Google+ The Norris Files: 2010


New Years Eve 2010

New Years Eve 2101

One Fine Day.

Today was one of the rare fine days we have had in recent weeks so I took the opportunity to get out of the house. I hadn't planned anything but at the last minute decided to do a day trip over to Coochiemudlo Island.

I took the car over on the barge and then after grabbing some lunch I walked along the beach for about half of the Island. Then, on the mostly crowd free south-western part of the Island I set up my deck chair and esky in the shade and cooled down in the beautiful south easterly breeze with a book.

Only one other car on the barge for the return trip back to Victoria Point. I ended up getting home around 4:30pm. A relaxing day and a nice change of pace but especially good to get out of the house after weeks/months of injury/bad weather that has kept me housebound.

2011 Gear Wish List.

I have been thinking that 2011 may be the year to bite the bullet and get all the gear that I have been promising myself. I do like new gear so I suspect that I will always be eying of some new piece of kit however, I think these are the big ticket items that if I had the money I would purchase right now. Its an expensive list but I will see what happens during the year.

1)Mirage 580 Kayak - Kevlar optioned, expedition ready with electric bilge pump and charger, compass, backrest and seat pad, carry toggles and transport to Brisbane -around $3600 -Purchased 28/10/11 $3557.50

2)PFD, spray shirt, cockpit cover, hand bilge pump, paddle with drip rings, paddle leash - around $800 - Purchased $658.00 28/10/11

3)Stumpjumper FSR Elite with Brain suspension 2011 model - around $4300 - Purchased Specialized 2013 Camber 29er 19/12/12

4)GPS mount and holder for touring bike - around $200 - Purchased 8/2/11 from Johnny Appleseed - Ram mount and holder $55.00.

5)Light weight hiking tent Tarptent Scarpa 2 - around $350 - Purchased 14/01/11 -I ended up with an impulse buy because the tent was reduced in price. It is a Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 Superlight. With footprint and shipping from USA it cost $371.42USD, $383.91AUS from I wasn't completely sold on the Scarpa 2 and the Big Agnes keeps cropping up in reviews as a decent tent and the price was alright so time will tell if it is a good purchase. It should save around 1kg in packweight which is considerable..

6)Bicycle touring tent - Hillberg Kaitum GT - around $900.00 - I have had a bit of a re-think on this tent. $900.00 is alot of money for a tent that will only get used on cycling tours so at this stage I am going to trial probably my North Face Road Runner 2 on my cycle trip to the Outer Hebrides in May 2011 and see how it handles the conditions. If it doesn't meet the standard then I will reconsider the Hillberg

7)Trangia stove - around $140.00 - Purchased 4/1/11 online from Main Peak I ended up getting the Trangia 27-1 Hard Anodized version $187.00

8)Light weight hiking/trail running shoes - La Sportiva Fireblades - around $160 - Purchased 2/1/11, the Fireblades are obsolete and have been completely redesigned and renamed the Lynx -$161.10 at K2 Basecamp

9)Garmin Australia/New Zealand TOPO V3 - $229 - Purchased 8/2/11 from Johnny Appleseed $199

10)Lights for touring bike front/rear - fairly basic - around ?? $300.00 - Purchased May 2011 - fairly basic, cheap set from Epic Cycles

11)Gaiters for this coming Australian autumn/winter hiking - around $80.00? - Purchased Sea to Summit Quagmires early 2012

12)Mountain bike touring shoes SPD compatible, not sure which model around $200 - I am going to give this item a miss for the time being. I'm not sure clip-less are for me yet

13)New bike helmet - around $116.00? - Purchased Giro Athlon December 2012

14)Explore the options for riding/sport sunglasses with compatible optical lenses -around $450

15) GPS/Heart rate monitor for training - around $400 - Purchased Garmin Forerunner 405csx 15/06/11 on eBay for $298

16) GoPro HD camera - around $400 (undecided about the benefits/usage of this yet - For the moment I have pretty much decided I do not want this item

17) MSR MiniWorks Ex Micro Water Filter - around $200 - no trips I have planned requite this at the moment so I do not have a need to purchase it

18) Two extra camera batteries for Panasonic LX-5 - Purchased 06/02/11 online from Digital Camera Warehouse $205.00 including delivery for two

19) Light weight water canteens/bottles - Purchased 27/01/11. I ended up with a 1 litre soft sided collapsible Platypus squeeze bottle $22.99 from Paddy Pallin and two Nalgene 1 litre soft sided collapsible wide mouth canteens from K2 Base Camp $23.95 each

20) Ortlieb large rack bag as my medium size one isn't large enough for my tent/sleeping bag and pad etc. Purchased from The Touring Store 22/02/11 -$80.00USD plus delivery - not sure of the Australian dollar conversion yet.

21) Cycling specific rain jacket - maybe the Ground Effect Stormtrooper $249NZ - Purchased 17/04/11 from Ground Effects

22) Exped chair converter for down mattress - I am heading more towards  light weight hiking so that would rule this item out however, I would consider purchasing this if I have planned a lengthy cycle touring trip

There are a few other odds and ends that I will need on specific trips but this list includes all the high cost items. Other gear in particular my current tendency towards lighter weight clothing in particular wet weather gear will have to wait as I am determined to wear out the gear I already own before replacing it.

Now that I have formalised the list I realise that I will not be purchasing all these items next year as my budget just doesn't allow for it. The kayak and gear I consider a certainty, the bike and tents can wait and the other gear I will pick up as I need. I originally hoped I could buy the kayak this summer but at this point I think a winter purchase ready for next summer is the best option for my finances. This will hopefully give me time to save and allow me to pick up the less expensive items that will complete my cycle touring/hiking kits barring the purchase of the two extra tents to my current Northface Road Runner 23.

New Zealand Gillespie Pass Hike; Holidays Confirmed

Work has approved my holidays for the 21/03/11 - 27/03/11 so all I need now is for my rosetred days of work around these dates to be approved and it will be all systems go. I still haven't confirmed if I will be flying into Christchurch or Queenstown but that can wait until I have my rostered days off confirmed.

Darling Downs Tour; Torrential Rain!!

Well, my rostered days off have come around again and it appears that this ride will not happen this week. A week of torrential rain and more forecast to come over the following days paints a bleak picture with minimal chance that this ride will happen this year. There may be a small window of opportunity for somewhat finer weather this Thursday, Friday and Saturday but that positions the trip during New Years Eve and New Years Day which would almost certainly rule out any vacancies at the campsites I intend overnighting at. So, at this stage the Darling Downs Tour will be in 2011, somewhere around 29th-31st January depending on our "beautiful" Queensland weather.

