Archives for the month of: August, 2013

With the Amy Gillett Gran Fondo (120km – 1650m of climbing) less than three weeks away, I don’t have time to do things like recovery by halves. After last week’s chest infection floored me, I decided to break it’s back by going for a recovery ride with my neighbour. The target for Sunday was 80km (50 miles) with the added challenge of doing it on my dual suspension mountain bike (albeit with 35mm urban slicks shod on the wheels). I wanted to test how I would run by also finding whatever detour I could possible to climb a hill, so the route was not going to be direct by any stretch.

My neighbour MGO had been recently putting in some big kilometers of late with his last work trip to Canberra knocking down 450km (280 miles) in 8 days. So he was not going to be keen to hang around for a wheezing cyclist. We chose our MTB steeds because he only has a hardtail bike (also with slicks) and the weight difference and natural speed of my road steed against his bike is never a fair fight – bad lungs or not.

We set off, and  warmed up in Sydney City before we headed out to Parramatta. Anybody visiting Sydney will tell you it is bumpy, and before we were heading out to properly to Parramatta we had knocked on the head some 250m of climbing. Our route took us along the Parramatta River with many detours away from the shoreline. MGO had never ridden this route before and was quite impressed by its scenery – Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River is quite scenic. We got to the shoreline properly just East of Olympic Park and the route then took us on the Northern side of the river. A lot of people complain that there are not enough safe cycling paths in Sydney, and this is a valid point, but if people took their bikes out to the Homebush / Parramatta region they would find a whole set of off-street bike paths that take you through some pretty cool settings – my favourite is the Mangrove swamps around Ermington and Melrose Park. Next time I will stop and post some photos, but the map below tells the story – all the green lines (solid and dotted) are bike paths.

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By the time we hit Parramatta Park we had racked up 40km – it was time for an intermediate coffee stop. But MGO was itching to set some PRs around Parramatta Park so off we sped. He brought out the hammer on one of the laps of Parramatta Park and my lungs were screaming to me to let them recover a bit more. But I couldn’t let MGO burn it up a lap at 36kph (22mph) so I had to chase him down. Good times!

We returned back to the city retracing our route out on the return. The only frustration being zoned out pedestrians with headphones walking on the bike path and a guy who decided he wanted to park a tripod on the descending ramp at ANZAC bridge.

Finishing up, a sweet 80km and a smile on MGO’s face that told me that he enjoyed the spin. Chest infection busted for the most part, recovery ride tonight – I am back in the saddle!

With just over three weeks to go before my first major ride of the year, I have been floored by a chest infection. Frustration is an understatement. I began to realise the extent of it when I went for a climbing ride last Saturday in the Royal National Park about 30km South of Sydney. I was dropped by my riding buddy JB in the first 2km. This was not going to be pretty. With 60km being the target distance, and just under 1000m of vertical climbing – I was in survival mode from the offset. The legs felt great, I just couldn’t get enough oxygen into my lungs. I spent the first third of the ride expelling fluid from my chest (and very messily). In the end I got through the ride, but was not happy.

I had targeted an 80km backup ride the following day, but waking up on Sunday morning was not a pleasant experience. I was hunched over in my bathroom trying to clear my chest of infection. This has thrown a real spanner in the works of my final month of preparation for this upcoming ride. I have not been able to train all week and sitting in the “air conditioned” office at work is not helping things either. Every morning has been a bit of a struggle to expel the fluid off my lungs. I even had to skip this morning’s Friday regular ride with my riding buddy MG.

The Pok (AKA my son) has been very sick too and has ended up in our bed pretty much every night this week. So the critical thing is to make sure that he gets better too. He is nearly back to his healthy and cheeky self, but it is not giving me (or my wife) much sleep.

This is the risk of preparing for big rides that are scheduled in Spring over the Winter months. I don’t know how the pros do it, but at least they don’t have to pop back into an air conditioned office. So this weekend is going to be busy, but I have to jump back on the bike. I know this next ride is going to be a killer on the lungs, but I have to crack it. More importantly, I have to back it up on Sunday. Let’s see how it goes.

This week travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack’ is Big. I could have selected a few photos of big things, but you don’t necessarily get the scale from the photo if you were not there. So here is my selection for this week. As usual all the images in my post link through to the larger photos on my Flickr account.

Big things descend upon Sydney all the time. Whether it is fireworks displays, or the Olympic Games (the biggest sporting event in the world). Two that got me shooting was firstly when the RMS Queen Mary 2 came to town. At 345m long, she is bigger than an American aircraft carrier and I had to switch over to my 11-18mm landscape lens just to get her all in the shot. What a big beautiful ship!

