Tag Archives: Bayview Conservation Park

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

Whoops Witch Way are back in training

Off-track exploration by Andrew Gills
Off-track exploration, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Team Whoops Witch Way took the winter off adventure racing and training. It was a way to keep balance in our lives. I walked The Great North Walk and completed Cycling for Hope. Suwati spent time with her family and did a lot of cycling with her 8yo son (he can ride up to 40km a day and still beg for more).

But the weather is warming back up so it’s time for us to get out into the bush together as a team. I never really left the bush but it’s different hitting it as a team to doing my own thing.

Today we went out for a trail run. Within 500m, Suwati had found us a wallaby track to follow and, before long, we were fighting our way through long matted scratchy reeds and then an eerie she-oak forest. It was grand fun. We just wandered into the bush for about 10 minutes and then decided it was time to find the track again. With just the sun for a compass we tracked east north-east for about twenty minutes to find the track (not the one we started on). Afterwards we checked our path on a GPS and discovered we did a great job walking in an almost dead-straight line.

After our time in the scrub we ran some single tracks and fire trails. It was a grand way to start the day.

Total: 8.2km trail run

Playing tour guide

I love the trails in the bush near my home. They are one of Brisbane’s best kept trail running secrets. I think you can run about 20km of single trails, maybe more. There’s also about 15km of fire trails and six different entry points, making for plenty of running options.

Today I took a group of three runners on a tour of my neck of the woods. We met about 500m from my home and had an easy trot. It was fantastic to have company and to introduce Bayview to other trail runners.

We twisted our way along winding single track. Had a laugh as one of the guys jumped over an MTB jump, ambled up some hills and scooted down a steep loose gravely fire trail.

Total: 10km trail run

Running the single trails

Vegemite Trail by Andrew Gills
Vegemite Trail, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Spring is for trail running. It’s getting light earlier and the air is not yet heavy with humidity. My run today wasn’t earth-shatteringly fast. In fact, it was quite the opposite. But that just means I got to spend more time enjoying the bush.

I ran a 5km loop from the Days Road end of Bayview Conservation Park. All but about 500m was single trail. There were plenty of wallabies and the bush is alive with flowers.

Here’s a video of the Fluffer trail:

What’s not to like about starting the day like this?

Total: 5km trail run

Lost in the Bird Cage

Choices choices by Andrew Gills
Choices choices, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

A kookooburra swoops across the track hunting breakfast. It’s big strong beak and brown wings making it recognisable, even though it wasn’t laughing. Wallabies hop away quickly as I disturb their eating grass. Horses in a paddock come to visit me as I ride by; naturally I stop to pat and talk to them.

I cruise down to the lower end of Bayview Conservation Park, keen to ride some flat sandy single track. It’s been dry and all the creeks are dried up. It’s nice to cruise Sharks Tail, The Maze and Scorpion without having to worry about getting my feet wet. I even manage to negotiate the beach sand-like dust bowls that threaten to unseat me. I am feeling good.

Then I discover that I’m lost. Well, not so much lost as riding in circles knowing full-well where I am but not quite sure how to get out of the loop. I’ve taken Bird Cage out to Kidd Road and thought I had ducked back into the bush on the new single track I found the other evening. But instead I find myself passing familiar logs and jumps.

I don’t usually mind being geographically embarrassed. But I have to be home by 7am to get ready for work and it’s already 6:55am by the time I find my way back to Kidd Road. I still have at least 8km left to ride home, even when I take the quick route along the sealed road.

Oh well … these things happen. 🙂

Total: 15-20km MTB (I broke the cycle computer on my MTB and haven’t yet replaced it)

A little birthday ride

Oh I tried. Really I did. I tried to have a day where I just lazed around and didn’t do any riding or running. But I just couldn’t. I had to get out into the bush for a ride. I managed to laze around until 5pm but then the call of the bush got too strong.

And what a delightful ride it was. I only went out for an hour and a half at the end of the day. It’s dry out there on the trails so I had to drop my tyre pressure to about 30psi to compensate for the soft dust patches.

The trail faeries have been busily working in their secret mysterious way. They’re building a new trail. I didn’t see anyone out working but there was a whole new single track with jumps, bomb holes and berms. Some sections were still just flattened grass. In others it was obvious someone had recently used a rake or spade to push the grass and leaves off what will become the track. Two years ago, there were no single trails here in Bayview. Today, there are new trails appearing all the time and no one is admitting they are building them.