New Zealand Gillespie Pass Hike; Prelim Planning

I need to start planning next years trip to New Zealand so I can apply for holiday leave, organise work rosters and book flights. Getting flights in and out of Queenstown on my preferred days has been difficult with either no flights scheduled on the desired day or a combination of two flights spread over two days to travel to Queenstown.

I may have finally sorted out an itinerary that works so depending on holiday leave and rostering approval the trip hopefully will pan out as follows;

Photo courtesy

Sunday 20/03/11

*Fly out Brisbane 08:25am
*Arrive Queenstown 02:55pm
*Hire car or shuttle to Wanaka
*Stay the night at Wanaka somewhere

Monday 21/03/11

*Start Gillespie Pass walk to Young Hut (7-9hrs depending on Makarora River height)
*Overnight at Young Hut (camp near hut)

Tuesday 22/03/11

*Young Hut to Siberia Hut (6-8hrs)
*Overnight at Siberia Hut (camp near hut)

Wednesday 23/03/11

*Side trip to Crucible Lake and return to Siberia Hit (8hrs return)
*Camp again at Siberia Hut

Thursday 24/03/11

*Siberia Hut to Top Forks Hut (8-10hrs)
*Option to overnight at Kerin Forks Hut (?? 4hrs from Siberia)
*Or if it is a bit much to get to Top Forks Hut free camp along Jumboland Flat

Friday 25/03/11

*Side trip Top Forks Hut to Lucidius Lake or Lake Castalia (4-8hrs return)
*Overnight at Top Forks Hut

Saturday 26/03/11
*Option to walk from Top Forks to Rabbits Pass Waterfall (6-8hrs return)
*Overnight at Top Forks Hut or;
*If not walking up to waterfall face then return to Kerin Forks Hut (6-8hrs)

Sunday 27/03/11

*Either walking from Top Forks Hut to Kerin Forks Hut (6-8hrs) or;
*Kerin Forks Hut back to Makarora and the car (5-8hrs)
*Either overnighting at Kerin Forks Hut or in Wanaka

Monday 28/03/11
*Kerin Forks Hut back to Makarora and the car (5-8hrs)or;
*Free day in Wanaka

Tuesday 29/03/11
*Drive or shuttle back to Queenstown and fly out to Brisbane
*Two flights home will be required departing Queenstown to Brisbane via Auckland at 12:20pm arriving Brisbane 4:50pm

Darling Downs Tour; More Delays

I'm not sure this ride is ever going to happen the way things have been going. Thirty two degree heat, afternoon thunderstorms, general slackness and the lack of motivation to pack have stopped me this time. At least I have assembled the Nomad as it has been sitting in the bike bag since I packed it for the cancelled bike ride on the Mawson Trail.

I think the key for me is to have as much as possible packed and ready to go during the days I am at work leading to up to my rostered days off. That way it will just be a case of throwing the gear in the car and leaving. I have developed a distaste for packing and use it regularly as a excuse not to get away. No more excuses I say. Having said that this ride will definitely be my last longer ride for some time as the QLD heat and humidity is starting to bite. Probably by mid March I will have to kick up the kilometres and iron out any set up kinks for the Outer Hebrides trip in May/June 2011. At this stage I am pencilling in the 28th, 29th, 30th December as the days for the Darling Downs Tour.

Afternoon Storm

Ground Effect Tardis Bike Bag

I bought this bike bag a few months ago but haven't used it in anger as I had to postpone the Mawson Trail trip. The Tardis is a soft shell bag that folds down to around an A4 size when not in use. Your bike wheels are packed on either side of the bag and held in loosely by inbuilt sleeves while the hub and front axle positions on the bike wheels are somewhat protected with some padding to these parts of the bag.
Hardened plastic axle spacers come as standard with the bag in addition to an inner pocket which stores your dismantled pedals. The bag comes with an over the shoulder strap that allows it to be carried in that manner even if somewhat awkwardly considering the weight. I purchased the bag from NZ through Ground Effects at a cost of around $130 NZ. P1000065
The photos show the bike packed for the flight down to South Australia for the cancelled Mawson Trail trip. The Tardis does not have much in the way of integrated padding so as seen in the photos I have fairly heavily protected the frame and wheel areas.
The pictures don't show it as I hadn't finished packing but around the bike frame clothes, panniers, camping equipment etc, will be packed to add further protection.

I won't really be able to judge the pro's and con's of the bag until I head to the Outer Hebrides next year as I have no bike trips planned that involve air travel until then.
However its immediately obvious that you wouldn't want to carry the bag very far but that is more related to the bikes weight than the bag itself. The limited amount of padding is an issue but this can be overcome by padding the frame as I have done.
However,this creates the problem of what to do with the padding when you arrive at your destination as the Tardis alone folds down to the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Also, I think the bag needs a bike symbol stenciled onto the outside of the bag in the hope that the baggage handlers might notice and take some extra care. Otherwise, I think the Tardis is a pretty cool piece of gear but the real test will come when I fly overseas with it.

Organising Myself!

Its not only work, health and the never ending rain that has put a dent in my trips on days off work lately but my lack of planning. I wish I could wake up of a morning and just head off but that doesn't seem to work for me. So, with that in mind here are my ideas for the next three groups of days I am rostered off work.

1) Darling Downs Tour 15th, 16th, 17th December.

2) Maroochy River Trail 29th and 30th December.

3) Road Trip ?? Bunya 11th to 14th January.

Mirage Sea Kayak

After a few years of indecision and confusion I think I am closer to deciding on which kayak to purchase. I have waged a war in my head about the merits of sit on top kayaks versus sit in kayaks, primary and secondary stability and plastic versus fiberglass hulls.

Then, I read a review of the Australian made Mirage Kayaks on their website which described the Mirage 19 as a stable workhorse, exactly what I have been looking for. Additionally, they appear to have good balance between primary and secondary stability, a largish cockpit and they are regarded as a relatively fast boat that are suitable for expeditions having crossed Bass Strait numerous times.

They appear to suit my requirements and even better I only really need to decide between two boats, either the Mirage 19 or the Mirage 580. I think this will be a next winter purchase so I still have some time to do more research and finalise the options I need. Unless something hugely negative comes up relating to these kayaks I don't plan on confusing myself any longer by looking at any other manufacturers. Roll on next winter!

Darling Downs Tour; Delayed Again!

Its starting to sound a bit like a broken record but this ride has been delayed again. After eight fine days while I have been at work rain has developed again now that I am on days off. This seems to be the pattern for me recently. While the weather may be a bit on the nose the truth is I was struggling to fit this trip into my days off as I am kayaking the Maroochy River Trail on Saturday and have to pick the kayak up on Friday evening.

This would mean that I was going to struggle to fit in three days on the Darling Downs Tour and still have time to get back to Brisbane to pick up the kayak. I briefly thought about cutting the tour back to two days but that seemed to be defeating the purpose and would mean missing out on an area of the tour that I really wanted to see. So, fingers crossed, this ride will now take place on the 14th,15th and 16th December.

2011 Tours and Trips

Next year is just around the corner so I need to give some more thought to the trips I hope to take next year. My holiday dates for the Outer Hebrides trip have been approved so all being well that will go ahead in May and the early part of June. I hope to get to New Zealand to walk the Gillespie Pass in late March or early April. Then, I want to fit in a ride on the Mawson Trail, probably around September for about nine days.

I had hoped to fit in two week tour of Kangaroo Island during the later part of next year but at the moment I can't see how I can fit that in. Also, I was thinking of a snowboarding trip and an outback camping trip at some point, however, time and allowable holiday leave is limited.

So at the moment the plan is as follows, but I have no doubt that it will change at some point,

1) New Zealand Gillespie Pass Hike - March/April 2011
2) Outer Hebrides Cycle Tour - 11th May - 5th June 2011
3) Mawson Trail 9 Day Ride - September/November 2011

Other Options

* Snowboarding Trip New Zealand - August 2011
* Blue Mountains Mt Solitary Hike - After April 2011

Outer Hebrides Prelim Planning

This trip is still 6 months away but as I tend to leave things to the last minute I should start planning this trip now. I have no doubt these plans will change somewhat but at least its a start.

Wednesday 11/5/11.

*Fly out of Brisbane 13:55pm
*Arrive London 05:40am
*Arrive Glasgow 08:30am
*Catch the train from Glasgow to Oban 12:21pm takes 3.5hrs (check 2011 timetable when available)
*Overnighting in Oban - accommodation to be arranged

Thursday 12/5/10.

*Ferry crossing from Oban to Castlebay departing 08:15 (A)sailing via Coll and Tiree arriving Castlebay at 15:00pm (check 2011 timetable when available)
*Overnighting in Castlebay or near abouts (probably camping)

Friday 13/5/2010 - Wednesday 01/06/11.
*Cycling Barra to the Butt then final night;
*Overnighting in Stornoway

Thursday 02/06/11.

*Ferry crossing from Stornoway to Ullapool depart 07:00am arrive 09:40am
*Catch the bus from Ullapool Pier to Glasgow Airport depart 09:50 arrive 17:10pm
*Overnighting in Glasgow airport region?

Friday 03/06/11.
*Fly out of Glasgow 16:10pm

Sunday 05/06/11.
*Arrive Brisbane Airport 06:50am

This itinerary allows a total of 20 days to cycle the Hebridean Islands which, I think should be enough and allow for some rest and sight seeing days. I may end up shortening the trip a little so that I get back earlier and allow more days to recover before I start back at work.

Rain, Rain,Rain

Showers, heavy rain and thunder storms across Brisbane and the Darling Downs over the next few days have put an end to my planned Darling Downs Tour ride. I will attempt the ride again weather permitting on my next days off between 29th November and the 4th December.

Camera Arrival

My new DMC-LX5 camera arrived in the mail today. I haven taken any pictures in anger yet so I can't judge the image quality but it feels very comfortable to hold, the menus seem relatively uncomplicated and it is as compact in size as I had hoped. I will post some images taken by the camera shortly.
P1030663 P1030667P1030665 P1030664 P1030666

Outer Hebrides Tour Update

I mentioned in this post that I planned to ride the length of the Outer Hebrides from South to North in 2011. I have requested holiday leave from work and hope to get approval this week. The plan at the moment will be to fly out on the Wednesday 11th May and fly back home on the Friday 3rd June. More details to follow but in the mean time here is a video of a cycling trip on the Outer Hebrides

Mawson Trail Update

As I mentioned previously in this post, after my failed first effort to ride the Mawson Trail I now hope to complete the trail in sections as time allows. I thought I may have been able to ride the first section of the trail this month, but work and health have not permitted that to happen. Summer is approaching and between now and the end of April is the least favorable time to ride the trail due to the heat. So, this ride will have to wait until the cooler months of next year, probably after August sometime.

Panasonic Lumix LX5

As I mentioned in this post "" my camera was damaged when I fell while out hiking. Since then it has continued to operate okay but with the automatic lens protector broken it has become difficult to keep the lens clean. The camera took some great pictures in South Australia but towards the end of the trip some black spots appeared on the lens and in the images and they can't be removed by cleaning the lens. Together with the need to clean the lens before every shot I am a bit over it and have lost patience with the camera so it is time to purchase a new one.

Initially I was interested in the new four thirds style camera in particular the Panasonic GF2 the successor to the popular GF1 which has a large fan base. In essence these cameras are a compact version of a DSLR with some of it capabilities but in a 'compact' body. They take a great photo judging by the images on online blogs. However, the cost, complexity and being less compact than I desired made the decision not to purchase this camera easier.

My attention turned to the Panasonic Lumix LX5 which is also a successor this time to the the hugely popular LX3. The camera can be described as a top of the line point and shot camera and carries the high quality Leica lens. It is compact, shoots well in low light, has increased functionality outside of auto mode and appears from the images I have viewed to posses higher image quality across a range of conditions when compared to my previous camera. These attributes cover everything I was looking for in a camera the only downside being the price which is just under the $800 mark from TEDS's.

Out of curiosity I checked an online camera dealer and found the price to be around $300 less expensive than TED's including delivery. Plus the online dealer came with a recommendation from people who had purchased cameras from them previously without issue. So it looks like I will place an order in the next day or two, in the mean time here is a few photos of the camera until the real thing arrives.

Darling Downs Tour Update

Roughly six weeks have passed since I arrived back from South Australia and I have done nothing of interest or note during that time. Not even a single solitary bike ride. A throat infection, a flare up of what I hope is torn rib cartilage, a mysterious muscular left upper arm soreness/deadness, general lethargy after night shifts and bad weather have taken there toll. What I think is torn rib cartilage seems to be slowly improving, the left arm problem remains an issue and will nessicate a visit to the local GP. Regardless, its time to pull my finger out and get a few trips organised for when my next rostered days off come around again.