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A bit more downscaled, but still big for what it represented was when Lego trees sprouted in Martin Place in Sydney. Big kids (me) and little ones alike enjoyed the spectacle, though my son was too young to understand what he was looking at.

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Still in Australia, I went down to Canberra with a couple of my mates to the Mountain Bike World Championships in 2009 at Mt. Stromlo. This was an awesome event, and the DH was probably the biggest spectacle. I positioned myself at the bottom of this jump where the riders were coming directly at us getting some big air before banking right to continue their downhill run. Wish I had this level of bike handling skill. BTW – if he wiped out I would have been smoked, anything for a good shot.

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Also in Canberra, when my wife was doing her second Gear Up Girl ride with my Aunt, my uncle and I had to kill time and wander around the nation’s capital. We were a bit shocked as we drove away when right above us there was a big collision between two hot air balloons. The blue one lost control and was forced to land in an open paddock – all in slow motion… funny.

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Onto Asia, and we had a fun time visiting Bangkok in Thailand. I was more than happy to stay away from the dodgy tourism with my wife and spend time in the splendid temples. It was very hard capturing the scale of the Big Buddha reclining in its temple. And yes that is all gold leaf.

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Onto Europe, and in particular Greece where I spent some time working on the preparations for the Athens Olympic Games. Venturing from Athens offers some truly beautiful sights. The best island we went to would have to have been Santorini with is massive volcanic caldera that basically destroyed the Minoan culture. To provide a sense of scale, that boat in the middle is not small.

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Over towards the Pelopponese you have to cross the Corinth Canal. To construct this they had to dig a big 6km channel through the ismuth of the landmass. But even though it saves some 700km in travel distance, they did not build it wide enough for modern shipping.

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Finally, when I visited my brother and his wife in Toronto, the first attraction on our list to visit was the big CN tower. At over 550m tall, it wasn’t until Burj Khalifa was constructed that it was surpassed as the world’s tallest tower. The view is awesome from up here, and my son the Pok had great joy walking on the window ledge – much to the panic of his mother (and pride of his father).

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Check out some of the other blog posts at Ailsa’s blog, where you can find them posted in the comments field.

A colleague of mine at work, who is not a cyclist, wanted to understand how I could sit on a bike for hours at a time with my mates doing the same. He doesn’t understand my (and all other cyclist’s) two wheel passion. I don’t mind that as he is passionate about different sports and activities and we share a common passion of seeing our boys do activities. But when he asked what we talk about when I go for a ride, that got me thinking.

Even when riding in a group I spend a lot of time concentrating on… well riding. Am I breathing right, am I pushing myself enough, what is coming up next on the road or trail, are there other obstacles that could come from left field and cause me troubles. But invariably there are times when the route is long and flat and you simply have to stay upright and it gives you the opportunity to have a chat. Quite often we are giving each other a heads up or instructions on what is ahead or an obstacle / pothole. We push each other by saying things like “time to hit this hill”, or “there is a Strava segment ahead that I am going to go for.” Invariably I am catching up on what has been going down with my mates. Usually there is a funny story or three, and lots of stuff to basically catch up on.

And the tall stories are sometimes quite humorous. My brother and his crew down in Melbourne who I always try to ride with every opportunity I can are hilarious. There is always a clanger that comes out and when he spoke to me earlier in the week and told me what happened last weekend I was nearly crying in laughter. It has been quite cold of recent months (being Winter and all) and there has been a bit winter clothing fashion parade going on with new gear on show. The response is usually of admiration to a cool new piece of clothing, jacket, or something skin tight that could keep a body warm at minus 10 degrees Celsius. But when one of the crew (who I shall not name) had forgotten to wash his thermal bib-tights rocked up in colourful knee high woolen socks along with his regular bib shorts – it was on. The banter quickly turned to teasing and ribbing for said cyclist’s fashion sense. The punchline was when he was appointed the title of Liberace (I am sure that if Liberace were still alive that he would have been mortified to have been associated with this crime against lycra). But the joke that had me coiled over in laughter was that they dished out a further name appointment and decided as a group that from that point his bike would be known as the “Candelabra”.

That’s right, not “Cancellara” – but “Candelabra”!

No doubt the resemblance between the two items, bike frame and candelabra, will resonate for years to come.

