GUEST BLOG – Jess writes about the Redhead Festival


My take on Redhead Days is a little different to Davey’s… While I fully sympathise with the plight of the downtrodden gingers, wept for the guy in the Being Ginger Netflix documentary, and would argue strongly that the lack of ginger emojis is a mild form of racism… I myself never endured any ginger torment as a child.

Sure, there were what Dee would call my “terminally ill years” between the age of ten and 15, before braces and eyebrow tinting, but even through those awkward teenage times, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked, “Is that your natural hair colour?” I’d have enough money to hit up every ginger festival in every country every year.

I know this makes me (even more of) a minority, and I consider myself lucky for never having been made to feel embarrassed about my hair colour. (Except maybe for the time I dated a guy who turned out to be obsessed with Annie, and I only found out when he introduced me to his grandmother, who said, “Oh, she does look like Annie!” That was awkward.) My ginger pride stems from my upbringing, and the strong female gingers I had as role models – my beautiful mum, who I watched being constantly adored by my dad, and my fiery aunty, a total knockout loved by everyone. I don’t even know if you could call it “ginger pride”… Our hair colour, while acknowledged and celebrated, was just a small part of who we are. It was a non-issue, so I never had to overthink it, and I just kinda liked my hair colour. Even appreciated that it made me a little different.

So for me, Redhead Days seemed like a bit of fun. Something that would make a cool story… “Yeah, so I’m traveling through Europe for six months, and my first stop is a little town in the Netherlands for a three-day celebration of gingers.” Why not?!

But then I arrived in Breda, and my little ginger bubble burst. For the first time in my life, I actually felt self-conscious about my hair colour. While there was a strong sense of solidarity amongst the gingers, it was the non-ginger ginger enthusiasts that really made me uneasy. All of a sudden I was on display, and I didn’t like it one bit.

Standing in the town square, men with cameras would swarm and take photos of me like I was an animal in the zoo. One guy got so close I had to give him an “I can see you” eyebrow raise so that he’d back off.

Probably the most unsettling encounter was with a (non-ginger) guy from Vienna who claimed to be a journalist. He approached Dee & me in the park one afternoon looking for a story, with a bottle of coke and pack of cigarettes his only tools of trade. Within five minutes of awkwardly sleazy chitchat, he was convinced he and I were “the perfect pair” and suggested we be Facebook friends. Feeling a little flirty (in hindsight, foolish!) from the wine, I said that if he could find me at the pub crawl later that night, we could make that happen. He did find me. Twice. At two different pubs, among hundreds of gingers. In the dark of night in a foreign town, he seemed even more creepy than during the day, forcing me to make a French exit and go home to bed.

The official group photo was the last straw. Being herded into the photo location space, and then separated by a barrier from the non-gingers while the photographers snapped at us from the top of a cherry picker, just felt a little too much.

So while Redhead Days was an interesting experience, I was relieved when the weekend came to an end, and I could just throw my hair up in a ponytail and move on. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d washed and blow dried my hair three days in a row. Because hey, if I’m going to be photographed unknowingly, I want to be looking my best. 💁 (Blonde emoji used for lack of a ginger one.)

And here’s Jess’s blog: The End of August

Killarney Overnightah — NIGHT 1, DAY 2

A Thing From DAY 1 (see it here) I Forgot To Mention:

At maybe the 4th or 5th Condamine river crossing we see this 4WD waiting for us to finish crossing. It’s completely stopped at the other side. In no time we get out of the river and then the car sets off and just starts gunning it across the river as fast as it could go — so unnecessarily. It was bouncing all over the place and making such a racket. We all just lol’d. That’s not how you do it. Duggie said (like he was talking to the driver), “Dude, the river isn’t that deep. If I dipped my dick in the water I wouldn’t even get my balls wet.” TRUE STORY. 


So it was about 3:30pm when we got to the pub. Killarney Hotel is definitely a country pub. Lining up at the bar was a genuine cowgirl in boots with spurs. Later Scott was like, “I only thought that stuff existed in old movies.” Dan went inside to sort out the rooms but then he was back saying they didn’t have my booking for the motel section. Argh! But they did have a room upstairs and so I took that. We all paid upfront and I was desperate to get outta my kit so I raced upstairs with my bike. Then I hear this, “Excuse me love…” And it was one of the hotel workers telling me to put my bike in the shed out the back. “Is it secure?” I said and she said it would get locked later. Last time we were here we got to put our bikes in our rooms. Oh well.

After I had changed Scott and I went out to the shed to check it out. There were kegs and cartons of beer and hay bails so we figured there’d be no way they’d leave it unlocked overnight.

20160521_193556_zpstmd9tqs0Later in the night Dan took this shot. Someone had hidden or secured or just dumped some hay in front of our rigs. Hmm


Just after we had arrived in town we had convened at the local Foodworks and I had scoffed down 2 of their rather dated-looking sausage rolls (plus an ice-coffee and a coke) and then after my first beer once we got to the pub it all felt super-tight in my stomach and I had to go for a bit of a walk to get things loosened up again. So I was a couple of beers behind when I got back. We were all camped out in the smokers section on the front deck.

I went inside and found a spare form-guide and stuffed my Condamine-soaked-through shoes with the scrunched up paper. Later I found more newspaper and did the same to everyone else’s shoes. They would thank me later for that bit of genius.

Some locals started talking to us — a little patronisingly it should be said. But we didn’t care. We were on our best behaviour and having a good time. There was a lot of hi-fiving and back slapping and talk of how tough the day had been. I asked Duggie if he would have included that first detour loop if he knew how epic the ride would be and he said, “No…I wouldn’t…but I’m glad we did it. You know?” And I totally understood what he meant and agreed. It hurt, but it really gave the ride something special.

IMG_0003Here’s Scott getting acquainted with the pub-dog.