With that being said, its time to drag out my DLT Tour plans mentioned in a previous post here I have reworked the route a little since then and have organised so it will incoporate 3 days of riding with a total distance of around 230km's. Overnight stays will be in Clifton, Gordon County Goomburra, and Killarney. The final itinerary should be something something close to the following;

Day 1: Killarney to Clifton 73 kms. After overnighting at Killarney I plan on an early start heading east to Warick for a lateish breakfast at The Bramble Patch Cafe before turning roughly north and heading to Allora following the Sunflower Route. Now Allora apparently has no camping/caravan park although on a previous visit I distinctly remember there being one and my GPS maps indicate a caravan park but an internet search comes up without a result. So I will probably continue on another 12kms to Clifton and camp there.

Day 2: Clifton to Gordon Country Goomburra 89 kms. The next moring I will head north east to the tiny village of Nobby for no other reason than I like the name of the place. Then turning east before slowly making my way south I will continue onto Goomburra and ride toward the Goomburra National Park which forms part of the Main Range National Park. This is a dead end road, partially unsealed, that leads up to the Forestry Reserve Road which brings you to a camping area that is the departure point for the parks lookouts and walking tracks. This time I will avoid this last section as it is spectaculary steep when I check the GPS route profile. Instead I will camp a little short of the National Park entrance at Gordon Country camping grounds which look remote and beautiful and come highly recommended on the internet.

Day 3: Gordon Country Goomburra return to Killarney 68 kms. The last day will see me cycling south through the towns of Freestone, Yangan, Emu Creek and Tannymorel before arriving back at Killarney.

This route through the Darling Dowms is mostly on back or secondary roads that are either sealed or unsealed and carry light traffic. The great thing about this area is that if you find that the road you are on is a bit heavy with traffic there will almost aways be another secondary road with lighter traffic that will still get you to your destination. More than likely it will not be the most direct route but if you are like me and hate traffic they are the perfect road to cycle on.

Looking at the calendar I am rostered off work for six days between November 15th and November 20th so the plan is to schedule this ride in between those dates.

Return to Brisbane Day 15

After extracting a late checkout from the Hotel at no extra cost I packed up around midday and caught a cab to the airport for an 8 hour wait until my 8pm flight. The flight home was very bumpy with turbulence pretty much the entire trip. Somehow, even though the plane left Adelaide 10 minutes late, it arrived close to a half hour earlier than the scheduled arrival time.

In summary this has been a good trip with some fantastic scenery. While it didn't end up being the Mawson Trail ride that is was intended to be it still had many highlights. In particular the Barossa and Clare Valleys as well as the Flinders Ranges were standouts for me. I barely scratched the surface of what there is to see and do around the Flinders Ranges, so a return trip is on the cards at some point. And camper van touring was not that bad considering this was my first time traveling that way. Not having to unpack my gear and drag it into a hotel every night is a definite advantage, plus, being able to my cook dinner in the van rather than eating out was not only less expensive but perfect for those nights I couldn't be bothered going out. However, a more comfortable permanent bed and a toilet in the van, (shower not as necessary) would make the experience more comfortable, especially for extended trips.

Rawnsley Park back to Adelaide Day 14

I managed a reasonably early start today for the five plus hour, 450km drive back to Adelaide. I traveled the more direct and less scenic route via Port Augusta and the highway that parallels the Great Australian Bight. The whole trip was not pleasant at all due to the van being blown all over the road in particular along the section of highway the follows the Great Australian bight and is exposed to the crosswinds from the sea. It was a case of tightly gripping the steering wheel and correcting for the wind gusts and hoping they didn't push you across the road into the path of an oncoming car. I think the Hi-Top design of the van made it prone cross winds and feeling 'light' on the road. I doubt I would of experienced the same problem in a road car.

I arrived in Adelaide sometime after 2pm and dropped the camper-van off then caught a cab back to the Adelaide CBD and the Hotel Paringa in Hindlely Street (party central and a gross street). Tomorrow will allow a sleep in before a pm flight back to Brissie.

Wilpena Pound Day Hike; Day 13

Well, I have definitely been slack this morning. I had planned to rise early and climb to the summit of St Marys Peak. This peak is the highest peak in Wilpena Pound and is a nine hour return hike. However, general slackness, a warm bed and a cold morning ensured that I slept in instead. When I did finally rouse from the campervan I ended up driving to Wilpena Pound where the visitor centre provide track informationon walks in and around the Pound. I set out on the Old Homestead and Wangara Lookout walk which leads through the Pound Gap, past the old Hill Homestead and ascends the easy edge of the Pound and up the lookout. There, I was greeted by an impressive panoramic view of the Pound with near 360 degree views of the range that encircles it.

Descending from the lookout I elected to take a short walk across the floor of the Pound. It is impressive in scale, eerily quiet, and comes with a sense of isolation despite the close proximity of civilastion. Emus', kangaroos with joeys, feral goats and even camels (according to some people I met who claimed to have just seen some) roam the valley floor and the different types of vegetation and towering gum trees were quite spectacular. Returning to the visitor centre I grabbed a late lunch, then, headed back to the campsite to start packing  for the return journey to Adelaide the following morning.

Flinders Ranges Tour Day 12

The mornings are a little bit chilly here in the Flinders Ranges. My campsite looks up to the peaks of the southern rim of Wilpena Pound which area spectacular site of a morning and in the evening when the sun is setting. Wilpena Pound is a rock basin formed by a rim of mountain ranges. The Pound is 17km long and 8km wide and its highest point is St Marys Peak at nearly 1200m high which I hope to climb up to tomorrow.

First thing this morning I drove up to Wilpena Pound which is about 25km's from Rawnsley Park Station. The views from the road leading into Wilpena Pound are something special as they are framed by the ramparts of the Pound and the unusual red coloring in its rock formations. At the Pound I checked out the visitor center and the trail head for walks into the Pound which I plan on doing tomorrow then drove north occasionally dodging a emu or two as they scampered across the road at times with chicks in tow.

I headed for Stokes Hill Lookout where the van struggled to get up the very steep rocky access road however, it was worth the effort as the lookout provided spectacular panoramas of Wilpena Pound, Mt Patawarta, and the Druid, Chace, Elder, Heysen and Bunker Ranges. To the north the hills fade away and the vast plains of the outback become evident. Wild flowers, various colored grasses and the red rock of the hills and ranges made the view even more scenic.

From Stokes Hill Lookout I headed south back to Hawker before traveling north again via roads that disappeared into the horizon without a single bend to them. Away from these paved roads the Moralana Scenic Drive took me over 28km of heavily corrugated dirt track along the Moralana Valley floor between the south western wall of Wilpena Pound and the Elder Range. The road is entirely through private property and also forms part of the Mawson Trail. A worthwhile detour and one that absolutely lived up to its scenic name.

