Saturday, December 26, 2009

Great Sandy NP - Cooloola Section

.... My original plans for Fraser Island didn't eventuate this Xmas thanks to the above weather pattern; a big low from T.C. Laurence and heaps of rain. I was still keen as a bean to get out on the fat-bike though, so instead headed to Great Sandy NP: Map

I headed north up Cooloola Way, then cut across Kings Bore Rd to Teewah beach, straight up the beach to the amusement of all the 4WD NY party revellers, cut back along Freshwater Ck Rd, and back via Cooloola Way; 2 half days of nice (but hot) riding.

Even with all the rain from TC Laurence, water in the Noosa River was low. Last time I crossed this bridge, I dangled my feet off the bridge into the refreshing tea-tree water.

In this beautiful stretch of forest, Sacarda's were in their element. They were singing in chorus, and in waves reaching a real crescendo. Awesome stuff!

4" tyres were a must closer to Teewah beach. Without them I would have been walking:(

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Enduro # 14

Issue 14 of Enduro has just hit the stands. Willo was obviously short of material because they ran this article;)

The article includes snippets of some memorable moments from my 10 deserts ride.

The crew from Freewheel do a great job on this mag, and it just keeps getting better. There's great reading for everyone from the elite to newb's, great gear reviews, plenty of racing tips, race reports etc etc.

Do yourself a favour and get a copy:)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

24 HOA Down Under

The announcement was made a while back. This event is going to be a big drawcard for Australian enduro MTB'ing next year. Aussies have faired well in this event even when it's held far from our shores. Next year I believe we'll have a massive showing. It's gonna be BIG! I can't wait!

My energy is returning, now to chose a qualifying event. Maybe Tassie, or maybe Canberra since that's where the event will be held. Regardless, I'm looking forward to this. Bring it on:)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Alaska Ultrasport

Iditarod sled dog race:

Toughest Race on Earth - Discovery Channel

I'd like to be doing the bike version of this race next year, but it will have to wait till 2011. The bike race follows the same course as for the sledders.

Wheels in the Wind - Alaska Ultrasport

Forgive the cheesy music!

There were 45 starters in the 2008 event. Of those, 28 completed the short course (350 mile) to McGrath. Of those, 13 continued racing the full distance to Nome (1100 mile). Only 6 finished! The whole race travels along snow mobile/sled tracks. It's not so bad when the tracks are cleared, but they quickly re-fill from snow drift or fresh snow.

Alaska is a beautiful place. It's called the land of lakes. The state bird is the mosquito. Bull moose are more dangerous than bears. Innumerable creek crossing have no bridges. In winter when this race is held, -20 to -30C is not uncommon. When the wind kicks in, -60C wind-chill is also not uncommon. The Northern Lights are something to behold. I've witnessed a glimmer of these in autumn, but I am sure they'll be a dancing delight in the winter darkness.

This is certainly gonna be one hellova challenge. Already, I can't wait.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Adventure Ride Grading System

I've been receiving a few enquiries about equipment and route detail for elements of my 10 deserts ride. I thought I'd put pen to paper as it were, and commence with an update with route grading. I had made some estimations myself in advance of the ride based on all the research I had done. But now I can attribute some REAL grades in retrospect! I think something of this nature could be well appreciated by others contemplating similar adventures.

I come from a climbing background. Without going into too much detail for non climbers, adventure and multi-pitch climbs have several ratings, but essentially these are comprised of difficulty, duration and risk.

So .... I've conceived a grading system for adventure rides, but welcome people's input. Please note this discussion point is only in reference to solo and unsuported rides, and does not include road rides. After all, road rides are much like "sport climbing", so the risk isn't really there. Also, I know some people do incredibly long 3 year rides etc, but at least in my eyes, they must be receiving support en-route even if this is solely in the form of purchases from shops or from locals. Food and water sourced en-route i.e. stealing a fish from the claws of a brown bear can still count as unsupported. Similar, less risky past-times like catching your own fish can also count:)

So, my disclaimer.... As for climbing, any two people doing exactly the same task may perceive it differently because of all manor of factors inc. physiological and psychological, equipment, preparation, navigation ability, local weather factors (wind, fire, rain, floods, snow (not for my ride)), and so many more.

