2014 Cycling Review


It’s been a year of ups and downs as far as my cycling activities this year. Here are some quick stats, courtesy of Strava

Distance 5,033.9 km
Time 246h 17m
Elev Gain 19,203 m
Rides 149

That works out at :

  • Average ride length for 2014: 33km.
  • Average elevation gain per ride: 128 metres.
  • Longest ride: 104km.

Compare that with the cumulative total of all rides I have logged in Strava so far:

Distance 7,957.1 km
Rides 248
  • Average ride length for total time on Strava: 32km.

So the average ride length has gone up by a whole 1km per ride this year compared with the total cumulative distance average ride length! But that doesn’t give the true picture of what happened during this year. The graph below gives a more in depth look at my bicycle ride patterns.

Cycling Stats Graph for 2014

Cycling Stats Graph for 2014

The year started well, with a fairly intense few weeks of riding in January and a new personal distance record on a single ride of 76km up to that time. That ride also was beyonf mobile phone range for about 40km which gave me an increased sense of adventure! In the months that followed I did a number of 100+ km rides, and the longest of them, at 104km, is still my personal distance record. For the 1st half of the year things seemed to be going quite well, with my highest kms in a week ever occuring in March, but then after July the wheels seemed to come off my cycling efforts (excuse the pun). This was because of a number of things occuring around me and as a result me getting to the point where I had trouble finding the time and losing my motivation almost totally by September. That motivation came back for a few weeks in October, then the motivation went south again. And only really returned after the long weekend I spent in the Kosciosko National Park a couple of weeks ago.

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink trail visual features

But I still made it to over 5000km for the year which is still a pretty good effort.

The highlight of the year would have to be the cycling holiday I did in March which included:

  • Various trails around Melbourne (Victoria).
  • The Goulburn Valley High Country Rail Trail (also called the Great Victorian Rail Trail) between Alexandra and Cathkin.
  • The Foster – Meeniyan section of the Great Southern Rail Trail.
  • The full length of the Warby Trail between Lilydale and Warburton.
Warburton Station

Warburton Station on the Warby Rail Trail, Victoria

Who knows what 2015 will bring. I had planned to do the 25000 Spins Great Ocean Road ride in February but I think it’s unlikely that I will be fit enough to do that ride now – it’s going to be hard to get to 125km and decent elevation gain in a single ride (as has been suggested I try to get to). It’s also unlikely that my minimum fundraising target will be met.

Shelter near highest point on the ride

Shelter near highest point on the Alexandra – Cathkin ride

I have a vague plan to try another multi-day bike ride maybe after the snow season in 2015, but that plan might also come to nought like my plan to be involved in the Great Ocean Road ride. Only time will tell. So the New Year approaches, and we tick over to the New Year. What will 2015 bring?

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Koscioscko National Park Get-away


Friday before Christmas 2014

For weeks now I have really felt like I needed to “get away”! Today I realised the start of “getting away” for a few days. Having packed the car the night before, I left home a bit after 8am. And then I decided I wasn’t going to check the clock until Monday. I would also be “off-the-grid” till then as well – no mobile phone reception and no internet. Just me, God, nature and the bike. I arrived at Geehi Flats camping area and it didn’t take long to set up camp. Then I embarked on an activity I hadn’t done for about a month – I went on a bike ride. After a quick look at a map, I decided the Swampy Plain Loop would be the go. The ride being rated as “easy”, I was fairly confident that I could do it. The first 2 kms was uphill and fairly steep at that, and then the rest was either downhill (sometimes steep) or almost flat. On the ride I saw many kangaroos, some 4x4ers (a common species in them thar hills), 3 different huts all made out of river stones, and some awesome scenery. And just to complete the experience, there were 2 river crossings – the first time I have ever attempted that on a bike. After a bit of recovery time I decided to try and find the old Geehi township site, which was set up as a work town for the Snowy Mountains Scheme. It showed it on the map, but the track that led down to it had a nice sign warning that site rehabilitation work was in progress, so not to go there. Being a law abiding citizen I decided to heed the sign, and turned back towards camp. On the way back to the campsite I found the Bicentenial National Trail, so walked along that instead of along the Alpine Way. I did manage to find the Dr Forbes Hut, albeit from the other side of the river! There were already quite a number of campers at Geehi Flats camping area, but it is still very serene. The stresses of life seem so far away. I spotted a number of Wrens, Crimson Rosellas, the laughter of the Kookaburra, some bird calls I don’t think I have ever heard before. And there was also the sounds of the river nearby to camp. One bird I saw looked like a cross between a crow and a magpie and sounded like a galah! The white moths fluttered from bush to bush without a care. The mountain peaks of the western fall of the Kosciosko Main Range in the distance standing watch over the valleys. I think it would be very easy to lose one’s self, and find closeness to the One who made these beautiful places like this, in the process. As Sabbath approached I got in the car and headed towards Scammells Spur Lookout. Along the way I encountered a family whose car had overheated on the hiil climb. I stopped and helped them get going again and then offered to follow them to the top of the hill, which they were grateful for. Then I drove to the lookout. To open Sabbath I read Psalm 92, “A Psalm for the Sabbath”, and blew the Shofar. It’s sound produced a pretty cool echo. And the view of the Main Range was amazing.