After a tag-team system we were soon all showered and changed and the pub was now getting pretty busy. Lots of guys in cowboy hats. Lots of kids in cowboy hats. Heaps of people wearing sleeveless puffy jackets. To order food you lined up at a section of the bar. We let the line-up get a little shorter and then jumped on it. Most of us ordered this steak sandwich and James Squire combo deal for $15. Bargain. But the barman looked a bit perplexed at this fancy city-beer and had a bit of trouble finding them.

After hoofing down all our meals and sides (I think Scott had two mains) Duggie then spied the jukebox and as we all had unwanted coins weighing down our kit we all pooled our resources. And Duggie set about queuing up the next 50 or so songs. (Only a slight exaggeration). He said there was a LOT of Pantera. Thankfully he didn’t select any of those tracks.



20160521_213222_zpssog75ay6Photos by Dan!

Suddenly we were back in the smoker’s lounge opposite a group of three women. Gradually we all got talking. I think the two pub puppies facilitated things. (They belonged to the pub but the two cats were strays they said). We were all having a good time but it seems there was some politics going on that we weren’t aware of. Suddenly that famed “country hospitality” wasn’t as forthcoming. Some of the staff seemed to be a little upset. Agitated even. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn’t get to witness much of this as I crashed into bed at 9:30 well before stuff escalated. So what follows is sometimes what I remember, and sometimes what I was told the next day.

I’m gonna try and be impartial here. So I will just point out the case against us and you can decide.

1) We drank everyone under the table. I certainly thought I might get refused service when I started buying rumbos. Scott said exactly the same thing.

2) We were eating some snackfood (like nuts and chips) from the Foodworks. And I guess that is a bit uncool seeing as they were selling that sort of stuff too.

3) I bet the tracks Duggie picked on the jukebox hadn’t been ever, ever been played in that place.

4) We were just being friendly with some local ladies and how were we to know their facebook status might have been set to “It’s Complicated”.

5) And I guess we were charming and funny and super cool. I can understand our awesomeness was a bit confronting.

6) We were a pack of blow-ins on push bikes for Christ sake. How offensive can you get?

7) And yes, we did stay up a bit late… More on that later.

According to Scott the staff suddenly called last drinks just before 11pm while there was still 20 people about. The 4 crew remaining went upstairs to the back balcony with some takeaways. Some of you may have seen *that* Instagram pic of Duggie. Here it is in case you missed it:

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.37.55 pm

I think Dan wandered off to bed next. Then Duggie. But Scott and Wookie were still socialising.


At about 1:30am I drifted out of sleep. My room was at the farthest end of the hall — next to the bathroom. All of us had been put in the southern wing of the hotel in rooms 1 to 5. I think I heard the lady that organised our rooms saying that she had put us all together and kinda implied that we were away from other guests.

IMG_0005This was my bed BTW. My feet went way over the end.

And by the sound coming from across the hall I just prayed that was the case. By “sound” I mean a woman giggling and then a voice I kinda recognised as maybe Scott delivering another zinger — then more giggling. The walls of this place were paper thin. Ancient VJs. And Scott seemed to have a lot of zingers up his sleeve. Far more than Bill Shorten.

Eventually I drifted back to sleep praying we wouldn’t get in trouble. Then at approximately 2:15am I woke up busting for a pee. Just as I stood up out of bed I hear this BANG and then a bit of muffled commotion, the toilet being used (rather noisily) and definitely no more zingers. Then silence. But by then I had dived back into bed and folded my legs together and willed myself back into slumber. At dawn I was woken by cows bleating and then bizarrely a voice coming from a loud speaker quite a long distance away. The Country is weird.

I went to the bathroom and then as I came out this random guy was coming in through the still dark hall and I said, “G’Day” but he just kinda gruffed at me.

“Oh man.” I thought. He must hate me (us). I looked up the hall and the only open door was only metres away from what I assumed was the centre of all that partying just 4 hours ago.

By 6:30 I was downstairs and made myself a coffee (I didn’t realise they still sold International Roast) and read the paper — which incredibly was the Sunday edition: pretty civilised for the Country. Then that guy from before was there. I said hello again as warmly as I could manage expecting some more grief, but he must have mellowed after his shower and he said “Hi”. I waited a minute then asked him what he was up to today. He was doing the 10k fun-run up to Queen Mary Falls which started at 7:15. Right! Duggie had warned me about this. One of his mates was doing it too. We caught up with her later.

It took quite a while for anyone else to join me. Eventually Wookie was down and I set about getting the bikes out of the shed. The air was pretty crisp but it wasn’t brutally cold. I was comfortable in my kicks with arm and leg warmers to cover almost every other bit of my appendages. I guessed it was just above 10 degrees. (No where near as cold as last time we were here).

Soon Duggie was down and then Dan looking far more rested than anyone. When I brought up the delicate details of what happened last night it seemed Dan was even more oblivious than me – having slept like a log the whole night through. Jelly.





So then I quizzed Wookie and Duggie about just what had gone down last night. And we all had to be very quiet cause it was so early and we had some controversial subjects to discuss. But I slowly pieced together what that commotion just after 2PM was all about. I can’t really explain it, but all I can say is that Wookie had had enough and banged on Scott’s door demanding the partying ended and that led to some guests leaving and the hotel being dead-quiet again. As far as I know everyone got home safely.


So for the second time in two days I was the designated “get Scott outta bed” guy. My first strategy was creeping up the creaky stairs and quietly knocking on his door. Unfortunately no one knew the exact number of his room. So I ended up knocking on this door and an old guy emerged looking entirely mystified. At least he was dressed I thought.

I apologised as profusely (and as silently) as I could manage and then knocked on the door next. No answer. Not even any stirring.

Back downstairs we collectively decided I should try calling him. Ring. Ring. And then, “…Hello.” Thankfully he sounded quite composed. “Time to get up Scotty,” I said. “Ok.” he replied. And though it took him a lot longer to get ready this time, he was downstairs and eating breakfast and looking quite decent. I gave him the sliver of Panadol I had left after me and Duggie had got stuck into it. He was very excited about that.