By the time I got home it was dark. And I felt content. And my partner was happy because she hates it when I start to crawl the walls 😉

Total: 15km MTB

Morning trail run

Benson & Blinkey Trail by Andrew Gills
Benson & Blinkey Trail, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

It’s only 6am but already the world is quietly anticipating the warm day ahead. The birds are quiet and the leaves on the tree branches are still. All I can hear are my footsteps trotting rhythmically along the dry dusty single trail. It’s just glorious.

I made a video of the Grass Trees trail as I ran down it. The quality is not so great (I’ll use my phone camera next time because it’s better than my photo camera’s video) but it should still give a good idea of just how lovely my morning was.

Total: 7-8km trail run

Three different MTB rides in two days

in amongst the she oaks by Andrew Gills
in amongst the she oaks, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

With the Rogue 24 Hour Adventuregaine just one week away, I really hit my MTB stride this weekend with three very different rides. My goal after the iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race in March was to improve my MTB skills and, with the new bike giving me new confidence, this weekend I really tested my improvements.

It started Saturday morning when I hit the trails in Bayview for an easy solo adventure. I had just bought a magazine with 128 MTB skills listed in it so decided to try some simple things out. My focus for the ride was to get back in the saddle when riding downhill, lift myself up over small jumps instead of braking before them, to push out with the outside foot while cornering and to shift my weight forward when climbing.

It doesn’t sound like much but these are things I’ve never actually thought about before. I’ve always just been an MTB plodder who takes a tentative approach, rather than being aggressive.

I enjoyed my little 23.3km ride through the fire trails and single tracks of Bayview. I stopped often to take photos and enjoy the serenity, barely working up a sweat but not worrying about it either.

Enjoying the Bayview swamps

Enjoying the Bayview swamps

On Sunday morning team Whoops Witch Way had our weekly MTB ride. My sister bought a new mountain bike this past week and Sunday morning was her first ride on the new beast. It’s similar to mine but one model down (also a Merida Big Nine 29er).

We had a grand time riding the single tracks up at the top end of Bayview where there were plenty of rocky hills to challenge us. We rode 16.3 glorious kilometres and got the bikes nice and muddy.

Daisy Hill trails

Daisy Hill trails

An hour after finishing my ride with my sister, I was out at Daisy Hill Forest Park to ride with D from Scouts. He’s the leader and he invited me to join him out riding. D usually rides with a bunch of guys who sound like they ride hard. I was to discover that D, as the slowest of that group, is super fit and fast by my standards.

D took me along trails I’ve never ridden before and pushed me faster than I usually ride. I didn’t want to be left behind so pushed myself the whole 23km single track route.

D took the time to give me some tips for riding downhill and popping my bike over obstacles I previously walked over. Now all I need to do is to practice practice practice until I feel more confident riding at speed.

All-in-all a fantastic weekend of riding. I still found time for an afternoon nap on Saturday and to spend the rest of Sunday visiting friends so it wasn’t all training.

Totals:

  • Saturday solo ride – 23.3km MTB
  • Sunday team Whoops Witch Way ride – 16.3km MTB
  • Sunday ride with D – 23.0km MTB

Trying to shrug off the anxiety demons

Doom Hippy MTB trail by Andrew Gills
Doom Hippy MTB trail, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I am the first to admit that I struggle with an anxiety disorder. It has plagued me most of my life. But, unlike the Andrew of the past, the me I am today won’t wallow in this unfortunate reality. I am fighting hard to keep the Anxiety Demon and his friend, the Black Dog away.

The seemingly constant rain isn’t helping my emotional state. All I want is for the cool blue sky days of winter to kick in. I’m tired of the wet season and the associated wet cycling clothing, wet clothing and, increasingly, cold body. Early in the wet season, I took some time off to stay indoors during the heavy rains. Then I went through a period where I just went out to play in the rain because the weather was warm anyway. But the air is turning autumnal and the rain drops are no longer fat and warm; they have become slim, stinging and cold. Perhaps it’s time to remember to take my waterproof jacket with me when I go out until the winter starts.

I know that the Anxiety Demon is of my own making. I try to do too much. I try to push too hard. I want to do everything at once and be everything to everyone. And acknowledging these things is the first step to overcoming them.

This morning, the Anxiety Demon and cold rain really affected my riding. I got frustrated that my rear derailleur kept slipping. I got annoyed when I couldn’t take turns on slipper gravel. I felt slow when my speed dropped.

So, halfway through the Doom Hippy single track I stopped. I parked the bike against a log and took some photos. I stood on the side of the track and forced myself to slow down.

