Global Fat Bike Day 2015

GFBD

This Saturday (5 December 2015) is Global Fat Bike Day 2015. A ride from Coolum Beach to Noosa, starting at 7am, is being organised and you can read about it on FB at https://www.facebook.com/events/882938278463830/

There’s a lot of GFBD events on all around the world (http://allevents.in/events?q=Global%20Day&page=1#) but most of them seem to be in the northern hemisphere and will involve snow! I’m sure that would be a lot of fun, but I love our beaches in the summer and am very glad this day falls in the season (here) that it does. Some pics may follow in a later post.

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Exploring Tunbubudla, Glasshouse Mountains

The Glasshouse Mountains region is a superb area for hiking, cycling and climbing. So with a clear, crisp mid-winter day to spend, we took our bikes on the train to Beerburrum to enjoy a ride through the forest and to see if we could make it to the top of Mt Tunbubudla. Tunbubudla West to be precise. One of a pair also known as ‘The Twins’. They are part of the 11 hills of the Glasshouse Mountains and lie to the west of Beerburrum.

Heading along the track to 'The Twins'.
Heading along the track to ‘The Twins’.

On the way to Beerburrum I realised that having a fancy schmancy DSLR camera is of little use when you leave it behind on the kitchen table! So the photos you see were taken with my phone camera. Not as effective but on the bright side it was one less item to lug up the mountain.

As soon as we left the train we could smell the clean and invigorating country air. It’s a great pleasure to leave the city sometimes and enjoy some open spaces. The road heading west through the forest was a little boggy in parts. But KJ was on the new fat bike and was almost unstoppable, no matter how gooey the trail became. I did my best to keep up on my hybrid bike.

KJ blitzes the trail on the fat bike
KJ blitzes the trail on the fat bike

After a short ride through the pine plantation, we came to the national park area surrounding the Tunbubudlas. The trail here is not a forestry road, but merely a track which is very eroded in places. Not at all suitable for 4WDs but a plain old bicycle can go just about anywhere. If you’re prepared to get off and push it every now and again. But as we got closer to the base of T-West, we decide to leave the bikes and continue on foot.

Heading up the trail
Heading up the trail

The west twin is 293m high and the east is 312m. There may be a track heading up the east mountain but we didn’t see one. The climb is moderate at first, leading up to an area between the two peaks called ‘The Saddle’. From there the climb becomes very steep, and there is a lot of loose rock underfoot.

Climbing from 'The Saddle', the eastern twin in the background.
Climbing from ‘The Saddle’, the eastern twin in the background.

As we approached the top, we came across an almost vertical rock face that might be 20 metres high to the summit. It may be higher – I’m not so great at estimating distances, especially when craning my neck upwards.  To scale this last section would require actual rock climbing expertise and equipment. Neither of which we possess. So after unsuccessfully searching left and right for a track that went around this cliff, we were satisfied that this was as high as we could go.

The steep ascent on Tunbubudla West
The steep ascent on Tunbubudla West
The cliff face near the summit
The cliff face near the summit

There are excellent views from this not-quite-the-top vantage point, although there are lots of trees to peer through. It’s not like a lookout with 360 degree views. But we could see right across to Pumicestone Passage, and had good views of Mount Coonowrin (Crookneck) and the western side of Tibrogargan.

View of Tibrogargan from the west
View of Tibrogargan from the west
Mount Coonowrin
Mount Coonowrin

We cautiously made our way back down to the Saddle, enjoyed our packed lunch and regretted not bringing a thermos of tea.  Back to the bikes, back through the forestry to Beerburrum and back home on the train. In the words of Wallace and Gromit, a grand day out.

postscript – when checking some facts and figures on the Glasshouse Mountains, I stumbled across an extraordinary story from 1912, about three intrepid sisters who cycled from Brisbane to Mount Coonowrin (Crookneck), climbed the mountain in their ‘voluminous gym clothes’ and then cycled all the way back to Brisbane. The story and some photos can be seen here. Definitely worth a look.

 

Finally, a fatbike!

fat bike 1I did it. I bought my self a fatbike. An Avanti Tracker to be precise. And it’s hard to describe without hyperbole, just how amazing it is to ride. These photos were taken in the Beerburrum state forest, where I recently put the bike through its paces. The bike’s traction, stability and go-anywhereness (not a word but it should be) are incredible. Whether the trail was sandy, muddy or covered with loose gravel, the bike just kept happily rolling along. I could ride along tracks where, on my hybrid bike, I would bog down and have to walk it. This was just a short ride to see what the bike was capable of. But watch this space – there’ll be many fatbiking trips ahead, for sure.

fat bike 2

Cycle trip to Mudjimba – and loads of lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet

It has been an unseasonably warm start to March, so KJ and I took advantage of the perfect weather to have a cycling trip to Mudjimba Beach.

Beerwah Forest Trail
KJ appearing as a small speck on the Beerwah Forest Trail

Taking the train to Beerwah Station, we set out along the forestry trails, aiming to reach Caloundra by midday.  We did so – more or less.  A couple of shortcuts, suggested by me, turned out to be not so short after all.