So yes, we cyclists might go for many long moments in silence just hammering on the pedals. But when we chat – it sometimes produces hilarity. As for our riding mate… it is going to be difficult for him to shake the moniker and there is absolutely no chance of the bike losing its new name.

This week travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack’ is Architecture. I have loved this week’s theme, so much that I thought I would do a second post. My first can be found here. As usual the images link through to the larger photos on Flickr.

This first photo is of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Monument in Washington, D.C., USA. This monument, unlike many of the others in the capitol, is one of beautiful landscape architecture that was designed as a place that the long passed president would have himself enjoyed. It is not a monument in memory of military sacrifice, and it does not impose a sense of awe in visiting the capitol of the global superpower that is the U.S.A. Instead, it is secluded tranquility on a human scale.

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On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in France is the town of Troyes. It is a gloriously preserved medieval town and is a showcase of the Aube département. The town centre is a beautiful and living example of medieval architecture with all the exposed timbers and crooked buildings. There is awesome eating too, with the region’s specialty being andouille sausage on many a restaurant menu. I wish we had spent more time here, would definitely go back.

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Back in North America, and when we visited my brother and his wife in Toronto, Canada we had a lot of opportunity to explore the nation’s biggest city. There are quite a few architectural gems in Toronto (not to mention the MASSIVE CN Tower), but my favourite piece would have to be the modern facade for the Royal Ontario Museum. The museum itself is pretty cool with some interactive displays that my son, The Pok, enjoyed trying to destroy.

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I love visiting Japan, and you could write constantly an entire blog on Japanese architecture and design. Tokyo itself is just epic. This building though is unique even for Tokyo. I have been unable to find out details of what is inside or who owns it other than what appears to be three letters on the upper facade spelling out NOA. It is one of my most popular photos on Flickr.

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We went to a few countries on our honeymoon, and one of the coolest cities we have ever traveled to would have to be Tallinn in Estonia. The old town is amazing, and only a quick walk from the ferry stop. But it wasn’t the many old buildings that caught my eye, but this small office building with its supports for its cantilevered upper floors. Cool, cool, cool.

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Singapore, Asia’s island city state, is exploding in new construction and its economy is booming. I have been so many times that I have lost count (as it is a good intermediate stopover on the way from Australia to Europe). The architecture of the Marina Bay Sands building is on epic proportions. The overall design is relative simple, and it produces some striking lines that fill the lens.

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Across the road from the new huge glistening hotel is another beautiful but more modern piece of landscape architecture, the Gardens by the Bay. I have blogged about this place before, even so the mega trees are cool.

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I used to work for an American software company and this involved annual training trips to the USA, particularly Silicon Valley in California. Driving past the Oracle Headquarters is pretty impressive. The campus of towers is gleaming over a lake, and the cylindrical shapes have a dual meaning as the architectural symbol for a database is a cylinder. The window cleaning here must be some job.

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England is a treasure trove of Architecture through the ages, and Shrewsbury in the midlands is a prime example of a town where you see a lot of architectural history in one place. The old town, not too dissimilar to Troyes, is well preserved and I love the exposed dark wooden beams against the white plaster walls. Many of these old buildings have new modern businesses now occupying them and plying their trade.

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Shanghai in China was one of the other major destinations on our honeymoon, and it was a bit overwhelming to say the least. I think China is moving so rapidly economically that people are forgetting the cultural challenge of maintain a link to the past while accommodating the demands for growth of the future. This shot for me typifies the architectural mish-mash that is Shanghai.

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San Francisco, in California U.S.A, is one cool city. It is vibrant and hip, and this is reflected in the “Painted Ladies” opposite Alamo Square – a set of terrace houses beautifully maintained and not far away from the city centre. I hope that they are earthquake proof.

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My final shot is from the small town of Porvoo in Finland, about an hour out from Helsinki. The town is famous for the row of red painted houses by the river and its church. The houses were painted in honour of a visit by the King of Sweden back some time in the 19th century. While not architecturally stunning, I think it is quite unique for the country.

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Why have so many of my photos from my travel’s got grey sky? No fair weather exploring for this traveler.

I have really enjoyed this week’s travel theme, hence my two goes at it. Check out some of the other posts that you can find posted in the comments by the other bloggers.

On a side note, since blogging my Flickr account photo views have shot up. I have now had over 10,000 photo views and it is climbing rapidly. This amateur photographer is quite happy about that.

