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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bribie by Fat Bike

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Riding on the Beach

The aim of today’s adventure was to ride up the coast of Bribie Island as far as we could, then ride back south via the inland trails.

My friend Murray is so enthusiastic about “Fat Bikes” that his nickname is “Fat Muz”. He’s not fat – but the tyres on his bike are huge. I had managed to borrow a fat bike from a kind friend, and Murray agreed to ride with me for the day.

Woorim Beach

Tyre Tracks

We started at Woorim on the south-eastern tip of the island. It was low tide, which gave us a firm and generously wide causeway on which to ride. We pointed the bikes northwards and started pedalling with a gentle breeze wafting over our shoulder, the waves breaking on our right, and an endless and empty beach stretching off into the distance – it was delightful.

Lagoon, Bribie Island

Lagoon, Bribie Island

There are several lagoons near the beach. We decided to stop at the first one on the way up. The water is stained brown by the tannin from the trees but it’s still beautiful.

I noticed how difficult it was to pedal the bike once we got off the firm sand near the beach upto the softer sand near the lagoon. Even though these bikes have fat tyres, there are still places where you have to work really hard to ride them. Soft sand is tough terrain – even on a fat bike.

Bike & 4X4 on the beach

As we continued our journey up the beach, we were passed by a few 4×4′s on their way northwards. Every now and then we’d pass people fishing, or lazing under trees, or splashing about in the waves. Everyone was happy.

Rest in the shade

Rest in the shade

The sun rose higher in the sky and the day grew hotter. After an hour we decided to have a quick break in the shade of a tree on the edge of the dunes. I swapped my helmet for a broad hat and a bandanna. Murray’s “hat” trumped mine. It looked awesome.

Fort Bribie

We eventually came to “Fort Bribe”. These ruins from the Second World War are reminders of the strategic importance that the armed forces placed on Bribie and Moreton Islands as they defended Moreton Bay from enemy attack.

Looking towards Bulcock Beach, Caloundra

Looking towards Bulcock Beach, Caloundra

Slowly the buildings on the northern horizon swelled in stature, and sooner than expected we were standing on the northern tip of the island gazing across the narrow passage towards Bulcock Beach at Caloundra.

Looking towards Bulcock Beach, Caloundra

A couple of my friends have dreamed how cool it would be to ride to the top, and have a friend waiting with a tinny to ferry us across the passage to civilization. It sounds like fun, but the practical part of my mind wonders how you’d safely carry a bike on an unstable little boat.

Fatty on the sand

Feet in the water

We thought about having a bit of a swim, but I don’t think either of us wanted to go to the trouble of getting changed, getting wet, getting dried, then getting changed again. So we rested the bikes on the sand, had a snack, and cooled our feet instead.

Rising Tide

Conditions started to change as we rode back down the beach. The tide was rising. Sand which was once firm, crusty and easy to ride on was now soft and boggy. The further we went, the softer the sand. Eventually we ground to a halt.

Bribie Campsite

Heading Inland

We decided to complete the southward leg of the trip via inland tracks. We wouldn’t be subject to the tides, but some of those tracks had mountains of soft boggy sand. This was going to be hard work.

Ski boat, Lighthouse Rach

Picnic Area, Lighthouse ReachWater tank - Lighthouse Reach picnic area

After a kilometre of battling soft sand, we had another break at a shady picnic shelter at “Lighthouse Reach”. I noticed that I was using a lot more water than I normally did, and topped up my spare bottles from a rain tank, adding some Micropur tablets to kill any greeblies.

What followed can only be described as two kilometres of heart-break. The sand was soft and unrideable. But, being away from the sea breeze, it had also been baked scorchingly hot by the sun. When we tried to walk on it, it filled our sandles and burned our feet. It was painful work even pushing the bikes.

Forest Trails

Rest in the Shade

We eventually found some secondary trails leading off from the main track and followed them. They were rideable, at least, but the rough grass made progress slow. I relaxed under this small shady tree for what seemed like ages, cooling off.

Forest Trails

Creek Crossing

The trails got rougher, but were mostly rideable. They were pleasant, too. On our left side we had native scrub forming part of the national park. On our right we had pine forest.

We had to cross a couple of small creeks. Remembering the disaster I experienced when I last tried to cross a creek, I hopped off the bike, and crossed with the utmost care. My knee thanked me profusely.

Forest trails

The track veried between hard-pack and loose sand. We eventually reached a turn-off which would lead us to the beach, but decided against going back on to the beach.

It was now about 1.30pm, and the tide would be all the way up the beach. We continued to follow the inland track instead. This was good and bad. The last few kilometres of the inland track featured some really soft sand. We were tired, hot, and sunburned. It was a major effort to keep the pedals turning, but we did.


The track ended near “The Twin” cinema on first avenue. We staggered in and Murray bought me a huge (600ml) cinema Coke. As I rested in the deliciouly comfortable leather chair, I started drinking and couldn’t stop. As soon as I finished it I aked for another and downed it just as quickly.

Bike path, Woorim

We had finished with sand for the day. I “sloshed” on the bike as I rode the bike track, full of soft-drink.

What a relief!

Although it took us about two hours to reach the tip of the island, it took us over 6 hours to get back.

All up we rode 67km in just under 9 hours including breaks.

I burned 4,300 kcal.

Although this “flat” ride only had a feeble 217m in elevation gain, this was one of the toughest rides I’ve ever done.

