Transventure Part 2

I ran out of space to upload photos onto my blog tonight. I don’t really want to spend money buying space because it’s money better spent out adventuring. So I have set up a Part 2 to my blog over at http://transtri2.wordpress.com. I hope you come follow my continuing adventures over there.

It took me 21 months to use up my free space, so that bodes well for my new blog space too. Come join me for another 2 years of adventures.

I am in the process of setting the new blog up identically to this one. It’s late tonight so I will continue working on it tomorrow. All new posts will be posted there. I hope you come follow me on my continuing adventures.

Adventures will continue at http://transtri2.wordpress.com.

Noosa Trail Network – Day 2

Sunrise from Tablelands Lookout

Sunrise from Tablelands Lookout

The moon was so bright overnight that it was like someone had forgotten to turn the lights off. I woke a couple of times during the night wondering whether it was already daytime. But it wasn’t and I went back to sleep. Ironically, by the time I was ready to get up, the moon had dropped low enough in the western sky to make it darker than in the middle of the night. It felt special to be out under the moon instead of locked away in a house.

Shortly after I woke, the sun rose to the east. For a short period, both sun and moon were equidistant from their respective horizons.

Setting off down trail #3 from Tablelands Lookout

Setting off down trail #3 from Tablelands Lookout

I set off at 6:15am, following trail #3 heading towards Kin Kin. I warmed up by following a gravel road through pretty farmlands before turning off to follow a rugged and rutted fire trail into the rain forest. I lacked the skills to ride the whole trail; so deep were the washouts. But I enjoyed the serenity of a morning in the bush.

Gorgeous gums

Gorgeous gums

While I spent most of my first day on the trail getting used to being out on the trails, on day 2 I was able to enjoy the total experience of being immersed in the wilderness. It’s almost as though waking up in a tent puts me in a different state of mind: a relaxed and adventurous one in harmony with nature.

Into the rainforest

Into the rainforest

Trail #3 is as beautiful and diverse as it is challenging. Fortunately, the ride from Tablelands Lookout to Kin Kin is almost all downhill. The rainforest included some rock gardens and tree roots, as well as mostly following single trail.

Views from Johnston's Lookout

Views from Johnston’s Lookout

That's the trail running along the ridge

That’s the trail running along the ridge

And then I popped out at Johnston’s Lookout. One minute I was riding in rainforest, and the next I was blessed with this fabulous view out over the range. Don’t let the green scenery trick you, it was pretty hot and dry. The trail from Johnston’s winds down a steep descent before reaching a gate and then dropping sharply downhill and along a ridge. I felt like I was cycling in the UK; or at least what I imagine cycling in the UK would be like.

There’s a trail marker missing after you exit the farm from Johnston’s Lookout. Turn left at the road and follow it for a few kilometres until you reach a sharp bend to the left as you head uphill. On the right you’ll see a locked farm gate and a trail network pedestrian gate. The trail network gate is locked shut because the fence posts have separated over time. I had to throw my bike over the farm gate and slide under the barbed wire.

This is NOT the trail

This is NOT the trail

I walked up and rode down that; it was NOT the track

I walked up and rode down that; it was NOT the track

Once I reached the main road, I turned right into Kin Kin instead of following the 5km loop into town. I was hot and needed some electrolytes. I forgot to pack them in my gear; a mistake I won’t make again. The shop in Kin Kin has been done up since last time I was there. Eight years ago it was still just a country store with a fuel bowser out the front. Now it’s a lovely cafe with massive outdoor seating area. I can highly recommend the thick shakes.

I stopped at the camp ground in Kin Kin to collect water. While there, I had a yarn with a group of horse trail riders who were on holidays from Beaudesert, south of where I live. They often ride in my local area so I told them about the Bayview trails because you can ride horses there too. I also told them about the broken gate because they were hoping to go up towards Johnston’s Lookout from Kin Kin, and you can’t just throw a horse over a fence like you can a bike.