 

This week travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack’ is Architecture. What a tough challenge this week. Not because I don’t shoot architecture photos, but because I shoot WAY too many architecture photos. My wife often complains when we travel that I have taken another photo of a building. But the challenge for me is that I am an engineer of the built environment by profession. I see beauty in the design and construction of buildings and the myriad of materials that are used to realise the architect’s vision. Often, my favourite architectural images are obscure buildings that are not known globally, but are striking in their design.

But given the number of “architecture” photos I have shot, I think I have to do this in two parts.

This first photo is from the Olympic Park in Athens, that I took at the time of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work on the games and see Santiago Calatrava’s handiwork in the flesh. This is the modern interpretation of the ancient Greek agora – or marketplace.

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Next, in Southeast Asia is Thailand’s absolutely gorgeous national treasure known as the Royal Palace. It is a place of religious worship as well. When we went it was not long after some internal political strife that scared the tourists away. This allowed me to take so many shots of the Palace grounds without many other tourists in the shots. The tile work and gold leaf gilding the towers is absolutely stunning and almost too much to take in.

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Closer to home, in Australia, on the Northern New South Wales coast is the small town of Bellingen (not too far away from Coffs Harbour). What I found unique about this town was the Art Deco buildings that lined the main street, a perfect compliment to the local artisans who also ply their trades in the town. Even though the many of the buildings have modern fixtures and fittings, the locals make a very big effort to maintain the essence of the buildings as seen below.

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Further South in the Australian capital city of Canberra is our national parliament house. When the old parliament house exceeded its useful life, a new design was done by  Italian architect Romaldo Giurgola with the assistance of landscape architect Peter G. Rolland. What I find unique about this building is that it was built into our capitol hill, and sunk underneath. It blends in with the land, and while massive I think typifies the Australian ethos of being one with the land and the desire to protect our environment. It is both a simple and complex design at the same time.

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Further South still in the city of Melbourne, Victoria is Federation Square. This set of buildings at the heart of the city features what I think is one of the most complex geometric facades on any building that I have seen with the “fractal” tiles arranged in an aperiodic tiling pattern. It was controversial at the time of construction, but what a building!

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Back to Asia and the Hong Kong skyline is dominated by one of the new kids on the block, the International Finance Centre Tower number 2. It is huge! At 420m tall, it is only the second tallest building in Hong Kong – but for my money it is the most elegant. Christopher Nolan thought it was suitable enough for a certain caped crusader to launch from. Walking next to it is certainly a humbling experience.

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Further East of China is the medieval gem that is Himeji Castle, in Japan. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, and the most stunning example of Japanese military architecture. It was never taken by siege. It is known as either the White Egret Castle or White Heron Castle. The six storey central keep is imposing over the cityscape of Himeji, and when I wandered through the castle grounds it was like stepping back in time to feudal Japan.

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Still in Japan but on the Western side of Honshu is the coastal city of Kanazawa. Also a city of artisans, arriving at the train station one is greeted by the modern day interpretation of a Japanese mon (or gate). The wooden construction is huge and elegant at the same time. I wish more train stations were as beautiful as this one.

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Continuing with the train station theme is the art nouveau design of Helsinki, Finland’s Central Railway Station. Its imposing figures holding aloft their globes are classic in their designs, and the building’s clock tower is beautiful. It was designed by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen back in 1909. I would love to see more new buildings constructed with this level of detail and design, but the period and style is probably lost to time.

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I lived in Paris, France for a while back in 2004 and I could have pulled up any number of buildings for this post. But I chose a set of buildings that reflect a lost architectural direction of its era. The Forum des Halles in the 1er arrondissement of Paris is a collection of architecturally designed buildings built on the site of the old Paris markets. But they have remained soulless since their construction in the 1980s. The site is currently being redeveloped, but it still represents an attempt at architectural rebirth that is odd, but striking… in my opinion. What I love about the French is that they are not scared of attempting to reinvent their future, while still respecting the past history.

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Staying with the French speaking world, but on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean is the city of Montreal. Montreal is FUN! I can only imagine what it would be like to get up to mischief in Montreal without a 2 year old in tow. Another city of artisans, where there are numerous examples of architectural wonder. One highlight for me was the Palais de Congrès and Mario Saia’s multi-coloured glass facade. Big and bold.

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Lastly in North America, one cannot travel to New York and not be knocked over by the plethora of architecture on display. But the architectural heart and soul of New York would have to be the Rockefeller Center. It is a complex of 19 buildings, which at the center is dominated by the GE Building at 30 Rock. On our last trip to New York, my wife gave me a pass out to do the internal tour of the Rockefeller Center and I must have shot at least 400 photos of the building. This shot is simply the tower and its stepped sides.

