Beerburrum), by the time we got to the train, there were only seven of us.

All up 78km in just over 5 hours with about 900m of vertical ascent, and about 4,300 kcal burned. I’d give this 9.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. The same hills which are easy on shorter rides become tougher on longer rides – especially when you have to push the pace to meet a deadline.

Despite the difficulty, riding with a great bunch of friends made it a fantastic experience.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Riding to Peachester

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Forest Trail

Six of us left Beerburrum this morning for a ride up to Peachester through some of the many forest trails that meander through the Glasshouse Mountains.

Enjoying the View

We tried to keep to the dirt where possible, and to narrow tracks where they existsed. It involved some steep climbs, especially leading up to the lookout, and one or two gnarly descents down some rocky, muddy, technical downhills.


Although it was overcast and rained a bit, the cooler temps made the ride a lot more comfortable, and the dozens of muddy puddles we had to swerve around just added to the fun.

Climbing the Hill

Thanks to all the guys who turned up for the ride. I needed some feedback about part of the route we’re taking next week on our XC ride to Mooloolah, and I received some excellent advice: The gnarly cliff-like drop-offs that lead down to Palmer Road are not for the inexperienced, so next week end we’ll ride down Old Peachester Road instead.

All up 45km with about 940m of vertical ascent, and 3200 kcal of energy. It was harder because of the mud, so tough-o-meter score for this ride is 8 out of 10. In the dry it would more likely be 7 out of 10. It’s well worth the ride.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Wheels

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Giant Anthem 29-0

I’m the proud owner of a new Giant Anthem 29-0 dual suspension mountain bike.

This raises some important questions:

1. Why did I get it?

I already had a 29er, and love the advantage I get from the big wheels – better traction, less rolling resistance, better obstacle clearance.

I love doing lots of long rides. Often those rides are in rough areas with steep descents and climbs, and often I ride them by myself.

I wanted dual suspension to make the rides more comfortable, but safety was an issue too. Rear suspension keeps the back wheel on the ground on fast descents, which gives me more traction. Plus it makes the ride smoother which (hopefully) will keep me on the bike when otherwise I might have been bumped off it. On long rides, it makes a difference on my back and backside if the ride is smoother, which means I enjoy it more, and come home happier.

I also wanted a 2 x 10 gearing system (two chain rings on the front, ten cogs on the back).

My old bike had a 3 x 9 gearing system. On a 3 x 9 system you can’t use all the gears because of the angle of the chain. For example, when I was in the big ring on the front, I couldn’t use the lower 2 or 3 gears on the back. Similarly when I was in the small ring on the front, I couldn’t use the upper 2 or 3 gears on the back. So I ended up with 5 or 6 un-useable gears and a lot of over-lapping gears.

The other problem with the 3 x 9 gearing system was mud. In muddy weather, if the front rings got dirty, it eventually became impossible to change gears. The angle of the chain coupled with the rubbish that built up on the front derailleur clogged the system up.

My hope with a 2 x 10 system was that I could use all the gears (there’s less of an angle with 2 rings on the front compared with 3 rings). The other hope was that the smaller chain angle would reduce problems with mud preventing gear changes on the front.

2. What do I think of it?

I love it!

The dual suspension makes a big difference. I’ve ridden it down a few really steep hills at Clear Mountain and love how stable it feels at speed. The ground was bumpy, but I felt comfortable on the bike. My knees no longer had to do all the rear suspension work.

The suspension front and back is fully adjustable. Not only can I adjust how stiff the suspension is, but I can adjust the rebound rate – how quick it bounces back. And there’s an extra air chamber on the front forks to counter-act against the suspension to stop the forks sticking. I’m used to the Fox F29 RL forks on my XTC-29 hard tail, so I was a bit surprised when I had to pump the Rock Shox RTC3 forks up about 20% more than what I was used to, but I suppose that’s just a minor difference between manufacturers.

The gears are all I expected too. The changes are crisp: click – change – no mashing or delay. All ten gears on the back are useable regardless of which ring I am using on the front. I rode the bike out in the mud and sand a couple of days ago and had no problems with rubbish clogging up my gear changes, so (I’m hoping) I’ll have less hassles in the mud too.

One bonus is the Avid Elixr 9 brakes. I now have a huge 180mm (7 inch) brake rotor on the front where I used to only have a 160mm (6 inch) rotor. The larger rotor gives me more stopping power which helps on steep descents.

Another bonus is the Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres. They’re tubeless ready, and feel pretty tough. I hate punctures and plan to convert them to tubeless in the next month or two. It’s nice to have a decent quality UST tyre on the bike, which will save me having to buy UST tyres once I go tubeless again.

But there are some minor issues….

On my old XTC-29, the small ring on the front had 22 teeth. This is small, and made hill-climbing really easy. When the trail got steep, I just dropped it into the “granny” ring, popped the rear cassette into first, and spun the pedals. It would get me up almost any hill and I loved it.

The small ring on the Anthem 29-0 has 26 teeth, and that makes a heck of a difference. When I tried climbing some of my favourite hills at Clear Mountain I found it really difficult. This was a major issue for me. Being able to climb almost any hill means I can go almost anywhere on my bike. If that was no longer the case I might have problems.