The Moralana Scenic Drive ends just south of Rawnsley Park so it was just a short drive back to the campsite to get ready for a day of hiking tomorrow inside the Pound.

Clare to Rawnsley Park Flinders Ranges Day 11

Today was time to travel up into the Flinders Ranges for the final few days of the trip. Leaving Clare and heading north the weather improved with every kilometre until the sky was nearly cloudless. Georgetown, Gladstone, Laura and Stone Hut came and went before I arrived at Melrose which is nestled under the shadows of Mt Remarkable and is the oldest township in the Flinders Rangers. Travelling further north the landscape started to develop that 'outback' feel and the towns like Quorn and Hawker have that little bit of the wild west about them.

After Hawker it was around 40km to Rawnsley Park Station my stop for the next few nights. After following the straight highways across what seemed liked endless plains the ragged peaks of the Flinders Ranges came into view and the south western bluff of Wilpena Pound dominated the skyline. Rawnsley Park Station is perched under these bluffs and is still a working sheep station but essentially devotes itself to tourism in the form of a caravan park as well as other accommodation options. The station is vast and surrounded by the outback so it never felt like a conventional tourist park and the accommodation is well seperated. I was given a quiet spot to park my camper van, well away from other campers close to a small stream with Rawnsley Bluff towering above the site. Tomorrow I will be checking out Wilpena Pound as well as the surrounding Flinders Ranges.

Clare Valley Tour Day 10

It was a cold overcast morning so turned the heater on in the van and had a sleep in. Truth was I was pretty tired from yesterdays ride. Around midday I packed up and drove to Sevenhill via the Father Rogalski Loop, a route which is an off track excursion from the Riesling Trail and can be driven by car. The Sevenhill Winery is the oldest winery and vineyard in the Clare Valley and has been owned and operated by the Jesuits since 1851. The winery comes complete with the beautiful old functioning St Aloysius Church (with crypt) that is surrounded by the estates vines. Walking trails meander throughout the property and numerous old ruins cross their path. I’m not big on wineries but this was a magnificent property that my camera just didn’t do justice to.

From Sevenhill the route passes through a region established by Poles now called the Polish Hill River Valley then onto the historic old town of Mintaro which is reminiscent of an English Cotswold village with blue-stone buildings, stone churches, antique stores and cottage gardens. Outside Mintaro I made a brief visit to Martindale Hall, a 19th century mansion with coach house set on 45 pastoral acres and used in the film a Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Leaving Martindale Hall I travelled to Farrell Flat through the beautiful Clare Valley with endless vivid green fields that contrasted the numerous acres of flowering sunflowers. From the tiny village of Farrell Flat I turned back towards Clare, briefly following a few of the quiet unsealed roads that I would have travelled on if I had, as planned been riding the Mawson Trail. Tomorrow I will drive the 350kms or so north to the Flinders Ranges for three nights before I head back to Adelaide and home.

Riesling Trail Clare Valley Day 9

This morning I hired a mountain bike in Clare to ride the much publicised Riesling Trail which follows the contours and curves of a former railway line and takes you through mixed farmland, natural bushland and vineyards. The trail runs between Clare and Auburn with a recent extension north of Clare to Barinia Rd. The villages of Sevenhill, Penwortham, Watervale and Leasingham are all en route with off trail excursions offered to wineries and other scenic routes. All up the trail is a 35km one way so, being a linear trail it means a 70km day of cycling.

Having driven quite a few of the scenic roads around Clare I must say I believe the trail was a disappointment. To my mind the trail or rail corridor follows probably the least spectacular route through the region and when compared to say the Otago Rail Trail, it does not rate at all. Even our own Blackbutt to Linville Rail Trail offers better scenery in parts. Maybe the edge was taken of it because I had to push into a cold headwind for 40km’s. Or maybe, it was the persistent attacks on my head from territorial magpies (see slide show for very effective magpie head protection). That being said, away from the trail by only a short distance there are roads that when travelled show of this area far better than the trail manages to.

The trail ended up taking me six hours with a break in Auburn for lunch before heading back to Clare where this evening it is quite cool. People in South Australia must really feel the cold. Ever since I arrived in Adelaide they have been rugged up like it is the middle of winter yet at times I have been getting around in shorts. I mean it is cool, even chilly at times but not freezing! I had planned on doing more riding tomorrow on a different trail however, I think I will do some more driving instead with a trip to Sevenhill and maybe follow one or two other scenic tourist routes.

Barossa Valley to Clare Day 8

The Clare Valley was only roughly 60km north from where I had been staying at Kapunda but along way I managed a few interesting detours. The small town of Riverton was my first side track off the main route, mainly because it is one of the town located on the Mawson Trail that I would have passed through if I had of been riding. Back on the main road north again Auburn and Leasingham came and went before I turned east towards Mintaro which is a tiny well preserved mid 19th century rural village well known for its slate quarries and distinctive Victorian buildings.

Leaving Mintaro I took the back route into Clare via Sevenhill. Clare is a reasonable sized rural town with a busy main street (complete with shot foxes in the back of utes). The caravan park is located on the outskirts of town in quite pretty surroundings. The main area of the park was very crowded but they found me a powered site in secluded area of the park that is quite nice but a fair hike to the amenities block.

After getting my site sorted for the next few nights I went for a drive on the Spring Gully Loop which is one of the trails of the Riesling Trail that can be driven and led me through vineyards, farms and a conservation park. Then it was back to Clare to buy groceries for the next couple of days.

Barossa Valley Day 7

A cold morning and only a few degrees overnight but the weather looked more promising this morning. Today I roughly drove the Barossa Valley Heritage Scenic Trail which starts in Greenock not far from Kapunda where I'm staying. After Greenock the drive took me through the local vine growing regions and along the apparently famous palm lined Seppeltsfield Road. From there it was into the largish town of Tanunda with a quick stop at the Tanunda Chateau (complete with cricket oval)before arriving in the tiny rural town of Bethany.

Bethany is located at the base of the Mengler Hill Range which gave great views over the northern Baaroosa Vally and is the site of one of the hill climbs in the Tour Down Under (complete with Livestrong signage on the tarmac) The Mengler Range brings you down into Angaston (where I bought my $15 heater previously) and along quiet roads through small towns such as Light Pass before arriving in Nuriootpa one of the larger towns in this area.

Barossa Valley Day 6

So first up I should mention that I haven't taken any photos today as the weather has been completely rubbish. This morning was another cloudy, drizzling day so I hung around the van until midday when there was a slight break in the weather. I took a drive out and around some of the towns in the Barossa Valley and drove through many of the well known vineyard plantations. I had decided to have lunch at Maggie Beers cafe and farm in Nuriootpa but when I arrived it was too crowded for my tastes. It started raining heavily again so I headed back to the van with the plan of doing this route again tomorrow if the weather is a little better as some of the scenery was quite special.

