Sunday, December 03, 2006


The pines

I went for a ride out to the Bussell pine plantation. Not having been there for a long time I didn't realise how beautiful it was. The purpose of the ride was to find a small mica mine that I'd been to as a kid. It was just a small hole in the ground with bits of mica sticking out. I have a mental picture of the area but that's about all.

I used aerial photographs and maps to plan my ride. When riding in the Wellington Dam area it's a good idea to use maps because there are several inlets to the dam which spread out like large fingers and they all look the same and it's a long ride around the shoreline. The pine forests all look the same too and it's easy to get confused by the maze of tracks.

I followed the Bibbulman Track for a short distance out of town and then deviated through some great Jarrah forest.

The trails took me to Mungalup Road and from there I turned onto Kelly Road, riding this for about a kilometre before turning left onto McLusky Road. I went down a long descent that followed a winter creek and entered the Bussell pine plantation.

I had to ride for some time to get to the northern end of the plantation, weaving in out of pine forest and jarrah before crossing an open paddock and coming to the end of Bussell Road. Some sections of the road were of Lord of the Rings type beauty, I wouldn't have been at all suprised to see hobbits emerge out of the undergrowth.

Reaching my furtherest point the sun was setting, I didn't have much time to explore but it didn't look like the area of the mica mine anyway. I followed Bussell Road downhill, stopping several times to consult my GPS, the lack of sunlight and the twisting nature of the road made it hard to distinguish my direction. I arrived at the waters of the dam and followed the edge until I arrived at a small creek I recognised from the outward trip, from here I went east to find the Mungalup Road. At a small rise the area looked similar to what I remembered of the mica mine, it was too late to explore now so it'll have to wait for another day. I got to the Mungalup Road and followed it for a short while before turning off onto Best Road with the idea of heading east to the Bibbulman track but I once again entered a pine plantation that was so dense I turned on my headlamp. The trails didn't take me where I wanted to go and eventually I popped back out on Mungalup Road and decided that since it was dark and getting late I'd follow the main road home. I got back at 8:30pm having covered 61 km.


Sunday, October 29, 2006


Blackwood Marathon Relay 2006

The Blackwood Marathon Relay has come and gone for another year, and as usual it was a great event, the local community really gets behind this and makes it a success. Despite going for 28 years it has changed little over the years and still has the earthy feel it's always had.
Pre-race is when old friends catch up, injuries and age are given as pre-emptive excuses for any poor performances that might occur during the day. Clive Choates was doing his 19th ironman and looking foward to his 20th which will be next year. I always have trouble with names and faces so I just kept calling everyone "mate" to hide my embarassment. Ypu only get to see these people once or twice a year so you can't really be expected to remember all these faces can you?
Since I was doing the canoe leg I had to leave early so as not to get stopped by the road blocks for the runners. We parked at the top of the hill and carried the kayak down to the canoe paddock. Another round of gossiping to catch up on the canoe news and then we waited for the runners.
Each runner is given a good cheer and a the canoeist , full of adrenaline races off down to the river with his canoe in tow. "Canoes" ranged from sprint boats to surf skis to bathtubs. My runner came in quite late, suffering the combined effects of age, flu and lack of training. At this point I might add that I was a ring-in for team number 1, the Bridgetown Tearways, which has been doing the event every year since it's start but were being whittled away by those events that many years bring. I was required to do the canoe and the swim but having also suffered a flu for the last few weeks I invited Banjo to do the swim which he relishes.

The water water level was the lowest anyone could remember and there was the usual traffic jams in the tight spots but other than that no significant problems. A lot of people could have done themselves a favour by getting to know their craft a bit better or even getting a faster boat. I stopped to help a young girl who had an ocean type ski and still had the rudder tied up out of the water. The low conditions required a few portages but for the second half it was full steam ahead. A young girl rode my bow wave for a long way and I was quite impressed that she kept up, we were amongst the tailenders and she obviously new what she was doing. At some stage my rudder had been bent at right angles but it didn't seem to be much of a problem so I ignored it and kept going. I picked up 30 places which took our team from 90th to 60th place.
After lunch the swimmers assembled in a long line to await the swim. The hot weather made the water inviting. Banjo did a good swim, picking up a few places, handing over to Ric on the horse.
The horses suffered in the hot weather, with a few being serverly distressed. Ric held our place overall, riding sensibly on his borrowed horse.
The cycle leg is very hilly, setting a trend for the other marathon relays, with a series of long unending climbs up out of the valley. It starts of with a stretch of uphill gravel which requires a good shove from a helpful bystander, "keep pushing until I clip my feet in!"
Once again our rider Barry picked up a few more places to give us 51st place overall.

