I don’t normally say anything accompanying my Friday mobile phone photograph posts, but today is different. Lest We Forget on ANZAC Day.

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The Easter long weekend has come and gone in Sydney. While I did not spend as much time on the bike as I wanted to (though I did get to spend some quality time with my wife and son), I was able to plan a ride that I have been itching to do for some time now - West Head and Akuna Bay. Ever since I had the opportunity to ride up at Bobbin Head the other cyclists in the office have been telling me about West Head and Akuna Bay. What surprised me about this route was that I had no idea where it was. I have lived in Sydney most of my life, but I really had no idea where this ride was.

I spent the week leading up to the weekend scouring Google maps and finding the best place to kick off the ride. I used Mapmyride to check out the route that we would do, out from Terrey Hills to the West Head and then back with a detour via Akuna Bay back to Terrey Hills. This whole ride would be pretty much within the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park in Sydney’s Northern Suburbs. The route wasn’t long, but the vertical climbing was racking up. But I have been caught up before by Mapmyride and its false gradients. The gradients tend to be very undercooked, especially when you lengthen out your ride route. So I took it with a pinch of salt knowing that it was going to be tougher than what the software indicated. On a side note – unless Mapmyride fixes this and a few other niggles I struggle to see why I would use this website over say Garmin Connect or Strava.

So I picked up my riding buddy AC at 4:30am, strapped the bikes on the roof, and headed off to Terrey Hills. We were on the saddle ready to roll by 5:20am, and headed out to the West Head. What greeted us was the best ever tarmac that I have ever ridden on. It was smooth as a baby’s rear end and perfectly laid. Diving down into McCarrs Creek gave an indication that we would be doing some climbing – again contrary to the Mapmyride ride profile. Once you climb back up out of it, then we found ourselves rolling up and down over some quite steep gradients while not ever climbing more than 30-40m at the most. But the fun part of this ride is the high speed descents that you get to enjoy off the back of each of the climbs. I was struggling a bit, with AC powering on, but boy did I have a grin on my face.

The total distance that we would cover would not be more than 45km, so getting to West Head from Terrey Hills was only some 18km out to the head. But boy what a reward! The view of the mouth of the Hawkesbury River was epic. We had to stop and take pics. Here is the panorama shot of the view, with my camera phone not doing justice to the wow factor. And yes the Southern Head on the right is Barrenjoey Head at the end of Palm Beach (or for people who watch the awful soap opera Home and Away - it is Summer Bay)

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Returning back proved just as challenging, but my lungs had opened up a bit more and the rising sun had taken the edge off the air. Getting back to the intersection that pointed us to Akuna Bay, we relished the opportunity to dive down into Akuna Bay. The road surface got a little rougher, but still way better than Bobbin Head, Berowra Waters, or Galston Gorge. Akuna Bay itself is magic with a brief but heavenly route hugging the water. The route takes you past the massive but secluded d’Alboro Marina. I could have stopped again to take another photo, but we were powering on. Being right at sea level meant that we would have to climb back up out of Akuna Bay back to Terrey Hills. The climb is a good one – 3 km long at a 7% gradient, never really peaking above 10-11%. In the sun and amongst the trees in the National Park, while tough and challenging, it was fun riding this climb.

By the time we got back to the car (for the record, AC kicked my butt) we both had huge smiles beaming on our face. Without conferring with each other we both reached the conclusion that this was quite possibly the best ride in Sydney. Here is the map of the ride and elevation profile of the ride from Strava (a lot more accurate than Mapmyride):

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I can’t wait to do this ride again, and if any other Sydney riders have a different opinion I would love to know. This is not an easy ride, and you really need a good fast road steed to enjoy it, but I reckon West Head – Akuna Bay is the best ride in Sydney.

Nothing to say, just the photo from the mobile

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Our boy, AKA ‘The Pok’, has started to say some really funny things with the reasoning of a 3-year-old behind his musings. Some of it is hilarious, or just bizarre.

