Wednesday, 28 May 2014

SKIN CANCER - A personal experience with Jimmy Bee

WARNING----This could happen to you....Prevention is always better than the cure.

Scary, ain't it!

It all started with two little spots, one on my left ear and the other on my nose. Over time, they started to continually bleed, not heal and were itchy most of the time. Well,  that's not exactly right, the doctor wrote me a script for some ointment which made them disappear  but they would always reappear some months later and it wasn't until I had a biopsy performed that I learnt that they were BCC (Basal cell carcinoma)

I was lucky, the outcome could have been much worse. This is not unusual for people of my generation who grew up in Australia and worshipped the sun, sand and surf. Back in the 60's, it was the norm when going to the beach, to have your body sprayed with suntan oil......rather like basting a chicken for Sunday lunch and then to spend hours surfing or lying on the beach. The paradox of the whole thing was that people were young, fit and worshipped the body rather than worry about the consequences in later life and the darker the tan the more attractive we thought our bodies were. It was quite common to hear "Wow! love your tan" and "Live fast, die young while you still have a good looking corpse". In hindsight ......Bloody madness.....or was it just youthful ambivalence.
Tempting isn't it?
Like alcohol, the sun can be a great slave but a lousy master. It's quite ironical really, to witness the mums dressing the kids from top to toe, applying copious amounts of sunscreen lotion, making them wear hats when they are out in the sun and then to see a little later on, the same bodies, a little older sprawled all over the beach on the hottest days of the year with suntans rivalling anything we could produce in the wild 60's. Madness or is it just life as we know it in Australia.

Bondi beach taken in winter

This is where it all started. Although I grew up in the country, our family alternated between Bondi Beach and Manly Beach for our annual holidays and then when I was in my early 20's, I lived in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and for a period of 6 years, lived in Bondi and I spent many hours on the famous Bondi beach. It is hard to imagine this beach from the above photograph being so crowded on a weekend in summer that there is barely a space in between bodies. No wonder Australia has one of the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world
Well, enough of the lecturing, I think you get the picture.

Cheers and safe riding

Jimmy Bee

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


It was a real novelty taking the barge from Redland Bay to Macleay Island. It's such a pity that the weather wasn't more friendly but we made the most of it and enjoyed the ride.

For our ride, we started at Cleveland Railway Station, rode to Redland Bay and caught the barge to Macleay Island. People coming from other parts of Brisbane, can drive directly to Redland Bay where there is ample parking for cars and depending on the number of cyclists there is a choice of crossing by passenger ferry or vehicle barge.

Macleay Island, Qld.

On arriving at Macleay, you are immediately confronted by a short sharp climb to the CBD, well, that may be a long bow calling it a CBD but it is the island village shopping centre and apart from it's friendly people, it does have a very good coffee spot called the Blue Parrot Cafe which catered efficiently to our needs.....mainly coffee, whilst we waited out one of many sharp showers we encountered whilst we were on the island.

To tell you just how friendly the locals are, shortly into the ride we encountered another heavy squall and sought shelter at the local community hub. One of the staff brought out his laptop so that we could view the weather radar, giving us an idea of what lay ahead.
We continued our ride on the western side of the island heading north to Potts Point at the top of the island where we stopped off for a while at Pats Park.

Pats Park

Like all islands, there are kilometres of deserted sandy beaches and if you are the type who likes his own company, peace and solitude, you would be right at home here.

Most of the riding was on nice sealed roads which for the most part was devoid of traffic, but unfortunately, all we had to look at were houses. I am well aware that the locals love living here on Macleay but I guess I'm rather spoilt in that our rides usually take us through picturesque locations. Wet weather tends to dampen the mood as well and due to having to cut our ride short in order to catch the barge back to the mainland we couldn't fit Perulpa Bay into our schedule. If I were to return to Macleay, I would do an island hop and take in Lamb, Karragarra and Russell Island as well.

On arriving back at Redland Bay, we chose to ride  the quickest route back to Cleveland where we had a very important matter to attend to at the Hogs Breath Restaurant and Bar, Harbourside ... a couple of drinks to celebrate my birthday.
No matter where we ride, as a group we always seem to have an excellent time and I guess that is the essence of riding with a group of good friends.

I use Map my Ride for simplicity and elevation information. Become a member (free) and find similar rides within the area and elsewhere.