After helping out with the horses some of us went over the Wheatly farm. located near the horse finish for a coffee and cakes. The farmhouse sits on top of a very high hill with commanding views over the whole area. Sitting on the verandah in wicker chairs with the sun setting over the distant hills it was one of those "Life doesn't get much better than this" moments.
Eventually we headed into Bridgetown to the finish for the presentations and long stories over cold beer. Tim and Sarah, a married couple had once again taken the winning Ironman and Ironwomen titles. Tim has long had bragging rights as being the faster but Sarah is just a few minutes behind and is getting closer each year.

Winning team was Skilled Engineering, who come back and win year after year with a team that has varied little over the years, setting very high standards for the rest of us.

People I chatted with include; The Wiesse extended family and friends who are organised and move like army ants to keep their athletes supported.
Damon Willmore who is working hard promoting the Karri ride. (Which is on top of my TO DO list this year.)
Racheal, who I used to train with a few years ago and haven't seen for years.
Grant Pepper who organises the resurrected Naga Challenge, one of the best small mutisport events I've done.

Well that's the Blackwood for another year, now it's back to the real world.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006



I went for swim today in our local council pool. It's the first time in a while that I've swum there, preferring to travel to Bunbury to use their pool. But today was a nice day, I'm still on holidays and the pool was uncrowded and best of all, it's now heated!
I paid my entry fee at the new heated price and entered. There was hardly anyone about, school was still in and there was only a few young people sitting talking on the grass. One person was in the pool, swimming laps. I guess he was an underwater hockey player because he had giant flippers and was wearing a snorkle.
So I dropped off most of my clothes, and luckily had my bathers on underneath, and thought of pleasant things as I dropped into the water. I have to think of things other than the water or else I'll procrastinate forever for fear of cold water. Once I'm in it's ok. After swimming half a lap to stretch I start my stopwatch and swim.
The temperature was a fraction too cool, maybe one or two degrees warmer would be nice. At the deep end it felt cool but at the shallow end it was ok. I suppose the water from the heaters must enter the pool at the shallower end. I did steady neat strokes, not trying too hard on my first swim. The water was crystal clear, and I could easily see the full length of the 50 metre pool underwater. The concrete bottom of the pool needed painting, and the tiles looked a bit uneven, but this pool is about 50 years old and at it's opening would have been equal to almost any pool in Australia. At the Shallow end it's 3 feet 6 inches deep and at the other end, which takes up about 10 metres, is an area which is 11 feet deep. There are tiles with the depth painted on them set into the concrete at the sides. There is a low diving board, and also a higher one but the actual board and ladder have been removed. There also used to be a slide but that's been taken away too. I guess these days such things would be deemed too dangerous and an insurance liability. You'd think kids died in droves in the old days compared to the way young people are mollycoddled now.

So I forced myself to complete 1000 metres and stopped my watch, just over 22 minutes, a bit slow but not bad for a first swim in ages and I'm just getting over a flu. Some other people were getting in the pool so I decided to swim a few more laps and added another 500 metres to my swim.
I got out, dried and dressed myself and wandered over to the shop. I bought three pythons, which are like snakes but bigger. (The lolly type of course.)

