Skagway – Cycling from Klondike Summit to the Sea

Bike tours set up by Sockeye Bicycle Tours, White Pass Summit tour, Skagway, Alaska.

Bikes Ready and Waiting!

Skagway was a highly anticipated port of call when sailing the shores of Alaska.  Reason being, a “Summit to the Sea” cycling tour with Sockeye Cycle Company had been pre-booked to retrace the historic Klondike Gold Rush.

The bike ride literally flies down from the White Pass Summit – if you’re looking for an adrenalin rush, this one’s for you.  Cycling skills and concentration were definitely needed on this ride as compared to riding through Paris at Sunset, or cycling the Ancient Appian Way in Rome 

Note – there’s no time to look for gold nuggets on the way down the Pass!

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YAMBA, NSW for Pelicans, Prawns and Peace

Pelicans patiently waiting for fish scraps after fishermen clean their fish. Yamba, New South Wales, Australia. www.gypsy@60.com

Pelicans patiently waiting!

YAMBA is a must do stopover for anyone driving along the northern new south wales coastline of Australia.  Apart from having a couple of the best pubs on the east coast of Australia, it’s only an hour or so drive from Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and a bit more to Brisbane.

So, if being surrounded by pelicans while wetting a line or gorging yourself on fresh prawns is your thing read on.  Oh, and the surrounding countryside and beaches are stunning.

Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort, Yamba

This was part of a caravan trip and the Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort was home for five nights.  What an eye-opener it was to see artificial grass for caravan pads and not bare concrete – such luxury.

For those not towing a van there are villas, cabins, waterview units and even a spa villa with views.  The on-site restaurant and large swimming pool and slides will satisfy even the fussiest child or adult.

Then there’s the daily Happy Hours on the jetty at sunset…..

Pelicans at Yamba heading off into the sunset to roost for the night. www.gypsyat60.com

Angourie – Surf’s Up

Surfers at Angourie Beach, New South Wales. www.gypsyat60.com

After a lazy start to the first day at Yamba we headed off to Angourie Beach to watch the surfers.

This beach is considered sacred by Australian surfers with advice being “the swell needs only be one or two metres for the point to start breaking, at which stage it’s rideable for surfers of most abilities.  Anything bigger should only be tackled by confident board-riders”.  Oh well, back to fishing rod for me!

Walking down to the beach and climbing up to the headland we spent an hour watching the surfers waiting, attempting, missing and (the lucky ones) catching, the waves.  Such a fascinating sport.

Lone surfer at Angourie Beach, New South Wales, Australia. www.gypsyat60.com

Lone surfer at Angourie

Yangiri National Park – 65 Kilometre Coastal Walk

This popular walk starts from Angourie Bay Picnic Area and is worth a go if you are a true outdoorsy person and enjoy hiking and back to nature camping.

The walk is 65 kms, takes about five days (give or take) and follows both the beach and the National Park.   Tents and supplies need to be carried – but what a fantastic family or friend bonding exercise this would be. (Well in theory anyway!)

I’ll stick to cycling but the beauty of the walk plus the wildlife to meet along the way should be on the bucket list of all walkers and hikers.

The race across the finishing line (for those who make it) is Red Rock.   The map shows all facilities along the way as well as fitness levels recommended

The Clarence Tourism website has plenty of detailed information on this walk and other surrounding national parks.

ILUKA on the Mighty Clarence River

Old wooden ferry arriving at Iluka from Yamba, New South Wales. www.gypsyat60.com

Ferry arriving at Iluka

A ferry trip from Yamba to the neighbouring village of Iluka was next on the list.  We parked our push-bikes at the front of the old-time wooden boat and sat back to enjoy the trip.  This took about half an hour and was so much more enjoyable that looking out of a car window at the bitumen.

Bikes parked ready for riding at Iluka after the ferry ride from Yamba, New South Wales. www.gypsyat60.com

Bikes parked ready for riding at Iluka

Many old photos hang on the wooden walls telling fascinating stories of days gone by and the difference of life from then to now.