The dude who I had just met upstairs (and his mate) were now downstairs in the backyard area with us having a durrie. They didn’t seem to have noticed (or cared) about all that nocturnal partying.

IMG_0292Scott eating his breakfast at the kids table. Deservedly it should be said.


So that part of the adventure over and we were rolling again. About 7ks in and we were starting that climb up to Queen Mary Falls. Immediately we saw the straggling runners on the road from that running thing. I felt I needed to say hi to all of them I was passing but after about 50 I just kept rolling and minded my own business. Most of them looked like they were cooked and didn’t really mind having to make an extra effort of saying “Hi” back at me.




20160522_0821010_zpsalrhfkzrThis was a thing. At least twice up the climb. (photo by Dan)

20160522_081427_zpscvxm9dtfThe runner’s sag-wagon. (Photo by Dan)

We stripped off all our extra layers only about 600m into the climb. Just above where this Dan’s pic was taken. It was getting warm. Duggie got to say HI to his pal and at the top it was madness with runners and buses and cars everywhere. But the climb wasn’t over and we headed up to the Carr’s lookout about 15ks from the bottom.


A quick stop at the lookout and we were into that first crazy downhill. (3km of nuts-berg) I warned everyone as much as I could about how steep it was and how it had this left-hand hairpin which had almost been my undoing last time I was here.

We made it down safely and the cows on the verge at the plateau didn’t mind us (unlike last time). I forgot to tell you that on Saturday we had to deal this massive cow chewing the grass on the verge half on the road and seemingly oblivious to us. I was leading and came to a complete stop about 30 metres away. Despite it being midway through a downhill section I signalled to everyone to stop and while everyone skidded to a halt Scotty did a big “WHOOP!” and the cow freaked out and charged away — we resumed rolling.

The next descent was steeper and longer and there were bunches of motorbikes coming up at the same time. When I saw the first bunch I was so freaked out I did a few skids in my attempt to lock-off some speed. (Last time we had this road to ourselves cause of that fallen tree blocking all traffic right at the bottom.) So I was at least 200 metres behind everyone else. The disc brakes on this rigs were now whining and sounded like they were rubbing the pads. Scott explained that when they get that cooked they can get warped by the heat.


So I had missed this IN-JOKE about spotting windmills that Duggie and Wookie had designed. Anytime you called out a windmill you got a point. So at the end of this ride the stakes were high. Everyone except me and Scott were on almost equal points — at about 4 each. So there was a bit of competition happening. Anytime a ridge was looming it was best to be in front just in case you got the first to spot one. And Scott was now in on it too after getting a single point on the board and thinking with just 20ks to go he was still a chance. It took a bit of getting used to when someone would SCREAM and POINT and I thought the world was coming to an end — but it was just another one calling out a windmill.


Naturally Scott the most enthusiastic. I tried to get on board but the only contribution I made it was a tie with Duggie. Oh well. At a few points right in the death the crew was swaggering all over the road not concentrating at all on the conditions desperately looking at the country on either side like a new-age Don Quixote. At a few points I almost ran up the back of someone who just decided to stall while they scanned the horizon or wondered if a car smashing over a crest would wipe someone out because they were drunkenly taking up all sides of the bitumen.

So the tally was:



ME — (1)

image1Photo by Wookie


I was really suffering in the last bit. It was hot and I wasn’t getting enough food or water in me. My kit had that halo of extreme salt-sweat. I had really underestimated how brutal this section was. Exposed to the sun and a lot of shitty little climbs right at the end. I had no chance of spotting windmills let alone keeping my shit together. Thankfully Wookie got a flat (sorry Brad) and I got a decent rest and a chance to stock up on fluids and food.

But then we were back at Mt Alford and the windmill prize was divided equally. Thankfully the cars were just as we had left them. The pub was open and we packed up our gear and I was first to stumble inside — I was so cooked. I started looking around a little bleary from all that previous effort. The place looked kinda nice. I found my way to a menu sitting on the bar with a sign saying “Order All Food Here”. And then I hear this rather annoyed voice saying, “Kitchen doesn’t open until 12”. It came from a woman sitting at a table all by herself who just might have looked related to that grumpy staffer back at Killarney. “What time is it?” I ask. No answer.

I ask Scott who has just joined me. It was 11:20. We can get lunch at Boonah I say. Scott agrees but then looks like he is on a mission. He disappears deeper into the bar. I walk outside into the hot glare and heat and break the news to the rest. Everyone agrees at my suggestion to go to the cafe at Boonah — the one from the Boonah breakfast. “But do they have beer?” everyone asks. “Yes they do. Totally.” I say. I was only about 50% sure I remembered that. But thankfully I was right.

Then I was in the car cranking the aircon and Scott eventually emerges carrying a 6-pack of VB. Oh right — that’s what he was doing.

On the way to Boonah Dan was pointing out windmills from his car. Unfortunately they didn’t count. Soz.

At Boonah most of us got chicken burgers and then it was another all-over-hi-five and we were separately heading home — adventure done!

There was talk of a new one on July 9. JUST SAYING.






IMG_0311 Another one of those 12% bullshit signs. UGH!





Boonah Overnightah — DAY TWO


After getting up way, way too early I killed some time by walking up to the lookout. Boonah was covered in thick mist and looked spectacular.


Next I dragged Scott outta bed, ate one of his bananas and we headed over to the camp grounds. Everyone was taking their time packing up, but the café didn’t open until 7 so that was cool.

Then Bennett was doing a test of his rig when he was like, “Oh shit”. His rear tyre was flat. “At least that will take the heat off me when I start multi-flatting,” I thought. It had been a minor miracle that my tubes weren’t compromised over the 80ks of day 1 but I knew that my luck just had to run out — right?


There’s good and bad things about having three mechanics in your crew. Any issues beyond a busted tube or a broken spoke just might be fixable. And they will be experts at helping you repair even those things. You can learn a lot.

