Practicing for Cold Rides!

Now that I live in Sydney cold weather is even more of a novelty than it was in Alice Springs. Today is a full month into winter and I am walking around town in shorts and tee-shirt because it is so warm. Now that I own an ECR I am on a mission though. These bikes were made for snow and slush and mud and all things fun.
I recently found mud of a satisfying depth and consistency while riding around Sparrow Hill and Canberra. That leaves snow.

With that in mind, I am went up to the Blue Mountains today for a practice ride with my fully loaded Surly.

The gear packed on the bike included:

  • Snow gloves (which I wore some of the time to see how easy it was to shift gears)
  • down vest
  • rain gear
  • extra thermals etc
  • 3.5 litres of water
  • stove and gas canister
  • tools
  • GPS
  • Food!
  • lots of Bike Bag Dude bags
  • k-lite dynamo lights

All in all I am pretty impressed by the amount of stuff I could fit on the bike without even trying to be efficient. I can see that with a bike seat bag or a bag on the back rack I could easily head out for a night or two without adding to much extra bulk or impacting the handling.

So…. The ride!

I had been reading the forecast all day yesterday and this morning and new that the weather had a strong potential to be miserable, which was exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately when I got to Faulconbridge in the lower Blue Mountains there was nary a cloud in sight, and the sun was bleating down.

So I loaded up and off I went along the lovely fire trail I had found described on the NSW Mtb forum last night. It was almost as flat as described, and gave me a good chance to play with the loaded bike. Just like my Long Haul Trucker the bike feels more stable and fun once it has a bit of load on it, and I couldn’t resist riding over every sand patch on the trail just to see if I could make the thing wobble. I couldn’t!

As I reached the point of the ridge, and the nice little lookout situated there, the wind dropped, the sun came out and everything was just spiffy for a spot of lunch and some chill time. Riding back to the car the wind picked up and the clouds came out. Looks like  picked my window perfectly if I hadn’t have been looking for the bad weather!

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Surly ECR XXL four months on – Evading Clichéd Rides?

The Northern Walker has basically written my summary of the Surly ECR for me, sure mine is a smaller frame and an 11 speed hub but all in all the bike is amazing. Just plain and simple and amazing and oh so very fun!

Northern Walker

I’ve had my mahoosive Surly ECR since March.

In that time, it’s been on numerous trips over the trails near home, took part in a celebratory ride for the bike shop that assembled it (and was greeted with nod of approval from the Surly dudes), lugged bikepacking gear on an epic trip from Settle to home along the Pennine Bridleway and ferried me out for coffee on a hill when I just couldn’t take it any more.

Surly ECR in the Pennines A sunny day on the trails. An ECR day.

It has a name – Ernie. My other half, who is barely 5ft tall and dwarfed by this monster bike, feels the moniker fits: ‘It’s just an Ernie… what else would he be called?’

You might already detect that I’m already rather fond of it (given that I don’t really think of it as a machine any more). It is, to paraphrase the Surly blurb…

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Fortnight of Fun

The last fortnight has been awesome, truly great and just plan good. Over the past two weeks I have had some great adventures in Alice Springs, Canberra and possibly even around Sydney though I might have to think a bit harder about that one to come up with an example.

Over the long weekend I was lucky enough to be able to go up to Alice Springs for the weekend and hang out with amazing people camping, slack-lining, walking, camp-firing and art auction attending. We had amazing weather (As always for this time of year) and camped under the multitudinous stars that are a feature of deserts every where. Although the whole weekend was amazing I think the two most impressive discoveries were a gorge full of carved aboriginal petroglyphs that have been dated to between six and eight thousand years old, and that crispy campfire bacon, roasted banana and maple syrup go quite well together.

 

This past weekend I have spent in Canberra in a similarly awesome weekend that involved lots of exciting things like cake, mountain biking at Sparrow Hill, a two year olds birthday party, a Global Wind Day Picnic, markets and lots of coffee! A big thank you to everyone who made it a second great weekend!

Oh, and the awesome thing about Sydney… Family of course. Thanks all!

Just a normal Sunday

This weekend I had basically no plans. Unfortunately this has been a relatively common state of affairs lately as I have been travelling, which if I am honest is a rather lame excuse I am using instead of the term lazy.

Anyway like most under planned weekend I went with the flow and figured something would work itself out. A spectacularly uninteresting start of the weekend showed little promise with a significant amount of time spent in queues, but a trip to my parents to help them pack up their house proved the catalyst for things to change.

My parents, who from previous posts some might know as The Grey Wanderers, have been re-arranging a few things and decided it would be good for me to take a few things I clearly needed for my car (actually needed (there is no sarcasm there Dad)). As well as the things I needed we re-discovered their inflatable kayak in the back of the shed, so my Sunday morning was set!

So after an uneventful evening I awoke bright and early on Sunday, then rolled over and went back to sleep.

So after an uneventful sleep I awoke bright and not so early later on Sunday morning, and went in search of coffee!

Coffee in hand I pack the car and headed for the Lane Cove river where I knew there was water, mangroves, car parking. Somewhere in the back of my mind I also was aware there was access to the water from the car park from attempts at fishing with my brother years ago. I have no idea why we would have tried fishing with a dog and no bait, but that is off topic.

So I inflated this kayak with much scratching of head, substantial impatience and the help of an electric pump which produced inconsistent results.

Eventually I hit the water (not literally) and paddled merrily up stream to see what I could see. As usual that is about where the written part of the story ends, so look at the photos and make up your own tales or daring-do and adventure!

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