I really appreciate receiving good, constructive and polite comments.

Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee

Friday, 23 May 2014


From time to time, I intend to resurrect a favourite post and bring it to the fore so that new readers may get to view it without having to delve into the archives. This is one of my readers' favourites.

There's one thing about living in Brisbane, it is situated almost centrally between the Gold Coast/Tweed Coast and the Sunshine Coast. This gives the cyclist a plenitude of  locations to ride, not only on road but also on shared pedestrian/cycle paths.

A shared pathway
The Tweed Coast  has become particularly popular in recent years and although growing exponentially, it still has the laid back coastal appeal which many people like. Each of the towns of Kingscliff, Casuarina, Bogangar and Pottsville have an individual identity of their own and cater for a whole range of travellers, whether it be the surfing fraternity, foodie, family or indeed the fashion conscious. A good array of restaurants, coffee joints, pubs and supermarkets are there to cater for your needs whether you are a day tripper or vacationer.

On this occasion, we picked to ride from Kingscliff to Pottsville on the Tweed Coast of NSW. A more picturesque location would be hard to come by. We started at Cudgeon Creek, enjoyed a picnic lunch with our NSW rellies and then headed off to Pottsville where we rode a trail through whispering Casuarina and spooky scrub which emerged into a vista of golden sandy beach and white crested, emerald green surf. One of the joys of life is walking or riding beside the surf with it's rhythmic pounding of the beach and a hot sun overhead.

Casuarinas at Salt Beach

Spooky Forest

Salt Beach

Its not all forest, sand and surf on this ride, as you venture along the pathway you will come across a number of sculptures placed strategically and designed to appeal to your artistic side.

As this is a popular seaside destination and as the sun and salt air may have given you a thirst, there are more than enough licensed cafes and bars to enable that thirst to be sated. Be warned though, not to get carried away with the moment as the drink driving laws apply equally to bicycles as to motor vehicles.

Salt Bar, Salt Village

There are not many people who can resist the sight of Humpback whales breaching and playing in the ocean and the headlands between Kingscliff and Pottsville are excellent locations for watching these magnificent creatures as they go about their annual migration to the warmer waters of Queensland to have their calves and then return along the same route back home. Norries  Headland is an ideal location to watch the whales but if you have a set of binoculars all the better.

Perhaps you have in mind a spot of yoga whilst relaxing and taking in the magnificent views, the various calls of the seabirds and the mystical rolling of the surf along the beach. You are almost guaranteed a private spot somewhere along the strip where you won't be disturbed. Who could possibly remain stressed, having discovered surroundings such as these.

Salt Beach

Cabarita Beach

As we continued our ride we came across an ancient Aboriginal Midden (an occupation site where the remains of long past meals are still visible to-day).

I know that surf is tempting, particularly on a hot day but I'm about promoting this area as a cycling destination.......but .......if inclined, why not enjoy two great pastimes, cycling and surfing. You don't need a board to surf, so a quick dip into the briny will refresh you enough to continue on to Pottsville and return.

Cabarita Beach

Hastings Point in the background

Having reached our destination, Pottsville, we turned and retraced our ride back to Kingscliff where we had a farewell coffee before packing the bikes and heading off home.

This is an ideal ride for the recreational cyclist. It is approximately 35k return and is quite easy as long as you are in good health and are moderately fit.
If you would like to add another dimension to your ride, you may continue on to Brunswick Heads, NSW via a single track through coastel scrub but I wouldn't attempt to do this with a road bike and if you intend making a weekend out of it, time the ride with low tide and you are able to ride the hard sand from Brunswick Heads to Byron Bay as well. I intend posting on the added rides in the near future. 
I really appreciate receiving good, constructive and polite comments.

Safe riding,
Jimmy Bee

Friday, 16 May 2014

ALPS TO OCEAN BICYCLE TOUR - Day 5 - Oamaru to Christchurch, New Zealand

The first call of the day was to Riverstone Kitchen, owned by Bevan Smith, which was New Zealand's Restaurant of the year in 2010/2011. The following blurb has been lifted from inside of the front cover of Bevan's recipe book.....'Set in the gorgeous countryside of the Waitaki Plains in North Otago, New Zealand, embodies simple and elegant seasonal cooking, using the best local produce available.' A lot of the herbs and vegetables are grown in gardens attached to the restaurant.
I would have loved to have had a meal here but unfortunately, we had to settle for morning tea as it was too early even for lunch. I hope the photographs do the gardens some justice.

