Sri Chinmoy Jindabyne Multisport – reports from Many!

Six friends and I recently took part in the Jindabyne Multisport Race which is run by the ever amazing Sri Chinmoy. As usual this was a pretty awesome event.

As I only did two of the twelve legs I asked everyone in the team to add their thoughts, lets just say they got carried away! I’ll have to work on my own reports eventually (potted summary kayaks are slower in surf skis, but can make it through storms without capsizing) but for now enjoy Alex and Joyce’s reports.

Alex

I got up at 5am super excited to get my 1.5km swim out of the way. Paddy and Rose accompanied me to the start line with 40 or so other competitors. I was worried about how cold it would be but the main thing was the darkness. The sun was only just coming up and it was overcast and … I had tinted goggles. I couldn’t see the buoys I was supposed to swim to, so great start! We started with the Sri Chinmoy minute silence before the race and off we swam! I panicked a bit but just tried to stay out of the crowd so I wouldn’t get swum over. After calming myself down and getting into my stroke, I eventually realised how warm the water was and from there all was well. I still couldn’t see the buoys but I just followed the swimmers ahead of me (there were plenty of them) and it was fine. The course was a loop, swimming clockwise around 2 buoys before heading back into the start line. Once they got our team number down, I quickly went to high five Paddy and push his kayak into the lake and he was on his way!!!

I now had the whole day ahead of my before I would have to run the final leg. Rose and I went to where Paddy was to finish his paddle and got her ready for her run leg. Paddy arrived and Rose was on her way! As I took the kayak back to the car with Paddy he mentioned “That was hard, really hard … don’t tell Rose”. And I didn’t… until the end of the day 😛

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lucy organised amazing accomodation that allowed us to watch the 2.5km swimmers and paddlers in the lake. All the swimmers looked the same (sorry Hazo) but we got to cheer Rose on as she paddled on the way out! She was going hard! There was an awkward soloist behind her who was asking for directions. Just follow the others?

After a solid nap and some lunch and more waiting, I eventually got the call! With my lift held up due to poor Joyce waiting for her ferry, Rose drove me to the start of my run. We waited again for Paddy and was given serious warning about the slippery muddy bank, which I needed to be careful of when tagging my fellow paddler. Paddy came in, we high fived and I was off! This was an easy, flat 5km run, mostly along a footpath to the end. A soloist had just come in minutes before Paddy and I was slowly catching up to him. Maybe 10 minutes in I overtook him and had an awkward exchange where I congratulated him on being totally amazing for doing the race solo. He replied that I shouldn’t take it personally but he doesn’t like being beaten by girls. I told him that it should give him extra motivation and went ahead. Eventually he caught back up to me and we kept each other going for a bit … it was friendly again. I went too hard too soon and at about the 3km mark I let him go. I think he finished maybe 100m ahead of me … no hard feelings (mostly). I couldn’t believe I made it in under 25 min (I still can’t, I swear the course must have been shorter). I love the food at the end of the Sri Chinmoy races. It’s not that great (vegan burgers with stale bread) but it’s just so much fun that who really cares. It’s a free feed. Thank you to all my wonderful team mates for an awesome weekend!! I would highly recommend the event to other adventure inclined folk!IMG-20170305-WA0002

Joyce

Jindy Leg 9

It all started with a burning bite from a phantom ant, which also got James later. This was while we were waiting for Lucy to come in from her run.

Then Lucy came in, the awkward high-five while trying to pass my jacket to her. Then off I went, and had to stop barely 10 meters later … to put on my gloves. What a great start to the 42km of hills.IMG-20170305-WA0003

To sum it up the rest of the ride in a few phrases; spectacular scenery, beautiful creek crossings (other than the part where I had soggy shoes), lots of hills but fun downhills, and was a bit of a mental game. I’m just glad I’d taken the time to write down were the main hills were.

For much more detail, continue reading.