“LORD, … I take joy in what your hands haave made; How great are your deeds” (Ps 92:4,5 CJB).

Old Geehi Hut

Old Geehi Hut

River crossing on Swampy Plains Loop

River crossing on Swampy Plains Loop

Behrs Flat looking to Main Range

Behrs Flat looking to Main Range

Keeble Hut

Keeble Hut

Geehi Hut

Geehi Hut

Original Geehi Hut

Original (?) Geehi Hut

Campsite at Geehi Flats

Campsite at Geehi Flats

Swampy Plains River

Swampy Plains River at Geehi Flats

Dr Forbes Hut

Dr Forbes Hut

Bicentenial National Trail

Bicentenial National Trail

Geehi airstrip

Geehi airstrip, probably unused!

Kosciosko Main Range

Kosciosko Main Range from Scammells Spur Lookout

Kosciosko Main Range

Kosciosko Main Range from Scammells Spur Lookout

Kosciosko Main Range

Kosciosko Main Range from Scammells Spur Lookout

To see GPS data for the Swampy Plain Loop, go here: http://www.strava.com/activities/231707713 .

Sabbath

I awoke to the sounds and songs of birds today. I recogised the sound of a lyrebird nearby. Varied was the bird-songs I heard. All of them singing songs of praise to their Creator.

“What variety there is in your works, LORD. How many of them there are! In wisdom you made them all; The earth is full of your creations” (Ps 104:24 CJB).

After breakfast I had a quick look at the map and decided to try and hike from Dead Horse Gap towards Mt Kosciosko and see how far I got. Before that could happen I had to drive to Dead Horse Gap, a distance of 40km from camp. Last night while settling down to go to sleep I listened to Dr Richard Davidson’s “Blazing Grace”, a talk about Moses and the Israelites encountering God at Mt Sinai. In that talk he says that the difference in altitude between Mt Kosciosko (Australia’s highest mountain) and Mt Sinai was about 50 metres. As I hiked towards Australia’s highest mountain I remembered that talk and concluded that Moses must have been a very fit man at age 80 (read the Biblical story and you’ll see what I mean)! I contemplated the power of such a God that could create the foundations for these mountains as I walked amongst the rugged beauty. By the time I got to the Kosciosko Lookout (about 4 kms from the mountain) I realised I wasn’t going to make it to the top, so after a short look at the view I turned around towards Dead Horse Gap. I’m glad I did as I devloped blisters. The scenery on the walk was awe-inspiring – beautiful alpine meadows and wildflowers, majestic rock tors, an abundance of bird life, and pristine mountain creeks. And I got to SEE Australia’s highest mountain even though I didn’t get to climb it – that will have to wait for another day. When I got back to the car it was starting to warm up and so I drove back to a camping / rest area called Leather Barrel Creek to have lunch. Lunch was non-descript so I won’t bore you with the details. On the way back to the camp after lunch I saw a turnoff for Geehi Horse Camp, and turned off to take a look, I reckon I found the old Geehi Township site not far from the horse camp area, so what I thought was the track to the Geehi township site yesterday probably wasn’t. By the time I got back to camp it had heated up even more and so inside the tent was WAY too hot to stay in. So I found some shade under a nearby tree and relaxed for a while. Putting the feet in the river, watching a family of ducks fighting the river current to stay in one place and splashing water on my mildly sunburnt arms and hands was also a pleasant way to relax – for a while. I noticed around this time that clouds were starting to build up – big white fluffy clouds, not the wispy-of-no-consequence kind. I began to wonder whether the weather forecasters might have got it wrong (again) and that the rain forecast for Monday might arrive early. At least the clouds will break the sunshine for a bit. Around the same time the wind strength increased too. Between the time I left this morning for the hike and the time I got back most of the campers had left, and then from the time I got back to camp a fairly steady stream of new campers arrived. It has been an interesting Sabbath. Experiencing the mountains at their sunny best, and enjoying the serenity of the camp area with it’s wildlife. Topped off by a Potato and Cashew soup (3 helpings) for Dinner and Pear Halves for dessert.

Gang Gang

Gang Gang, female I think. Male Gang Gangs have a bright red head. Near Dead Horse Gap.

Cascade Trail Head view

Cascade Trail Head view, near Dead Horse Gap

Dead Horse Gap Track

Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Native orchid?

Native orchid?

Flower

Flower

Alpine flower

Alpine flower

Rock Tor

Rock Tor

Mountains

Mountains as far as the eye can see. No sign of human habitation!

Mountains

Mountains as far as the eye can see. No sign of human habitation!

Mountains

Mountains as far as the eye can see. No sign of human habitation!

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Mountains viewable on Dead Horse Gap Track

Alpine meadow

Alpine meadow

Creek

Creek on Kosciosko Trail above Thredbo

Snow

Remnants of snow on Mt Koscioscko

Rams head range

Rams Head Range. A metal and paved “pathway” extends from the top of Kosciosko Express chairlist to within a few kms of the summit of Mt Kosciosko.