Catching the ferry from Yamba to Iluka, New South Wales, Australia. Both famous fishing villages. Bikes on board. Lots of pictures around the walls of days gone by. www.gypsyat60.com

The Ferry Ride

Clarence River Ferries (www.clarenceriverferries.com) have a daily timetable and they even have Island Cruises on Wednesdays and Fridays and a “Sunday Live” cruise. (Obviously on Sundays)

The small village of Iluka is all about fishing and beaches. With a population of about 1800 the atmosphere is relaxed and peaceful.  Cycling around the streets and along the beachfront was carefree as there was no worry of cars speeding past.

A couple of locals suggested a ride out along the beach road to the broadwater.  Here we walked out to the end of the groin rock wall and watched some hopeful fishermen waiting for the big bites..

Stomach rumbles meant it was time to ride back to the old Sedgers Reef Hotel for pub grub.  The hotel is quite ancient and has a run-down appearance but this the old girl has character beyond belief.  The food selection is excellent and reasonably priced.  With roast pork being one of daily specials there was no need to look further!

Bikes parked at the old Sedgers Reef Hotel, New South Wales. www.gypsyat60.com

Bikes parked ready for lunch!

Eating lunch on the old wooden tables outside is he way to go.  Sit back and enjoy the harbour views across the road and watch out for dolphins playing in the shallow water.   The resident pelicans of course are meandering everywhere.

The old Sedgers Reef Hotel at Iluka, New South Wales, great view of the harbour. www.gypsyat60.com

Sedgers Reef Hotel – a pub with a view.

Brooms Head – Beach front Village

Brooms Head Main Beach, New South Wales, Australia. A quiet seaside village with great fishing. www.gypsyat60.com

Main Beach

This is another of those unique beachfront villages that are sadly becoming all too rare.

Of interest – The name Brooms Head was first used in 1870 when a broom thought to have come from the wreck of the schooner ‘Eureka’, was washed up on the beach.  These days the locals simply call the town “The Broom”

The Main Beach is in Yuraygiri National Park and has the same timeless atmosphere of neighbouring beaches.  Reminded me or Ireland, the way everyone just stops what they are doing for a chat.

There’s a local bowls club and general store for lunch or snacks.   We definitely didn’t need food (still stuffed from the roast Pork) so it was off to the lookout for a panoramic view of the beach.    A prime spot for whale and dolphin spotting, but this wasn’t our day unfortunately.  (A goodreason to return.)

Locals in the general store told us that fishing and mud-crabbing are the obvious favourite pastimes.  Lake Cakora is a great place to launch a canoe – but the closest thing we had in the car that would float was an esky so had to be content with watching the activity of others.   The lake extends quite a long way behind the dunes and apparently, if in a canoe, you have the chance of seeing Jabirus, swans and other wading birds out on the mudflats.

On our travels we missed out seeing the endangered coastal emu but were often surrounded by the screeching the yellow-tailed black cockatoos.

Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo at Brooms Head, Lake Cakora, Yurangirii National Park, New South Wales, Australia. www.gypsyat60.com

Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo

Note to all bird photographers – head to Brooms Head, New South Wales.

Minnie Water

Next stop was Minnie Water – another haven for fishermen.

Stopping high above the beach above Minnie Lagoon we watched boats coming and going.  Fascinating to see them being winched on and off the beach with little effort – admittedly we were watching from quite a distance and wouldn’t know if it was a struggle or not.

The list of fish to be caught off shore or in the river is huge and includes flathead, whiting, bream, jew, tailor and mangrove jack

Boats being launched from the beach at Minnie Water, New South Wales, Australia. www.gysyat60.com

Boats coming and going.

The row of colourful chairs sitting on top of the headland meant this was a favourite spots for the locals to enjoy Happy Hours and sunsets.

Empty chairs on cliff top ready for Happy Hour Minnie Water, New South Wales, Australia. www.gypsyt60.com

Ready for Happy Hour

Wooli

Yet another seaside village recommended as being worthy of a peek and only a short drive off the main road. (Note to self – the word is pronounced – Wooleye and not – Woollee! I wondered why strange looks kept coming my way)

Again surrounded by Yurangir National Park, if it’s solitude and relaxation you are seeking, look no further.

