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)

Continue reading

The last leg…

So after 4 months on the road it seems that it is now less than four weeks until I go home. I am really not sure how it has passed so quickly -especially given how long some stretches of the trip have seemed. Still it will soon be time to pack up the bike and confront whatever life throws at me when I get back to Sydney and the dreaded “next”.

For the past few days I have been massively bludging in Basel at my friends house which they have super generously let me stay in, so I have been considering two things:
– the rest of my ride to Vienna; and
– how I will feel getting back

The rest of the ride is probably going to be very weather dependent as I had planned on going straight to St Morit by train but there is a cold front coming through this weekend so being up high doesn’t seem like a good plan. So now I am going to revert to Plan A and head east until it looks like there will be a break in the weather and then head to St Moritz and the River Inn.

As far as what I’ll think about getting home that is a completely unknown quantity. For the past month I have been at a point where I knew I could accept going home, but going to the alps challenged that view substantially! I am itching to get riding again so despite my legs still feeling shite after descending too much mountain I am going to get going tomorrow. What I will do when I get home and the solution to everything isn’t just “ride” or “ride later” I am not really sure. That said there are a lot of day rides and weekend tours to be done so perhaps I will maintain some level of activity this time….

I am also a little concerned about post ride depression, of which a similar condition is pretty well documented for hikers (discussed well here). When I cycled around Tasmania for a month I decided to quit my job in Sydney and move to Brisbane and then Alice Springs which possibly wasn’t the expected outcome of a holiday. This time I have already quit a job, moved out of a house and ended a relationship so I am not sure I am creative enough to make other big changes but it does mean getting back to Sydney (or my parents place) with a clean slate and no plan. Some things not to think about right now!

So anyway after a little rant that hasn’t really gone anywhere expect to give an idea of a state of mind it is now onwards for another three and a bit weeks of riding to get to Vienna! There will be mountains, rivers, fields, sunshine, rain and probably snow – so that is enough to think about for now.

Thanks for checking in!

Playing it Safe

Having a large group of outdoorsy friends is an interesting lifestyle. With friends outside my outdoorsy life decisions on when events should go ahead are pretty arbitrary – things like was it a stressful week and do I feel like talking to “X” today. In my outdoorsy friend group the discussions and decision are generally based on much more prosaic things – do I think it will be safe, do I have access the right gear or what party size am I comfortable with?

This is I feel is a great compliment to my friends as these are all phenomenally important questions.

All the time I read about people who do things that I would consider crazy. When ever I think about people who are under prepared I think of the french guy we met once in Scotsdale (Tasmania) who had arrived in the country, made a trip to target and bought a bicycle and camping gear and set off to ride around Tassie. Now in hindsight I admire him in many ways for having the guts to arrive in another country and just run with it, but at the time the only thing I could possibly think of was that the chap was going to die. I mean really, he had a 65litre backpack full of gear he so clearly didn’t know how to use that it took him over an hour to set up a really basic dome tent.

As my thoughts move on to people more prepared but still crazy my thoughts move to a slightly over-confident man I met in Papunya who was planning on riding to Port Headland in Western Australia via the back tracks, and believe me I mean back tracks! I never heard anything more about the guy on the news, which I can only take to mean he survived (or was never missed) but he had 25 litres of water on the bike so there was a chance he’d make it.

So as this weekend came around and the weather forecast turned from damp to thundery, and the BOM flood watch site showed there being 40mm of rain in an hour during one of the storm session near were we had planned canyoning my thoughts turned to safety and whether I felt like risking flash-flooding. You might be able to guess that the answer was no so I spent today reading a book instead.

That said I know a fair few canyoners who did head out today despite to forecast, and until 6pm there really wasn’t much rain so I am sure they all made it out safely, so what is the difference in thought processes between us? I am sure my mum approves of my playing it safe, and I am sure playing it safe is why I and all my friends are still here to write blogs and consider such adventures but it is interesting to consider the risks and what it is that clicks in the back of our brains somewhere to say “hmmm, perhaps wait for another day”.