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More to come in part two.

Back in Sydney, it has been dreary and cold. It has pretty much been Winter. It was cold enough for me to don my winter jacket with a high collar zipped up all the way to my chin. So it was no surprise that I was daydreaming at lunchtime about our trip last weekend up to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. No the people from up North of the border like to rub it in to Southern Australians with their tourism slogan “beautiful one day, perfect the next.” The challenge that I have with that is, you can’t argue against it. When you have temperatures in the mid-20s (celcius) in the middle of Winter, you have to love it. I wonder if the amount of sunshine these Queenslanders get affects them in other ways…

Going for a late afternoon walk by the seaside at the Sunshine Coast during the “magic hour” provided me with some cool photo opportunities.

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The typical conifer trees that are found all along the Australia’s East Coast were already blooming.

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My son, The Pok, was enjoying a bit of tree climbing (even if he had to get an initial boost from his Dad). He did get stuck a few moments later which came as more of a shock to him. Nothing like a bit of tree-hugging.

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And the Pelicans were slowly paddling on the surface in search of dinner. I wonder whether they would be affected by daylight savings?

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I love coming up to this part of the world.

 

My cousin and her family live up on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. It is a pretty cool part of the East coast of Australia, with great beaches and natural beauty all around. We try and get up to visit at least once a year, but it has been a couple of years since the last time we came up and saw them (it might have something to do with a certain 2 year old in our house who is occupying our time and plans). Given it was a bank holiday long weekend in Sydney, we have taken the opportunity to come up and visit them – and of course my road steed has come up with me. When we arrived on the Saturday morning, rather than getting my cousin to come and pick all of us up, I reassembled the bike and rode down to their place for a quick 37km hit out. Winter in Queensland is surprisingly warm and I was riding in 25 degree temperatures. In fact I was parched by the time I got to her place having come up from a cold Sydney. But it was the next day’s ride that I was plotting and planning for.

A Ride into the Hinterland

I have been trying to get some climbing into my legs in preparation for the Amy Gillett Gran Fondo coming up next month. It is not easy on my local rides because the hills are short and sharp, but not enough for me to lock in for tens of minutes to put my head down and climb. I had mapped the ride out to upload to my Garmin, but this proved slightly more difficult than anticipated. I think the Garmin Connect route planner isn’t configured correctly for countries that drive on the “correct” side of the road (the left – where us Aussies, Kiwis, Brits, and Japanese all drive). The route basically plotted me riding out on the other side of the carriageway, and a couple of the stretches of road were on big highway sections with large roundabouts. Every time I hit a roundabout, the Garmin was beeping furiously telling me that I was off course only to resume when the road went back to being straight.

I headed away inland (West) from the Sunshine Coast and the Caloundra region. My cousin was warning me about the quality reception that I, as a cyclist, would receive from Queensland drivers. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not experience anything untoward. The thing is for me to understand that if I am a slower “driver” on a bicycle, why impede the cars that are going to overtake me anyway. A couple of times, even though technically I had right of way at an intersection, I chose to wave on the two or three cars that would speed off at 80kph. My destination was a place called Bald Knob which from what I could tell on the map would have a commanding view of the Sunshine Coast should I get up it. The route I mapped out on the Garmin website indicated that the climb would be an average 6.3% gradient – not a walk in the park, but I could manage easily for quite a distance at this incline (hours if I needed to). The reality of the climb turned out to be something different…

I think it was when I saw the sign that said “Caution Steep Ascent Next 2km”.

The road kicked up from 6% to 11-12% gradient and held that incline for… the next 2km. Did I say that I wanted to get some climbing in. It was at this point that I was wondering whether it would have been a good idea to get a 28-12 cassette on the rear wheel from my last service. There were plenty of other wanderings going through my head during this climb that also involved cussing the climb. So when it eased up after those 2km back to the 6% it was previously I was relieved with the respite. That was until there was another sign that read “Caution Steep Ascent Next 1km”. That 1km turned out to be 1.5km and it was back up to the nasty 11-12% gradient again. When I saw another rider bombing it back downhill on the other side of the road, my musings turned to throwing the towel in. But surrender was never going to happen, and I am sure that the cycling gods would have thrown me a flat tyre anyway if that was the path I chose.

I finally got to my turn that would bring me to my loop to come back. I finally decided to take in some food and the view – spectacular. Those are the Glass House Mountains that you can see in the distance.