With The Pok having relatives in several places around the world, he has grown up very much used to the idea of communicating by Skype. In fact, he quite often asks to talk to family members on the computer when there is not enough action in his immediate locale. Returning home a few night’s ago, The Pok asked his mother to speak to his cousins on the computer.

As my wife walked off to the kitchen she said to him, “We don’t have to switch on the computer, we just have to wake it up.”

The Pok rushed off to jump in front of the computer.

Moments later, we heard him shouting something incomprehensible repeatedly. Concerned my wife went to see what was the matter.

There he was sitting in the chair shouting at the computer. My wife asked, “[Pok] what are you doing?”

His response, “I am trying to wake up the computer.”

My wife shook her head and said, “You just have to move the mouse.”

The Pok and his cousins were able to host their Skype video conference at a safe volume.

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Nothing to say, just the photo from the mobile

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cyardin:

I love fat bikes. Living an adventure vicariously through a fellow cycling blogger!

Originally posted on lael's globe of adventure:

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Kincaid Bluff Trail, March 2014

There are tracks and tracks and tracks and tracks and tracks and tracks and tracks, all over the world.

Sung as a round. Second person begins when first person sings: “There are tracks and tracks…”.

Song almost never ends.

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Anchorage Coastal Plain

 

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Knik River floodplain

 

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Kincaid Beach

 

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Kincaid sand dunes

 

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Alaska RR to Seward, on the way to Resurrection Pass Trail

 

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Spenard Road, Anchorage

 

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Middle Fork Trail, Chugach State Park

 

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Arctic Valley

 

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Arctic Valley

 

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Kincaid Beach

 

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Middle Earth Trail, Kincaid Park

 

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Knik River

 

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Kincaid Point

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Nothing to say, just the photo from the mobile

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This week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack?’ is Statues. I am late to the party this week, but I had to do a post on this one. I take loads of photos of statues on my travels. I don’t know why, but the ones that are grandiose or imposing are the real attention grabbers for me. Often there is so much history and meaning behind why a statue was put in place. As usual all the images link through to my larger photos on Flickr.

First stop on my travels is New York, United States, and my most favourite building(s) in the world (did I just sound like a school child?) is the Rockefeller Center. The architecture and art are a perfect mix, and in my humble opinion it is the beating heart of New York City (alongside Central Park of course). Poor old Atlas certainly is carrying some weight on his shoulders at the moment. But even then he looks imposing.

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A travel theme about statues must include the French grand dame of liberty herself (yes she is originally French – and she came over by boat). I remember vividly travelling to Liberty Island with my wife and seeing her for the first time. A gift from one country to another sharing a common ideal of freedom. I was lucky to be greeted by her and a deep blue sky.

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Lightening the mood a bit on this theme is this funny statue that I captured in Toronto, Canada, on the Rogers Centre. I am sure many a baseball fan walking to the stadium from downtown Toronto have walked under the noses of these characters.

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European cities are awash with statues. I could have posted thousands that I have captured. But I chose a simple one from one of the dens of academia – Cambridge, United Kingdom. What a beautiful university town, but don’t forget that even as a tourist the old academics are watching over you.

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Finally to Asia, and one of my favourite photos is from the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, of the demon guardians looking down over the trespassers of the grounds below them. They are colourful, imposing, and look… well demonic. He is so full of colour!

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Lastly onto Tokyo, Japan, and the strong imposing figure of 14th century samurai Kusunoki Masashige astride on his horse. He has the honour of being forever enshrined in front of the Imperial Palace. The storm filled clouds later opened up on top of me on my first day in Tokyo.

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Great theme this week Ailsa, I could have posted so many more but I wanted to show the ones that stirred something in me for this week’s theme.

My new MTB Project had taken a pause with… life, but super sales from online cycling shops allowed me to acquire two key components for the contact points. The seatpost and the bar (handlebar). So construction was able to continue on from where I left off on the previous two stages of the build (part 1 and part 2). While I thought the next components of construction were going to be the wheels, I couldn’t resist installing a bit of bling with the saddle.

The frame that I acquired was quite unique in that seatpost clamp is built into the frame within the seat tube. The other aspect is the way the top tube and seatstays are connected to the seat tube is quite unique as well. I guess it is typical BMC Swiss design style.