Back on the bikes again we travelled along a beautifully sealed road with very little traffic, passing copious farms as we made our way across the Pareora river valley on our way to the Pareora Gorge. 

Only a few more grunts and you will be at Pareora Gorge

Just another awesome scene on this ride
The climb to the top of the gorge was only a couple of kilometres long but it was certainly steep in parts, measuring 7 - 8% gradient but that is what day touring is all about, busting a gut going up hills, stopping to admire the view and off like a cut snake down the other side. Ah!! pure exhilaration. We were only on hired Trek hybrids, so you were trusting that luck was on your side and that the bike would hold together as some of us reached speeds in excess of 60 kmh, not wanting to deviate the slightest amount as we concentrated on our line through the corners. Imagine the speeds that could be obtained on a racing road bike. Irresponsible? absolutely but that is what old delinquents do as we try to relive our youth.

Pareora Gorge ride

The hill climbing victors

The top of the gorge and the start of the downhill run

It was a great way to spend the last day of our trip and with the adrenaline running through our veins, the rest of the ride was .....well!.... nice.

At the bottom again
 We stopped at a great little cafe at Pleasant Point where, after a very pleasant lunch we were back on the bus heading back to Christchurch for our last supper in the noisiest pub I've ever been in. So noisy in fact that some of us old groovers gave up trying social chat and managed to dance the night away....Well! for a couple of hours anyway and then it was on the kerosene budgie winging it off across the ditch to Oz.
Pleasant Point

Pip & Fiona
To Pip and Fiona..... you were absolute gems and I would like to say thank you because without you two being at our beck and call the Adventure South Alps to Ocean Tour could not have been as enjoyable.

I use Map my Ride for simplicity and elevation information. Become a member (free) and find similar rides within the area and elsewhere.

I really appreciate receiving good, constructive and polite comments.

Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee

Sunday, 11 May 2014

ALPS TO OCEAN BICYCLE TOUR - The village of Kurow, New Zealand

Westmere Cottage, Kurow

Kurow.....what can I say but that it is an absolutely charming little village in the Waitake District. Three of us were domiciled for the night in Westmere cottage built around 1895, just a little older than the author but who's counting. I think the owners got a little bit more than they bargained for, opening the door to three bedraggled, weary cyclists. The first thing that took my attention, was the beautiful white carpet and as I didn't think it would be appreciated if I entered wearing my cleats, I duly took them off.
The interior of the cottage was like walking into a museum except there was not that musty smell associated with some museums but certainly they had a collection of bygone relics that would keep an avid collector in awe for hours.

I think my room must have been the bridal suite, it had that feel to it, but do you know that when I asked around if there was anyone interested in sharing the bridal suite with me, I had no takers, in fact, all I heard was "In your dreams!". Quite deflating it was.

The view from the window of the emerald green fields contrasting starkly with the brown barren mountain range in the background was like looking at a cinematic view in an English period drama.
We must have behaved ourselves because our hosts were up bright and early to farewell us or maybe they were just checking to see that the family heirlooms hadn't mysteriously departed during the night. If I was the proud owner of this beautiful cottage, that would have been my procedure and I think I would have been justified had I been confronted with three cyclists that for all the world looked like and could have been deserters from the Kelly gang.

Kurow, NZ

The above photograph was taken by our esteemed leader, Ken  who at the age of 79 climbed to the top of a rather steep hill overlooking Kurow and snapped this view, not bad for a guy in his third stage of life. His attitude and dedication to fitness should see him continue his adventurist spirit for many more years.
Later in the afternoon, our guide Fiona picked us up and deposited us outside the Kurow hotel which as soon as I walked in I could see that it was a favourite of the locals. Having finished work for the day, the workers had called in to tell a few stories over an ale or two before venturing home.
Across the road from the hotel was a bakery/cafe called The Valley Cafe and Bakery, owned by Steve Hotton and his wife Sandy. Steve is a former New Zealand International Rugby player who also happened to train as a baker and chef in France, Italy and Canada and specialises in French Charcuterie which is the technique of smoking and curing foods primarily from pork such as bacon, ham, terrines, etc.  We were guests of the Hottons for both dinner and breakfast the next morning. What can I say about it, well! to me, it was what I would have expected  in a major city,  served with flair and obviously very proud of their product and deservedly so. To find out more please open the following link...