Rock Tor

Rock Tor

Alpine Meadow

Alpine Meadow

Ferns

Ferns in the cleft of the rock

Creek

Creek at Leather Barrel Creek Rest Area

Emu at Tom Groggin Rest / Camp Area

Emu at Tom Groggin Rest / Camp Area

Site of Geehi Township

Site of Geehi Township, I think.

For GPS data on the Dead Horse Gap – Kosciosko Lookout walk, go here: http://www.strava.com/activities/231707720 .

Sunday

Awoke to fog this morning, and what looked like an “ovecast” sky. It was a bit hard to tell whether the “overcast” sky was just the fog lifting or was actual overcast sky. And it was cool as well. I think I got out of bed earlier than I did yesterday but it’s a bit hard to tell as I haven’t been living on clock time since Friday. The plan for today was to do the Major Clews Hut bike ride, a 35km circuit described as “challenging” in one document I read. Hmmm! According to the information I have, the return journey from the hut is a “constant climb” to Scammells Spur, and mostly along an “easy 4×4” track. I started the ride as planned – along Alpine Way for 2km, then left into Geehi Walls Track. Everything went well until I got to the bridge across a creek about 4km down the track. It was then I heard a canine howl, then another from a different direction. I had read on one of the infomation boards near my camp site that there were Dingos in the area, and those howls didn’t sound like domestic dogs. I envisioned being harrassed by a pack of dingos. So rather than ride towards where the howls seemed to come from, further along Geehi Walls Track towards Major Clews Hut, I turned around and back tracked up the Geehi Walls track to where it starts on the Alpine Way. From there I turned left, the revised plan then being to try and ride to Scammells Spur Lookout along the Alpine Way. So off I trundled on the treadlie! The ride to the lookout is about 11km from Geehi Flats camping area, and most of it is uphill. And not just a slight uphill. I did eventually make to the lookout after many many stops to catch my breath. Then I took in the view for a while, rested, and rehydrated (a fancy term meaning I had lots to drink), and checked and adjusted the brakes. It was while doing this that I noticed that the back brake cable was badly frayed in the assembly at the back wheel. Not good! So I made some hasty repairs and decided that the descents on the way back to camp would have to be at a lower speed, and only using the back brake when absolutely necessary and then only gently. This meant the front brake would be the main brake on the way back to camp. A prayer for protection was said, and then the descent began. The brakes worked fine for limiting my speed on the descents. And the ride was totally uneventful – definitely a GOOD THING. On the way back I saw a group of cyclists heading the other way. I am guessing they were heading to Khancoban as there was no other town until then. I also guessed that they originated in Jindabyne or Thredbo, although they could have camped overnight somewhere along the way if they had a support vehicle to carry luggage, etc. By the time I got back to the camp the sun was high in the sky, and I was feeling somewhat hungry, and it was rather warm. I decided to put the food in the car and go to Olsens Lookout and have some lunch there. I arrived at Olsens Lookout and had a “gourmet” (not) meal of Baked Beans, tinned Fruit and Shapes while looking up at the mountain range. The food might have been a bit ordinary, but the mountain views made up for it! By this time it was getting a bit too hot to do anything strenuous so I returned to camp and found the shadiest spot I could – under the roof of the information booth next to my camp spot – and read some chapters of a book called “The Colour of Courage”, the story of a two year pack-horse journey along the Bicentenial National Trail (BNT) from northern Queensland to the outskirts of Melbourne. The BNT runs through the Kosciosko National Park and the Geehi Flats camping area where I am. As I relaxed, I noticed that whenever I had to get up to do anything that my leg muscles ached quite badly. Must be a reaction to the bike ride in the morning. For the second day in a row bit fluggy clouds started overshadowing the camping area. The clouds yesterday produced no rain so it seem unlikely that the clouds today would either. Also for the second day in a row most of the campers left and were replaced by new campers. After a dinner of all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations I set about organising things that I could pack away in the car so that I wouldn’t need to do it in the morning. This will minimise the amount of time it will take to “break camp” in the morning . It’s a sure sign that my time here is drawing to a close! I came here to recharge, to get in touch with nature, and to appreciate more the Creator of the real world beyond the bricks and mortar, concrete, timetables, money, etc. I think it’s been a success on all counts. And along the way I rediscovered the benefits and joy in doing something physically demanding and challenging, and yes maybe even a little dangerous!

For GSP data for the two rides done on this day, go to:

Monday

Well, today is the day I leave the real world and go back to that “other” world. It is with mixed feelings that I leave this place. On the one hand I love the serenity and natural beauty of this National Park. But on the other hand I have mised Rebecca and the kids and look forward to seeing them again. It’s been great to live “off-the-grid” and off the clock for a few days without emails to check, and no clock to dictate what I should be doing. But the reality is that the busines world runs by the clock and, alas, I must join that world again. When God makes the earth new, and we have eternity to enjoy perfect natural beauty, then the clock will be no more, the world of wires and wireless will disappear, money will not be needed. O bliss!