Anyway, no really point to this rant except to let my mum know I am being sensible(-ish) and maybe give you a clue why there aren’t any pretty pictures today!

Movember Matters!

Hi All,

I’m not usual one for fundraising, or asking people to support charities or any such thing. I like to make donations that I can myself, and I don’t really like to harp on about causes but I am about to contradict that ethos by informing you I have signed up for Movember.

During November I will be cultivating the embarrassingly sparse patch of hair that assembles itself ludicrously slowly between the latitudes of my nostrils and my upper lip. Apparently by doing so I am encouraging people to thing about some very important men’s health and well-being issues, which is important. I can’t help but think of the last time I decided to shave my beard and leave a moustache, a period of time when women with children crossed the road and people made comments like “who is that barefoot hippy with a seedy seedy mo” so if you can donate that would make my appearance feel less anti-social.

Anyway I shall stop rambling at this point and say that there are a number of awesome cause out there to support. If you want to support my Movember campaign (entitled “Mos in Movember Only!”) click here.

Otherwise I would encourage you to consider these other worthy causes that unfortunately seem eminently relevant to friends and family at the moment.

Parkinsons Research

The Cancer Council

The Royal Flying Doctor Association

T.O.W.S sufferers unite!

I have an admission to make. I sufferer from a disease. Okay it isn’t life threatening^, and probably isn’t going to cause any loss of livelihood unless someone at works notices that I am a victim of this horrific disease. I have contracted T.O.W.S.

Since I have been diagnosed I have come to wondering how long I have suffered this condition. Living in central Australia was I think quite good for me, and may have remedied many of the symptoms for a few years but with hindsight I can recognise many of the symptoms in my behaviour during my previous life in Sydney. Speaking of which, the symptoms. Oh the symptoms can be horrible. It can make working life a daily challenge as the T.O.W.S. influences the very way I view the world. I can’t really explain what it is like, but I will list some of the symptoms I experience and perhaps you’ll recognise my disease. I hear it is most common amongst outdoorsy people so you never know, you might be suffering from T.O.W.S and not even have recognised it.

The symptoms:

  • Loss of concentration and day-dreaming
  • Intermittent bouts of intense concentration, often manifesting in unconscious staring at objects more than five metres away*
  • Irritability**
  • Inability to look professional, especially pertaining to the failure to remove days worth of stubble or deeply ingrained grease stains.
  • Complete and utter failure to hear anything that might be construed to be an alarm by a reasonable person and inability to tell the time correctly – strangely this symptom is most evident on Monday morning and Friday afternoons, though not exclusively.

I don’t know if this sounds familiar to you, but I seem to live this every week. I am a suffered of T.O.W.S. – Tempting Office Window Syndrome.

^ only occasionally in the ways I find to reduce the symptoms…

* With the exception of maps, from which it can be almost impossible to distract oneself.

** Often directed at those people on social media detailing their excellent adventures when mine and less fantastical. (Yes that can mean you the reader, and I hope that my adventures are occasionally worthy of causing such irritability.)

New Toys: Bike Bag Dude Frame and Chaff Bags

Two days ago I received a parcel from the east coast with exciting new toys. For a few years I have been trying to work out how to carry more and more water as I wander further from the beaten track. Actually living in the desert, I am more concerned about being precisely on the track, but not having access to water for hundreds of kilometres.

Anyway, the parcel contained a Bike Bag Dude Frame Bag, and BBD Chaff Bags. In my excitement I have fitted them onto the LHT and aim to get out and test them in the coming weeks. These bags are made of a special light weight material, so I will be trying to use and abuse the bags as a “product test”. I will be giving info back to BBD and will keep the world posted about the bags exciting exploits.

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Update: Three Days of Commuting

So after three days of commuting with my fun new bags I have made some discoveries and fallen in love.