I pushed my anxiety about the university assignment I submitted last night to the back of my mind: I can’t control my grade now I’ve submitted the assignment. I reminded myself that the pile of work on my desk will never go away. I acknowledged that it’s okay to only train one hour a day instead of more because I need to make time to study; I actually enjoy studying. And I decided to stay home the weekend of 20-21 April because it’d be good to repaint the walls and tidy the house so that we can get it ready for sale.

So, while the MTB ride this morning was fairly average in speed, technique and distance, it was just what I needed. The fresh air helped me get some perspective and the beauty of the bush helped calm my nerves. Sometimes we all just need to take a few moments to breath. And I need to remember that the challenge of balancing uni and work and training and Scouts and my magazine column and family is a first world problem. Each of these elements of my life are important to me. Uni and Scouts only take up 26 weeks of my year, while the rest of life just ticks along.

The Anxiety Demon feels much further away now than it did out on the trails this morning. I can see him standing on Doom Hippy enjoying the scenery, rather than sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear. My life’s pretty good. Besides, in three months time, I’ll be walking the 250km Great North Walk and that trip will give me plenty of time to recharge my batteries. Here’s to the sun coming up on a new dawn tomorrow morning 🙂

My route this morning

My route this morning

Total: 9.5km MTB

Post Script: I try to keep my blog positive but it would be remiss of me to pretend that I don’t experience anxieties and struggles from time-to-time. By being honest about these things, perhaps I can help others who also struggle with anxiety or depression to see they too can overcome them.

Night MTB

After a long day in the office, I stuck my Ayup headlight on my helmet, swung my leg over my MTB and hit the single trails in Bayview Conservation Park. The days are getting shorter as autumn starts to make her presence known, so it was pitch black within 20 minutes of my setting off.

Once again, I found myself pushing harder and faster on the new Merida Big Nine 29er than I ever did on my old recycled MTB. The ride is so smooth that I can’t seem to help myself. I’m riding 50% faster than I was before I bought the new bike and am still just getting used to it. Though I’m sure that mean I’m probably heading for some bruises as well 😉

Bayview trails (yellow is my route)

Bayview trails (yellow is my route)

I started out on the Bensen and Blinkey single track. I used to have to walk over all the logs on this trail, as well as the sharp rocky bend through a re-entrant and most of the final hill up to Good Friday. But tonight I rode the whole trail; even managing to stay upright when I banged my left handlebar against a tree (I find it difficult to judge depth of field during the short dusk).

The next trail I rode was the steep and winding Grass Trees. I scuttled down the hill dodging the protruding grass trees that can cause the bike to stop suddenly if you get a pedal caught on them. It felt so good to be able to get down most of the trail with my feet clipped in, rather than having to use my feet as training wheels.

I flew down the Slippery Dip at 35kph, the fastest I’ve ever dropped down this bumpy sloping fire trail. The water in the creek at the bottom barely touched my wheels as I raced through across the rocks and continued to the Black Forest.

By the time I got to IO it was pitch black and my field of vision was limited to the broad beam of light my Ayup provided. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the thin vine along the side of the single track as I descended a challenging section before the creek. Next thing I knew, I was picking myself up off the ground, brushing the dust and dried mud off my jersey.

I cruised down the short section of fire trail to Sharks Tail at 30kph and then attacked the Sharks Tail single track with full force, riding down the stepped tree roots and through the deep ruts cut by the recent rains. I felt free and relaxed as I hit the smooth flowing flat sections of Sharks Tail, enjoying the sight of the red moon rising above the she-oaks.

Turing back up The Maze I started to pick up speed, averaging 14kph as I wound my way back up the gentle slope through the she-oaks. I’ve never ridden The Maze this quickly before but I’m in the zone and enjoying life.

It’s getting close to 7pm by the time I exit The Maze and I had promised my partner I’d be home for dinner so I hit the fire trail back to the Days Road exit to ride home along the main road, rather than battling back up the steep hills near Grass Trees.

I’m really loving my mountain biking now that I have the 29er, suspension and disc brakes. I feel confident out on the trails. But I am also glad I spent the past 18 months riding the Purple Monster because I know I learned a lot of good skills on it.

With the Rogue 24 Hour Adventuregaine just 25 days away, I am keen to get in as many hours on the trails as possible so that I can focus on navigating for team Whoops Witch Way, rather than stressing about the bike legs.

Total: 19.6km night MTB