In the morning as we cycled away from Kurow, I was struck by the juxtaposition of this low lying stream of cloud bisecting the alps from the cultivated fields
In my next post, I will describe the ride between Kurow and Oamaru

I really appreciate receiving good, constructive and polite comments.

Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee

Saturday, 10 May 2014

ALPS to OCEAN BICYCLE TOUR - Day 4 - Kurow to Oamaru, New Zealand

As we were cycling along admiring the views, we came across a sign that said "Vanished World Trail" and with a mokka like that, we just had to stop and investigate. Wow! what a place, not only did we learn that we were at the bottom of an ancient sea bed where the relics of ancient life had been discovered and studied by eminent Anthropologists, Archaeologists and Geologists from around the world but we could feast our eyes on some of the earliest Maori cave drawings.

This is what cycling tours are all about, you take the time to explore places which normally if in a car, you would simply drive past without giving a second thought.

Duneden, NZ, actually the complete opposite, a cafe in Duntroon, on the South Island of New Zealand. It did however, on first sight conjure up thoughts of Mexico which I hadn't been to since the early 70's. I think it was the colour that struck me and perhaps the wooden barrel because, as I remember it, driving in from the airport to Mexico City we passed through some poor neighbourhoods which it would seem, jazzed there lives up by painting the buildings in vivid, purples, pinks, yellow, green and blue, the views of which were implanted deep in the hidden vaults of my brain, only to be resurrected when confronted with the above scene.

My editor, who on a slack day masquerades as my wife, told me the other day that I was attempting to write a cycling blog and therefore, it would be nice to add some bicycles and wanting to please my editor, as writers do, I obliged with the above photo, not only was it a bespoke model of bicycle but I was rather taken with the basket with nicely presented bread, which as a photographer of sorts, took my fancy.

Duntroon, NZ
Looking at this view of Duntroon, it could have been taken in the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand and the cafe from this angle looks nothing like Mexico and this is how a simple image can be  manipulated to give a different impression.

U3A's Cycling For Pleasure Group
What a raggedy lot of reprobates and no-hopers. They deserve to be in the inside of the Duntroon  Gaol not posing in front of it. Like all scoundrels, there is a small streak of humanity in them which is usually brought out when sampling New Zealand wines in a dimly lit, dilapidated bar to be found mainly in the back streets of some country town, where the hiding of ones identity is paramount.

Elephant Rocks

Elephant Rocks
Elephant rocks are a scattering of large limestone formations which may or may not resemble elephants depending on your imagination or frame of mind at the time. I can understand this being  sought after as a film location and in 2009, was one of the locations used to film the movie, The Chronicles of Narnia. We had a great time roaming around both the rocks and the decaying film set.

The film set of The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, (2005)
The Chronicles of Narnia was written by C.S. Lewis of which three have been made into film. The "Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was filmed here and coincidentally, "The Voyage of the Dawn Trader" was partly filmed on Cleveland Point in Queensland, Australia close to where I live.
Elephant Rocks
What a magnificent vista. I remember taking this shot and thinking what a location to have a wide angle cinematic view of two opposing mythical armies thundering towards each other on horseback, sword blades flashing in the sunlight and blood curdling screams sending shivers down your spine. In stark contrast to my imagination my thoughts turned to thinking that someone actually lives here and leads a normal life grazing cattle and probably takes this magnificent scene for granted as he/she has seen it thousands of times.

From film set to the ocean, all in a good day's cycling. After spending what felt to be so long in the alps to suddenly be back on the coast was rather perplexing. Snow covered peaks one day and sand and surf the next. This country is amazing, such diverse scenery in such a small area.

Our two guides did a splendid job arranging picnic locations and this one was not to be outdone, perched high on a hill, overlooking ice blue water, waves breaking onto a sandy beach with the odd piece of driftwood and to top it all off, a fine, sunny, autumn day. Lunch was superb and I just loved those New Zealand mussels.

After lunch, we were back on our bikes again, riding the coastal road, heading for Oamaru. All up, I think we rode approximately 72 km this day being far more than some of our people ever imagined riding in a single day.

I really appreciate receiving good, constructive and polite comments.
Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee