Tag Archives: Logan

Running home and patting miniature horses

Miniature ponies came to say hello

Cars race down the freeway across the road from my office; their engines making a drone like the buzzing of a swarm of bees. It’s still daylight as I turn up the road past some industrial properties and office buildings. I stop at the shops 500m from work to buy a box of tea bags for my partner. And then I turn for home.

I run past the Golden Arches and KFC bucket. Commuter traffic zips by along the main road. Down at the sports fields there’s a queue of cars waiting to park at the gym. I don’t check to see who’s playing on the soccer fields because I’m enjoying the sensation of putting one foot in front of the other.

By the 5km mark I’m out in a more suburban area padding along a concrete footpath. There’s fewer cars because this is an alternate route to cut the corner off two main roads that run perpendicular to each other. At 6km the concrete paths ends and I am left pattering along a soggy grassy verge. Occasionally I need to run along the road to cross deep drains but I run towards the traffic, which is lighter than the commuter traffic heading the same way as me. It’s dark now so my glow sticks are glowing purple and yellow on the back of my hyrdopack.

I cross the busy main road at 7.5km. Headlights careen past at 80kph and it’s difficult to find a break. I exercise patience and eventually get across the road. I backtrack along the main for the scariest 135m I’ve ever run as I get stuck on the main road between the two side roads. There’s no real verge so I’m just running in the emergency stopping lane where cars are driving at 80kph and all I have is three purple and yellow glow sticks for visibility.

As I turn down the side street everything gets quiet. I’ll see no more cars for over 4km because this is a dead end road. It’s silent but for the song of the crickets and the sloshing of water in my hydropack.

At 9km I see about eight miniature ponies standing in a paddock. They are outdoor ponies with thick slightly muddy winter coats. The braver among them starts to move towards me. They take a few steps forward, stop, watch, consider then move a few more steps forward. I talk to them and ask whether they want a pat. A pretty cheeky looking paint, and a bay with a big blaze and small paint spots let me pat them. A palomino stands just out of reach, watching intently. I think he’s the pack leader because he stops a gorgeous chestnut and white pony from coming closer. I love horses and can’t help but stop to pat and talk to them when I see them.

As I leave the ponies the road gets narrower. It winds through tall gums. It’s a beautiful section of road and my favourite kilometre of the whole journey. I get totally lost in the moment and realise I no longer see running as training but as recreation.

The road ends in a big mud pile, strategically placed to stop cars and motorbikes from traveling on what is actually a continuing road that has been cut short by developers. So once I navigate my way around the mud pile (there’s no way I wanted to sink waist deep in mud), I continue down the gravel road to the grass field near my home.

I might have to get my colleague to give me  a lift to work on his way past again sometime so that I can run home again.

Total: 12.05km @ 6:11 min/km pace (6:00 min/km moving). Elevation gain: 133m (one of the troubles with living at 54m above sea level is that I don’t get much chance to get any real elevation gain in training). Average temperature: 20.2’C (the subtropics are boringly warm).

Sunday morning MTB

Is there anything better than the morning sun shining through trees?

Sunday mornings are a good excuse for sleeping in but the bush is calling me. I still have my mum’s ute so I can take my mountain bike down the road to Daisy Hill Forest Park rather than being limited to riding in Bayview. Plus my partner has to get up to go to work. So everything points to me getting up. Mind you, it is already 6am and that’s much more civilised than 4:30am.

I load the bike into the back of Mum’s ute and drive the 20 minutes to Daisy Hill Forest Park. There are mountain bikers everywhere. I get a few dismissive looks as I mount my ugly but functional purple beast. It certainly doesn’t have the style of the tens of other bikes being prepared and ridden around the carpark. But I am used to this by now and know that I’m going to have a great time out on the trails.

A bearded dragon

I have some geocache coordinates programed into my Garmin Edge 800 so I hit the trails in search of the first one. It’s not long before I come across an overgrown trail to my right; it looks like the geocache might be down there. The trail is muddy and steep. By the time I get to the geocache I’m sweaty and dirty, and I’ve only been out for 15 minutes. I find the cache without difficulty and set off down the trails again. I am on less popular trails, well away from the five-ways. There aren’t many other riders out here in this section of bushland; a fact of which I’m grateful because I prefer to ride alone.

I ride some single track and fire trails, traveling from one geocache coordinate to the next. I drop down steep tracks, slipping often as my tyres fail to grip the wet clay. I can’t wait until my tyres wear out so that I can buy a set of off-road tyres to replace my commuter tyres. By then I’ll have so much practice riding with near-slick road tyres that I’ll have a massive performance improvement simply because all of a sudden I’ll have traction after training without it.

Nirvana MTB trail

More of the Nirvana MTB trail

Towards the end of my ride I turn down the Nirvana MTB trail. I can see why the trail has this name, it’s beautiful. I ride the trail in an anti-clockwise direction, dropping down a narrow winding single track from the top of the start ridge into a deep gully. I pass cyclists coming up the hill from the other direction who warn me not to continue to the end of the track; that I’m doing it the hard way. I don’t quite understand their warning so continue on my merry way. The trail enters a patch of dense rain forest, which is beautiful and cool.

I climb out of the gully back up towards the ridge. So far I’ve not come across anything too difficult or steep so I keep climbing. Besides, I’m down here to find a geocache (which I never actually managed to find). Near the gully floor I come across two more mountain bikers. They also warn me not to continue. I ask why not. They tell me that the exit to the trail is too steep if I keep going in the direction I’m traveling. One of the cyclists looks my bike up and down, and tells me that I’ll definitely not make it out.

Well, don’t ever tell me that I won’t be able to do something because it puts fire in my belly. I am now determined to see how steep this hill really is. I keep riding, grinding comfortably uphill with my heart rate fluctuating somewhere between 73 – 80% of it’s maximum. I stop to try to find the geocache and, after coming away empty-handed, continue up the trail to the ridge.

The climb is magnificent and never gets too steep. I admit to walking through some of the steep switch-back corners but that’s more a statement about my skill than the climb. Just near the top, while I’m waiting to come across this super-steep hill, I meet three more cyclists. They tell me I’ve come up the trail the hard way. Apparently that thing I just climbed was the gut-busting hill. It feels good to have climbed something others struggle with so easily; perhaps I am a little competitive after-all.

I enjoy the rest of my ride on fire trails, collecting a geocache and enjoying the cool fresh bush air. I return to the ute and find that it’s alone in the carpark. All the other mountain bikers who left at the same time as me are long gone. I listen to the whip birds calling each other as I pack my bike and change into warm clothes. The bush around the carpark is all mine for a few minutes before I head home.

Total: 12.65km geocaching MTB for 1hr 45minutes at 69% maximum heart rate. Average temperature 12.2’C. Three geocaches found.

Mothers Day walk and MTB

Creek at Karawatha

It’s the day after the Byron Bay Triathlon and it’s also Mothers’ Day. After my walk through Karawatha Reserve last weekend I invited my mum and grandmother to come to the Reserve for a picnic. I’d found a beautiful picnic area that would be perfect for a cooked bacon and egg brunch. So that’s exactly what we do this morning; bringing our camping stoves with us to cook up a bacon and egg storm.

The tree was attacking me – LOL

After our meal Mum and I set of on a short bushwalk. We walk down the Wild May Trail along the creek’s lagoon where little pathways lead to the water’s edge to allow walkers to enjoy a closer inspection of the creek. At the end of the Wild May Trail we turn down the Hakea Trail, which is a mixed-use trail that leads slightly uphill from the swampy creek bed up to drier ground. We then turn down an unnamed track that heads in the general direction of the picnic area. Just before it joins the Casuarina Track (which leads directly to the picnic area) we turn left down an unmarked trail. This single track takes us about 2km out of our way in a big loop back to the Hakea Trail. The walk was wonderful.

Total: 6km walk.

Daisy Hill Forest MTB ride

After our picnic I drive over to Daisy Hill Forest Park to do an MTB ride and geocache hunt. Daisy Hill Forest Park is an excellent local place for mountain bike riding. There are marked trails dedicated and designed specifically for MTB riding, containing all the usual MTB obstacles riders expect, such as logs and rock gardens. Mountain bike riders also have access to the mixed use trails for shared use by walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Some of the Daisy Hill Forest trail

More MTB trails

I spend two hours cruising some of the trails, sticking to the wider fire trails because I’m tired from yesterday’s race and not feeling confident. I’m still a beginner MTB rider and need a lot of practice but I have to be sensible about the way I go about getting that practice. I enjoy my afternoon out on the trails, taking it relatively easy and finding three geocaches while I’m out. I’ll definitely come back to more fully explore the trails, including the single track areas. Particularly as Daisy Hill Forest Park is only 20 minutes drive from my home.