On another note the tap water here is foul and boiling it not only makes it taste worse but the smell it lets off when boiling is enough to make me feel light headed (or maybe that's just the gas from cooking in the van)! I think the water in this area might come from underground sources but anyway I've only managed two sips of my coffee over two days. To make matters worse when I went to fill up the vans water tanks I found the cap had been left off. Now the van is parked in a fairy secluded area with nobody close by and I don't remember leaving the cap open. So having thoughts that somebody might have put something nasty in it overnight I gave the tank a good flushing before refilling then, I went straight out and bought four litres of filtered water. No more drinking the van water for me!

Hahndorf to Barossa Valley Day 5

Overnight it rained heavily and this morning is rather damp and overcast. After a late breakfast I left Hanhdorf with no real plan in mind other than ending up in the Clare Valley. I had to retrace some of my route from yesterday as far as Birdwood before taking the scenic route through Mt Pleasant and Springton.

Outside of Mt Pleasant I followed an unpaved road lined with huge trees providing a canopy overhead while beyond stretched acres of rolling green fields. It was beautiful countryside. From there I continued on through Eden Valley with vineyards becoming more numerous as I approached the Barossa Valley.

Entering the slightly larger town Angaston I was hoping to find a Big W store to buy a portable upright heater as the camper van gets quite cold at night. No such luck but I spotted a hardware store in an old wool shed and thought I would ask them. They told me they had packed away there winter stock yesterday but never the less they led me out the back to a storeroom piled ceiling high with stock. We found the pile of heaters but the ones on top were more than what I wanted to spend, but the bloke said no worries and we dived in up to thigh deep in heaters until at the bottom of the pile we found a heater that was marked on special for 15 bucks. Perfect, and as tonight is quite cold I can say that it is heating the van very nicely.

Heading out of Angaston the scenery was in part stunning mainly due to the views being unhindered by trees or forests for the first time since leaving Adelaide. Rolling hills that had a patchwork quite of dense green unflowering sunflower crops intertwined with bursts of brilliant yellow flowering crops that were contrasted by the dark threatening sky.

Passing through Nuriootpa and arriving at Kapunda I though I had better check my GPS to see how far the Clare Valley was as it was getting close to 5pm. According to the GPS it was still 65kms away and not wanting to travel that far I started looking for a caravan park. I found one on the outskirts of Kapunda, sparsely occupied, with lots of trees. So that's were I spent the night, in a secluded part of the caravan park, I'm actually the only one in this section and the surroundings are quite nice.

Adelaide Hills Day 4

Today I took a north-south loop around the Adelaide Hills. Firstly I headed south to the town of Mt Barker with a visit to its summit. From there it was north through Woodside, Lobethal, Gumeracha and into Birdwood. Then east across to Cudlee Creek before driving south again along the Gorge Rd and back into Hahndorf for the night.

The Adelaide Hills have been very green with some great views. I didn't take many pictures today as it is quite overcast and my camera struggles in low light. Also, there are very few places along the hill roads that you can stop and take pictures and generally there are limited areas that provide expansive views of the area.

Adelaide to Hahndorf Day 3

This morning I got a taxi from the Hotel to south Adelaide to pick up the campervan from the rental place. I couldn’t get the campervan till 10am so it was a later start to the morning than I had hoped for. I scored well with the campervan, it was brand new and has never been slept in or hired out. It is a 5 speed manual with all the mod-cons and very easy to drive. It has a kitchen sink, microwave, fridge and gas hotplate. The twin bench seats and table in the back collapse down at night to form a double bed. Above, in the HiTop section of the campervan there is a ceiling area that also turns into a bed. It also comes with outdoor tables/chairs etc.

I didn’t have much of a plan today other than to head out into the Adelaide Hills area. With the help of my GPS I left Adelaide CBD on as many minor roads as I could stopping first at the hill town of Stirling. From there, I toured through more hill towns, Healthfield, Mylor, Aldgate and Bridgewater before ending up at the old German town of Hahndorf.

Hahndorf was not quite what I imagined it would be. For some reason I pictured it as being situated on the edge of a cliff with expansive views out across Adelaide. Instead the township is flat with a single very long main street with obvious German influence. I think the best way to describe it would be as a Maleny on steriods, more touristy with less of the alternative community and more of the New Farm/Newstead demographic. The entire main street is lined with restaurants, cheese shops, wine cellars and gift/craft shops. Vineyards are perched on the hilltops above the town.

One thing amount all these hill towns is that they would be spectacular in Spring and Autumn when the trees that line all their streets in would be a riot of colour rather than mostly bare as they are now. There is definitely a change in temperature now here in the Adelaide Hills, it is a bit chilly tonight. Tomorrow will be more touring through the towns in the area but I will be covering alot more area than I have today.

Adelaide CBD Day 2

At around 9am I left the Hotel and went for a brief walk along the River Torrens before heading back to the Rundle Steet Mall for breakfast. Then a walk through the city then a stroll down to south Adealide CBD before walking back to the River Torrens and a walk along both of its banks for a few kilometres. I had a quick look around the outside of the Adelaide Oval before arriving back at the Hotel for a late lunch. I will spend the afternoon sorting out how to get to the campervan hire place tomorrow and organising my route and accomodation for tomorrow night.

Brisbane to Adelaide Day 1

My flight left Brisbane at 8pm for Adelaide from a very busy Brisbane Airport. The flight down was not to bad just a bit bumpy but nothing too concerning. The flight time was 2:45hrs which was 15mins late due to a strong headwind. Virin Blue offferd me a middle exit row seat on the flight which was brilliant for the extra leg room.

I arrived at around 10:20pm Adelaide time and caught a taxi from the airport to the hotel which took me through the restraraunt/nightclub area of Adelaide which was very busy as it was a Friday night. The taxi passed a police horse patrol of eight horses in formation as they patrolled the CBD streets, apparently a routine Friday/Saturday night event here in Adealide. I doubt that you see that anywhere else in Australia, especially as the taxi had to dodge the horse poo on the main streets.

The Hotel Mecure Grosvernor is ok, I arrived just before 11pm and went to bed at 1am.

Darling Downs Tour.

Now that the Mawson Trail ride has been called off it leaves me short of a multi day ride on the Thorn Nomad to iron out any kinks in my set up/equipment before I ride the Outer Hebrides next year.

So if my work roster doesn't change I should have nine rostered days off work shortly after I get back from Adelaide. This should allow time for a multi-day bike ride and gave me the idea for a DLT or Darling Downs Tour of three or four days.