A drive out to the breakwall at the mouth of the Wooli Wooli River only took a few minutes – only 2km along a narrow bar past the houses of Wooli Village. Here we chatted to a serious fisherman (Although I think they’re all serious!).  He said it was a guaranteed spot to get a decent feed.  The proof was in the pudding as we watched him cast out twice and bring in two decent sized Cobia.  These fish are also called Black King Fish and definitely a culinary delight – we were more than a little envious.

Make sure you have a rod tucked away in the boot (which we didn’t) as The Wooli Bait & Tackle shop has every bait imaginable.  The owner, Stan Young, will tell you the best locations for fishing.   Talk long enough and he’ll have you out on a six hour charter with a 100% guarantee of hauling in enough fish to feed the family for months!

Each day we would return to Yamba to watch the antics of the pelicans patiently waiting at the fish cleaning table for scraps.

Pelican's at Yamba, New South Wales, taking it easy on the banks. www.gypsyat60.com

Snooze Time

Mind you the choices were tough.  Would we wander down the jetty to enjoy the sunset, or hop on our bikes and pedal down to the new Yamba Shores Tavern and enjoy the sunset over the water from a different angle.

Life is all about choices!

Sunset at the Yamba Shores Tavern. Sitting on the deck enjoying the reflection with a glass of wine. www.gypsyat60.com

Sunset at the Yamba Shores Tavern

Forgot to mention the Yamba Prawns!

Cycling back to the van site from the ferry ride, we stopped in at the Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-op and bought a kg of these beauties.  What a way to finish a magic day with pelicans, prawns and peace at Yamba.

Prawn and Oyster appetiser from the Clarence River Fishermens Coop, Yamba. www.gypsyat60.com

Prawn and Oyster appetiser

Whether you’re a surfer, hiker, fisherman or just seeking solitude – Yamba with the surrounding fishing villages and national park is calling out to you.

Electric E-spresso Charged Bike by Merida

Huge parrot (artwork) admiring the Merida E-spresso (electric) City 510 bike. www.gypsyat60.com

Artwork of a huge parrot admiring the bike.

The offer to test-ride an electric bike was a dream come true.  The Merida E-Spresso City 510, powered with its Bosch motor, is amazing and will wow everyone, whatever age and fitness level.

Calling all City workers!

This electric bike is perfect for commuting. On arriving at work, whatever distance cycled, there’s no need for a shower and refresh. Just park the E-Spresso bike near your work station then head to the coffee machine for your other Espresso fix!   A fortune can be saved on registration, fuel and parking and the added health benefits through exercise are a bonus.

Boomer age people:

Riding around your local community or just generally carrying out the essentials of daily life is a breeze. Plus, when on longer rides with bike clubs, family or friends, there’s little effort needed, making the days more enjoyable.

An example of ease and enjoyment was on a 25km return ride along a local rail path. Now you’d think the road beside a rail-line would just be flat but no, there are plenty of hills needing very low gears to usually conquer. This time was different! Riding the Merida E-Spresso, a lower gear combination with a flick into Sports Mode meant flying past many hard-core cyclists who could only just stare open-mouthed!

The bike glides effortlessly on the OFF mode (my own pedal power) but the Eco and Tour modes quickly become favourites – especially when cycling into a head wind from the beach.

Campers and caravanners:

When arriving at destinations we all like to hop on our cycles and explore the surroundings. With this e-bike you have the chance to cycle further because the effort is decreased substantially. The added power of the Bosch motor means the bike is a dream on all surfaces. Whether you’re on bitumen, dirt or grass – the adventure in your soul is reignited when on one of the electric modes.

Test-riding the new Merida E-spresso (electric) City 510 bike. www.gypsyat60.com

This electric bike rides easily on all surfaces

On the practical side, you do still need to pedal. The bike is pedal assist (pedalec) but with the flick of your left thumb the power boost kicks in from one of five electric modes. An easy twiddle of thumbs to combine electric modes with the normal gear range on the right gives the perfect speed whether on the flat or facing a hill.