From Kin Kin I tried to follow the signs along trail #4. I lost it almost immediately on my way to the road because I started following farm pads. I ended up climbing up the back of a steep grassy knoll only to have to ride down the front of it and joint the road. From here, I again couldn’t find any signs to the trail so followed the Gympie-Kin Kin Road for a couple of kilometres until I got lucky by stumbling across the track. The only map I had was an enlarged version of the trail network brochure and it contained insufficient detail to navigate off accurately.

Massive goanna

Massive goanna

Views from Cootharaba Views Lookout

Views from Cootharaba Views Lookout

Views from Cootharaba Lookout (in the other direction)

Views from Cootharaba Lookout (in the other direction)

The trail started to climb uphill towards Cootharaba Views Lookout. On my way up, I managed to capture a photo of a massive goanna scrambling up a tree to get away from me. It was just one of the many goannas I saw over the weekend but was probably the largest. It hissed menacingly at me from it’s perch metres above me.

The views from the lookout were as amazing as the other views but this lookout is on a ridge so it has 360′ views. To the north and east east are Lake Cootharaba and the Cooloola Sandpatch. To the south and west west are the mountains. You can camp up here; it’s an official campsite with water but no sanitation.

Dropping down the ridge

Dropping down the ridge

Perfect rural roads

Perfect rural roads

Heading to Twin Hills Lookout

Heading to Twin Hills Lookout

From Cootharaba Views Lookout, the trail flows down along the ridgeline until it pops out on a perfect country road that winds it’s way over the hill tops until it reaches a dairy farm. From here the trail is unformed but follows the farm’s fenceline until it reaches Two Hills Lookout. It’s a challenging uphill climb across the farmland because the cows use this as their pathway to be milked. But again, it’s novel and fun to ride across a field of grass.

Such diversity of trail

Such diversity of trail

I rode this section twice

I rode this section twice

After Twin Hills Lookout trail #4 splits from trail #2. I followed trail #4 steadily downhill towards Lake McDonald. This section of trail is abysmally marked, with missing signs at critical track junctions. When I finally did find a sign, it was the ‘Alt #4′ sign indicating the alternate dry weather route. I followed it only to discover that I traveled back on myself. Fortunately, after riding about a kilometre in the wrong direction I recognised an intersection so I took out my  mobile phone and used my new favourite app (View Ranger) to work out exactly where I was and how to get to Lake McDonald. Fortunately, the track was beautiful.

Resting at Lake McDonald

Resting at Lake McDonald

I reached Lake McDonald in the mid afternoon. I’ve been here before during both the 2012 and 2013 Adventure Race Australia. I ate lunch, enjoyed the view and relaxed for a few minutes.

Trail #7 heading back to Pomona

Trail #7 heading back to Pomona

Ancient tree

Ancient tree

Then I hit trail #7; my final trail for the day and one I’ve ridden and run as part of Adventure Race Australia 2012 and 2013 (I certainly hope we don’t take it again in 2014 because, no matter how beautiful the track, that would be boring for adventure racing).

Cruising back to Pomona

Cruising back to Pomona

I made the most of that final 15km stretch back to Pomona. I felt strong and confident on my bike and actually got up some speed on the downhills. I also worked out my packing issues. Both my handlebar and seat post bags were rubbing against the wheels when I rode over jumps or through bomb holes. But after I removed my clothes from the handlbar bag and the waterproof from my seat post bag the rubbing stopped. I now now that I have to carry my clothes in my backpack.

One last look at the trail

One last look at the trail

One last section of trail to enjoy and drool over.

It's all over but the 4hr train ride home

It’s all over but the 4hr train ride home

And then it was done. I got back to Pomona, bought some food and cold drink to enjoy under the shade of the same tree in the same park as I snoozed in yesterday. Then I cleaned and lubed my bike chain before my 4 hour train ride home.

As challenging as it was, it was a brilliant weekend and I’ll be back to ride the Noosa Trail Network again in November.