Let's go this way
Let’s go this way

What began as a promising shady alternative route, ended up being blocked by some minor flooding on the trail, which was probably caused by the recent impact of Cyclone Marcia.  I thought that by unloading the panniers I would be able to carry the bikes around the water, but it wasn’t meant to be.  We returned to the sunny, but dry track and continued to Caloundra.

It's easy - just watch me.
It’s easy – just watch me.

Back on the trail, we continued with the beautiful Glasshouse Mountains visible in the distance.

Glasshouse mountains in the background
Glasshouse mountains in the background – each side of KJ’s helmet.

After a few hours of occasionally challenging riding – the cyclone had caused a lot of damage to some sections of the trail – we reached the seaside just north of Caloundra, near Currimumdi.  A short rest, a bite to eat, and then onto lovely Mudjimba.

Arriving at the beach
Arriving at the beach.

Having rested after a long day’s ride, we spent the following two days exploring the area by bike.  It’s a liberating experience, leaving the car behind and travelling under one’s own ‘steam’.  We weren’t limited in any way, and we even brought fishing rods with us on our bikes.  As it happened, the fish weren’t biting this week, although it may have had something to do with the skills of the fisher-persons!  Just a bit.  KJ did hook a garfish at one point but it skipped off the line at the last minute.

Mudjimba sunrise
Mudjimba sunrise

We took a trip to nearby Peregian Beach, passing through a lovely area called Yaroomba.  There is a strong protest movement underway there at the moment, hoping to reject the council’s intention to alter the local town plan and permit high rise development.  It would be heartbreaking to see the character of this relaxed and peaceful region undone by the construction of high rise resort buildings.  Hundreds of home that we rode past had signs out rejecting the high rise plan.  We thought this one with the sea turtle was particularly arty and original.

Turtle power
Turtle power.

Continuing on to Peregian Beach, we found a cafe for the dedicated cyclist where, if you wanted a coffee but didn’t want to stop pedaling, you could pedal along while getting your dose of caffeine, and not spill a drop.

Pedal seats
Pedal seats. The chains could do with a clean.

Walking along the sand near Peregian, we noticed hundreds, possibly thousands, of jellyfish that had been washed ashore.  The local newspapers reported that a bloom of Catostylus mosaicus jellyfish, aka ‘blue blubbers’ or, as we affectionately called them as kids, ‘snotties’, had been caused by the warm weather.  They do have a mild sting but are not regarded as particularly harmful to humans.

Blue blubbers
Blue blubbers

And then there are the lorikeets.  As noisy as they are colourful.  These attractive birds are common all over the coast, and are especially vocal in the early morning (no sleeping in for us) and late afternoon.

Lorikeet conversation
Lorikeet conversation
A most noisy neighbour
A most noisy neighbour

We adored Mudjimba.  It’s peaceful, picturesque and has great cycling all around.  The Mooloolaba Triathlon was about to start and many of the locals asked us if that’s what we were there for.  It was flattering, but we didn’t much resemble the speedy lycra-clad athletes zooming around the area on their bikes, in preparation for the big day.  We were perfectly happy to just roll along at our relaxed pace and take in the glorious sights and sounds of the coast.  This is a definite do-again trip.

First bike tour, Brisbane to Tin Can Bay, part one

Morning at Tin Can Bay
Morning at Tin Can Bay

After much planning and preparation, the time had come for me to attempt my first bike tour. This was to be a week long journey from my home in Brisbane, to the quiet fishing village of Tin Can Bay, and home again. The plan was for 3 days cycling there, stopping at Coolum then Lake Cootharaba, a rest day, then 3 days cycling back. I had cycled most of the route before, although not as part of a continuous ride. And the section between Lake Cootharaba and Tin Can Bay was new to me. This was to prove the hardest part of the ride by far.

Beerwah Forest road
Beerwah Forest road

Day one – 22 September, Brisbane to Coolum (75km)

With my fully loaded bike, I took the train to Beerwah Station where I set off through the Beerwah State Forest, heading for the district just south of Caloundra. After only a few minutes riding, I saw a flock of about 8 Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos, noisily making their way through the pine trees.

Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo
Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo

The road surface was pretty good, and in a couple of hours I had made my way through the forest and into Caloundra. Right beside the cycle path I saw galahs and a corella, peacefully feeding on the grass and quite unperturbed by my presence.

Long billed corella
Long billed corella
Galahs
Galahs

I reached the coast just before lunch, arriving near the Currimundi area.

Currimundi
Currimundi

The weather was comfortably cool, with just a little rain.  But this cleared to clear blue sky and bright sunshine as I approached Coolum.  I stopped at one of the many coastal lookout points along the way, hoping to see a whale, as this is their southern migratory season.  The view was spectacular, but no whales were to be seen.