But then again — it can be a little intimidating — something I am sure Bennett felt. Ha! And I am pretty used to the fact that I was reminded by these experts every now and again how shit I am at looking after my bike. My motto is simply this: the sooner you ride the bike into the ground the sooner you can justify a brand new one.

Soon we were all munching on stuff at the café and I got a bit of grief for ordering a can of soft drink with my breakfast. Agreed. It’s not very grown up.



“Puttin’ some gravel in our travel” — Wise words.


There was an epic side-drama to this trip. Battery or lack thereof. I really don’t know how these guys could chew through so much batt. Everyone was complaining about their percentages. Ryan had bought (and brought) one of those portable phone chargers just for this trip. So he was sorted. But Scott was on Tinder so much his poor phone was literally dead by the end of Saturday night. Bennett was all about the instagram. I had wisely brought an iPhone charger and though I gave it some extra juice while I napped at the motel — I didn’t even need it. My phone never dipped below 85%. I even brought a cable to charge the Garmin but that went unused.

So at the cafe everyone was scrambling to use this spare powerpoint they had sussed out while all the staff weren’t looking. Because I was the only one who had brought one of those little bricks that convert the AC powerpoint to the end of a USB cable they all had to share — so it got a bit “suspicious” around this tiny power outlet.



IMG_0270.JPGI had this idea to document everyone’s rig in profile but I only got around to doing my own. Soz.

Eventually everyone was satisfied they had enough charge (and a few had done a sneaky number two) and we got rolling. Finally!

It was now 8am and I did the maths and we had plenty of time to make the 11:05am train from Rosewood back to Brisbane. If we missed that train it was another hour to wait for the next, and then another hour for the one after that.

After a slight route-fail we realised the way home led straight up that 20% hill to the lookout. Again, I chose to walk the bike when it got nuts rather than cook my legs so early in the day. I had no trouble keeping up with Scott.

IMG_0271.JPGThis picture does no justice to the extreme gradient ahead.

The sign at the bottom had said “No Through Road” and I was starting to get a bad feeling when the road ahead really did just end at some bushes and what looked like a fence. There seemed to be no way through. But then a gate became clear and the terrain beyond it was long, dewy grass and a stupid snake-ish semi-path down losing all that altitude we had just battled to attain. I knew it would be suicidal for me to attempt this riding so I jogged the bike down only arriving at the bottom just a few seconds behind. Now the path looked more legit but it was so overgrown that the big rocks were virtually invisible. I somehow managed a few pics, but then tucked the camera away knowing that would only end in tears.


Here’s Scott starting that decent. Ryan just ahead. I h=was completely stationary — ready to run down after this bullshit was documented.


Meanwhile, despite the very audible rumble of jumping up and down this path, I heard and felt this creak, which was more like a “CRACK” and I knew this was my seat-tube topper slipping again. I forgot to tell you all in the Day 1 section that that had happened three times that day while tackling the more crazy terrain. But on inspection the saddle didn’t seem to have moved so I just crossed my fingers and ignored it. Again I had to just plow on. I didn’t think a roadside tightening of the bolts with a dodgy multi-tool would be wise.

Ahead all these dogs started barking. Like maybe 20 or so and on the left it was apparent we had stumbled on some puppy farm. But this was Boonah — so maybe these all belonged to one crazy dog person. Who knows. I heard a woman’s voice trying to calm everything down but 5 bike riders crunching past must be a novelty to these animals.

IMG_0273.JPGAll those dogs were just beyond this mesh. I could not help but think they were all so nuts just one might just need to get out and attack us. But I worry a lot.



IMG_0279.JPGHands were shaking/jumping-around too much to get this shot in focus

IMG_0276.JPGGlad of the gate so I could catch-up.

IMG_0281.JPGHere’s Bennett taking a photo of me taking a photo of him

IMG_0283.JPGRyan smashing it

After two gates — like the gates on the Brisbane Valley rail trail — (see above) we were uphill on brown dirt and then on bitumen up the Hoya climb — the longest climb of the day. Halfway up Bennett signalled that his rear tyre was flat again and we stopped in the shade in someone’s driveway. After changing the tube and zapping it with CO2 it immediately went down again. The mechanics all chimed in. “Take the tyre off and check the inside.”

Sure enough there was a bit of the wire bead that was loose and once that was removed another CO2 zap and then bang. It went down again. Now the mechanics were like, “Just use a hand pump.” And that got the tyre to a pretty decent stiffness. Thinking the drama was over Scott and I pushed on and at the top turned around and Bennett and Gypsy and Ryan were no where to be seen. We waited in the shade and about 5 minutes later they came through. It seems Bennett had tried to put a bit more CO2 in and that had failed.  Oh dear.

IMG_0285.JPGA three person effort just to get this tube change under control

Having spent about 30 minutes now on repairs that 11:05 train looked impossible. Ryan joked that the 1:05 was looking more realistic.

But the next 10ks were on rolling bitumen and our average speed improved. Which wasn’t hard. After 10ks I looked down and the Garmin said our average was just over 12ks/hr. Ha! Smashing it!

IMG_0289.JPGThat’s Bennett well ahead of me smashing these rollers. 

So we’d go down this long straight stretch and then only have to really push once we were fairly high up the next hill. A bit more gravel heading west and then more rolling gravel heading north again. In this section there was one climb (on gravel) that got quite steep and we had a 1 minute rest at the top. More calculations were done and we started to think we were back on track. It would be tight but.


Here’s Bennet and his stupidly excessive, or stupidly inspired rear cassette. Wow. Meanwhile my camera had got this bit of dirt right in the middle of the lens. Sorry about that.

Gypsy had forgotten to fill up his water bottles so we had to detour to a park in Harrisville to fill them up.

IMG_0295.JPGSpot the super-smudge on the lens. (HINT: it’s not Scott’s filthy second-day shirt.)

IMG_0297.JPGDid I tell you that Dan/Gypsy didn’t wear a helmet the entire trip? With his washing-basket at the front and his ghetto-rig underneath he looked like a homeless person we had picked up on the way.

