Over the Mountain

IMG_2240A cool but sunny late autumn day dawned on the Friday for my trip back to my family in Sydney. It seemed like a great opportunity to try a alternate route that had been recommended to me. The main reason that I hadn’t yet tried this way is that I estimated it would take around 6 hours – that’s double my normal time, door to door, and being a new route, I would be taking it easy.

I also had been warned that snow and ice were real possibilities on this route so weather was also a big concern. But we’ve had a long unusually warm autumn in South East Australia this year (barely making the single digits, let alone snow and ice temps) and several rain free days before today. A quiet week at work meant that the chances of getting away early where high – all I needed was an early knock off.

I slipped away early and soon after I hit the road west from Queanbeyan. My route took my to Tarago, but here I turned North to Goulburn, where usually I head straight across towards Bungonia. At Tarago I deviated slightly to check on a couple of bikes I saw stopped in case they were lost. No problems there so I turned north. This road is the more well known route than my normal way, and its’ not a bad ride. A bit shorter and straighter than via Bungonia. Plus it adds more interstate.

IMG_2232After getting a little lost in the streets of Goulburn, I fuelled up and turned for the unknown. Again, more northerly towards Taralga (NOT Tarago or Tarana… can get a little confusing). The roads were pretty open and flowing, mostly through farmlands. Some resurfacing was underway and the low winter sun often annoying, but otherwise the ride was very enjoyable. And the kms were swiftly covered.

The road continues north over the Abercrombie River. The descent and climb down to the river crossing were fine twisty roads, without markings, but generally wide enough.

IMG_2229Up from Abercrombie you head towards the back side (from a Sydney perspective) of the Blue Mountains. Again the roads were wide and flowing, but empty. The area is obviously pine plantations and the odd logging truck may need to be avoided.I arrived in Oberon, grabbed a small lunch and topped up the fuel again. This should easily last me until my doorstep, so no requirement to stop again.

From Oberon, you join up with the road from Jenolan Caves and head towards the Great Western Highway at about Mount Victoria. This stretch before the Highway is the last fun before the grind over and down the mountains. And it’s a pretty good bit with some nice vistas of Aussie mountains (so really slightly bigger hills than the rest of the area – not real peaks with snow etc)

IMG_2238The Highway is being expanded and sorted in a massive upgrade that has so far taken several years so there are slow speed roadworks zones, and the newer areas have reduced limits (because the tin tops can’t help running themselves into barriers and off the road all over the place). And the traffic was …. well there actually was traffic, so the fun was over. Still takes about another hour to get over the mountains to home.

A really nice ride and I think heading the other way would be nicer (get the annoying bit out of the way at the start). Pity it is so much longer than my normal route so I’ll have to save it for next time the stars align.

Of course the mighty VFR ate it all up without hesitation. It’s now about 500km short of 150,000 and then only 11,000km until it rolls over 100,000miles. Its not impossible to hit that by Christmas.

Oh Cross Platform

So I’ve been playing Portal 2 during the last few weeks at Canberra where I play on my iMac. When I go home to Sydney to see my family I don’t usually play anything as it takes away time from my family. I only get two nights at home and I don’t want to waste it.

However this past Saturday I found myself with the chores done and the kids engrossed in a video (and amazingly it wasn’t Frozen!) so I downloaded Portal onto the PC at home. I knew it was a cross platform purchase so I figured Icould muck about in it.

What I didn’t expect was to be able to continue from where I left off last week in Canberra on the Mac! Now that is cool. And a surprise because I had tried that with something else and it didn’t work that way (oh that’s right it was Borderlands 2).

Of course I only got through one room after spending an hour waiting for it to download, before the kids came wandering in having finished the movie

And here’s another cool thing. It’s a great clean non(ish) violent puzzle game. So we puzzled our way about in the next room without much success.

Short Update

Not much except working and sleeping and riding going on here at the moment. Seem to have fixed the fogging issue in my Sony Action Cam. If I can sort out the mic problem I might get some real blogs posted there.

Portal 2 – Gee catch up!

620_2014-05-07_00001Hey this Portal 2 game is really cool [yes, we already know that you all think!]. Some really good puzzles – not enough to totally frustrate you, but enough to make you sit and think for a few minutes. Most seem to have only one solution so far.

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Story so far seems to be that I got back to where the evil robot was, swapped the core with the robot that had been helping me only for it to get all mean (or defensive) and throw me down a tube.

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My buddy turns mean

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A long, long, long way down

This ended me up at what is obviously a sort of 1960s era first version of the laboratory that I was in.

620_2014-05-08_00006And I’m guessing I’m in the first of 9 stages to get through this one. So a fair bit of puzzle to go.

Well that’s a first.

298A brisk… no actually… cold ride from Sydney to Canberra tonight. The temperature was low (about 5-6C) but what really made it awkward was twofold.

One was self induced. I dug some old riding pants out of the cupboard to trial. I bought these pants about 7 years (and about 20Kg) ago. I didn’t like them then, but I couldn’t remember why. Surprisingly they still fit. But it wasn’t until I tried to get on the bike that I think I figured out why I didn’t like them. They were tight in the inseam or something – it felt tight where it made it sort of odd to sit on the bike. Though 3 hours later I wasn’t too unhappy. They were also pretty slippery on the seat. That was a surprise as I slid over to take a curve and almost slid myself off the bike! As a plus, they’re a lot safer than my kevlar jeans and warmer too.

So problem one was new/old pants.

The second problem was the wind. It wasn’t particularly cold and not really strong, but I just found myself fighting against it from Sydney until Goulburn. It wasn’t hard but it was tiring for two hours.

I think that’s why I missed it when it happened. I stopped for a warm kebab at Goulburn and it wasn’t until I got to Canberra that I think I left my wallet there, or it fell out around there sometime.