Initial planning suggests a route commencing at Spring Creek Cottages down the mountain to Killarney through Tanneymorrel and then overnight at Warwick. From Warwick I would follow the Sunflower Route to Allora, overnight there before continuing the next day through Goomburra and Freestone before spending the night at Yangan. The final day would pass through Emu Vale and Killarney before the huge climb up the mountain back to Spring Creek Cottages.

The distance would be around 170km which should mean only a 3 day ride. That would reduce the need for one of the overnight stays but it would require some rework of initial itinerary listed above. Just about all the ride will be on back country roads either paved or unpaved with very minimal riding on major roads other than short distances into townships. That's the plan, stay tuned for more details when I get back from Adelaide.

More Changes

Well its the night before I fly out for Adelaide and due to the wild South Australian weather my travel plans have changed again. I won't be taking my bike as originally planned due to the closure of many of the roads in the Flinders Ranges are still flooded and the tracks would be nothing short of a quagmire.

Regardless, the plan remains same, to take a campervan road trip from Adelaide up into the Flinders Ranges. Weather permitting I will hire a bike in the Clare Valley and ride the Riesling, Rattler, and Riverton trails with a short day trip on the Mawson Trail at some point. This ineary could change as the South Australian weather is not looking that promising for at least the first week I am down there.

It is disappointing, as these holidays were booked for the sole purpose of riding the entire Mawson Trail. I haven't given up on riding the trail but I won't be dedicating 20 or more days in holiday leave to ride the trail. Instead, the new plan is to ride the trail in sections during the multiple rostered days I have off work. This will take some planning, plus quite a few flights down to Adelaide however, I'm thinking I could do it in three sections, probably spread over one year. Time will tell.

Daisy Hill Route

I've never GPS logged my regular route around Daisy so, today I did. I have always measured it on my bikes computer at 15kms however, the GPS unit has logged the route at 14.02kms. I'm not sure how accurate this is as it also clocked my top speed at 74.5km/hr, LOL, as if!

Change of Plans

A rather large change of plans for my Mawson Trail ride/holiday. A badly timed cold left me to crook to ride so I have delayed leaving for Adelaide until the 10th September. This means I don't have enough time to ride the whole trail so a new plan was needed.

So I will be combining a self drive holiday in a campervan with some riding along the way. The plan at the moment is to drive through the Adealide Hills and through the Barossa and Clare Valleys. There is an extensive network of trails through this region so I hope to base myself closeby and do day rides throughout the area.

Then, I plan to drive up into the Flinders Ranges and do a 4 day out and back ride along the Mawson Trail. The ride will start at Rawnsley Park spending the first night at Wilpena then onto Blinman which is the end of the Mawson Trail. After overnighting it I will return via the same route to Wilpena spending the night there before returning to Rawnsley Park on the Mawson Trail. All up about 200km for this section through the Flinders which is said to be arguably the best scenery on the Mawson Trail.

These plans all depend on the weather as at present South Australia is being hit with wild weather and many of the roads/tracks I plan to ride are impassable right now. So it is probably a good thing I postponed my holiday as I could of been holed up in a campsite somewhere unable to ride anywhere until the flood waters subsided. Fingers crossed for better weather next week

Killarney Kapers Ride

An early start was required for this ride which starts at the base of Spring Creek Mountain on the Killarney side of the range. From there it was a short push along the bitumen over the QLD/NSW border then a left turn at Woodenbong onto the Mt Lindsay Highway briefly before starting the long climb on the dirt along Acacia Scrub Road and over the Acacia Plateau.

The climb over and along the Acacia Plateau eventually led me to the entrance of Koreelah National Park. From there I followed the rabbit proof fence along the QLD/NSW border with expansive views down onto the Queensland side of the border. Leaving the border fence I cut through Koreelah National Park and exited onto White Swamp Road briefly before I joined the rollercoster ride that is the Head Gate Road.

A long hard ride/push along Head Gate Road with clear views to Wilsons Peak deposited me briefly onto the tarmac of Spring Creek Road. After a few kilometres on the tarmac I took the dirt track right onto the Condamine River Road and its 14 river crossings. Under the cover of darkness and 14 river crossings later I hit the bitumen again for 4-5km ride back to the car.

Mt Maroon Summit Climb

The Cotswold track to the summit of Mt Maroon begins at the end of the Cotswold unsealed road, crosses private property through a gate that leads up a small hill. After passing a few dams you continue up the ridge as it gradually becomes steeper. A track follows the steep eastern ridge-line so that you are continually gaining elevation. Eventually you come across Egg Rock that juts out over the valley below offering unhindered views to the North and East. The track then begins to flatten out and descends briefly as the imposing 200 meter North East face comes into view well know for its climbing routes in particular the Ruby of India.

As you pass the impressive North East cliff face the track ascends very steeply up a prominent gully that requires some scrambling. As you up the gully it tapers off into thick scrub. You then follow the winding track for 100 meters until a small seasonal creek is reached, which is a traditional camp site.

From this point there is a worthwhile lookout point to venture up to before crossing some rocky slabs that require a short scramble up to the summit of the South Peak and 360 degree unhindered views of the scenic rim and beyond.

Spring Creek and Girraween National Park Trip

I headed up to Spring Creek for two days with the intention of giving the Thorn Nomad its first work out on a 62km trip from Spring Creek across the border into NSW and back to Spring Creek via the Condamine River Road. It was not to be though. When I unloaded the bike at Spring Creek I found I had left the quick release through axle for the front wheel at hoem. Ahhhh!

So I chilled out at Spring Creek Cottages the first night with a roaring fire and the next morning after Bev's great breakfast I headed down to Girraween National Park via the old Mt Lindsay Rd. There I climbed up to the first Pyramid (steeper than I thought it would be) with its great views over the National Park. At some stage I will have to go back there and do more walks in the park.

After that it was back to the cottages and dinner at the cafe with pasta cauliflower and mushroom ragu followed by upside down tarte tatin with ice craem and toffee sauce, awseome! The weather was great both days with clear blue skies and cold mornings with the temperature still only around 2 degrees at 7:30 on both mornings. I will have to get back there soon to do the ride on the Nomad.

Future Cycling Tours

The following are the cycling tours that I have planned or am in the process of planning

1)The Mawson Trail South Australia - September 2010

2)The Outer Hebredian Islands Scotland - June 2011

3)Kangaroo Island South Australia - November 2011

Warrie Circuit Springbrook

Today, I traveled down to Springbrook to walk the Warrie Circuit which is part of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. Unfortunately, 150 metres into the walk my feet went from under me on slippery moss covered rock and I slammed down onto my back, completely winding me. My back pack, thankfully  saved the back of my head from slamming onto the rock and most likely a more serious injury. 

