Weather for Canyoners

WARNING: THIS IS A LONG POST AND IT IS QUITE POSSIBLY BORING!

 Disclaimer: Make your own decisions when you’re deciding whether to head out on a trip. There are so many more factors than just these to consider!

Sydney has been wet recently. I mean really wet. I mean crazy thunderstorms dumping 30-90mm of rain in an hour wet. With all of this weather the facebook group OzCanyons has been buzzing with discussions about whether it is safe to canyon and what canyons are best. While I can’t help with that info – as a few people like Tom mentioned it really is a decision for the group to make based on experience – I thought I would share a few thoughts on weather resources to help make decisions about whether or not to head out. Like all meteorological discussions remember that ‘the forecast is always correct, just a day or month out’ so take everything with a grain of salt and remember there is no substitute for knowledge or experience.

In summary my process for making a decisions would be the dot points below – the rest of the post will explain some of the resources I use in consideration.

  • Check the forecast –if it is crazy I’ll call it.
  • Check the radar – because I like the image and it is useful (but only at the last minute I guess)
  • Check recent weather data – work out what has been happening recently in the area I am going to – if there has been a lot of rain or storms recently I’ll make a call.
  • Check individual rain gauge data – because the popular weather stations aren’t always close by.
  • Check the forecast maps and forecasts again with the background knowledge of what conditions are likely to be at the moment.
  • If I still haven’t made a decision – check with an expert (like the OzCanyons Crew)

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2015 – It’s off to a good start

So 2015 is here. No matter that when ever I read it in my head I say 2005, no matter that today is 5/1/15 and I got a little bit excited, the important thing is that this is a new year were new things can happen and probably will. As anyone who has been following the blog would have read last year was a jam packed year with adventures to NZ, a big move back to Sydney and a whole lot of non-cycling related adventures. I don’t really have many goals for 2015 just yet but I have a strong suspicion that a decently big cycle tour might be squeezed in there somewhere. If anyone has polite suggestions of where I should go please feel free to contribute, however for now I think the leading contender is the back roads of Iceland.

Anyway, with a new year comes other new things. The first is a little bit of digital wizardry called a VIRB, which is a nifty little sports cam I have purchased and will be playing with over the coming year. To match this new technology I am going to be trying out a few little upgrades to the blog to make it keep up with the times. So here is my first attempt at a time lapse video as recorded on my new VIRB. I apologise in advance because, well, lets just say it is a little rough around the edges!

You can also have some photos from my Christmas holiday because the 5,300 of you who looked at my blog last year have been so good that you deserve more!

 

European Bikepacking Routes

People really have to stop finding ways to inspire me!

gypsy by trade

Bicycle Times Bikepacking Europe1 28Luxembourg, GR5/E2 trail

Two years ago I wondered about bikepacking routes in Europe.  After eight months of riding, researching, and blogging from Amsterdam to Sevastapol to Athens, this resource is the culmination of our efforts.  Europe is a great place to explore by bike, off-pavement, and self-supported.  Eat great food, visit fascinating cultural and historical places, and learn new languages, in between bike rides.  In Europe, there are rides and routes for every interest and skill level.  Use the search function or the archives on this page to learn more about our rides in Europe through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Czech, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Greece.

This is an incomplete list of European bikepacking routes.  These routes are either mapped, signed, and/or available as GPS tracks.  Many routes originate as self-supported off-pavement endurance races, multi-day stage races, or challenging routes for solo ITT.  Some are government tourism projects.  Others are the creation…

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Dreaming again

So I am chilling out near Canberra tonight and dreaming of rides I could be doing.  I won’t be doing these rides in the immediate future, but I can dream!

1) Iceland…

http://www.vegagerdin.is/media/upplysingar-og-utgafa/Cycling-map.pdf

I admit this isn’t a particularly detailed idea, but the map appears to outline hundreds of kilometres of riding which one could do with options for highlands, fjordlands and large sections of the maps listed as “Loose sand possibly causing difficulties in biking”. Who wouldn’t be inspired.

2)  Remote Australian Cycle Tours

http://ozbikerouteproject.cycletraveller.com.au/

I have a lot of respect for people who commit to serious cycle touring, and Alia and Simon appear to have committed to scouting two massive new cycle routes in Australia. The proposed routes through Central Australia and along the Great Dividing Range are epic and should be awesome once they are developed!

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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Shopping trip…

Hello readers!

This is a slightly unusual post in that I haven’t actually done anything but am putting a call out for opinions and ideas.

I have some time up my sleeve you see and want to fill that time with fun and adventures and silliness ( to the extent that I may give up the use of commas).

I have my two touring bikes, one set and ready to go, the other needing a few pieces of kit that are on order but ostensibly ready as well. This means I could just as easily go cycle touring or bike packing.

I am considering south west WA on the road tourer with no end goal other than to ride east as my first option. Alternatively I’d take my off road tourer to the east coast or Tasmania.

Does anyone in the ether have awesome suggestions of rides that would are great and that I should do?

Cheers team!

Surly ECR – Everything Combined Really

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!

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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!

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My Surly getting a work out. Thanks to Bike Bag Dude for the awesome frame bag which I haven't taken off the bike since I got it!

My Surly getting a work out. Thanks to Bike Bag Dude for the awesome frame bag which I haven’t taken off the bike since I got it!

100+ year old building and the shadow of my ECR

100+ year old building and the shadow of my ECR

Happy Christmas to you and me!

Hi All,

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!

christmasbike