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Up and over Mt Tamborine

Mt Tamborine in the distance

Mt Tamborine in the distance

All I wanted to do was ride. So I did. I had a loose plan: ride out to Mt Tamborine and back. I didn’t know how far it was but figured that if it got too far, I’d just turn around somewhere along the way.

Picture perfect scenery

Picture perfect scenery

After 20km, I was riding out of Beenleigh into rolling farmland. This is horse country and there were plenty of lovely equines dotting the roadside paddocks. I didn’t see anyone riding but there were plenty of horse floats and tents at the pony club along the way.

The road was exposed

The road was exposed

The road between Beenleigh and the mountain is quite hot and exposed. The roadside trees in the flats were chopped down years ago to make way for farmland, and the result is that the sun and wind have free reign. I settled in and just spun the pedals. I think this will be a good place to train for long rides because it is pretty but could also be mentally challenging on a hot or wet day with a headwind. It’s very Australia.

Scarecrow display

Scarecrow display

Piano man high on the hill

Piano man high on the hill

Vegie stall scarecrow

Vegie stall scarecrow

"Child" watching the traffic

“Child” watching the traffic

I saw them just before I started the climb: the first of the scarecrows. These would entertain me all the way over the mountain. It brought back memories of my 2009-10 motorbike trip through Tasmania where they were holding  a scarecrow competition. The “piano man” playing the big rock painted as a piano up on the side of the mountain was my favourite. The “piano” is always there so seeing it being played made me smile.

Starting the climb

Starting the climb

I haven’t done any real climbing since the Lumpy 2 Audax ride way back in April, so I was nervous about the climb up Mt Tamborine. It’s not the biggest or steepest climb in the world; nor even in South-East Queensland. But it’s an honest climb and a good place to start. I tried to settle into an easy spin, not worrying about my speed. But I kept finding myself standing up on the pedals trying to go faster. So it was a good thing when I met up with two cyclists taking a break partway up the climb. They invited me to join them on their 7th ascent for the morning.

The two men were training for Project Declan. Declan Hegarty was just 8 years old in 2012 when he was diagnose with cancer. On 27 June 2013, he passed away, aged 9. The men I rode with were his dad and uncle who are raising money for childhood cancer by cycling as many laps of Mt Cootha as they can in 24 hours on 23 November 2013.

Into the rainforest

Into the rainforest

View from the road

View from the road

Near the top of the climb the road enters a rainforest. Tall palm trees provided shade and a rocky creek ran clear down in a deep gully. I stopped at the ice cream shop for a fruit smoothie (made with apple juice not milk) before heading down the Oxenford side of the mountain.

Views from Eagle Heights

Views from Eagle Heights

Before I started the descent proper, I enjoyed the views north to Brisbane. While you can’t see it in this photo, the city’s skyscrapers are visible to the naked eye from this location.

The edge of the world

The edge of the world

Sucking it up and learning to ride downhill

Sucking it up and learning to ride downhill

I’m not confident on downhills. Speed makes me a little scared. So it was with trepidation that I rolled off the mountain into some steep grades. Again, I am just going to have to practice this as much as I need to practice climbing. Though I have to say that the new headset and handlebars make it much easier and my confidence grew as I got closer to Oxenford, 20km away. There was still a nasty little 12% climb on the way down too; made nastier by the fact that, mentally, I was expecting simply to roll down the mountain.

From Oxenford I hopped on the V1 bikeway to ride the final uneventful 45km home along relatively flag roads that I have traveled a lot.

I felt tired and worn out when I arrived home; I have definitely lost some bike fitness this past two months. But it was a happy and contented tired. I also had a sore back because my new stem is too long for me: it is a 100mm like my old one was but they must measure the new threadless stems differently to the old quills because it is definitely longer. The difference between the two stems is almost 40mm. I have now moved my seat forward by 20mm and turned the stem around to angle it’s 6′ up instead of down. I’ll try it out on Thursday this week to see whether it makes enough difference or whether I need to buy a shorter stem.

Total: 117.4km road ride. You can see it on Strava here.

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