Sunday, February 22, 2009

Epic Ride - Orroral Tracking Station to Blue Water Hole.

It was a fresh 10 degrees as we met at the Orroral Tracking Station ready to depart on a journey through the mountains. Half of us were planning to turn around at Murrays gap while others would venture all the way to Blue Water Hole.

It was to be a long trip so we all had quite a bit of food. I carried three litres of water, breakfast bars, hot crossed buns, Allens mixed lollies and gallons of GU; as well as my tools and some emergency clothing. GPS were on every second bike and Flip was carrying an EPIRB.

Simon had done the trip to the gap before and regaled us with chirpy accounts of how much walking we would have to do up the mountains. We started heading up these 'hills' and began to doubt Simons ratings, they were very rideable and slowly carried us up until we could see the peaks and valleys surrounding us.

We stopped often to regroup and refuel and found a couple of huts on the way, decked out with wood fires and running water for campers/hikers (will have to investigate for future reference).

The hills started getting a little steeper........

.......then almost everyone started walking. Unfortunately Simon was right.

The pain seemed to cloud any concept of time, I think we spent hours on that hill, but it felt like days. False crest after false crest, without exageration, it was the most consistently steep hill I have ever riden.

We eventually reached the top and refueled again.

The grade leveled out and we ventured into the 'fragile eco system'. Less formed roads, greener foliage and much more water.

A note for next time - if Zed is waiting on the other side of a water crossing and says go right, go left.

We finally reached the gap after over four hours of riding. It was quite a contrast to the rest of the ride - open swampy plains and lush green grass that engulfed entire wheels - probably the best place on earth to crash!!!

Zed was keen to get moving back to the cars so we took the photo without waiting for Jason - we figured they'd catch him on the way back, and worst case would be able to relay a grid to the SES for body collection.

Zed, Simon, Me, Flip and Jeff.

Flip, Jeff and myself decided to head on to Blue Water Hole - another 16 kilometres.

Oldfield Hut.

More open plains.

And some friends. The sound of the brumbies running across the plains was awe inspiring - a rolling thunder.

Eventually, after far too much ascending (as you ascend down any hill on an out and back journey all you have in the back of your mind is the sinking feeling that you will have to climb it on the way back....) we reached Blue Water Hole. A beautiful and magical place where pure blue waters flow out of the rocks and tumble their way down the mountains.

We filled our Camelbaks and headed back to the Orroral Station.

The climbs in general were less steep than the outward journey, with a few exception where i actually had to walk. Unfortunately the down hills were just too steep and loose to enjoy at any real speed, so it was a slow journey back. Jeff started to bottom out and was in dire need of some sustenance, which came in the form a KFC on the way back to Canberra.

I wouldn't hesitate to say the ride was one of the harder non-racing days I have spent on a bike, mostly due to the amazingly long and steep climbs. All in all the weather was great, we kept a good pace and the scenery was priceless. Zed and Simon are planning on repeating the entire journey to Blue Water hole with camping gear - not something I'd contemplate but good luck all the same (the fact that there were numerous screaming kids and overweight parents who had driven the three hours to the campsite tends to reduce my enthusiasm). The day ended up at 9 or 10 hours and just under 90 kilometres of riding.

Can't wait for the next epic.

Canberra Fixed Ride II

Same meeting point at the Legislative Assembly, this time it wasn't 40000 degrees, perfect weather. A few beers before we started, thanks to Jock, and we were off.

Headed out toward Campbell, through Ainslie all the way to Watson.

Onto the Highway and back into town........

.....for some refueling on pizza and beer at Debacle.

Another great ride.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Milk run.

Took the new old bike for it's maiden trip to the corner store for milk. As the only flat pedaled bike I own it is now the choice for quick grocery trips. Rides like a dream, the Noah bars transform the bike from slick Italian racer to smooth European Townie.

There's also a couple of changes, see if you can pick them.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

New old Olmo.

I suppose I should have been studying for the exam I have on Monday, but, slightly hungover and very adept at avoiding study, I decided to build another bike.

The Olmo frame I restored last year was to be the base and the aim was to build a town bike for light duties and cruising. I’ve had this idea going through my head of late whereby I could add extra cogs to the rear of my bike and rig up some kind of a device to push the chain from one cog to another in order to ‘change gears’ and make it easier to ride up hill or faster on the flatlands.

I even went so far as to devise a way of controlling the device from the front of the bike, possibly utilising cables, so that I wouldn’t have to get off every time I wanted to ‘change gears’.

As I pottered around the garage looking for bits to build the bike with I found some parts that someone, somewhere had obviously built to do just the task I had thought of mere weeks earlier.

I even found a clamp type device that grips the back wheel and slows you down, no need for legs like steel springs.

It may seem like a big call but I would even go as far as saying that fixies and singlespeed bikes may be a way of the past and all bikes may one day be adorned with this new technology. Just wait till I turn up to my first race here in Canberra with my new ‘geared’ bike, can’t wait.

Frame: Olmo
Wheels: Something French
Cranks: StrongLight, 42t chainring
Deraileur and shifter: Suntour Cyclone
Bars: Some Fabrications - Noah's Arc
Grips: Jet Black foam
Stem: Nitto Pearl 9
Headset: Shimano 105
Saddle: Brooks B17 Special with copper plated hardwear and hammered rivets.
Pedals: Christophe
Brake and lever: CLB and Salsa

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Canberra Fixed Gears.

I decided to take a study break between lectures on Metallurgy and Composites yesterday and jumped on the net to check out Low and behold I found a message stating that there was to be a fixed group ride in Canberra that evening. We were supposed to go to the bar for after work drinks that night but I ‘excused myself’ and burned home as soon as I could. Unfortunately yesterday was somewhere between 40 and 10 000 degrees and I nearly turned my self into jerky on the way home.

A quick bite to eat and I was off back into town to make the rendezvous. A few riders were already assembled on the steps of the Legislative Assembly and over the next half hour more trickled in before we headed off around the lake. There really is nothing like riding with a bunch of other fixies; skid stopping, slow corners, track stands and obnoxious behaviour.

We headed out toward Fyshwick and even enjoyed some dirt trails before we started heading toward parliament house. Note for nextime – don’t ride passed the Police Academy, it attracts a little too much unwanted attention, including a suggestion that I should in fact ride with my hands on my bars – “Two hands for beginners”. Not to mention the fact that most of us were sans brakes and some were sans helmets.

As we were passing Kingston I suggested that we could stop for a beer before we headed back to town for a beer. There were no arguments so we found ourselves walking into Filthy McFaddens minutes later. A few confused looks from the patrons but the beer was sooooo refreshing.

It was then time to head to the Wig and Pen via parliament house, again attracting the attention of the bike police on premises. No real chance of them catching us but we made sure we were out of there post haste. Down the ramp and express along Commonwealth avenue, over the bridge, through civic and to the pub.

No room for our bikes on the racks (gotta love Canberra, pubs full of cyclists) so we made our own. I’m pretty sure the two innermost bikes were locked to the pole, the rest were daisy chained to each other – which made it a bit of a shuffle everytime someone decided to go home, we’d all head outside, unlock each bike, shuffle the right bike out and re-lock. Team work.

I must admit after five pints of Canberra’s finest I did have trouble mounting my bike, but riding it was easy. A burrito helped fuel the ride home.

It was great to see a bunch of like minded people from all corners of life getting together through a common thread of simply loving fixies. Next ride to be some time in the next couple of weeks.