And Gypsy-Dan did look just a bit like Dicky-Knee. See if you can tell the difference:



Just saying. 🙂

IMG_0301.JPGHere’s where my camera succumbed to sweat and all the road-grime. I was trying to get one of those LOL pics. oh well. FAIL!


And then it was a short 1km smash along the Cunningham highway (thankfully only one big truck whooshed past giving us plenty of room).

Then we had one final section of gravel. At this gully and dry creek crossing the road became a rocky sandpit and I emergency unclipped and went, “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” as I desperately tried to stop as the bike got dangerously close to washing out. But I made it and then walked a bit to avoid all that rubbish. Back on bitumen and the sun was really baking us now. I could tell the humidity was far worse than on Saturday cause I was super drenched in sweat. I could feel all this chafing in my thighs too. Yuck.

This section was turning out to be the toughest. I’d take a drink but the feeling of dryness in my mouth just wouldn’t go away.



So I thought everyone was on-board with the plan to smash it a bit at the end if we had a chance of getting that 11:05. See I was keen to get home cause I had so much work to do to get the blog sorted — it takes hours and hours. But everyone else (except for my co-conspirator Gypsy/Dan) were keen to take it easy. And I secretly thought that this would make a great end to the blog story. Maybe like this:

We were all super-suffering, the heat was intense, the weight of not just our bikes but the whole two-day-adventure suddenly became oppressive. But we dug deep. The passion flowed and we pulled out all stops just to make it to Rosewood in time. And we had exactly seven minutes before it left. Just enough time to grab supplies at the IGA and bolt back into the carriage just as the doors were finally closing. (Like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy scrambles under the stone door.)

And it did go almost exactly like that — except that wasn’t the vibe of the trip. Not in tune with the slow and easy and “take it all in”. This wasn’t a credit-card-tour. Those guys had stupidly heavy bikes and were too polite to call me out on my shit.

I get it now, but at the time I just got a bit excited. A bit selfish. I am so sorry guys.

IMG_0307.JPGThis is where Ryan and Bennett are “Lathering up” with moisturiser just to soothe their epic skin damage. It was only about -10% sexual. 

IMG_0308.JPGRyan’s “speed-sleeve” now matched his skin. Kudos. 


Sometimes you can ride in a way to appease the fact it will be a tiny bit “public” — whether it be by Strava or Instagram or by a blog like this. And that’s rather than just ride naturally and anonymously and savour these bestest times with a bunch of the bestest people who will only know the detail and the minutiae and the very authenticity of this true story. This is a story only we will remember and we will remember it well into our old age — but everyone else who wasn’t there will have long forgotten.

I asked everyone to tell me their highs and lows and everyone was too excited about the adventure to really pin down any specific low. Ryan said it best when he said he thought the whole deal was a highlight and I agree. There was this article by Andy White in RIDE MAGAZINE just last month or two and his riding partner said something like, “A ride doesn’t need to be fun to BE FUN.” And I think what that means is that all the challenges, all the suffering, and all the unexpected, and even all the absolute bullshit, just makes it so perfect. I reckon if everything went to exactly to plan I would be super-disappointed. And you know what — so would our ghost-rider Brad! Hi Brad!


So at work today I was asked about the toughness of this ride — mostly cause I had to remind everyone I had just survived this Boonah adventure. And everyone pretended to remember what this was all about. All Friday I was fretting so much making sure everyone knew how EPIC I thought this weekend would be. Ugh.

Well personally this ride was easier than I thought in some aspects, but tougher in others.

1) I certainly expected to get at least one puncture. I certainly have super-faith in the Maxxis-Re-Fuse. It seems to be a very, very tough tyre. I put those two bad-boys through hell.

2) I didn’t anticipate the agony in my hands. And I underestimated how the gravel could tire you out and be so evil, but be so fucking beautiful at the same time. That 6.8k stretch was actually so painful but so amazing in exactly equal parts.

3) But then on even the shittest bitumen I could recover. At least give my brain a break from super-concentrating on the terrain. (I cannot tell you how bullshit it is evaluating and judging every single metre of the road ahead). And I have crashed about a dozen times on a bike and I don’t want to do it again.


I cannot really speak for everyone but I will just try to assume:

The guys with panniers found climbing when out of the saddle impossible (for Scott) and super-challenging (for Ryan and Bennett). Ryan said he had perfected this technique which involved a “straightness” when out of the saddle. You can’t throw the bike from side to side. You gotta be aware exactly where the weight is distributed. But if Scott left the saddle the entire backwheel would lose traction.

They obviously found smashing in a paceline ridiculous. See above.

And I would imagine any hills would have been rubbish with all that extra weight. I have never ridden a bike so laden with stuff so I wouldn’t know — but I can imagine it meant a lot more planning when a hill came up. A lot more dedication to the momentum you get from a downhill when you are faced with a serious uphill on the other side.


And you know what? I bet the balance of the bike would have taken some getting used to. It would be like getting used to a wheelchair for the first time.

BONUS PICS (courtesy of Ryan)



Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and our trip to Sydney


(UPDATE! check out the video of Kyary’s Sunrise performance – aired April 6.)


Me being a goob with a whole bunch of other goobs!

Kyary I think is still the biggest thing in pop music in Japan right now. You pronounce her name just like you would “Carrie” despite the way it’s spelt. It’s not her real name – just a name she assumed in high school when people teased her about being so “western” so they gave her a name like “Carrie Bradshaw” in Sex in the City.

Her autobiography, translated by Kyarychan, is fucking fascinating if you want an insight into how a Japanese teenager grows up (and thinks and deals with modernity in that Japanese cultural-climate) and then just becomes super-famous, at 18, almost by accident by just dressing as eccentrically as she could manage with her resources. That and she took to hanging out in Harajuku quite a bit more than her parents wanted or knew was possible.


She then hooked up with a super-super amazing songwriter — Yasutaka Nakata. Nakata writes and produces (and I think plays) all her songs while Kyary just comes in later and sings them and learns the dance moves. But I really like to think he is actually collaborating with Kyary — cause she has such an impossibly severe personality. She is different.

The thing that makes her so different is that she is so irreverent — something I really, really admire in pop stars. She is taking that cuteness-vibe and adding spice of surreality and sheer horror. See protagonists of metal, rock, hardcore, speed-core or whatever just assume that stance of being anti-establishment just because their music taste is self-referential. Even if they vote Republican.

But it is super-refreshing to see genuine super-cute rockstars just pushing things into new territories. Just being intelligent about their product and not cow-towing to their stereotype.



I really need to thank the blogger David Brennan from One Week, One Band who opened up my eyes to KPP.

His amazing adventure is documented here.

His words:

Last year I set off on an odyssey of music listening, one I wasn’t sure I would make it through or come back from. For reasons (boredom and disillusionment) I won’t go into here, I decided to stop listening to my music. Cold turkey. Instead I would listen only to albums recommended to me by other people, one album a week for 53 weeks. I would listen to each album at least once a day, and a minimum of eleven times over the course of the week. And along the way I’d write about the experience. Crazy? Absolutely. Stupid? You bet.

That afternoon, still albumless, we headed for the downtown Commons to grab a bite to eat and walk around. In the early January cold we had the place nearly to ourselves…We inhaled a few slices of pizza and stepping back out into the chill I saw her: wrapped in bulbous blue winter jacket, black hair swung over her left shoulder and tucked beneath jacket’s collar, my eyes zoomed to her head, where atop a striped skullcap perched a pair of gigantic headphones…“Be right back,” I said to Kate.

“Excuse me! Hello! Excuse me!”

Looking ready to run, kick me in the groin, pepper spray me or all of the above, she half pulled off her headphones and raised her eyebrows, imploring.

“Uh, I was just wondering if, I mean, if you don’t mind, if you could maybe tell what you’re listening to?”

She glared at me like you wouldn’t be any more of a creep if you had asked me to flash you, and maybe that’s exactly what I had done, in a way, to our headphone generation what are you listening to? 

“Carrie Pamu Pamu,” she said.

“Ah,” I said, nodding as if I knew, then gave myself away with, “What album?”

“Revolution,” she said and bolted, showed me her blue back, bye-bye.

“How’d that go?” Kate chuckled at me.

“Aw-kward,” I sung.


So I started reading David’s blog on the Monday (or Tuesday in our time) and I must admit I was intrigued not just by his “gimmick”, but by the fact his gimmick touched a nerve because there was this definite notion hidden in my head that a lot of music you may vaguely hear about (and though it seems utterly inaccessible) — it just might be amazing if you give it a chance. I remember John Swingle telling me about some death metal band he was forced to listen to cause a flat-mate played it incessantly and suddenly he “got it”. Just like The Fauves who sung about “Understanding Kyuss”.

And all of a sudden I was watching the video of PonPonPon. And then I watched it again. That video is quite an experience. A revelation. (Even now after 20 or so views it is still intriguing). But I wasn’t completely hooked, I just had the feeling something was stirring. I made myself watch the Invader, Invader clip (image above) just in case and after that dub step breakdown — which literally BROKE me — I knew this was something I couldn’t dismiss.

That night I excitedly showed Dee both clips — but secretly in just in a “LOL way” — pretending like I wasn’t actually a fan — just saying “check out this CRAZY-SHIT!”

I was trying to hold my composure, just in case this was all nonsense and I would come to my senses in the morning. But Dee was pretty intrigued too and so I felt a bit vindicated — not that I needed any encouragement by now.

The next day I was buzzing. Leah — a videographer at work — was impressed but did her best not to look disturbed at my new obsession.

Over the next few days the deeper I got into KPP and the more I shared David’s enthusiasm (cause the blog evolves through the week) and the more I realised she was unique.

Anyway, we got to see her on Sunday. At the peek of my obsession I tried to hook up tickets to her Japan tour in November but they were sold out. 😦


Not my shot! But this is at the Roundhouse in Sydney on Sunday night.


On Sunday Dee and I shrugged off our hangovers and smashed it down to Martin Place to see her on Channel 7’s Sunrise. We arrived just after 9:30 and already there was a decent crowd. It turned out to be just a pre-record of a song for the Morning Show sometime during the week, but it was kinda funny seeing the hysteria and the way that stupid TV show works. Dee retreated to the shadows while I got amongst the crowd. They were mostly western-looking kids, a lot dressed up in Harajuki-kit.


This is someone winning a signed copy of her album after Kyary’s performance was filmed. (The 3 winners had to be the most animated)

The show at the Roundhouse was pretty surreal. I loved it, though I am not sure I need to do it again.

The line up to get in was incredible. It snaked all the way through the lower half of the UNSW campus. Must have stretched for 600m at least.





The best shot I could get


Some randoms getting totally into it


SYDNEY (the rest of our trip in photos)




Burton Street


Finally got to Bondi after 6km walk from Coogee (below)




Something you don’t see often – a weather report of the Southern Indian Ocean in prime time.













Toowoomba Bike Tour – DAY TWO

One of the most intensely gobsmacking realisations when you do big rides – is the fact that there’s a point where everything previous to that moment seems like an eternity before. Indeed the beginning of the ride feels like it should be documented in black and white — it was THAT long ago. And on day two of a journey like this, thinking as hard as you could to remember that moment just over 24 hours ago at the Regatta where it all started — it seemed like a whole other lifetime.

So much stuff happens – so much detail — when you are out in the horrible publicity and exposure of being on a bike on THE ROAD. And this kind of riding means your brain is working just as hard as your legs.

I got a decent amount of sleep compared to the night before, but woke up quite hungry. I had an apricot bar and got all prepped and went down to meet the crew in the carpark so Dee could load up the car and drive all our overnight gear back to Brisbane. I had been thinking we would all have breakfast together, but I’d got it all mixed up and everyone had already had a big breakfast so I was like, “Shit!” So I jumped on the bike and rode a few blocks across town to the McDonalds and grabbed a McMuffin and a hash brown and shoved them down.