Total: 60km MTB

PS: Sorry for being so pick heavy but I wanted to share a good selection of images to showcase the trail network. My internet searches only revealed a relatively small number of images that made the trail network seem like they were just fire trail and gravel roads, not the diverse and beautiful experience they really are.

Noosa Trail Network – Day 1

Waiting for the train

Waiting for the train

It’s 5am and Brisbane’s Valley Entertainment Precinct is full of drunk people. I feel out of place wheeling my loaded MTB between them. The only other sober people seem to be bouncers and dancers who are finishing their shifts. It’s little wonder my only options for breakfast are Pie Face and the Golden Arches. I settle on a mince meat pie from the former and a chocolate thickshake from the latter. It’s very average but I need to eat.

I catch a train to Central Station to get away from the chaos, repack my gear to squeeze in the food and last-minute grabs before boarding the 6:34am train to Nambour. The 2 hour train ride passes quickly because a fellow passenger strikes up a conversation. We chat until he alights three stations before me.

On the road to Cooroy

On the road to Cooroy

Views from Eumundi Range Road

Views from Eumundi Range Road

From Nambour I have to ride 30km along the road to the trail network. It would be easy to see this as an annoyance. But I have decided to enjoy the experience as part of the whole adventure. Besides, the scenery is delightful. I stop to take photos and enjoy the views from a lookout I’ve never been to before. Some of the climbs are nasty though, and the sun is beating down on me. Summer is very suddenly here.

The start of trail #8 in Cooroy

The start of trail #8 in Cooroy

After almost 2 hours I reach Cooroy. This little town is the start point of the Cooroy Wanderer, which is trail #8 on the Noosa Trail Network. The trail, like all the trails in the network (with the exception of trail #4), is clearly signed. All you need to do is follow the numbered posts. Trail #4 is abysmally signed but more on that in the next post.

Bouncy fire trail

Bouncy fire trail

Through the trees

Through the trees

Train #8 traveled along won fire trails under tall forests. It’s 11km long and a fairly easy section, though it does have some short sharp climbs. I was still very much warming up to riding on the trail during this section so didn’t yet feel confident. I was also feeling the change of season so suffered a bit from the heat. Being indoors for the past three weekends didn’t help. It probably also cost me some fitness. But I’ll get used to it.

Leaf littered park in Pomona

Leaf littered park in Pomona

I arrived in Pomona at about 11:30am. The tiny town’s cafe, bakery and pub were all bursting at the seams. I bought a cold Powerade and the most delicious crispy crusted bread roll before retiring to the park for lunch. After enjoying some salami with the bread roll and downing the electrolyte drink, I lay in the shade and slept for about an hour. It was so good.

The start of trail #5 to Cooran

The start of trail #5 to Cooran

Single track joy

Single track joy

Picnic area along the trail

Picnic area along the trail

Through the grass

Through the grass

Scenery along the trail

Scenery along the trail

From Pomona I followed trail #5 around the base of majestic Mt Cooroora out to Cooran. This 9km trail included some fun fast flowing single track. Partway along the track I met a walker who seemed keen for a yarn. He was a local who couldn’t believe I had camping gear fit into my bike pack kit. We chatted for a bit before going our own ways again. I thoroughly enjoyed trail #5, the Cooroora Trail. It had some fun single track and traveled through lovely tall forests while also providing glimpses of Mt Cooroora (but not good enough for a photo). I had to walk up some of the hills but that just means I need to do some more training.

Cooran

Cooran

I stopped in Cooran for a frosty fruit ice block and chocolate brownie. There’s nothing to Cooran, just a small row of shops, pony club and houses. If you blinked you’d miss it. But the cafe does wonderful brownies and had a groovy array of teas (I love teas). I didn’t sample any of the teas though because I wasn’t in the mood.

Start of trail 2/3 from Cooran

Start of trail 2/3 from Cooran

Bamboo plantation

Bamboo plantation

The start of the hill

The start of the hill

Views from the climb

Views from the climb

And the climb keeps going on

And the climb keeps going on

But the views were amazing!

But the views were amazing!

