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.


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:

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 …



What does it take to be a dedicated bike rider?

Bryan 'Eddy' Ferris ... more than 50 years as a club cyclist.

Here’s the 19th episode of the Briztreadley podcast … back after a short break!

Jordana Blackman and Andrew Demack catch up on what’s been going on, and contribute one interview each …

  • Jordy interviews Valentina Scandalora, Orica-AIS racing cyclist, about her successes on the road, and what it takes to be a pro cyclist, and what needs to change for women’s cycling.
  • Andrew interviews Bryan ‘Eddy’ Ferris (above) for our Local Legends segment. He’s been a member of Hamilton Pine Rivers Wheelers for more than 50 years.

Thanks as always to Eleanor Jackson for her voiceover work, and to Alan Brown and Blue Train for our theme music, ‘Double Flat White’.

Want to get in touch? email: … we would love to hear what you think Jordy should ask on our next planned interview, with Loren Rowney.

It’s like Christmas in July

… for those of us who enjoy everything about bikes, that is.

Our Man in Stanthorpe Owen Ronalds made the trek to the city for Pushies Galore today, and took out the Made in BNE category with this gorgeous red Hoffy. Hey, wait a minute .... this podcast is Made in BNE as well! Maybe we can enter the podcast at Pushies Galore next year!

Our Man in Stanthorpe Owen Ronalds made the trek to the city for Pushies Galore today, and took out the Made in BNE category with this gorgeous red Hoffy. Hey, wait a minute …. this podcast is Made in BNE as well! Maybe we can enter the podcast at Pushies Galore next year!

Here’s a quick special episode of the Briztreadley podcast (no 18, but who’s counting).

Your regular host Andrew Demack chats with Nicholas O’Donnell about the first week of the Tour, and what’s coming up next in the Pyrenees and later in the Alps. It’s already a great Tour, and there’s so much more to come.

So much more to come from Briztreadley as well, if I can only make it through a very busy week ahead!!

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!

CWRB takes over the BVRT, and two ladies face a challenge to build hope in Uganda

Emma Sunley and Sue Boyd ... facing the challenge!

Emma Sunley and Sue Boyd … facing the challenge!

Here is Episode 16 of the Briztreadley podcast. It’s all about the enjoyment we get from riding a bike!

On this episode:

  • The Briztreadley crew are like Scooby Doo and his crew, solving mysteries that have baffled the authorities for hundreds of years!
  • Chicks Who Ride Bikes on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Include Some Honorary Chicks (like Chris Welsh for instance)
  • Emma Sunley and Sue Boyd … they are taking on a massive challenge, for a wonderful cause. It’s the Droplets in A Stream Grand Tour of Hope.

Briztreadley is hosted by Andrew Demack, Chris Welsh and Jordana Blackman. Audio production by Andrew Demack.

Our theme music is ‘Double Flat White’, by Blue Train, used with permission.
Voiceovers are by Eleanor Jackson, who is sunshine on a cloudy day.


I’m too NCXsey for my podcast

Oenone Wood riding through the woods at Nundah, NCXS Round 2

Oenone Wood riding through the woods at Nundah, NCXS Round 2

OK, so basically it was an awesome weekend of cyclocross racing, and I managed to speak to some people.

So here’s a special episode of the podcast, featuring post-race interviews with LJ and Oenone and Vandy and Blood and Chris Aitken. Some interviews by me, some by Robbie McEwen.


Thunder down Nundah!! Millburn takes dramatic Round 2 in Qld NCXS weekend

Garry Millburn leads Chris Jongewaard over the barriers.

Garry Millburn leads Chris Jongewaard over the barriers. Pic by John Peters.

Garry Millburn (NSW) won a dramatic Round 2 of the Elite Mens National Cyclocross Series at Nundah today, beating Chris Aitken (NSW) and Chris Jongewaard (SA) through the application of relentless pressure in the finale.

National champion and series leader Lisa Jacobs (Vic) completed a clean sweep of the weekend in the Elite Womens race, defeating Melissa Anset (Vic) and Oenone Wood (NSW).

The positioning of a double barrier in the lead-up to the last couple of turns before the sprint proved to be crucial in the men’s race, and Millburn handled the barriers faster and better than Aitken and Jongewaard.

Barriers played a major role in the previous day’s race at Nerang, where the two barriers were placed on different parts of the course. Round 1 race winner Paul Van Der Ploeg and Aussie champion Jongewaard both gained vital seconds by bunny-hopping those barriers each time. Millburn and Aitken were dismounting and running the barriers.

But at the Nundah-drome for Round 2, the barriers proved to be the undoing of both Van Der Poeg and Jongewaard.

Much of the chat pre-race revolved around a particularly muddy creek crossing, but in the race all elite riders took the same line at the creek, going a slightly longer, less direct, but safer line.

The risk vs reward equation was different at the barriers.

Early on both Van Der Ploeg and Jongewaard were jumping the barriers, which were spaced about six metres apart. A lead group had formed comprising Aitken, Millburn, Van De Ploeg, Jongewaard, Tom Chapman (SA) and Allan Iacuone (Vic).

But only a couple of laps in, Van Der Ploeg crashed over the bars on the second barrier, catching his back wheel. Van Der Ploeg chased hard throughout the race, but never regained the front group.

Van Der Ploeg’s accident also split Chapman and Iacuone off the back of the lead group, and when it all shook down, the leading trio was Aitken, Millburn and Jongewaard. Iacuone and Chapman raced consistently behind the leaders to finish in fourth and fifth.

Jongewaard seemed like the dominant personality in the leading group. He is a vastly experienced rider, who has won many many races in CX, mountain biking and road racing.