So my conceived scale is as follows:

Unsupported Duration: i.e. a leg of a ride between two resupply points

Grade 1 <= 5 days
Grade 2 >5 days & =<8 days
Grade 3 >8 days & =<13 days
Grade 4 >2 weeks & =<3 weeks
Grade 5 >3 weeks & =<4 weeks
Grade 6 >4 weeks & =<6 weeks
Grade 7 >6 weeks


This is based on perceived exertion averaged out over the duration of the leg, but also considers inconsistency and difficulty of terrain covered, and associated risk should the shit hit the fan. Risk is largely associated to proximity to outside assistance, water, food, and shelter. Even though targetted for an individual (because this is the highest risk), the risk can possibly be reduced if two or more riders split the spares and tools they are carrying. Please also consider that groups splitting up for whatever reason can present its own risks, especially if there is no means of, or inadequate communication.

Grade A: Conventional MTB tyres will suffice, but depending on terrain, thorn protection may be required. Expect unsealed roads, decent road signage, reliable water available at regular intervals, high potential for assistance from a passersby! NB potential for external assistance will vary from season to season, and also around school holidays etc. If you ride in a place outside of the "preferred season", then YOU evaluate YOUR OWN RISK.

Grade B: Same as above, but expect more soft and sandy patches, bigger and more sustained corrugations and big stones. Water may also be more scarce.

Grade C: 4" tyres are recommended, but you could get by without if you are accepting of some/lots walking, and preferably travelling light. If heavily loaded, 4" tyres are of significant benefit, and could be the difference between succeeding or not. Likelihood of bike failure is definitely reduced with 4" tyres. Expect more corrugations and big stones. Nearest external support or water source is potentially 2-3 days away.

Grade D: Mandatory 4" tyres (to actually ride). Pannier system should be extremely sturdy, maybe also "expedition" volume. A trailer is most likely also required for some water/equipment transport. Expect long and sustained travel in soft and technical terrain, creek crossings w/o bridges, sustained climbing/descents of mountains or dunes, little signage so capable of navigation, nearest potential external assistance 1 week or more away (other than by sat-phone), by bike.

Grade E: Even tougher terrain again. May require expedition "sausage bag" on top of conventional panniers for carrying capacity. Alternatley, the rider may be riding extremely light (in semi-supported nature) since riding any "heavier" is on the verge of capabilities of even a 4" bike. The central Simpson desert and snow conditions for the Alaska Ultrasport are two examples.

Grade F: I have reserved this grade for territory not even ridable on 4" tyres, most likely requiring unique or modified bike design. Simpson desert off-track and up steep side of the dunes is one example that comes to mind;)

A "+" or "-" denotation can also be included to help differentiate grades.

So, with the above in mind I have regraded each leg of my 10 Deserts ride:
Leg 1. Tanami track: 2C-
Leg 2. CSR: 5D+
Leg 3. Road: no rating
Leg 4. Anne Beadell: 4D-
Leg 5. Oodnadatta track: 1A
Leg 6. Strzelecki track: 1B-
Leg 7. Walkers Crossing / Old Birdsville track: 1B
Leg 8. Simpson Desert (French Line - east to west): 2E
Leg 9. Old Andado Track: 1B+

I believe the Alaska Ultrasport 1100mi race from Anchorage to Nome is another great bike ride that will have to be graded on this scale. I'll be doing this in 2011, so I will let you know how this compares.

Well I hope this is of some help for anyone else's plans.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cycling Mojo

Woohoo, finally it has returned:P I actually want to be out on the bike again.

7 solid weeks of eating and sleeping, sleeping and eating, eating and sleeping ... well I think you get the picture ... since I finished my 10 deserts solo cycle epic. The old body has NEARLY caught up. I've jumped on my dually for a few fun frollicks (and yes I kept my clothes on) at Daisy Hill of late. I'm lovin' being back on the bike, but lots of work to do to regain some long lost fitness.

There aint much racing left in the season and it's already warming up, but I think I'll still get down Mullimbimby way for the Freedom marathon through Nightcap National Park. At least it'll be well sheltered. Beautiful forest that one.

Next on the agenda is my first big interstate race ... the Kona 24hr. This'll be an interesting experiment for me as I don't normally fare too well in the heat. I do prefer enduro's to be mid-winter. I know this may seem wierd for someone who voluntarily rides through deserts, but I did 'that' mid-winter.

Here are a few quick picks from my 10 deserts solo ride: more pics here. Website here.

More to look forward to around Chrissy: I'm planning another "fatty" tour around the northern reaches of cooloola NP and possibly also the lakes of Fraser Island. Who needs a 4WD when you have a Fatback:)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sand between my toes

I had a chance to reel out 260km between Cooloola N.P. & Lake Mackenzie on Fraser during the week. This was mostly on river-bed rock roads in Cooloola and sandy 4WD tracks on Fraser, but did include some black-top. My bike received lots of comments from 4WD'ers on Fraser. The effective 29'er wheels and 4" 'bag' ate up and spat out the harsh rocky and sandy terrain. There was no limiting where I could take this bike.

This ride was a bit of a learning experience for me with securing loads to bikes (without use of trailer). For any harsh off-road terrain, the occy straps I used for my 10lt water bladder just didn't cut the mustard for the speeds I wanted to travel at. I had to slow down and brake on down hills. Now that's just not cricket!:) Proper tie-down straps with infinite adjustment will be the go. Anyways, it was a good test and I learnt a couple of valuable lessons which is terrific ahead of my 10 deserts cycle epic.

A second lesson is that I'll need to secure things to my trailer. If things bounce off 313.67km beyond the termite mound on the left side of the track, I'm going to be none the wiser with all the shake, rattle and rolling on those harsh 4WD tracks. Velcro, climbers cordalette, steel tie wire (using coachmans hitch), steel banded cable ties and duct tape will be my best friends if things do go wrong "out there".

If worst comes to worst, I may have need to resort to some bush-man stick welding if really required. I'll need to call for help for use of my fathers' 4WD batteries for this though. This eventuality would reduce my ride to a "supported ride", but I'd rather finish in this manner, than not finish at all.

My trailer is still being built and panniers still on their way from Poland. It's cutting it a little fine, but we'll get there. I've received my terrific single person Mont Mondance-1 tent. It's an independently standing structure, so I can easy move it to follow restricted shade if I'm trying to hide from mid-day sun. Also it could be a valuable fly screen to keep my sane during rest-stops. You'll see lots of photos of this from the track.

My father has entered all the way-points for my reliable water bores along the Canning Stock Route, and the couple of navigation co-ordinates for the Simpson desert. Most of the rest of the route will be easily navigated.

This coming week I will be sending off my first and biggest parcel to Halls Creek, in advance of leg 2: CSR. My family will forward other food caches ahead at pre-organised times.

I also receive my solar controller this week. My Brunton solar panel is terrific, but produces too many volts, and of variable output (understandable for solar). The solar controller will regulate this to about 14V which will prevent frying my batteries. I'll be testing all my solar powering this week, for all devices. I love solar power:) This solar charger is of real benefit to this expedition. Night travel where it is required will allow me to reduce exertion, and increase the distance I can cover with my maximum water load. With up to 645km between water stops on the Anne Beadell Hwy on very rough 4WD trials including many, many sand dunes, I'll need every bit of assistance I can muster. This would not be possible if I could only travel in day-light hours. Effective travel at night in the desert due to power restrictions for lights has always been impossible in the past, but not now:)

It'll be a busy week prior to flying out to "the Alice". I'm looking forward to a little sight-seeing before starting my big ride. I'm excited to get going now. It's all very exciting. I don't think the enormity of it all will fully set in till I load up my trailer ahead of the Canning Stock Route; the first of my "big 3". I'll have three weeks of food, all my equipment and spares, and water supplies varying with distances between bores.

Here are a few random pics from my ride Wed & Thur:

Friday, April 17, 2009

10 Deserts Solo Cycle Epic - website

Whoops my bad for not posting this link:

10 Deserts Solo Cycle Epic

Please forward the link onto your friends, family and work colleagues. Everyone is welcome to follow my high and lows over (approx) 11 weeks through 10 deserts.