The first 8 km of uphill on tarmac was good, I was pushing myself a bit uphill, but kept counting down the km to the top of the hill, the highest point in the course. In slow motion, I passed two people on the first hill along Kosciuszko Road. Then came the tarmac downhill ride – Wee!! flew down the hill, and hit 73 km an hour! Then a right-hand turn onto Island Bend and a bit more downhill- this time winding towards to bottom of the valley – the scenery was stunning. I knew the hill would end at when the road crossed over Snow River, so mentally I was preparing myself for another big hill. The river was quite dry, but the large boulders at the bed was so beautiful – would be great for a photo if I wasn’t in a race. That was the halfway mark and 53 mins into my ride; I could not believe that I was going that fast, but I guess a large portion of the first part was on tarmac. The hill after that was steep and out came the granny gears. I was still trying to push my speed going uphill, trying to go for smooth pedal strokes and that’s when I passed another person. “Just keep pedalling” I told myself, and eventually I came up to a point where there was an awesome volunteer handing out water and electrolyte. After a quick drink of nice plain water (the electrolyte in my hydration pack was a bit too sweet, and just sucking all the moisture out of my mouth) it was time to tackle the next hill. I had to get off my bike for part of this one, the water stop made me realise how tired by legs were. Then back onto my bike, and more pedalling. The next challenge was to make it to 25ish km and it’ll be downhill with a small kicker until the plateau. Then a creek crossing – the creek looked beautiful and the water was nice and cool. Although I was not a great fan of soggy shoes, I was stoked at getting to cross a creek – it’s not everyday that you get to do that. Before the kicker, I could see the top of the hill (or what I thought it was), the fire road was quite clearly winding its way around, and the scenery was no worse than before. Once again, I kept thinking … “keep paddling and the scenery up there would be even better!”. On the way up, I passed another participant walking up the hill, then road with them for a couple of minutes, before trying to hammer it down the fire road hill. A sharp right turn where another great volunteer was, and then onto the plateau. The next part was a lot slower than I expected. The fire road led onto tracks from flatten grass; that just seemed to suck out all the energy from my legs. The scenery on the other hand was stunning, riding through the grass planes, with some hills on either side. More stunning scenery, a few more creek crossings, and passed another rider, all the while thinking that there was just one more hill. Over the hill and down some speedy fire trails with a few close calls (riding into the water flow-off, and nearly wiping out on a steep downhill rutted road when I got caught on the wrong side; the warning signed early set up by the organisers probably saved me as I eased off on the speed when I saw it). Then back out into the clearing with undulating hills that I was not expecting. The last 5km felt much longer, primarily because I could see the lake, and did not expect the grassy undulating hills. Then the beach came into sight! My thoughts at that point were “Pedal hard and try not to stack when you hit the sand!”  The transition to James was timed perfectly. Just as I entered the beach, he arrived on the ferry and off into the water he went.  In the meantime, I waited …and waited … and waited (with my emergency blanket when the rain came) for the ferry to go back. Other than the cold on the beach, the people were great, had a good conversation with some of the other participants.

Last but not least, a great shout out to all the volunteers and the organiser!

 

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!

 

Moonie and Bob’s big walk

Do you ever feel like you haven’t been doing anything exciting recently? Do you ever feel like you haven’t done any thing worth telling people about when they ask you what you’ve been up to? I often feel like that, which I why I write this blog and I very much hope you enjoy my ramblings. Today however I do have exciting adventures to write about!

Now for anyone who hasn’t caught on with previous posts I recently bought a Surly ECR, which is a “semi-fat bike” with three inch tyres adequate for riding on most soft loose surfaces like sketchy roads, sand and purportedly snow. Living in Alice Springs there wasn’t a chance I would be taking the bike to snow. Living in Sydney though it is possible for snow to occur only a matter of hours away so this weekend I went looking for it!

I meet up with Simon from the FB group Fat Bikes Down-Under at Corin Dam in the ACT to start what I had presumed would be a leisurely ride and frolic in the snow. What transpired was entirely different.

Meeting Simon at Corin Dam we compared bikes and wheels. His 5inch tyres were wider but much smaller overall then my 29+

Meeting Simon at Corin Dam we compared bikes and wheels. His 5inch tyres were wider but much smaller overall then my 29+

From the Dam wall the ride quickly became a walk, and the walk quickly became a trudge, as we began the long accent from near the bottom of the valley (as a dam wall logically suggests in hindsight) up to Stockyard Spur where we hoped there would be snow we could ride out bikes in. I’d loaded up my bike with a frame bag and bar roll full of food, water and a multitude of warm clothing which meant the bike probably weighed in at about 30 kilograms, or in a more accessible unit of measure – too much!

I think this explains the gradient of the walk (Hike-a-Bike)

I think this explains the gradient of the walk (Hike-a-Bike)

The two kilometres to reach the top of the spur took over two hours of solid pushing to climb the 5oom, and with snow and ice starting about 100m from the top the last part of the distance was slow and treacherous. The rewards at the top were worth it though. I was greeted to a scene of beautiful snow gums, shin deep snow (15-20cm mostly), and weather that alternated between bright sunshine and snow flurries which were just enough to fill the tread marks in our tyre tracks as we rode.

As far as riding goes I am not sure I would describe it as successful. On my 29er plus semi-fat bike I spent the vast majority of the time pushing up hill and on flats. There were a few sections of downward slope which were rideable, but only where walkers had compressed the snow enough for there to be a firm pack to place the tyres on. As you can imagine in a fairly remote and hard to get to place there hadn’t been much compaction, and I would honestly guess that in the four and a half hours my little adventure took from car to car I rode for no more than 15 minutes.