It was chilly out on the road north, but nothing like we had imagined. We left Dan behind as he had family stuff so that meant there were 6 of us. There was more climbing to get out of Toowoomba and after a piece-of-shit hill at 25kms I got dropped but I could see everyone ahead as the road was dead straight and lined with massive trees. Although the world seemed flat my Garmin told me I was still going up.




At 31kms we stopped at a village called Hampton and at a little local information hut the nice old lady on duty gave us water. I asked her about the road to Esk and she said, “Oh – it’s a very winding road,” like she thought it was almost impassable to bikes, “And there’s lots of motorbikes!” She also said there was a detour because the road was closed at Ravensbourne National Park. I think she also mentioned a landslide had taken the road out but I immediately forgot that when I asked if the detour was sealed and how much extra road we needed to take. She said the detour road was narrow, but sealed and only added another kilometre or so.

“No biggie,” I thought.


Scotty shoving newspaper down his jersey to keep him warm on the descent. So pro!

It was straight down from here and at the bottom I managed to successfully eat a gel while riding. The last time I attempted this I failed and the gel got all over my hands, then all over the handlebars and made everything sticky and generally – shit.



And then we came upon the detour and looking left the road just went stupidly up. “Oh great,” I thought. And Shirts was like – let’s just take the road. If we get a bit of gravel – big deal. Right? Scott and Ryan had by now decided to hit the hill and I turned into it and then went, “Fuck this,” and shouted up, “Meet you where it joins up”.

I agreed with Shirts. The “road closed” sign didn’t look that convincing when it had a “local traffic only” sign attached to it as well. It was worth the risk. If we had to turn back it was only a kilometre or so wasted. Then we looked back and Scott and Ryan had changed their mind and were following us. But then there was another “ROAD CLOSED” sign which looked far more serious – especially when the road beyond was covered in dirt. “Oh yeah. I remember the old lady saying something about a landslide now.”


We paused wondering what to do looking down the road. I decided to have a look and rolled very carefully down. What bitumen was left was covered in rocks and sticks and mud. After maybe 600m the road just ended. Like, the road was literally missing. Cut in half by a flood I imagined.

“Shit.” From what I could see it looked like the only way to cross would involve getting our feet wet. I dropped the bike and walked down some more to investigate and to my surprise I realised there was a way across. I walked back to the bike and the crew were just rolling in and relayed the news. But we couldn’t even see where the road picked up again on the other side. There was this bunch of fallen trees and I just guessed that was where the road was.

So we picked up our bikes and climbed over the deep red rutted soil. There was just a few patches of concrete left where the bridge had once been. On the other side, up the hill and past the fallen trees we were relieved to see that the road began again and looked fine.




I grabbed a stick and cleaned all the dirt out of my cleats. Once upon a time I had walked through mud and not cleaned my cleats after and while I had rode the mud had dried and when I finally stopped I found myself stuck to the bike. Not a very pleasant experience.


The next bit of road was through beautiful Endor-like forest and there was plenty of down which was fun. It was still about 15 or 20ks to Esk and I was about to stop everyone for a quick break when this “6%” down sign appeared and I was like, “Roll on!”

What followed was THE BEST DESCENT EVER! It just went on and on and the bends were easily negotiable and I hardly touched the brakes. And just when it seemed it was about over, a sign saying “2km more of winding roads” appeared and I thought, “YES!”


Mashing into Esk we were pushed even faster by a serious tail-wind. We were going so fast Shirts, who had stopped for a nature break, couldn’t catch up to us.


After all the shit quality food we had had the day before I guided the crew towards somewhere a little more sophisticated for lunch. And the food was great. By the time we left it was about 12:30 and the average speed was over 32km/hr.

The next 30kms was where things got a bit tougher. A few of us started to struggle or tone it down keeping something left for the end. Eventually Ian developed a painful knee problem and we had to slow everything down significantly so he could keep going. At Wivenhoe Dam picnic ground he didn’t think he could go on. So Ian and I started asking people for a lift back to Ipswich but no one could help or was willing to.




Meanwhile Scott and Shirts had tyre/tube issues which they set about fixing. Eventually Ian gave up and decided to test his knee by riding around the carpark. He decided it was feeling a little better so I sent him ahead to Fernvale at his own pace. We were now doing calculations in our head about how far we needed to go and how much light we had left.

The night before there was a lot of talk about getting the train from Ipswich. But now we all agreed we were feeling OK enough to give it a go. After all the route more or less followed the trainline. And It looked like we just had enough light, but we’d have to go reasonably hard.


We caught up to Ian at Fernvale, 27km from Ipswich. After a quick round of goodies from the pie shop we left Ian who was trying to get a cab from Ipswich. I said I’d ring him from Ipswich and see how he was managing. And then we smashed on. I was a little bit worried about this section cause I had no happy memories of it the last time I went through this section. But we nailed it, although by the end Ryan looked absolutely shattered. I have seen him that bad only once before. I said to him, “Just give it a go to Booval – 3 stops from Ipswich and see how you feel.”


He agreed and we gently covered those 4 or so ks via a backway that avoided some shitty sections of Brisbane Road and that hill near Ipswich Girls Grammar. Just before that I rang Ian who was riding back to Ipswich and said he was only about 10kms away. I guess that was the only way out.

Ryan signalled that he wanted to keep going and we hooked up with the main road. Just before Scott had accidentally blasted through a stop sign. I told him it was probably the safest stop sign to run cause it was a 4-way stop sign intersection – something I’ve only ever seen in Ipswich.

We had a vicious tailwind at some points which could push us up into the 40s without much effort. Another train-station “out” was passed at Redbank and another at Gailes. After that one was safely behind us I knew we would all make it home.