I left feeling clean, cool and refreshed.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Collie Marathon relay

Well the Marathon went well, no one got lost or injured and everyone said they enjoyed it. The only hitch was the fire brigade who marshall on the corners got there late and there was no-one to stop cars, from the feedback I gathered there was only one close call. A big thank-you to everyone who helped out on the day, it was great. I really feel like we've created a truly fine event. Moving the event three weeks closer to summer certainly made the water a lot warmer and the weather was perfect.
The night before I had a nice dinner at the Premier hotel with Robyn Korshid and a few friends, fish with garlic prawns, highly recommended even though I'm not a big fan of garlic. Then after the event I had chinese with Roy, Rebekah and Sheryl. Brian rolled up later, his skydiving at Hillman Farm had been cut short because of problems with the plane but he got one jump in.
Roy and Rebekah slept in the van at my place and in the morning we went out to Mumballup to meet Meg and Neil and others for a mountain bike ride. I chose to take them out to Gibralter Rock which is a large rock formation in the middle of nowhere. I'd traced out a route from old maps and uploaded them to the GPS which meant we ended up scrub bashing on overgrown rail formations. After going up a few dead ends we eventually got there. We returned via a different route which was a bit easier, except for one point where we were going parallel to a creek and I decided we had to cross to a track on the other side so it was a bit more scrub bashing and then an easy ride back to Mumballup for lunch, which consisted of sweets and pizza.

In the last few days I've been doing a bit of paddling and swimming. A team from Bridgetown has invited me to go in their team in the Blackwood Marathon Relay. They're team number one and have been doing the event since it started. I also was at the first event and I've done theIronman six times. I think Tim Wiesse may have passed on my name to Peter Wheatley who is the horse rider for my team. Tim and Sarah stay at Peters farm for the marathon weekend. My paddling is really slow, I'm so out of condition it feels like I'm starting from scratch. It's been a brutal winter and I've been busy with many other things so I've a lot of catching up to do.

Saturday, May 13, 2006



Instead of doing our normal Wednesday night mountain bike ride we decided to go for a road ride. Harry's decided he wants to do the Collie-Donnybrook race, which is 102km, and therefore needs to do a bit of road cycling. My suggestion was to do multiple loops of the Piavanin Rd circuit which is 21 km around, that way, if we had problems we wouldn't be any more than 10 km from home. But Harry and Banjo had already decided on doing the 80km MacAlinden circuit.
I had just recently changed the lights form my road bike to my mountain bike so it annoyed me that I had to put the lights back on. I had a spare set of lights so I just taped them to the tri bars as best I could. The Lithium Ion battery was charged and I had a spare one too, 1.5 amp hours which weighs nothing but would get me home in an emergency.
Knowing how cold it would get I dressed in my warmest gear, including my new shoes I got for riding to work. this required changing the pedals from the platform type to the SPD type. We set of at dusk, heading south out of town. First up we rode up Lyalls Mill hill, it's the biggest hill and so it's good to get it out of the way early, after that it was a series of ups and downs with mainly down into Mummballup. Where's Mummballup you ask? It's half way between Noggerup and Yabberup.
So we turned left and did a long grind to Noggerup which is about 12 km of flat but slightly inclining road through the upper Preston Valley. At Noggerup the road rises in a series of long steps. By this time is was getting pretty cool so we welcomed the hills as a chance to warm up a bit. We sat up and chatted as we rode. We talk about all sorts of things when we ride and it's good therapy, we've really gotten to know each other very well and know what buttons to push to sooth or stir each other up. In the distance I heard a sound like a herd of Harley Davidsons approaching, headlights lit up the road and I sprinted for the edge of the road just as a huge sheep truck thundered past. Soon after we got to the signs that indicated the turnoff to MacAlinden, which was just as well as Harry was saying "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?". We stopped and had a bit of a sugar feed then off we went. MacAlinden isn't really a town, it might have been once, I think it even had a school, but now it's just an area, an intersection of very quiet farming roads. You can ride 50km and not have a single car go past, so it feels very out of the way and at night time with only the stars and ten degree coolness as company you could be a million miles from anywhere. We soon discovered animals. An few kangaroos hopped across the road ahead, and then a black rabbit ran out in front of me and then wisely ran back into the bush. A long downhill then a sharp uphill and then we make our last left turn and head back towards Collie. This last stretch of road must have been given to the locals as part of an election bribe back in the 1950s, it's always been rough and narrow for as long as I can remember, it winds it's way next to the MacAlinden river and is more patched pothole than original road. Harry, sensing we're on the home run, pushes the pace up a bit which makes us hot from the effort and cold from the wind.
After crossing a bridge we're back in the Collie shire and the road surface improves slightly. Almost immediately a group of about a dozen kangaroos bounds across the road, some of them so close we brake sharply to avoid them hitting us. We've got three more hills then about 10km of flat. On the last descent some more kangaroos shoot across the road so close to us we're spooked and we descend the rest of it with the brakes on, a collision out here at this time of the night in the cold would be a disaster. We leave the farmland and are cycling through forest again, and since there are no grazing kangaroos we pick up the pace and time trial it back into town. After a quick goodbyes we head home for hot showers and a good feed.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


The worn parts dilema.

Is my chain worn out? It seems noisy lately and doesn't run well, a sort of undefined unwell. Sometimes it chainsucks, othertimes it sticks in the rear derailluer dragging it dangerously about, and other times it sounds like it's scraping on the front derailluer which it's not. Yes I've adjusted it back and forth and side to side. The chain does look a bit worn, it flexes from side to side easily, and when you flex it hard you can see a fresh dirt area where the side plate has moved away a bit from the inner plate. So I've bought a new chain at Harrys shop. The cluster has a bit of a wobble in it too, maybe I didn't tighten it up enough when I put a new spoke in a few weeks ago. Well I'll look at that when I do the chain. Might also be worth looking at the cables. Usually when I have these problems it's because the cable guides are dry and dirty. I'll have a bit of a cleanup later today and see what happens. I wonder if the cluster is worn? How do you tell?

The handlebars I bought on eBay have arrived so I'll put those on too. After a recent spill I put a higher head stem on to raise my sitting position, trouble is it's taller but shorter, so I'm sitting back a bit too far and I feel like I need to move my seat back but it's already back as far as it'll go. The new bars are Easton Monkey Bars with a 2 inch rise, theyre about an ich wider on each end too which isn't a bad thing. My old bars are titanium, straight with only a very slight sweep back. So I'll put the new bars on with the old stem, which is lighter, being made of titanium. The frame is titanium too so it keeps it all together nicely. I'm thinking about putting a disk brake on the front end too but still not sure at this stage, might be too expensive.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Learning to ride.

Yesterday I went down the park with my girlfriends six year old son Andrew, he's had a bike for a while but hadn't learnt to ride and I figured it would be a good day to learn. It's a cheap BMX type thing, single speed with back pedal brakes, no trainer wheels. We'd banned trainer wheels so he wouldn't become dependant on them, and besides, he could ride is scooter without any problems so his balance wasn't a problem. The park has a gentle slope, perfect for learning to ride a bike. My girlfriend took her bike along as well for a bit of inspiration, the park was only about 200 metres away so I walked.
I balanced him on his bike and pushed him along, sometimes he'd wobble a bit and fall off but we were only going slow so it didn't hurt. Eventually he went further and further, rolling about 50 metres to the bottom of the hill. We shouted at him to pedal but it was difficult for him to focus on steering and pedalling at the same time, so he'd forget to pedal. At the bottom of the hill he'd get off and push the bike to the top. He was loving it! He was gaining confidence too, he was learning to steer it to where he wanted to, and as the bike slowed down he'd remember to pedal, and get a bit of extra distance. next I showed him how to start, so I wouldn't have to hold him. I told him to put a foot on the pedal that was forward and push of with the other foot, like he does with his scooter. He soon got the hang of it and was independent. He could climb on his bike and ride it to the bottom. He was proud of himself and told any strangers that ventured nearby that this was the first time he'd ridden a bike. His mother and I were proud of him too. The grassy slope reminded me of the beach where the Wright brothers first flew a heavier than air craft. They must have felt the same , small hops followed by longer and longer hops, then controlled flight. What a feeling! We let him have a few more goes and then it was time for lunch, walking home Andrew decided he wanted to ride on the footpath, after a few false starts he got going down the path but turning onto the lawn he nearly hit the letter-box and came to an inglorious crash on the front lawn. Still, no harm done but a reminder that with more speed there's more risk. More rides to come.

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