Well it is 2015 now. It only seems like a month or two ago I spent NYE 13-14 in a cavers hut in NZ after a day of blackwater rafting. A memory-blurred few weeks ago seems to take me back to camping out in the Namadgee national park near Canberra following one of the hardest rides I have ever done over the NYE 12-13. So with a little reflection on board here are a few favourite photos from my year.
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!
Tomorrow is my last day in Alice Springs. As it turns out the world around me wanted to say goodbye on Wednesday by offering an amazing day of rain followed by on of the best sunsets I have ever seen, and living out here that is a big call.
Sitting at the first saddle of the Mt Gillen walk I was treated to rainbows, glowing mountains in the distance, golden valleys and red red rocks at the sunset around me.
Thanks Alice Springs. You’ve been amazing!
Yesterday I had a mid-week adventure to rival all others. Central Australia has received vast amounts of rain recently (20-60mm) and as a result all of the gorges have been filling up, and as anyone who has been following the blog would know I have been making the most of it!
Yesterday’s mid week adventure was to Palm Valley, an isolated valley full of cycads and palm trees an hour and a half from Alice Springs. Normally dry, our experience of the valley required wading through water holes and rock hoping around others. The creeks are full of tadpoles, frogs and fish. The air was full of cicadas and dragonflies, and generally it was a pretty amazing day.
Rainbow Valley is about an hours drive from Alice Springs. The large, multicolour sandstone monuments rise out of the low lying sand dunes and claypans that surround this isolated relic of a bygone landscape.
Everyone I’ve spoken to about the valley has told me the best time to visit is early in the morning or for sunset (campsites look good), but I’m really glad we went out during the middle of a summers day to witness the true colours without and centralian sunset adding or subtracting anything.
The walk out to mushroom rock is well worth it. Sitting in the shade with a cool breeze blowing made it a lovely place to chill for a while before braving thebsun again.
Last night while driving out to Simpsons Gap we could see the thunder heads of a summer storm in the desert. The rain it may have produced certainly never reached us so we remain stuck in the sticky heat of humidity in the desert. It is nice that the desert is so green at the moment, but honestly a little respite would be great!
This long weekend we headed out to Ormiston Gorge (1.5 west of Alice) for a nice little summer camping trip. When we left it was a chilly 37 degrees so I was expecting a weekend of unpleasantly hot weather. As it turned out the cloud came out, the water level was seriously high and everything was awesome aside from some vicious and evil mosquitos.
The past year or so the water level at Ormiston has remained pretty low with only a few pools of water that aren’t connected. I’d certainly never seen a stream flowing the whole length of the gorge. You can imagine our surprise when instead of being able to walk the length of the gorge we were forced to swim every where!
I took me new Surly ECR for its christening ride yesterday. For anyone one who has read and day dreamed about these – they are more amazing than you could have imagined.
For a quick bit of nerd out, my bike has been built up with a pd8 front hub, alfine 11 rear hub, old man mountain rack and near standard parts everywhere else. At 17.5kg it is by no means light, but you forget that any time you aren’t on flat ground.
My ride yesterday involved groomed single track, bush bashing, rock field adventures, some very quick descents and then riding home on the Todd River. Basically this bike did it all more confidently then I could have imagined!
At one point I found myself cruising up a nasty fire trail comfortably on the saddle on to find a dirt bike washing out up the hill behind me. He kept going so I turned around and bombed down the track like I was on a dualy.
This bike really is fun!
Update: 1st of May 2014.
So I have been riding the ECR for a few months now. I haven’t managed to take it on any large epic rides as much as I would have loved to, however I have ridden it on rocks, roads, beaches and single track. It is amazing.
I have tried to explain the feel of the bike to heaps of people, so many people working in bike shops have asked me what it is like and this is my best description.
It is bike and awesome and like riding a bike with saggy suspension.
That might not sound that exciting or great but you have no idea how awesome this combination is. The bike rolls around a track as though the track was made just for it. The size weight forces you to ride a bit slower and to really enjoy the track for what it is, rather than bombing down hills and racing up. Basically the bike forces you to enjoy your environment.
Riding it on the beach is fun. I spent an afternoon riding along Nobby’s beach in Newcastle where the waves had carved and scalloped out the sand into little ramps and step jumps. The experience of riding, bunny hoping and jumping a bike on sand is like nothing else I’ve experienced since I first rolled over a dirt mound in the local park as a kid. The 3″ tyres are great for sand, even relatively loosely packed. You won’t be able to ride up sand dunes but you can most certainly ride down them!
Around town (although it certainly isn’t the bikes natural environment) the bike is fun. Don’t expect to turn sharp corners if you don’t have much pressure in the tyres, but do expect to have fun!
Anyway for a few photos of the rides I have done so far consider looking at these links.
Finally, for anyone who has a bike like this consider chatting to Bike Bag Dude who has made up the frame bag and bar roll that adorn my ECR. They are awesome and perfect. K-Lite dynamo lights are also proving to be more than just awesome!
The blog has been a little quiet for the past few months, but it is Christmas time and I thought it time to join the cheeriness. So have two photos! One in my christmas present to myself for the next few years, the other is a strange likeness of me that I just happened to find on the internet!
Over the weekend some friends and I went camping at Redbank Gorge and climbed Mt Sonder. It was an awesome weekend with lots of swimming, but 35 degrees on the last day of winter is a bit rude really. Anyway, I survived, I didn’t reach the top of Sonder because I couldn’t handle the heat, but I had a great weekend.
Enjoy my happy snaps!