At Moggill Road the Garmin said our average was 31.5km/hr and we had climbed 1700metres. By the end of the day we would have climbed just as much as the day before. Madness!

By the time I got home, bizarrely, my big toe was the part of me in the most pain. I think it was just squashed into my shoe for too long and Dee had to take my shoes off not for the first time in her life.

Well done everyone. Good times.

Scott grabbed the camera and took this shot of me – thanks dude!

Why I think wheels on suitcases was actually not such a great idea


To my mind, travelling is an adventure – it is an exercise in getting outside your comfort zone. I should put that down at this outset. Yet it seems some travellers treat it like what “camping” has become. Camping used to be humanity getting primal – living a tiny bit like the way we used to live. It was removing ourselves from the comforts and excess of modernity, getting “back to nature”. It was living under the stars, eating basic foods, and at night sitting around a glorious campfire and telling stories so far away from the World.

But now camping – thanks in part to BCF – has become something entirely different. It’s like an exercise in replicating each and every single one of the comforts of your house – but transportable – so you can enjoy all this “goodness” somewhere in the bush. (But within mobile phone coverage).

And overseas travel is getting a bit like that. A lot of people get really excited about the invention of wheels of suitcases – but not me. Wheels on suitcases just meant that suitcases got bigger. And bigger. And not only that – the space that the humans that accompanied that luggage – got greater and greater.

But having more “stuff” with you when you travel just blunts your travel experience. You need some Bear Grylls survival-aspect to your adventure. Trust me.

It is just ridiculous seeing other travellers wandering – not quite effortlessly – dragging a compartmentalised Death Star behind them. Their new girth- their spacial footprint is 4 times what they knew before – yet they seem oblivious. UGH!


I have never owned a suitcase with wheels. And thus I have through necessity – travelled as light as possible. I thought that was the point of travelling when I was growing up. And indeed over the years I have worked out how to be even lighter. This has made my travelling much more of an adventure. Admittedly my brain strives for structure. I like lists, I like order, I like living in a cocoon. And a well-packed bag you can swing over your back and waltz off a plane past all the other goobs who have gambled on the fact their stowed luggage has actually reciprocated their journey…well…it is pretty cool.


There’s apparently a brand new hipster trend for “utter minimalism“. Essentially it is well-to-do 30 somethings deciding they only need a specific amount of “stuff”. Some assign a figure. “Like I will have just 100 things.” They live in spartan houses, monkish even. They can still afford the latest Apple products – so don’t feel sorry for them.

But there is a part of my feeble, feeble brain that understands that. I LOVE the idea of just having a simple life. Just being able to wander, wearing everything I value, riding on my bike and carrying the rest in my backpack. Possessions rarely bring me lasting happiness. It’s people who make a difference to my life – to my happiness. But in saying that – if you invite your friends around and you have no chairs, no extra cutlery and your fridge is too small to accept a 6-pack – then maybe something is wrong.


I should say that it is utterly essential that you look presentable overseas. You don’t have to bring a suit or your best dress – but you have to look like you’ve made an effort. You need to go outside looking, well — “approaching” your best. If you wear trackie-dacks and ultra-comfortable shoes and plain, bullshit clothes then you disrespect the experience. Plus you might feel comfortable, but you won’t FEEL cool. You won’t blend in and you won’t be taken seriously by locals and you won’t feel like doing anything above and beyond your comfort zone.


If you have a smaller bag you learn to be economical. This smaller bag could even have wheels, but it needs to be modest. If you have an enormous case you just shove everything in, with this “I might need this” mentality. My experience is – if you “might” need it, 99 times out of 100, you WON’T.

My other problem with bags with wheels is that they are so square they don’t quite fit into overhead luggage bins. meanwhile my backpack just molds, adapts even – into that space. it is effortless (comparably) to lift up there and it just works.

And just saying: that 20kg limit on most international flights is NOT a challenge.

When you are traveling we get into this trap of thinking we need a new outfit for almost every day we are out there. But it is perfectly fine to wear the same clothes every so often. No one is going to notice. We live our normal lives looking at our wardrobe and thinking, “Oh I can’t wear that, I wore it last week.” This does not apply when you are away. You need to factor in the fact that you can wash and dry while on the move.

Plus you can BUY NEW CLOTHES! Part of the fun of travelling is shopping. So buy new clothes and throw out old stuff! (ASIDE: if you are going to a ultra cold place – wait until you get there, brave the first day and buy the cold-weather gear there – YOU WILL SAVE MONEY and have much more choice than buying a 4 seasons coat in tropical Brisbane)


My first major trip overseas I found myself in a laundromat a few times. It was like voluntary water-torture. It took forever, it involved change you didn’t have (which required buying useless stuff), it was expensive, the process was always cryptic in its complexity, was kinda unhygienic, and no matter how long you put your clothes in the dryer – they were never quite dry by the end of it.

So my solution since has been to:

1) From your wardrobe, take some raggedy old clothes that are on the verge of being thrown out, wear them once or twice, then chuck ’em and buy new stuff.

2) hand wash in your hotel bathroom sink each and every day. I know this seems tough, but these domestic duties keep you grounded and give you something to do in that early evening dead-zone period between when you have come home from your day adventures, and you are waiting for it to get dark and you can go out for night adventures.

Use the complimentary shampoo as detergent. I say “every day” because you need to keep on top of the situation. Hand-washed clothes take some time to dry – but in an airconditioned hotel – actually, not that long. Hang stuff over the tops of doors, over towel racks, over chairs etc. Washing an individual item should only take about 1 minute – including wringing. For larger items, get someone to help you in the wringing process: they hold firm, while you turn, and turn and turn. In the past I have considered chucking underwear/socks rather than cleaning, and buying new stuff at a discount store. But miraculously I have never actually needed to do this – and it’s a really bad thing to do environmentally anyway.

3) if you are staying with someone – even for one night – and they offer to wash stuff for you…well you know the answer. Personally I think it’s a bit forward to ask – so just wait for the offer.