Total: 14km MTB

Time trial and hills

Overlooking the Logan River from Carbrook Road

As well as getting light later, it’s also finally starting to cool down slightly in the mornings. That doesn’t mean summer is over but just that there’s an end to the heat in sight. It also means that it’s going to start becoming more difficult to get out of bed and on the road for training. Fortunately, things are just perfect right now and I enjoy the 14’C air temperature as I hop on my bike to do today’s training session.

I head down the road for a 10 minute warm up  at 29.3kph. I feel relatively strong on the bike so am unconcerned about the training ahead. I settle in to enjoy it. After my warm up, I complete a 12 minute time trial along largely flat roads with a few intersections and a u-turn. I complete the set at 33.0kph, which is close to my current race pace (34kph) and just below my goal race pace (36kph). I suck in the big ones as I ride and know I have put in a solid effort.

After the time trial I ride a 6:45 recovery at 25.1kph. It’s difficult to believe that I struggled to cycle at 25.1kph when I first got back on my bike last August. Now it’s a comfortable recovery before I tackle my three hill climbs for the session. I climb Carbrook Road hard three times. I’m supposed to climb for 90 seconds but the hill isn’t long enough so I settle for 78 seconds of hard climbing. My lungs scream and legs burn so I know the set has done it’s trick. I stop after my third climb to take a photo of the view over the Logan River and down to the Gold Coast Hinterland in the distance.

I ride for 23 minutes at 29.1kph, still feeling strong. I don’t feel like I have to work to ride this pace despite the hills and heavy traffic. I don’t think I’ll ride the stretch of road from Loganholme to Mt Cotton Road at 6:15am again in a hurry because the trucks don’t leave much space for a lone cyclist riding along. I ended the ride with a short 4:40 cool down at 25.1kph. It’s funny how that turned out to be exactly the same speed as my recovery set.

I finished the morning with 15 minutes of gardening, moving some of my big 3 cubic metre pile of mulch from the footpath into the back garden.

Total: 30.28km @ 28.7kph

MTB madness

My beast in Bayview forest

It was my sister who found the Brisbane South MTB Club online this week and who suggested we take a ride with them this morning to see whether they’re a good match for us as we prepare for the Adventure Race Australia on 20 May. Neither of us has much MTB experience and this will be a big part of the race (up to 35km of it). I’m also training for the Tre-X off-road triathlon series next summer. So rather that try to teach ourselves we’ve looked at our options: MTB training courses, joining a club or winging it. While MTB training courses are probably great for learning skills in an intensive way, just going once or twice probably won’t help us with confidence and the cost of classes is relatively high. We looked at the BSMC website and saw they have beginners’ rides every weekend.

My sister, her 6 year old son and I loaded our bikes in her car this morning and took off to Daisy Hill Forest Park for the club’s one hour beginners’ ride. My sister and I were the only beginner adults with the rest being kids aged between about 8 and 15. There were three experienced adult riders with them and they never made me feel silly for being such a beginner (the kids could have ridden laps around me skills-wise). We rode for an hour along some simple technical single track trails and the ride leader gave me some fantastic basic tips, such as when to stand on the pedals and when to sit, and how to take corners.

After our hour ride, I went home to my sister’s house, which is on the other side of the Bayview bushland reserve from my home. The running club I am with often run through the trails in Bayview so I decided that I would map the trails for them so that everyone can enjoy their trail running without worrying about getting lost.

Enjoying my ride

So after a short rest at my sister’s house I got on my beaten up old mountain bike and headed off into the Bayview bushland reserve to start my mapping project. Over the course of the next hour I rode the tough fire trails around the outer edges of the reserve. The hills in Bayview are serious and I had to walk up and down two that were particularly steep. I tried to apply some of the skills I learned at the BSMC ride this morning. By the time I got home I was exhausted – unsurprisingly given that it was 33’C outside and because I’d been out riding my MTB for 2 hours. It was a good exhausted though.

This afternoon I’m off to a 2 hour Parkour training session in the city. But first some lunch and a short rest.

Total: 2 MTB sessions:

  1. 6km in an hour (skills focus – so lots of stop and start)
  2. 9.7km in an hour (lots of hills)