Regaining my breath and checking nothing was broken I noticed that the lens on my camera was now bent at 45 degrees. Fortunately, I managed to straighten it and the telescopic zoom worked alright but the rim of the lens body was partially smashed and the lens protector will not close. However, the camera still worked well enough to take pictures during the rest of the walk.

The Warrie Circuit is the longest walk in the park and takes you past 11 waterfalls. Leaving Canyon Lookout, I continued 300 metres on the right fork to the Rainbow Falls. Walking behind the falls you can see a rainbow through the shimmering water. Continuing along the base of the cliffs to Goomoolahra Falls, I was confronted by the spectacular view of the rainforest valley below and the Meeting of the Waters. 

Working my way along the base of the cliffs I past Ngarii-dhum Falls before gradually winding my way down through pristine subtropical rainforest to the Meeting Of The Waters, the spot where several creeks converge. The track then zigzags back up to a ridge passing the triple waterfalls of Poondahra, Poonyahra and Blackfellow Falls. Then, reaching the track junction, I turned and passed under Blackfellow Falls, before climbing back up to the Canyon Lookout and the car-park.

Thorn Nomad MK2; Its Arrived

The Nomad arrived today. It came in one huge box. First impressions even though the frame is wrapped in protection is that the build quality is very good, and the Brooks saddle looks fantastic. More pictures as I get it assembled.





Customs and GST

I got a phone call from the air freight company this morning saying the bike is in Brisbane and ready for collection. All I had to do was pay the custom duties and GST and the bike will be delivered. So I shelled out $571.95 in duties and tax and the bike should be delivered tomorrow. I was hoping to have a bit of a win and avoid paying the GST as I had heard in recent times that a couple of Thorn bikes had slipped through customs without GST being charged, but it was not to be.

Ortlieb Panniers

The Nomad MK2 is not a touring bike without panniers and the best panniers are apparently made by the Germans. So, I have ordered a set of red waterproof Ortlieb rear Bike Packer Plus panniers in addition to a waterproof rack pack which sits crossways on top of the panniers and a handlebar bag with map case..

I tried sourcing these items in Australia but ended up ordering them from America. Even accounting for the exchange rate and shipping I have come out about $500 dollars ahead than if I had bought them in Australia.

For security I added the option of an anti-theft attachment and a pair of detachable waterproof outer pockets for the panniers. I decided not to purchase front panniers for two reason;
firstly I don't want to put extra weight over the Nomads suspension fork which could affect the handling. Secondly, the Ortlieb rear panniers are quiet large and when combined with the top pack-rack will easily carry all the equipment, food, and clothes I need for a few weeks tour.

What!! No Tonka Yellow!!

I recieved some disappointing news today. Thorn Cycles emailed to inform me that a Nomad frame in my size and in Tonka Yellow would not be available until late September of 2010. That is just no use to me has I need the bike for the Mawson Track ride in early September. So, with some disappointment I settled for the powder coated black frame. The specification for the Nomad has been finalised and is listed below;

*Thorn Nomad Mk2 Mtt Black
*Thorn Nomad MK2 S+S couplings
*Magura Menja 2009 Suspension Fork 100 mm Travel - Black / Red OEM
*Andra 30 CSS / BLACK Rohloff EX / BLACK Deore (wheel kit)
*Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 CC 14 speed gear hub 32h Black with EX box
*Swissstop Blue Brake Pads for XTR Brakes
*Shimano Deore HB-M530 QR Parallax Front Hub 32 Hole - Black
*CroMo Rear Quick Release Alloy Skewer for 135 mm OLN Hubs - Silver
*Schwalbe 26 Inch 559 x 20 mm High Pressure PU Rim Tape
*Rigida Andra 30 26" (559) MTB Tungsten Carbide Rims - Black
*Schwalbe Marathon Extreme HS402 Folding Tyre - 26 x 2.25
Shimano XTR M970 V-brake upgrade inc. XTR Levers
*Thorn chainset 170mm 5 arm cranks (73mm shell)
*Pair Thorn triple solo alloy crankset length 170mm
* Shimano UN54 Bottom Bracket 73 mm Shell English Thread 113 mm
*Shimano Type Chromed 8 mm Allen Key Crank Bolts
*Thorn 110mm 5arm Reversible SINGLE ring 38T
*Brooks B17 Standard saddle Honey with black steel rails
*Sram 3/32 Inch PC890 Chain Double or Triple Chainsets 114 Links 7 / 8 Speed
*Cane Creek 3G Thudbuster suspension seatpost, 590g includes neoprene cover
*Shimano PD-MX30 DX ATB Flat Pedals
*Water bottle Profile Design Cage
*Cateye CC-MC100W Micro Wireless Cycle Computer - Black/Clear
*Thorn Expedition Steel Rear Cycle Pannier Rack - Black Powdercoat
*Thorn Front Loading Alloy Ahead Stem
*Thorn 6061 Alloy Straight Handlebars - 5 Deg Bend 580 mm Wide - Black

New Zealand Central Otago Rail Trail 2010

Day 1 (19/05/10); Clyde Rail Trailhead to Omakau

Day 2 (20/05/10); Omakau to Ranfurly

Day 3 (21/05/10); Ranfurly to Middlemarch

Thorn Nomad MK2

Finally, after a year of procrastinating, I have taken the plunge and purchased a Thorn Nomad MK2. Thorn Cycles are an English company that specialize in steel framed touring bikes. At first I couldn't decide which of their bikes to purchase as none of the bikes in their range seemed to fit my requirements or budget entirely.

Then, Thorn decided to make their most popular the Nomad, available with front suspension forks rather than rigid forks. I was sold at that point. Adding to the appeal is fact they design the frame around the Rohloff internal gearbox, a major plus when cycle touring. Lower gears, no derailleur and minimal maintenance, what more could I ask for?

Another very expensive option that I have gone with is the S&S couplings. They allow allow the bike frame to be broken down into two pieces for ease of travel, in particularly, air travel. The couplings don't weaken the frame at all and in fact, apparently, strengthen it slightly. After finalizing the bikes specification I will be placing an order in the next day or so.

The bike pictured below is fairly similar to the spec bike I have ordered. Visually, the only differences are that I will not have front and rear mudguards or the front pannier rack Tthe front forks will be suspension not rigid as per the photo, the Brooks saddle will be honey in colour and yes, I have ordered the bike in Thorns new killer colour; Tonka Yellow.