I do think in a compacted snow field, probably something that had been groomed by snow-cats or something, it would be both possible and enjoyable to ride my bike in the snow. However for un-groomed fluffy snow I think it is safe to say I won’t be planning any more adventures of this type too soon. Not never, because it was fun, but not for now.

Anyway the rest of the adventure was fairly well adventurous, trundling back down the hill carrying my bike down the multitudinous steps back to the car. I think these photos should give you an idea of how beautiful and peaceful it is in the Australian snow, and also just how difficult it was “riding” my bike up there.

For any doubters out there. Here is the evidence of riding in the snow as demonstrate by yours truly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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!

Single Track Mind- Round 1

I’m slow.

Just thought I would start this post by sharing my most profound realisation of the amazing weekend I have spent in Kirrawak State Forest riding in the first round of the Chocolate Foot Single Track Mind Series for 2014.

Now before you think I am going to be disappointed by being slow, or some other such emotion (bahh boring!) it was the best weekend I have had in ages! The trails were unspeakably awesome, the people on the track all lovely and courteous while waiting for the slow people like me to get out of the way, and really it was just great.

Like all good weekends away mine started off with last minute packing which was closely followed by breakfast and coffee with Tim (my travel buddy for the weekend) and Ez. After some packing magic had two bikes, and a whole lot of gear stuffed into the back of the car and were on our way to Taree. Now I always think Taree is a long way away, probably a flash back to riding in the back of a troopy towing a trailer as a kid – however the drive is quick and easy aside from the pesky 100km/hr zones.

Arriving at the event site we checked in, received our chocolate feet (I am serious they  give you a chocolate in the shape of a foot at check -in. I never want to receive one with sprinkles on it) and set about checking out the tracks. I was expecting roots, and branches and all sorts of fun obsticles given the rather eucalypty nature of the forest we were in but the local MTB club had completed the mammoth task of removing every leaf and twig from the track and the trail was more groomed than I had ever imagines possible. Even better the track was essentially free of hills which is always a splendid thing.

So a shake down ride,some slack-lining and fish and chips saw us tired and weary and ready for the race the next day.

Capture

Race day came with my usual level of organisation. After breakfast we wandered down to check out how things were going at the event site knowing we had heaps of time to spare. Confident of the amount of time we had we ordered coffees and waited, and waited, and waited. I knew I wasn’t going to be even starting the race without caffine so I waited in line while Tim prepared himself. With 8 minutes to spare I was at tent, coffee in hand, beginning to prepare for the race. I made the race briefing, but then realised I was still wearing my normal glasses!

So anyway, I joined the race start line, sat up the back and rode along with the crew until I arrived near the start of the single track. Much to the amazement of those looking on I ducked off to the tent, retrieved my sunnys and politely waited until all the real riders had started while continuing to consume my coffee. I won’t go into detail, but the rest of my race continued in much the same manner with multiple stops food, general chatting and such good things. Needless to say I didn’t win, but I also didn’t come last – second last to be precise. That said I had amazing ride, chatted to some most excellent people who I was chilling with, and rode some amazing new trails!
image

image

image

Hill End, Katoomba and other places

I was lucky enough to spend last week out at Hill End, a small historic town about an hour out of Bathurst, which is about 2.5hrs out of Sydney, which is about 20 hours out of somewhere else.

The week itself requires very little explanation because it was just a splendid time of awesomeness, chilling, delicious food, and general niceness. So given I don’t intend to say much more than that I’d like to share some photos of places these lovely places. Oh and go there!

Mont 24hr 2014- but not the race

I was lucky enough to have an hour or two spare yesterday afternoon while in bungendore so I hit up the trails for this years Mont 24hr race on my ecr. The trails are great with an awesome mix of smooth flowy trails (good on a rigid semi-fat) and a few slightly rocky sections through the native forests which were a little jarring when taken at speed.

Eitherway the tracks are awesome and well chosen. As unfit as I am there was never too much up to tire me out beyond being able to ride, there is plenty of room to pass which will be great for those riding.

For anyone who hasn’t heard the news yet – it has been raining a lot and there is every chance what looked like dry mud is now deep mud ready to mess up and chainbit finds. Single speed drive chains and fat tyres would be great.

Anyway I won’t be riding the trails during the race but good luck and safe riding to everyone who is.

image

image

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!

image

image

image

 

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!

wpid-20140403_150758.jpg

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

Frame Bags and Cool Gear

Frame Bags and Cool Gear

Today I won some cool gear from Kath & Kedan at Bike Bag Dude. Although I haven’t met them yet (hopefully I’ll get the pleasure on my next east coast adventure) they are doing some great stuff with bike-packing gear, and doing their bit to support functional, useful and cool cycling bags.

For those of you who don’t want to add racks or panniers to your bike, it might be worth considering a frame bag to carry those groceries.