Sunday, May 27, 2012

North of the border

For a change I decided to do a smaller ride sticking to the roads in the Gold Coast hinterland which I have not been riding much lately.

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Dawn over the saw tooth skyline of the Gold Coast

Today was the first proper Winter ride and I noticed more than a few new riders looking a bit cold so I will try think of a half a dozen or so tips for cold weather riding for people who may not have, or want, to wear winter gear starting from the cheapest.

1. Try some anti-fog on your visor so you can fully close it and your vents. I find if my head is cold then I will be cold.

2. Give a scarf a go or better still a Buff. It is essential to stop the cold air going down back of neck. A Buff has the added advantage that you can pull up over your chin or even nose which I find makes a huge difference when really cold.

3. If you do not have winter gloves then try a pair of glove liners, cheap on eBay and when it warms up just roll them up and pop into your pocket.

4. Try a pair of really good winter socks, not the stuff from local shop but a specialised product. I have some Alpinestars winter boot socks that sure help keep my lower legs warm and wick moisture to keep my feet dry in boots.

5. Jeans/Draggin’s do not work so well in winter, on the road your legs are going to be pretty cold until the day warms up. If you are a jeans only person and touring in them in winter then you can get thermal mid-layer pants from any outdoor shop or cheap from BCF to wear under your jeans until day warms up. The textile pants do really make for a more comfortable tour when it is cool.

6. If you have a jacket without a inner or external storm flap then the wind probably blows right through the zipper to chill you. Simply enough to wear a windproof mid layer, any outdoor shop can help you there but I have found the cold air getting inside your outer layer via zipper when in really cold weather means you are less ne whole layer of warmth so if that happens then you can try using your rain jacket to stop the wind getting in. A good winter textile jacket like pants does make a huge difference.

7. I ditch the cotton t-shirts in winter and use cycle riding base layer t-shirts instead.  I like the merino T’s from Ground Effect but any outdoor shop has this type of thing. One of these with my Alpinestars WP10 jacket (with liner fitted) was warm enough to not require an additional mid layer riding in snow.

8. If you do have pants and jacket that can be zipped together then try it, makes a big difference to stopping drafts.

Well that's all I can think of at the moment, but there is many things you can do to be warm when winter riding. Now back to the ride report. Todays route is here but I completed it in reverse to what I drew up on Ride with GPS site night before. (just on a whim)

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Bottom of Springbrook

Still damp riding up Springbrook with most of the road in complete shadow until the sun rises further. A few bikes out I tried to get a coffee at the top but the English Gardens cafe all closed and another cafe signposted nearby in a lodge seemed closed also so I decided to wait until lunch for a coffee. The upper section of Springbrook does not see too many riders as tend to turn off on Pine Creek road but nothing wrong with the ride to the top, surface has been improved over the years and curves are plentiful.

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Top of Springbrook

Took it easy on Advancetown road. With the recent tragic accident I was expecting some police presence but there was none. You really need not go fast to enjoy this road as you can enjoy a lot of ‘hang time’ on the corners at regular road speed on most motorcycles. It’s only the sports bikes rider that feels something lacking at regular speeds. A case of less equals more when riding on public roads.  

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Beechmont

A lot of repairs on Beechmont from embankment slips. A huge crowd of riders and motorcycles at Canungra. The town has really captured a good thing as I see more shops open now than ever before.

Next I took a spin up O’Rielly’s mountain which I had not been to for a very long time. A lot of cars, used to be hardly anyone but today a convoy of slow moving rubber necking folks were out. I managed to blow by most of them quick enough but it did discourage me from making too many stops due to the thought of having to  pass them all again.

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My target was the Kamarun lookout which IMO on a good day is the best lookout South of Brisbane. My photos above and below do nothing to capture the views which extend from the ocean to Mt Lindsey and most everything in between.

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I had a quick bite at the Alpaca ranch, the cafe has reopened 5 weeks ago by new management and the food range is very limited but the location is good. They need a bit of luck I think so I hope they can give place a lift.

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Back down I refuelled at Canungra and then made the mistake of riding Mt Tamborine to the M1. In my route plan I was going to do this ride in reverse first thing in morning before the crowds but changed my mind this morning. Well as I should have expected it was ultra slow stop start in places with very heavy traffic. The ride down from Eagle Heights was so slow I stopped to break the monotony and do a bit playing about with new camera on it’s first outing.

What a great Winter’s day.

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Sunday, May 06, 2012

A tale of two rides

My last two rides have been opposite temperatures. A couple of weeks ago it was hot and humid inside my helmet on a Sunday that was the last hurrah of warm weather. Today I reluctantly allowed a chilly dry air to demist the visor and closed all other vents as I tried to keep the warmth inside.

In reverse order then, today I visited Queen Mary Falls and the south west. I wanted to ride the area before frosts arrive and turn the grass yellow and lifeless.

For a change I bypassed the usual path to Beaudesert riding via the Centenary highway to Springfield Lakes then to Greenbank then followed the interstate rail line on back roads to Tamrookum where I refuelled. The map is here but note there is two small unsealed sections, I have marked them in purple.