I have no hesitation rating it 10 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter

If you’re crazy enough to attempt it, be warned:

1. Take plenty of water.

2. Wear sun-protective clothing.

3. Use plenty of sunscreen, and re-apply it. Put it ALL over. Radiation at the beach is multiples higher than what you’d experience on a normal MTB ride.

4. Check the tides. You can’t ride a fat bike on the beach at high tide.

5. Take a crazy but capable friend. Murray is very capapble, and a bit crazy like me, so was a perfect riding buddy :)

6. Do it in winter.

7. Remember that beach rides are not symmetrical. What takes you two hours in one direction can take you six hours on the way back.

Thanks Murray for an awesome ride!

Riding on the Beach

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lakeside Epic

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Forgan Cove

Riding around Lake Samsonvale via Dayboro is a popular ride for road-cyclists with great views. It has an awful lot of paved road for a mountain biker, so we decided to do an off-road version taking in as many trails and tracks near the lake as we could while still enjoying all of the views.

Forgan Cove

We began by following some quiet meandering tracks around Forgan Cove. I often ride through here during the week on one of my “chill-out” sessions. It was fun to be able to share some of my home trails with friends.

Old School Road

The quiet flat trails were soon distant memories as we pointed our bikes up Old School Road. This is a reasonably tough dirt climb up Clear Mountain, with a nasty little pinch climb at the end.

Old School Road

The final climb on Old School Road is a bit of a bellweather test for me. Until my recent knee injury I prided myself on being able to climb it. This was my first attempt since then, and also the first time I’d tried it using flat pedals instead of clip-ins. It was really difficult, but I made it, puffing heavily, unable to talk. Sue has wanted to nail this hill for a while. She made it,, and put in such an intense effort that she heaved up what was left of her breakfast at the top. Well done, Sue :)

Clear Mountain

But the top of Old School Road only marks the half-way point of the climb. After a bit more huffing and puffing we finally made it to the summit of Clear Mountain near the resort.

From there we rode the downhill jump-track to the bottom of the hill.

Clear Mountain

Some people rode the twisty single-track all the way to the bottom. I decided to play it safe and avoid further injury by following the “Pineapple Break” fire trail to the bottom.

South-Western Trails

South-Western Trails

After a couple of kilometres along Winn Road we followed a few more trails along the south-western shoreline of the lake. The shoreline hass many “fingers” of land protrudiung into the lake at this point, so if you wanted it would be possible to meander around countless peninsulars all day.

Mount Samson

Mount Samson looms large in this part of the world.

Mount Samson Rail Trail

We eventually met up with the remnants of an old railway line that used to pass through this area fifty years ago. Much of the railway is under water, but it’s still a viable track in some parts.

Mount Samson Hall

The day grew hotter, and we had been working hard, so we stopped at the Mount Samson Community Hall to fill up with water and rest in the shade.

Mount Samson Rail TrailMount Samson Rail Trail

Mount Samson Rail TrailMount Samson Rail Trail

The remnants of the railway line emerge from the lake near the small locality of Samsonvale. This once used to be a thriving little town. Now all that remains is the cemetery. We followed the railway line along the shore, past the site of the old Samsonvale Railway Station.

Leis Crossing, Dayboro

Leaving the flat shoreline of the lake, we headed west into the hills behind Kobble Creek. Although the roads were paved, this was a hot and challenging section because of some of the steeper gradients. A few people were starting to feel hungry. We had toyed with the idea of having a quick swim at this pleasant section of the North Pine River at Leis Crossing, but I think most people could smell the cafes of Dayboro so we decided to keep riding.

Lunch at Dayboro

Dayboro was a welcome lunch stop. Because there were about a dozen of us, we split up around a few of the different shops around town to have lunch. A few people had a quick lie down on the picnic benches, or topped up their water supplies.

Strongs Road

A farmer out the back of Dayboro kindly gave us permission to ride through his property along the old Strongs Road reserve.

“I thought all you bikies were in jail”, he quipped as he let us through.

Strongs Road is a quiet alternative route east out of Dayboro. Part of it runs through private property, so there are no cars. Most of it is unpaved, which makes it a pleasant ride on a mountain bike.

King Eric

At the end of the road, Eric sat on an old couch and “held court” with anyone who needed his sage advice.

Dayboro Rd Horse Trail

Once we met up with Dayboro Road again, we tried to follow some of the horse trails by the side of the road to avoid traffic. Although the track had been mown, it was still rough going. Eventually we decided to take our chances for 4 or 5km along the bitumen until we met up with our next off-road trail.

Looking over the lake

Northern Trails

The endless trails on the northern side of the lake are a lot of fun to ride. The views were impressive, and the shady green tracks were a welcome relief from the hot tarmac.

North Pine River

Towards the end of the ride, as luck would have it, I was “leading from the rear” and lost about half the riders who rode ahead of me the wrong way. While they rode on ahead, a few of us followed the final few tracks along the river back up to our starting point.

Forgan Road

This ride was 77km with about 1,500m of ascent. It took about 8 hours including breaks, and I burned 4,500 kcal.

For a fit rider I’d rate this one about 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. For beginners or anyone nursing a reasonable injury I’d rate it 9 to 9.5 out of 10.

Thanks everyone for a great day. I’m so pleased to be able to enjoy long rides with friends again!