And the trail just kept climbing

And the trail just kept climbing

Trail #3, Cooran to Kin Kin, was unforgiving. It started pleasantly enough with a ride along quiet country roads between hobby farms. but I could see the mountains ahead so could anticipate what was coming. The map also had a section marked ‘steep climb’ with an arrow pointing in my direction of travel. I did a lot of hike-a-bike this afternoon. I even resorted to taking my cycling shoes off and walking barefoot so I would be more comfortable. I really must work on my MTB climbing. But the views! They made the long hike-a-bike worth it. And, besides, there’s going to be a lot of long climbs on the Tasmanian Trail later this year. I better do some more training.

Views from Tablelands Lookout

Views from Tablelands Lookout

Camp at Tablelands Lookout

Camp at Tablelands Lookout

Coconut fish curry noodles

Coconut fish curry noodles

It was 4:15pm by the time I reached Tablelands Lookout. The nearest official campsite was still 8km away with more climbing. That would have taken me another hour, leaving a risk of getting caught out after dark. Besides, after getting up at 3:30am, a 2 hour train ride and about 60km of cycling I was beat. So I pitched my tent, cooked up a feed, wrote my journal and was in bed by 7am.

It was a fantastic challenging day and I fell asleep a happy camper.

Total: 61.5km cycling

A teaser

image

Here’s a teaser pic from the end of day 1 on the Noosa Trail Network.  I’ll be home late tomorrow night. But I just have to share my pic of the view from tonight’s camp.

Preparing for the weekend

image

Tomorrow is the big day. I am of on my first bikepacking trip. I’ve done some cycle touring in my 20s but nothing since. So this weekend is a bit of a big deal. Especially given that I am going to Tasmania for 3 weeks bikepacking at Christmas.

Anyway, this morning I put my loaded Bike Bag Dude gear on my bike for the first time & hit my local single tracks. The gear was great. I barely even noticed it. Even the weight of my camping gear didn’t bother me.

l rode an 18km loop. Lifting my bike over gates wasn’t fun. But I bet it’s much worse with pannier bags.

I leave at 4am tomorrow. The only train to Nambour depart the city at 6:30am. So my choices are to cycle 17km to Beenleigh & catch the 5:00am train to town or get a lift to town with my parther who starts work at 5: 00am. I have to leave home around 4 am either way so I might as well cheat.

Total: 18km MTB

Walking tour guide

Playing hide & go seek by Andrew Gills
Playing hide & go seek, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

My uncle is visiting from Holland. He is staying with my parents who live near my home. So this morning we met at 5:20am at my house for a bushwalk in Bayview (my new favourite place in the world).

A thick white fog hung over the grass field as finches sung contently all around. Once in Bayview we wandered the single trails, winding our way between the trees and hopping across gullies.

I practiced speaking Dutch to my uncle (I need all the practice I can get) and tried to find the flattest route for him. See, while our hills in Bayview are low by most people’s standards (the highest hill we walked up today is just 62m above sea level), they are high by Dutch standards because that country is flat. I think my uncle will feel his calves tomorrow but I know he enjoyed the walk.

Total: 7.8km trail walk

Course setting

Trail setting gear by Andrew Gills
Trail setting gear, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Now that we’ve committed to setting up a training course for our friends, my sister and I have to actually make sure we set a good map. We’ve worked out how to overlay the GPS-generated MTB trail maps off the internet onto the 1:25,000 topographic map that I bought earlier this year. Using the resulting map, we can rescale the maps to suit the course we set.

This morning I went out to start setting the course. I can’t give too much away because secrecy is key. But it was great fun riding around on my MTB looking for fun and challenging places to place checkpoints while also ensuring the course flows nicely.

I spent 1.5 hours out in the bush before work. I used a printed map, GPS app on my phone and a camera. It was great fun and I can’t wait to get out on Friday morning to keep plugging away. We only have 10 weeks to create our map and sew the flags. During those 10 weeks we both have a few trips away planned – so most of our prep will take place before and after work.

Total: That’s a secret because if I told you it would give away details of the map.