I was cold and somewhat fatigued and it was dark so I just didn’t notice. At least I didn’t have anything much in there – a couple of easily replaced credit cards, my licence and my last $45 until payday.

Ok, that last bit is the most annoying, but at least it wasn’t like $200! Thankfully my work ID cards weren’t there either.

And it is the first time I’ve done that pretty much ever as far as I can remember. I’ve lost the odd card or few dollars here and there – so on average that isn’t bad.

But annoying.

 

Sony… fix your camera…

Another sick day at home would probably drive me crazy. So I decided a little explore around some of the roads around Canberra that had been recommended to me by the locals. I though  a couple of hours to get out into the fresh sunny air would help me feel good.

I headed over towards the Cotter Dam area and along Tidbinbilla Rd, Paddy’s River Rd and part of Brindabella Rd, before turning around and going all the way back again.

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What a nice road. After the tight technical experience of Corin Dam Rd, this flowed much better. Only a little over an hour on the road, with about 20 min ride to get there from home :)

But I can’t imagine how busy it must be in the weekends with riders, cyclists and drivers all trying to get along. Even today there were about 5 cyclists plugging along.  I don’t plan to ride there much at that time.

BUT THIS hopeless Sony Action Cam. It fogs up most of the time, even with the anti moisture inserts. I recorded the ride, hoping to cut a YouTube post out of it, but most of the footage is misty fog. Time and time again footage has been ruined because of it. I’m sick of this camera and I think I’ll get that Drift I had always planned. I might still use this one for MTB, but not for the bike anymore.

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A Puzzler! Yay.

I needed a break from Borderlands, so I nosed about in my Steam Library. I tried Left 4 Dead 2, but wasn’t what I was looking for.

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Portal 2 – it was in my library, but I’d never tried it, though I remember hearing a lot about it at the time, it got a lot of great reviews.

Yeah, I think the folks at Valve are pretty funny. Borderlands 2 is theirs, as is Portal. They share similarities in humour.

I’m only a dozen or so rooms into the story, having just woken some other robot up (I seem to be human?) but its a real puzzle game – I feel a bit like when I played Tomb Raider (the original) or even Myst. It’s a real change from Borderlands.

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So you use the Portal Gun

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To make Portals and solve room puzzles.

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And then you wake this AI up…. and I think that’s bad. But I’m about to find out how bad.

 

BL2 – Tiny Tina

I’m at home sick, and they didn’t give me enough sick days to actually head home. So I’m stuffing about on the computer and got into Borderlands again. Full of interesting characters this game.

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I’ve just met Tiny Tina. She seems like a happy 13 year old, but she’s a little, well no, she’s a lot nuts. She built me these rocket bunnies to take out a train.

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I die quite a bit. But it’s a fun ride.

And now I have to go blow up/hijack a train.

Nothing Pressing

So I’m at home with the Daytona, no kids, and a beautiful sunny Tuesday … What to do? Double demerits finished last night too … I even had my full leathers! You can see where this is going can’t you.

It’s going to the Putty Rd of course.

I dropped the girls at daycare (it’s paid for whether we use it or not, so may as well use it – gives us a chance to catch our breath sometimes – besides it’s only one day this week) and was quickly on the road. 8am found me already north of Wilberforce and heading north.

There was a chill in the air to start with even fog near Windsor but it was clear and headed to a top around 25 so I was happy it would warm up.

Not much seemed to have changed up the road since my last visit. I did slow for a moment of thought where a rider was killed a month ago near Colo. A late pass attempt by a learner ended in tragedy on a short straight and was witnessed by a fellow vlogger.

After that the road climbed away and I passed some traffic and was soon pulling into Grey Gums for a pie. Chatting to the staff she was worn out by the Easter travelers. But she commented that they can always tell when it’s double demerits as the bikes don’t come by. Being the only bike there I couldn’t disagree with her. In fact I hadn’t seen any bikes all the way here.

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As I ate my pie a couple did ride past.

I turned north to get to Ten Mile Putty. I was thinking of getting fuel at Broke and doing some laps but I did have a whole bunch of garden work I needed to do so I wasn’t sure what I would do.

Anyway I hit the Ten Mile and I think I’ve improved. Been studying the Twist of the Wrist over the past few months and I think it has helped. The book is very well known and the ideas behind it are well grounded. They don’t always apply on the road however even when they aren’t directly applicable they still give you a great understanding of how the whole bike works. And a great understanding of how you can instinctively do the wrong thing unless you practice.

So I’ve been consciously applying his techniques to my riding and if nothing else my confidence has grown. I had a couple of moments but lessons like Don’t Chop the Throttle and Keep a Relaxed Grip on the Handlebars meant they weren’t more than moments.

At the top of the Putty I was accelerating for Broke when I figured that I have the gas to turn around and going all the way to Broke and back to here would add 45mins to an hour.

I found a wide spot and u-turned. The other thing I realized was that the road was still fresh in my mind and I was still in the right mindset.

So south I went. I’m really starting to enjoy the Ten Mile… There’s that confidence growing again. Had a great ride homewards with a few stretches where I just cruised along managing my fatigue which was starting to hit me a little.

Didn’t see any cops the whole way around which was a huge surprise. I did see some once I got back on the freeways going home and saw about five in twenty minutes. Guess they were reminding the commuters to behave after a weekend of keeping the interstates under control.

I made I fuel at Colo Heights just as the fuel light came on. Still 2 bars on the gauge so another 50km or so. If I fuel at Colo on the way up I could do a couple of laps at Ten Mile and still make it back to Colo. Again, saving me the leg to Broke.

Then it was home where a whole bunch of gardening was waiting, yay!