But about halfway through the race, it was Jongewaard’s turn to stack it over the second barrier. He chased the leaders and got back on within about half a lap, and got a big cheer from the crowd when he successfully jumped the barriers the next lap around.

But it was on the final lap that the tactics really came to the fore. Millburn surged to the front, and ran the barriers at full speed. Jongewaard tried to pass him by bunny-hopping, but once again failed to clear the second barrier with his rear wheel. The champ was down, and in the process he slightly impeded Aitken.

So it was Millburn who sprinted clear down the finishing straight to take his first NCXS race win. Aitken finished second and took the series lead. Jongewaard was third.

Local organiser and the local cyclocross crowd are seeing the Queensland rounds of the NCXS as a great success. The racing was of a standard never before seen in Queensland, the courses were designed to make the most of the natural features of each venue, and it was great to see the racers respond so positively.

In the Elite women, Lisa Jacobs turned the two-race weekend into a cyclocross clinic, riding so smoothly and strongly that the rest of the small field had no chance of staying with her. In an interview after the first race, Lisa said that Oenone Wood was someone she looked up to when she (Lisa) first came into cycling, and it was an honour for her to be racing against Wood.

But on the second day, Oenone found it difficult to back up, and said her lack of preparation for the event showed. Mel Anset came on strong on the second day to reverse the previous day’s results and take second place.

The depth of the Elite mens field is shown by the fact that there were two different race winners on the weekend (Van Der Ploeg and Millburn), but even so a third rider (Chris Aitken) took the series lead.

Millburn and Aitken are younger than most of their series rivals, and are well-placed to make this a season-long battle.

Lisa Jacobs is a deadset superstar.

Lisa Jacobs is a deadset superstar. John Peters photo.

Van Der Ploeg sprints to Round 1 win

Paul Van Der Ploeg celebrates his Round 1 NCXS win at Nerang today. Sholto Douglas photo.

Paul Van Der Ploeg celebrates his Round 1 NCXS win at Nerang today. Sholto Douglas photo.

Paul Van Der Ploeg used his undeniable power in the sprint to take the win in Elite Men Round 1 of the 2015 National Cyclocross Series in Nerang today, in a race that many of those present described as the best CX race yet in Queensland.

Van Der Ploeg (Victoria) outsprinted national champion Chris Jongewaard (SA) and rising star Chris Aitken (NSW) after the trio fought a race-long battle.

In Elite Women, national champion Lisa Jacobs (Vic) was smoothness personified as she outlasted former national road champion and road World Cup winner Oenone Wood (NSW) in second, and national marathon mountain bike champion Melissa Anset (Vic) in third.

The Elite Mens race had the biggest and most competitive field of the day with 34 elite and two under-19s on the start line. Race organiser, Gold Coast local and three-time Tour De France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen took to the start line in Elite Men, despite only completing media commitments seconds before the gun went off.

McEwen took the holeshot off the line, but was quickly swallowed up by Jongewaard and Van Der Ploeg. Chris Aitken joined the two powerhouses at the front, and this group were clearly the strongest in the race.

Jongewaard and Van Der Ploeg had technical superiority over Aitken, as they bunnyhopped the barriers twice each lap, gaining a valuable second or two each time, but Aitken’s surging attacks in the leg-sapping grass sections kept the other two fully extended. A couple of times it seemed like Aitken might get the gap, but each time one of the other two was able to respond enough to close it down.

On the last lap, Jongewaard surged past Aitken at the barriers, and was first onto the Nerang velodrome to wind up for the sprint, but the power of Van Der Ploeg was too much.

The second group on the track comprised another veteran and former national champion in Allan Iacuone (Vic), Paul Redenbach (Vic), Garry Millburn (NSW) and Tom Chapman (SA). That group couldn’t be separated for most of the hour-long race, until finally Milburn and Redenbach were able to break away, and finish fourth and fifth.

In the support races, the outstanding ride was in the Masters mens race which was dominated by another top class Australian bike rider, former World Cup winning downhiller Michael Ronning. Ronning, from Queensland, still competes at the highest level in gravity enduro mountain biking events around Australia, despite racing in the 40-45 age group, and his bike-handling skills and his impressive fitness were both on display in a comfortable win.

Round 2 of the National Cyclocross Series stays in Queensland tomorrow, with the race to be held at Nundah criterium circuit. The Nerang circuit featured a “spiral of doom”, and a wall which only the very best could ride. The Nundah circuit will feature a creek crossing which will guarantee that every finishing line photo will be of a muddy rider.

Taking up half the mud! Briztreadley covers cyclocross, and women’s participation in cycling

… and indeed women in cyclocross.

Jordana Blackman rejoins Andrew Demack in the studio for a new episode of the Briztreadley podcast.

Thanks to special guest this week, Brad Norman (driving force behind cyclocross in SEQ), and Emma Best, founder of the Cyclocross Womens Collective, and the person behind the brand that is Bike Bestie.


Things we chat about this time:

As always, please let me know what you think! Email, or leave a comment on the Facebook page. Send your smoking hot news items to

A tour of Brookfield, a Welsh local legend, and a Dutch gentleman

Louise Jones ... a Welsh legend on the track and road, now living and coaching in Brisbane.

Louise Jones … a Welsh legend on the track and road, now living and coaching in Brisbane.

Plenty of variety in the Briztreadley podcast this week, with Chris Welsh (from Wales) and Andrew Demack (from Brisbane).

We speak to a local legend, Louise Jones (above).

We discover the link between the cobbled classics of Belgium and France, and the backroads of Brisbane, thanks to Ashley Everton and the Kangaroo Point Cycling Club.

And we chat to Martijn te Lintelo from Nijmegen, about what it is that Brisbane’s (and Australia’s) urban and transport planners can learn from The Netherlands.

Bike events mentioned this week

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