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Kagaru

Once I cleared the city, which amazingly at 7.30am on a Sunday still took 20 minutes to go a few kms, I had a good fairly low traffic ride all the way to the border. A few large groups of bicycles on the Mt Lindsey highway. Having witnessed the amazing speed the pros ride in Europe I often wonder what the riders here are thinking. On open highways, just barely crawling along in their spandex, weaving all over the road as they stand up at the slightest incline, I guess it is just the dream no matter how far removed. I was road riding (bicycles) considerable distance for many years when younger – as a means of transport and also for enjoyment but minus the spandex and carbon fibre bike. Too many close calls with cars so I gave it away and now just ride a stationary bike for fitness.

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Coloured leaves and winter sky - Urbenville

From Tamrookum I rode straight over Mt LIndsey to Urbenville. If someone knows of a cafe or shop with good coffee open in Woodenbong then let me know as I have bypassed the town for years as nothing much there but it would be the ideal place to stop for a coffee after the ride from Beaudesert or thereabouts.

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Quiet country road, near Tooloom

I took it easy over the section of road that connects Urbenville and Legume. It has deteriorated a bit from last time but is still better than trying to ride the Mt Lindsey from Woodenbong to Legume which is possibly the worst rode I have ever been on. I have marked this road in blue on the map above, riders of sports bikes with track orientated suspension and ergonomics should think twice about proceeding past Urbenville Woodenbong. Riders of cruisers with short travel rear suspension probably will know if they want to tackle a bumpy road or not but if in doubt then be warned it is bumpy but doable if you take your time and use all the road where possible.

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Despite the bumpy road only being a short distance I usually take a rest half way at the Tooloom lookout as temptation is always to go a bit faster and then you cop a bump or dip. Anyway why not, it is a great view west to the start of the New England Tablelands. There is a seating area and information in the forest above the road lookout, access 50 metres south.

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I stopped for lunch at the Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park Cafe or just the Falls Cafe for short. Food and coffee here is usually aok, and inside you will find a few motorcycle magazines to read while waiting. Be warned this place (like many) gets very busy on weekends so try make it before the midday car day trippers or be prepared for a wait. I arrived 11.15 so was leaving just as it started ramping up.

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High meadows, Spring creek road

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Creek crossing kicking it old school, 3 of these at base of northern ascent to Queen Mary Falls

I wish they would make that Vehicle Lane Departure technology standard on all 4 wheel drives – seriously what is it with the captains of these 4 tonne Tarmac Titanics that they cannot steer them better? Is there a limited driving ability licence now issued that forces the user to purchase a 4 wheel drive wagon? Oh well after much flashing of my high beam I descend back to the ground level from the green pastures above.

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I’d wager these guys are WAY more intelligent than the average four wheel driver on any given Sunday. Lots of unfenced roads at Queen Mary Falls, take it easy.

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Olympus_in_camera_panorama_fail_.com. Not had it work yet so serves me right, of course cannot see the screen in daylight to tell, anyway you get the idea, great spot. Gotta wonder about all the happy campers bunched together on the west bank? looks more like a shanty town to me than ‘getting away from it all’ (scratches head…)

I rode over Mt Alford to refuel at Aratula, basically I was riding the reverse of my usual western route to then go home via Kalbar and the Western freeway. Yea! great day of riding, just the right distance and glad to have a change from the M1 (even though I love the northern NSW border ranges)

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Local Knowledge

This ride was two weeks and one whole season ago.

I was meeting up with my mate from down south and we had a bit to catch up on so I put together this ride while in route from refuel stop at Robina. My idea was a shorter but no less entertaining ride with more time left for a chat. If you have a look at the map then it is all good riding once you leave the M1 at West Burleigh until you return to thereabouts for the ride home.

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Tyalgum

The key to this ride is the portion from Mooball to Tumbulgum. A bit of local knowledge on how to join up these various roads after the new highway was built was essential when first riding this some years ago. Narrow in parts, not always clean road surface this is not for everyone but if you love back roads then give it a go.

I finally tried the lunch at the Tumbulgum pub. I just ordered my usual lunch on a Sunday ride which is a home style burger and theirs came with chips. Both were good, the beef pâté was huge if that is your thing, I actually prefer not too big but it is a lot for the money (by Australia’s current bubble economy food prices) so I can see why the place is popular. It was so popular however that my mate took a good 15 minutes to get to front of a huge queue to place our orders, I was able to secure the table and our ride gear in meantime but if by myself I would not return.

I don’t mind having to go to a counter to order and pay which seems to have become the norm here in Australia rather than table service as is the expectation in most other counties. I do however want to be served promptly if I am coming to the server rather than them to me and after this I want to sit down and remove my jacket, relax and have my food and coffee delivered to my table. Having to also collect food and take it to a table is just McDonald's at a much higher price point. 

Well anyway turned out to be a beautiful warm day and perfect for riding the Tweed valley.

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Clothiers Creek