Any old road is fine for touring, riding and having fun

Testing the Cannondale Slate on the fire roads of the Glasshouse Mountains on a Neil  Ennis adventure ride. My buddy Emma is keeping an eye on me in the background.

Testing the Cannondale Slate on the fire roads of the Glasshouse Mountains on a Neil Ennis adventure ride. My buddy Emma is keeping an eye on me in the background.

And here is Episode 23 for 2016 of the Briztreadley podcast.

In the show this week:

  • Andrew Demack interviews Alee Denham, who runs a wonderful website called CyclingAbout.com.
  • Hayden Lester chats with the winner of the SEQ downhill series.
  • And Andrew reviews the Cannondale Slate.

Get into it!

 

Michael England wins State XCO championships in Mackay

Momo Frank smashes it through a rock garden on his way to becoming State under 15 XCO champion.

Momo Frank smashes it through a rock garden on his way to becoming State under 15 XCO champion.

Hayden Lester brings us an interview from the Queensland XCO Championships, held in Mackay on October 2. Michael England has only been racing mountain bikes for a couple of years, but he is building an impressive list of race wins.

 

 

Post Bike Week wrap, plus SEQ DH and Sunshine Series

Briztreadley's Jordana Blackman (centre) showing her barrier style at the Bike Week CX. Sholto Douglas pic.

Briztreadley’s Jordana Blackman (centre) showing her barrier style at the Bike Week CX. Sholto Douglas pic.

This is Episode 14 for 2016 of the Briztreadley podcast, and it comes to you courtesy of the efforts of Hayden Lester, who while I (Andrew) was otherwise engaged in Bike Week and the rest of my life, was busily putting together some excellent coverage of what’s been happening around South East Queensland in the bike world.

Thanks Hayden!

Featuring Jordana Blackman, Lonnie Toia, Joshua Button, & Declan Kilkenny (pray for DK!).

Nothing like a Kombi to make you smile

smiling_kombi

And here is Episode 13 of the Briztreadley podcast for 2016.

  • To cover the World Cup mountain biking in Cairns, we cross to our woman in the rock garden at Smithfield, Cathy Peel
  • As the Eagles almost sang, “There’s a new trail in town, everyone’s talking ’bout it”. Hayden Lester chats with Jamie Borg chat about Kombi, over at Ironbark Gully.
  • And we have a look forward at the Giro d’ Italia and start to get in to the groove for Bike Week.

Hosted by Andrew Demack.

Cairns World Cup preview edition!

Troy Brosnan, Australian downhill champion, training on the Cairns course.

Troy Brosnan, Australian downhill champion, training on the Cairns course.

Here’s a short special edition of the Briztreadley podcast, previewing the mountain bike World Cup round in Cairns this weekend. Thanks to Mike Blewitt (editor of Australian Mountain Bike magazine) and Imogen Smith, friends of the podcast, for their input into this preview.

Some places online where you can find out more about the World Cup:

 

 

 

The un-Brisbane episode: Derby, Victorian rail-trailing, Roubaix

A cutting on a rail trail ... this is on the High Country Rail Trail somewhere between Bonegilla and Tallangatta.

A cutting on a rail trail … this is on the High Country Rail Trail somewhere between Bonegilla and Tallangatta.

Here’s Episode 11 of the podcast for 2016. Much thanks to Ashley and Alix Everton, Eleanor Jackson, Kaleb Griffiths, and Hayden Lester, for all their excellent input in this episode.

Stories from:

  • The rail trails of north-east Victoria, especially the Murray to the Mountains.
  • The National Marathon XC championships in Derby, Tasmania
  • The cobbled classics in Europe.

2016 episode 1: Finishing off the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

bvrt for pod

And we’re off and riding for 2016. In this first episode regular hosts Andrew Demack, Chris Welsh and Jordana Blackman are joined on the line by Paul Heymans from the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Users Association, to share some exciting news!

And we chat about the fun and games in RAdelaide.

Brodie Chapman: finding flow on the road bike too

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Brodie Chapman, in her first year as a road racer, was one of five women to enter this year’s 228km Grafton to Inverell road race. As well as being the first woman to finish, Brodie finished 8th in the C grade race, and was 2nd in the KOM sprint at the top of Gibraltar Range.

Brodie joins regular hosts Andrew Demack and Jordana Blackman for a chat about how riding bikes is awesome.

Also in this edition

Got questions, comments or feedback? Email [email protected] Got a hot news tip? Try [email protected]

Thanks as always to Eleanor Jackson for our voiceovers, and Alan Brown and Bluetrain for our theme music, ‘Double Flat White’.

And Quiet Flows The Con

White Swamp Road, White Swamp.

White Swamp Road, White Swamp.

There’s a jokey saying on the internet: pix or it didn’t happen.

Well, as it happens there are quite a few photos of the three-day bike-packing excursion that Brad and Emma and I went on, exploring parts of the Scenic Rim, especially the source of the Condamine River. So it surely happened.

On our way home from the ride, Emma said to me: “Are you going to do a write-up of this trip?”

I’ve had a slight internal resistance this year to writing something for Briztreadley every time I hop on the bike with some friends. As far as new content for the site goes, 2015 has been a major departure from the past, in that the main focus is the podcast, rather text and pictures.

And that’s going pretty well, I think. I did a couple of interviews during the Asia-Pacific Cycle Congress, and there’s enough there to put together another new episode soon, which will be the 20th this year.

Apart from podcasts, if I’m scouting for new Briztreadley content, I’ve only done three bike-packing overnighters in 2015. And this trip was the first for our trusty trio of Brad, Emma and myself.

But this ride pretty much demands its own article. It was that good.

About halfway through the Queensland cyclocross season, Brad and Emma and I were planning something to do with the next group of races, when the topic of a bike-packing trip came up.

CX took a momentary back seat as we ‘work-shopped’ a three-day window in the calendar that would suit everyone. It would be just after Cycle Queensland, that’s OK I’ll be a bit tired and I won’t have ridden much in the lead-up, but it will be something to look forward to.

We had to shift it forward a day or two because of other family commitments, and Brad’s days off, and eventually it was the anointed day, and we grabbed our stuff and got ready to go.

There were different levels of preparation needed for this trip among the different people.

Since the last time all three of us were on a bike-packing trip together, Brad has changed bikes (now riding a Kona Explosif 27.5), hand-made a complete set of bike-packing bags for the new bike, including a place to put his axe, and his tent-poles, and a place for everything.

Emma and I were just using our same old stuff. My gear in particular is looking pretty second-hand. The frame bag Dean made for me a couple of years ago might not hold on for too many more trips.

Grubby, but still good. Pictured at the Killarney Hotel, after a tough day on the trail the previous day.

Grubby, but still good. Pictured at the Killarney Hotel, after a tough day on the trail the previous day.

We set out south of Boonah, for a meeting place at a strategic corner on Carney’s Creek Road. Emma and I drove down together, through intermittent rain. Which as we got closer to the start of the ride, got heavier. And heavier.

Until for a few moments we were in the middle of a short hail storm.

Not an auspicious start.

Eventually the storm passed over us, and we got the bikes ready, strapping bags on and strategising the available light of the remains of the day.

Up Carneys Creek Road to the NSW border, and down White Swamp Road to Koreelah Creek.

It was a good steady climb up Carneys Creek Road, a dirt road of good surface. And a lovely roll down to the camp site in the late afternoon sunlight. A couple of photos were taken as we disturbed yet another herd of grazing cattle.

Riding into the late afternoon light.

Riding into the late afternoon light.

Koreelah Creek campsite was damp and so were we on arrival. As seems usual, we quickly set up our various sleeping quarters in the time remaining before dusk.

My setup ... did OK on an evening where drizzle was a contant possibility. And I stayed warm.

My setup … did OK on an evening where drizzle was a contant possibility. And I stayed warm.

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We ate our dinner and stood around the fire, chatting about Cross Vegas and the things that bike nerds and friends chat about. Emma and I had just come back from Cycle Queensland, and had spent a couple of quite cold nights on the Darling Downs. It seemed to me that Koreelah Creek would be a similar temperature to Warwick, if the cloud lifted.

Soon enough we could see the stars, and the temperature was on the way down.

I don’t know how cold it got … I was warm enough on an insulated sleeping mat on the ground, but Emma had the typical hammock camper’s problem of a cold back in temperatures below 10 degrees C.

The next morning was grey and drizzly.

We ate breakfast and packed up our still-wet camp.

Today’s route was along Trough Creek Rd, up to the border again, where we would (perhaps) find Acacia Scrub Road.

We set off along Trough Creek Road only to be pulled up short by a gate proclaiming “Private Property”. Hmmm.

After some discussion we decided to see if we could find someone to ask permission from, on our way through.

And we rode through a property that was being set up as some sort of eco-camping retreat, we did indeed find the owner, and had a nice chat and received his blessing to ride through. Bikes were fine by him, he was trying to restrict the number of motorbikes riding through.

So off up the trail we went. We climbed for a couple of hours, up to 1100 metres, on a fire road which had seen very little traffic, and was quite soft. The drizzle continued.

The road wasn’t particularly steep, but it was hard going with the heavily laden bikes and our (my) lack of fitness.

Interminable climb up a soft trail into the mist. That's Emma disappearing away from me.

Interminable climb up a soft trail into the mist. That’s Emma disappearing away from me.

I can’t tell you what time it was when we reached the border road, or really what the name of the road alongside the Qld-NSW border is at that point. The NSW side (which we were on) was rainforest. The Queensland side was a cleared cattle property.

At some stage in the climb earlier in the morning through the forest, I had joked to Brad: “We’re above the cow-line”, as unlike the previous day, we had seen no evidence of cattle for quite some time. But once at the top of the ridgeline, the truth was there: You’re never above the cow-line around here.

The descent along the border road was muddy and pretty rough. Brad and Emma took it steady, and my natural descending advantage of much greater mass than the other two came into play. I also like to stay off the brakes when descending, as much as reasonable.

We emerged into the beautiful farming area of Acacia Plateau. There can’t be much nicer country than this for farming. My photos don’t do it justice. Time after time we rode past cows so contented that they barely nodded at us we rode past them.

After the tough morning of climbing though, we were contemplating our next move. We decided to drop in to Legume for late morning tea, and then onto Killarney via the bitumen road for lunch.

We made it to Killarney around 1pm, and quickly worked out that there was no appetite amongst the three of us for spending much more time that day riding in the rain.

The original plan was to ride out on the Condamine River Road and find a wild camp along the way. With no certainty of fine weather, I was no longer keen on that plan, and suggested an afternoon and evening at the Killarney Hotel, and attack the Condamine with fresh legs the next day. My friends agreed!

Getting ready to ride, at Killarney after a night of non-camping.

Getting ready to ride, at Killarney after a night of non-camping.

After a night of relative luxury in the Killarney Hotel, and a breakfast room shared with eight enduro motorcyclists who were about to depart for Armidale on their modified KTMs, we set out to find the headwaters of the Condamine.

Condamine River Road sets out from Killarney all calm and considered, just climbing imperceptibly through farming country on the edge of town. The first time the road crosses the Condamine River is over a small bridge.

Soon after that the road becomes gravel … but a nice, well-maintained gravel surface.

And very soon after that the river crossings started. The photos will tell the story better than I can, but here’s what I remember:

  • Emma and I both stalled on our first crossing, through riding into the shallow water just slightly too tentatively.
  • Brad smashed the first crossing, with a low gear/high cadence combination that just worked perfectly, and promptly declared that his feet were just as wet as if he had waded across.
  • The river crossing surfaces were always gravel of varying sizes. Often we could see the bottom, but it was difficult to work out how deep each crossing was. The deepest spots were only knee deep, but it was possible to get on the wrong line and not be able to pedal through it.

First successful crossing.

First successful crossing.

Pix or it didn't happen.

Pix or it didn’t happen.

Reduced to the core experience, basically we had a ball. We were cheering each other on, stopping mid-crossing for photos, going back for a second go for a different photo. Our feet were freezing, but that didn’t seem to matter. The scenery was amazing, the climbing was barely noticeable, but each new corner and each new crossing brought a new smile.

20km and 14 crossings as we rode through the Cambanoora Gorge. I would recommend it to any mountain biker. It’s not a hard ride. It is a fun ride. Your feet will be wet. You won’t care.

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We eventually, reluctantly rode out the far end of the Gorge, and the weather got worse for a while, moving from occasional drizzle and low cloud, to proper steady light rain. We made it to the top of Teviot Gap and prepared for the dangerous bitumen road descent.

Just as we made it to the bitumen, my bike started making clunking noises. I thought at first that the chain had lost all lubrication from the river immersions. Then I thought it was the bottom bracket. Then I listened to Emma, and she thought it was the rear free-hub.

The noise got worse and worse, and fortunately my bike held together for the rest of the ride, back down to the cars. The descent from Teviot Gap was perfectly manageable for three experienced riders on bikes with very good hydraulic disk brakes, high-volume tyres, and bikes with well-distributed loads. I’ve ridden down this road before, on a road bike, and found it much harder work.

By the time we reached the cars, the sun was out, drying us off. We had plenty of time for a light lunch at a cafe in Boonah on the way back home, and a visit to Far Outdoors, the excellent camping and outdoors shop in the main shopping street of Boonah ( also found on the web, here: http://www.faroutdoors.com.au/)

A couple of days later, I’m still enjoying the memory of this ride. That’s what this article is about, for me. I’m not really writing this down to share it with you, dear reader. I’m writing it down to share it with future me. But I hope you get a little sense of what it was like, because the Cambanoora Gorge is a ride that anyone with a mountain bike and even the tiniest sense of adventure, will absolutely love. Get out there.

Also …

 

 

Print your own mtb and see the world!

Detail of James Novak's 3D printed prototype bike frame.

Detail of James Novak’s 3D printed prototype bike frame.

This week on the Briztreadley podcast with Andrew Demack and Chris Welsh …

  • Our in-studio guests are Mike Blewitt and Imogen Smith, mountain-biking power couple. We chat about riding and racing all over the world, trends in mountain bike design and marketing, and so much more.
  • Dave Hoswell faces down his fear of bears.
  • And Chris Welsh brings us an in-depth interview with the creator of the 3D-printed bicycle frame, James Novak.

PS … Couple of minor sound issues in this ep. Hopefully it doesn’t detract too much from your enjoyment!

Mike, Imo and your genial host Andrew. Not in the usual Briztreadley studio this week!

Mike, Imo and your genial host Andrew. Not in the usual Briztreadley studio this week!