Lookout, south of Coolum
Lookout, south of Coolum

At about 4pm I reached my accommodation, a little weary as it had been a while since I’d ridden that distance.  And I’d never ridden with a fully loaded bike before.  But it felt great to have got my first day’s travel in.

Day two – 23 September, Coolum to Lake Cootharaba (65km)

My second day’s riding was almost all along the coast.  There is a coastal pathway that runs 95km from the southern end of Caloundra all the way to Noosa.  For anyone interested in seeing the Sunshine Coast by bike, this is a must-do ride.  Lots of terrific riding by the sea, like this spot near Marcus Beach.

Marcus Beach
Marcus Beach

Enjoying another great day of clear sky and sunshine’ I made my way through Noosa and Tewantin, and onto Lake Cootharaba, arriving at about 3pm.

Weyba Creek, Noosa
Weyba Creek, Noosa
Noosa river
Noosa river
Lake Cootharaba
Lake Cootharaba

Day three – 24 September, Lake Cootharaba to Tin Can Bay (56km)

On day three I set out early as this was the section of the ride I’d never been on before.  And unlike the previous two days, I was not going to be in any populated area – the whole day was going to be spent in the Toolara State Forest.  I wanted to give myself plenty of time to make it to Tin Can Bay.  My host at Cootharaba has a house surrounded by bushland and wildlife and as I was setting off, a butcher bird settled on the back stair to partake of a few scraps that had been left out.

Butcher bird
Butcher bird

I set off through the Elanda Point grasslands, and then walked the bike through the 2.5km of the Boronia Trail, leading to Harry’s Hut Rd.

Boronia Trail
Boronia Trail

Along the trails, I saw an enormous rainforest tree that had toppled over, exposing the trunk and root system.  I placed the bike nearby so as to give an idea of scale.

Toppled tree, Boronia Trail
Toppled tree, Boronia Trail

Coming off the trail, and onto Harry’s Hut Rd in the area called Como, I was very surprised to see a group of three deer grazing beside the road.  One very large buck with a magnificent set of antlers, and two smaller deer.  They ran away quickly but I did manage to get a photo of on of the smaller ones, whose curiosity about this strange person on a bicycle, must have outweighed the desire to hide in the bush.

Deer at Como
Deer at Como

After Harry’s Hut Rd, I turned onto the dirt road of Cooloola Way, which would take me almost all the way to TCB.  It was at that point that my ride turned from a pleasant exploration to a grueling struggle.  The heavens opened and it poured with rain for hours.  Cooloola Way turned out to be five and a half hours of bicycle hell.  The surface was either so muddy and sticky that it was like riding through glue – or it was rocky and stony and utterly bone-jarring.  I left my camera safely stashed in the waterproof pannier, so I don’t have any pictures of that part of the journey.  For anyone planning on taking the Cooloola Way as part of a bike trek, I strongly suggest you think otherwise.  But eventually I made my way to the edge of the forest, found the bitumen road, and wearily cycled into Tin Can Bay.

Arrived TCB, weary but happy
Arrived TCB, weary but happy

As I arrived, the weather cleared as if to welcome me and assure me that the toughest part of my trip was over.  I had a rest day to look forward to, and plenty of time to plot an alternative route back to Lake Cootharaba.  196km all up and I had completed the first half of my bike tour.

 

Forest Ride

As the proud owner of a new hybrid bike, it was time to go off road and try a different sort of cycling to the road riding I am used to.  The Beerburrum State Forest in the Sunshine Coast hinterland seemed a good place to try.

Freedom on two wheels
Freedom on two wheels

In keeping with my plan to minimise my car use, I took the train to Elimbah Station, then rode the few kilometres to the southern edge of the forest.   On the road out of Elimbah, I saw some llamas in a roadside paddock.

Elimbah llamas
Elimbah llamas

The forest is a commercial plantation, not a native forest.  The land is owned by the Queensland Government, and is leased to a company that manages the cultivation, harvesting and re-growing of plantation timber.  A note to our northern hemisphere friends – the pine trees you see do not naturally occur in Australia.  The dominant trees in native bushland are mostly eucalypts.  But much of the scenery here is like a Nordic pine forest.

Among the pines
Among the pines

For part of the ride, Mount Coonowrin was visible in the distance.  Coonowrin is one of the GlassHouse Mountains, and I’ve always referred to it by its unofficial name, Mount Crookneck.

Old Gympie Rd, Mount Coonowrin visible in the distance
Old Gympie Rd, Mount Coonowrin visible in the distance

The air wasn’t quite as pine-scented fresh as I expected.  There had been some fires in the forest recently and some areas were still smouldering.  A light smoky haze was drifting about over much of the ride.  But this didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the ride.  I’m guessing that these fires were part of a controlled burning exercise that’s carried out from time to time.  These fires reduce the amount of dry fuel on the forest floor and help prevent larger, uncontrollable fires from breaking out.

Caves Rd
Caves Rd

This ride was a 20km circuit, which is just a small portion of the entire forest area.  There are many more tracks to explore so I’ll definitely go back again.