  • Discovery One: Frame bags are not designed to be packed out to their capacity. I made the mistake of throwing a 2L water bottle straight into the bottom of the frame bag, and not using the internal divider. By the time I reached work the bag had wobbled around so it was rubbing against the front cassette, which as you can imagine is not good for anything.
  • Discovery Two: Chaff Bags are bloody amazing. I mean seriously. They are great! I like to ride sitting you and without hands on the way to work, because it is currently about 5 degrees during my morning commute and having chaff bags on the handle bar with a water bottle, and to hold wallets and keys etc while commuting is so incredibly convenient! I’m not afraid to say it. I am in love with an inanimate object!
  • Discovery Three: Panniers are more flexible than I ever realised. I tried to take the frame bag shopping and you know what? It is hard to fit a celery plant and several cartons of soy milk in there along with all the ingredients for a cheesecake. Thank be to the small gods for ocky straps!

All said I am pretty impressed with the frame bag still. It looks great, is function for running around town (eg so you can stash your man bag somewhere rather than having it slung over your shoulder).

I think I will take it for a tour and see how it really copes though!

Snake bite poetry

Poem authored by Louise, Sir Calaeb and myself.

Important note. No human was in anyway harmed in the creation of this tale. Mum do not panic, it turns out I was just being paranoid!

There once was a little brown snake
Who thought that he would undertake,
To rest beside a garden stake.

No shoes was Paddy’s first mistake: Continue reading

Bushwalking/Hiking Etiquette or How to make friends in the Bush (The Unofficial List!)

Bushwalking/Hiking Etiquette or How to make friends in the Bush (The Unofficial List!)

An awesome post about the rules and etiquette of hiking, and being out bush generally. Have a read and maybe check out the cool blog it is from.

Long Weekend Cycle Tour – Rosewood – Lake Moogerah – Ipswich

It was a wet and windy weekend and all through the house chilly drafts filled every corner. The alarm stirred two sleepy figures who opened their eyes, mumbled a few words about how terrible it was and rolled over to go back to sleep. 
Ten minutes later one figure sat bolt upright and declared that it was time to go riding!

Our plans for the weekend we’re fairly simple. We would catch a train to Rosewood, run an undefined distance and following an undefined route as far as we could be bothered which would hopefully be Lake Moogerah. We would then turn around and come back if we had sufficient energy. Amazingly it worked out quite well and to plan, though that was never going to be hard.

Our route for the June long weekend cycle tour and the vertical profile. Click on the image for an interactive version.

So on Sunday morning we rode to the station and headed off to Rosewood with little or no plan, but a good supply of food and some shelter in case it all got to hard. One of the best things about Brisbane is that it is really easy and cheap to get out of it by public transport. From Rosewood we turned south along the Rosewood-Warrill View Rd into a head wind that made riding like riding on sand, every spin of the pedals was harder than the one before and progress was slow averaging only 16km/h.

Anyway the ride improved after a stop for hot chips in Rosevale and the afternoon saw us riding along the nicest road we’ve ridden. The road ran between Rosevale and Aratula and was well graded gravel winding up a beautiful wooded valley with a creek next to the road. If anyone is in the area take the time to ride it!

After a late lunch we rode the last 12 kilometres to Lake Moogerah Caravan Park which is situated right beside the lake. We didn’t take any photos because we were tired and it was far to nice to lie on the grass. Instead I have provided some photos from their website to entice you!

On Monday morning we packed up in record time and started heading north. With sore legs and hills to contend with he first few kilometres nearly made us weep, but once we crested the last hill it was downhill for kilometres with rapid descents and very little pedalling to be done. The joy on our faces going down the hill would have looked amazing, but it was good enough to declare it our second best ride (after the day before of course). To top it off we finished the morning riding at brilliant cafe in Kalbar called the Art Cafe Du Kalbar, you all know I get pretty excited about coffee but this place is up there with the best. It has arm chairs in the wind, with books and magazines discreetly placed on the table and is wonderful. Also they now know how to temper soy well after yours truly educated them as part of my quest to enlighten the masses.

After coffee we rode on into the rain and wind, stopping only to put on rain coats, overshoes and play with historic water pumps.

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