The solution was to replace the 26 tooth granny for a 22 tooth ring. This gave the Anthem the same advantage as my XTC-29 in hill climbs.

The second problem is with the brakes. The front brake howls like a banshee when I use it heavily. I used to have this problem with the lower spec Avid Juicy 3′s on the XTC-29. After persevering with them for 12 months, I eventually complained to Giant who replaced them under warranty with Shimano SLX disk brakes. The SLX brakes were whisper quiet. I loved them. But now with the top of the range Avid Elixr 9′s I’ve got that horrible howling again. I’ll persevere with it for a while longer. Hopefully the pads will wear in and the the brakes will quieten down. If not, I might have to whinge to the wonderful people at Giant Bicycles again :)

3. Bottom line?

It’s an awesome bike. As with most Giant Bikes – you get a hell of a lot of good quality bike for your money. The guys at Strathpine Cycles gave me excellent service (as always) and were able to give me a decent amount of change out of $3,000 which will come in handly for my tubeless conversion.

It has quality components.

It looks great.

It rides really well.

I’m really happy with my purchase!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Road Less Travelled

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The Road Less Travelled

There are lots of quiet trails like this around Beerburrum.

I rode the bike for a couple of hours through the forest in light rain, without seeing another soul – except for a raucous Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo.

It was muddy in places, but perfect.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


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I’m planning a cross country ride north through the Peachester area and wanted to check out a few trails in the area before that ride.

Glasshouse Mountains

Peachester is perched in the forested foothills of the Blackall Ranges with great views south to the Glasshouse Mountains.

Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo

Last time I was here I wound up in the middle of a bunch of Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos all happily squawking to each other and munching on She-Oak bark, but today I was delighted to see this rare Red-Tailed Cockatoo, also hiding up in the She-Oaks.


I almost ran over this two metre long Lace Monitor (or Goanna) on my way out of the forest. I spotted a couple today. As I approached, they just slowly waddled out of the way, looking for a tree to climb.


Of course a two-metre goanna seems tiny compared to the huge reptiles that Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, used to wrestle with. This beautiful memorial to him at the start of “Steve Irwin Way” always reminds me about Steve’s passion and energy for those huge reptiles. Passion and energy, in the right place they’re magical things!

If you’re reading this, and you’re free on the 29th of October 2011, and would like a fun 70km cross-country ride through some of this country, why not drop me a line or sign up for the ride here.

Friday, October 07, 2011


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There’s a crazy loop from Mount Mee that heads down a steep dirt track called Williams Road to Wamuran, then winds through the course of a former rail track, then heads back up the mountain via another rocky steep track called McLeods Lane. I’ve done it before, but today, Tim and I rode it together.

Glasshouse Mountains

The track down is steep. I was leaning so far back I was hanging over the back of my saddle, and yet I still managed to stall and go flying over the handlebars.

Tim decided a more challenging method – his rear brakes started jamming on, so in order to finish the ride, he had to remove his rear brakes. This meant he only had front brakes. Anyone who has ridden down steep dirt tracks will tell you that you need both sets of brakes to make it down safely.

Look Ma, No Brakes!

But somehow the guardian angels of the foolhardy protected Tim from harm, and he made it down safely – with a bit of extra wear and tear on the soles of his shoes.

Note to self:

1. I will carry spare brake pads with me, and will learn how to replace them.

2. I will not try to scramble up McLeods Lane again – it is too steep and rocky.

Sunset - Mt Mee

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The view from the Bike

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Here’s how the PTYP ride looked from the bike, courtesy of Darb Ryan’s helmet cam.

Another great video, Darb!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Pedal Til You Puke

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About 15 of us got together yesterday to ride some steep hills at Clear Mountain. The idea was to have fun, see who could ride up (and down) the most hills without getting off the bike, and to raise money for a friend of ours.

Graeme Ardern is fighting Hodgkin’s Disease. He needs some money in the next few weeks for neurosurgery that isn’t covered by his health fund or Medicare, so thought we’d all chip in a bit of cash to help out, and have a whale of at time in the process.

Here’s a link to their fundraising site if you’d like to help.

Thanks to Chantelle, Steve and Graeme for some great photos.

The course started out along some narrow trails winding thorugh the forest, across some steep creek crossings, then up onto the main fire trails. I’ve done this loop dozens of times before – I ride it at least once per week, but these guys rode it really quickly, and after 5 minutes I really started to feel puffed out.

We agreed to stop at the top of each hill to let everyone catch up. Towards the end, I was the one crawling to the top puffing and panting.

I was impressed with the skill of some of these riders. I was riding behind Mat (from For the Riders) and was amazed at how high he got into the air over some of the jumps, and how quickly some of these riders could get up the hills.

The last couple of hills were stupidly steep. Some of the guys put in a huge effort to make it part way up the hill. It was nearly impossible to even walk up the slope…

…so I just watched in awe as Graham “Wingadelic” Menizes smashed the last hill – riding straight up it, while singing at the same time. It was a sight to behold.

If you’re interested, Leanne has done a video of the event, including the last huge climb at the end:

I rode with a few friends afterwards to “warm” down, so the total distance for us was 20km (the course was 11km) with total vertical ascent of about 700m, and 1,400kcal. Considering most of that effort was in the first 11km, I’m giving this one 10 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. I didn’t puke, but I came pretty close.