We've set a pretty ambitious fund-raising goal of $30,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service as fitting beneficiary of this expedition. Please click on the link in the upper right hand corner of the website side-bar to make a contribution.

No ride anywhere near this distance has ever been completed before on similar terrain. One of these deserts has never been ridden before. One other route will be a first by bike if successful.

If you'd prefer, help my motivation by making regular donations at the end of each leg of my ride. There are 9 in total. All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Ride On ... Cheers, Russ.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gear Testing

I've only had the Fatback a few days now. I have a ride planned on Fraser Island this weekend, but I couldn't wait to get some early testing in ...

The bike breezed through the sand and the water, even with 10kg water on the pannier rack.

Hey I think a triathlete could pick up on this innovative method of combining the swim and ride - lol!

This short video demonstrates how well this beastie climbs, and I hadn't even let any air out. I've still got 10kg water on the back too:)

Hill climb testing

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Worlds Apart

Speedway Cycles Fatback ... Down Under in Brisbane

After a few obligatory photos, I took my weapon of mass flotation onto the river loop. "Fat Albert" as I've nick-named my Fatback felt like a fish outta water on the road, but he sure got heaps of comments from roadies we passed en-route;) With lots of rolling resistance from low-pressure 4" tyres, the bike is still suprisingly fast. I can see it will be worthwhile retaining my biggest chain-ring. Now I can't wait to test this great bike on more fitting terrain.

Thanks to the guys from For the Riders for helping fit-out my fatty. I know I'm in great hands with For the Riders.

From above to below in the space of approx 3 months. 10 deserts and 7500km. Can I do it? I'll post a link to the expedition website in the near future. You'll be able to track my progress the entire way. Less than 4 weeks to go now ...

Friday, March 6, 2009

10 Deserts Solo Cycle Epic

Things have been a little quiet on the blogging front of late, but for good reason. My 24hr racing plans are also on hold whilst I'm planning, preparing and undertaking my 10 Deserts Solo Cycle Adventure:

My planned departure is 1st May from Alice Springs. I'll be attempting the above route in counter-clockwise direction and am planning approx 11 weeks. It'll be the longest and toughest ride I've done by far, approx 7500km. It'll take in all of Australia's major deserts, and some smaller ones; namely the Tanami, Great Sandy, Gibson, Little Sandy, Great Victorian, Painted, Moon, Strzlecki, Sturt Stony and last but certainly not least, the Simpson.

To the best of my knowledge, the Anne Beadell Hwy (Great Victorian desert) has never been ridden. It contains only 4 possible water stops (all rain-water tanks) dotted over 1380km. The longest stretch between water stops on this leg is 645km. I'll also be attempting a route across the heart of the Simpson desert; 420km, 1100 sand-dunes up to 20m high, with no water en-route. Many people have ridden around this deserts' edges, but never the route I am proposing. This adventure will certainly include some unique challenges. The ride will be solo and unsupported; except by support in close proximity around the Great Victorian and Simpson deserts for safety reasons.

This satellite view kinda puts things in perspective. Oz is called the sunburnt country for a reason:

I'm in the process of building up my amazing 4" Fatback fatty (special thanks to Greg at Speedway Cycles), and single-wheel "Extrawheel" type trailer.

Leanne from Astrovisual has very kindly offered to help out with an expedition website. Thanks heaps Leanne. I'll post the website URL and some news updates in the coming weeks .... I'd like to welcome people to follow me in the lead-up up to this adventure, and the journey itself.

More later ....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cycling in my blood???

At my great Uncle Reg's 90th birthday recently we were discussing riding. Reg remembered that my great grandfather Allen Valentine Worthington used to race bikes, and also did quite well in his era. We've just managed to dig out this old photo. I know Allen was born in 1882 and we believe this photo was taken around 1900. Looks like a single-speed fixie. I'd love to know what bike this is. Anyone else know? If I can dig out any more detail on where or what he raced etc I'll update this post.