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My saddle of choice for this build is the same as the one that I ride on my other MTB (VTT), a fi:zi’k Gobi XM. But not just in black, the one I acquired on eBay is bright red! Bling! I intend to match the colour to my bar grips. The Gobi XM is an awesome saddle, and perfect for anything off-road. It has the “wingflex” capabilities of the other fi’zi:k saddles and has that little bit of extra cushioning. On my second 200km Around the Bay in a Day, I swapped out my road saddle for the Gobi to get that little bit of extra comfort and it worked (i.e. my butt was not sore from the ride). So from a comfort point of view it works on the long distance haul too. The other great characteristic of this saddle is the clip system that allows me to connect up my saddle bag directly into the clip under the saddle. I have no intention of grabbing another saddle bag, just swapping it out between my two off-road rides when needed.

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Being a hardtail ride, I wanted a bit of additional comfort for my rear contact point. The frame is alloy, so I chose to spec up the seatpost to carbon (flex and strength rather than just strength). Keeping with the Italian component theme, I found a heavily discounted 3T Ionic Seatpost in the team edition colours (i.e. with a bright red stripe). It looks the business, if only they made it in white…

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To assemble the seatpost into the frame, I was going to need both my Park Tool torque wrench and a special fluid compound for carbon and alloy assembly. Again I sourced the Park Tool stuff for the job – the SAC-2 compound. This stuff is critical for two reasons, primarily it provides extra grip between the two different material types through silicon bits in the fluid, but secondarily it provides a waterproof seal down the seatpost.

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After first measuring the distance between the centre of my crank and seatpost to saddle clamp, I liberally applied the compound around the part of the seatpost that would be inserted into the seat tube. I then inserted the seatpost to give me the same saddle height. It felt quite different inserting the seatpost with the assembly compound, and straight away I knew it was already doing the job.

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The 3T Ionic is again unique in being able to set micro adjustments to the saddle forward angle with a series of concentric teethed cyclinders providing the mount. Some of the online bike store reviews call this a gimmick, but for me it allows me to set the exact same saddle forward angle between all my steeds.

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I tightened the inbuilt clamp bolts to the specified 5 N m of torque. This is critical not to over tighten carbon components, otherwise they quite literally collapse under the pressure. You can see my assistant mechanic, The Pok (AKA my son), in the background. He once again attempted to “steal” my hex keys.

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Next I set the saddle into place, using the measurement from the centre of the headset cap to the tip of the saddle as my guide. I will probably still have to adjust my saddle front angle after I have the bike parallel. The saddle bolt clamps were specified to be tightened to 7 N m. Again the torque wrench came to use.

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The frame is looking a bit frankenstein-like, but with the installation of the bars, that should make it look a lot more like a “bike”. Having said that, it is coming on! This is from the front…

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and from the back…

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The build continues :-)

 

Our boy, AKA ‘The Pok’, has started to say some really funny things with the reasoning of a 3-year-old behind his musings. Some of it is hilarious, or just bizarre.

So the weekend had arrived and The Pok and I were treating ourselves to another episode of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, when he suddenly burst out and said “Mickey has a baby!”

I responded, “Really, who is Mickey’s baby?”, knowing full well that no character in this cartoon was the offspring of the mouse.

Pause for thinking… “Mickey has a baby in his tummy.” – oh dear, where is this going with a 3-year-old.

Correcting him I said, “Mickey is a boy like you and me, he can’t have a baby in his tummy.”

This very much puzzled the Pok, with a confused look descending. Then he shot up spiritedly and announced, “Minnie Mouse has Mickey in her tummy!”

I tried to quickly divert this conversation, “Minnie Mouse is not Mickey’s mummy, she is Mickey’s friend. Hey look, what is Goofy doing?”

He burst into laughter at Goofy being goofy, conversation avoided.

I was not anticipating having a conversation about the “birds and the bees” while watching an episode of Mickey Mouse, particularly with a 3-year-old. And every adult knows that Minnie Mouse is Mickey’s special friend…

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