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Here is another shot that is more towards the North-East, sans velo.

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The ride back was fun, with some gently undulating roads at speed. The best bit was on a super smooth bit of tarmac through a town named Peachester. 45kph through awesome winding roads covered over with dense eucalyptus trees. I wasn’t the only one out to enjoy the roads, there were a bunch of old couples who were out in proper vintage cars who decided that they would all meet up at Peachester for the breakfast.

The other thing I noticed were the funny place names. For non-Australians the traditional aboriginal place names must sound strange, but us Aussies are used to it. Better when you have places called Bald Knob, Sugarbag, Beerburrum, or Beerwah – everyone has to admit that these are just funny names.

I managed to pick up my pace again on the way back and for the 75km I rode, hit over 26kph – not bad for a solo ride and a grinding climb. There was just over 900m climbing in that ride too.

The Backup Ride

I would be lying if I said that my quads were not stinging a bit from the previous days climbing. But you have to back it up. This time I chose to hammer out a quick spin along the Sunshine Coast proper at speed. I only had an hour before I would take up the family stuff which was the real purpose of the trip. Winter in Queensland is awesome, and when in the middle of what is supposed to be the coldest season I get greeted with this – life is good.

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This was taken at a place called Currimundi Lake, which is right on the coast. I can imagine in Summer that this place would be packed with families enjoying themselves in the sand.

A lot of guys and girls ride triathlon around here, but even for a leisurely ride it would be enjoyable. If you want climbing, the Sunshine Coast and Hinterland has it. If you want flat all out speed, there is that too. Good times, and I can’t wait to come back up and explore more of this area on two wheels.

This week travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack’ is Wild. While I am not one to get out in the middle of a tempest and start shooting, I do like getting out into the wild and natural landscapes and capture the wild beauty. I could have chosen from a whole heap of photos from my travels overseas, but for this post I have decided to showcase my home country – Australia. The land down under is so naturally beautiful and wild at its very core. Our forests are harsh bush landscapes with wild shrubs and flowers, and the animals are venomous, poisonous, and dangerous – wild! As usual, all the images below link through to my larger photos on Flickr.

One of the most stunning places in all of Australia to visit is the Twelve Apostles off the Southern coast of Victoria along a road aptly named the Great Ocean Road. There are not twelve of the sandstone rocky outcrops any more as a result of the constant battering from the relentless surf. I got lucky with the sunset having camped out for over an hour with the tripod just waiting for the sun to set.

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Closer to home, for my wife’s 30th birthday we spent a weekend up in the Blue Mountains some 60km West of Sydney. The Blue Mountains are stunning, and it strange to be so close to wild bushland. You don’t have to go far off the track to be surrounded by wild Australian flowers.

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Still in NSW but further South in Kangaroo Valley is the Illawarra Treetops park in the middle of a temperate Australian rainforest. As if to reinforce the prehistoric roots of the Australian bush, ferns still flourish in the Australian bush. I loved how when walking on the floor of the forest the path was silhouetted by sunlight shining through ferns.

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But probably the wildest place that we have been to in Australia would have to be Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. Kakadu is pure outback and wild to the core with crocodiles, snakes, and all sorts. But it is so beautiful. We went to Ubirr to see the old Aboriginal rock paintings that are tens of thousands of years old, only to get there you have to walk past characters like this guy – he wasn’t THAT big.

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Hidden in their mounds all over the place are the wild termites. To put it in perspective, this mound was probably double my height and all the constructed by the handiwork of the little insects.

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I was fortunate to have had the opportunity of going barramundi fishing at Yellow Water in Kakadu in the middle of crocodile infested waters. Sunrise over the wetlands was surreal and quiet. With the sun rising came the heat and wildlife waking up to the day.

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Sunset over Yellow Water hid what was underneath the surface (quite a few crocs). Later on the evening that I took this shot a wicked lightning storm rolled in, the clouds were the early warning.

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We also had the opportunity to go for a helicopter flight over Kakadu and it is truly awe inspiring to see the raw landscape. What I only found out from the chopper pilot for the first time is the fact that Kakadu is larger in area than the country of Switzerland. This shot of the wetlands was taken at the very end of the wet season – I can’t imagine what it would look like during the height of the wet season.

Jabiru_Flight_2011_0162ps

Thanks Ailsa, great theme this week. Check out some of the other posts from my fellow bloggers where they have posted links to their blogs in the comments.

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