The boost modes give up to 26.8 kph of power, after that you need your own pedal power to travel faster.

The Merida E-spresso (electric) City 510 takes out all the puffing and panting when going up hills! www.gypsyat60.com

The E-spresso takes out all the puffing and panting when going up hills!

The five riding modes are:

Off            – using your own pedal power – which means you are getting more exercise (great on the flat).

Eco           – gives gentle support across long distances

Tour         – better for longer distances

Sport        – powerful support for riding in cities and cross country (eg, paddocks in my case)

Turbo       – for maximum power and a sportier ride. (Tried this mode and felt as though I was flying on a magic carpet!)

Charging the Bosch Battery

The 2kg battery needs a re-charge after 200kms.  Unlike other electric bikes, the battery clicks under the pillion rack. This is great because there’s no bulky items between your knees making for a more comfortable ride.

The Bosch computer display on the handlebars clearly indicates when a charge is needed, along with information on KMs travelled, travel speed and mode being used. Charging is quick, and plugging into a regular 240v outlet at night will always ensure the battery doesn’t got flat the next day.

Transporting the bike:

From a Boomer perspective, if transporting the bike, you need to check your bike rack suits the “step through” style. If not, the problem is easily overcome – the front wheel comes off easily, the battery unclicks and the bike can be loaded into the back of a SUV.

There are several compatible bike racks around and with the bike weighing in at 22 kg (light compared to many e-bikes) the younger generation can easily clamp to bike roof racks. Oldies will need to source a suitable rack for the back of their cars or caravans.

Highlights:

  • Step through frame – means there’s never a need to throw a leg over the usual crossbar. This would definitely make city cycling life easier for the skirt wearing community!
  • Comfort and safety – the bike is so stable and easy to balance. A comparison to a regular bicycle would be like riding a motor scooter compared to a Harley motorbike!  (NB – I have previously used an electric  bike on The Ancient Appian Way in Rome but the comfort level was drastically different. Probably  because I was so nervous at being in peak hour traffic with cars on wrong side of the road!)
  • Wear and tear on the body – when using the e-modes there’s no demand on knees and hips, and let’s face it, at some stage in life everyone’s need looking after!
  • Fun – The Merida E-spresso City lets you keep the fun in cycling.   Relax and take in your surroundings when exploring new locations either at home or on holidays. City workers can avoid traffic chaos and stress levels and the obvious health benefits of being part of the outdoors on this pride and joy is a no-brainer.

Do you have an electric bike (e-bike) story to share?

 

Cycling Through Paris is Magic at Sunset

Fat Tire Bike - asked at the Louvre, Paris with sunset approaching.

Fat Tire Bike

We all rode bikes as kids right?  So, it’s a bit like breathing you never forget how. Although if you haven’t ridden for a while, a quick practice run before cycling through Paris is recommended – just to make sure your coordination and balance is on track.

This night bike ride is designed for all fitness levels and cycling through Paris at sunset certainly beats looking out of a bus window!

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Discover Singapore the RIDE way – on two wheels!

Singapore by pedal power is a great way to see this amazing colourful modern city that’s packed with history, culture, and iconic buildings.   You’ll find this clean and green city an ideal stopover when travelling from OZ to far flung destinations on the other side of the world.

Quick stop on bike tour, Singapore, at the Helix Bridge. www.gypsyat60.com

The Helix Bridge

Cycling in Singapore

My tip is to go on a morning tour because it rains nearly every afternoon all year round.   Also, the upside of cycling in a small group with a guide is the sharing of local knowledge and current interest topics.   A brochure has its limits!

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Cycling the Ancient Appian Way in Rome

Cycling the Ancient Appian Way in Rome

Riding along the ancient Appian Way where the stones weren't so rough as other parts of the 2,300 road. www.gypsyat60.com

Riding along the ancient Appian Way – stones not so rough on this stretch.

Just for one day we were 19th century time-travellers exploring the beauty of ancient Appian Way on push bikes away from the city mayhem.

After five intense, but exciting, sight-seeing days in Rome a cycle along the 2,300 year old cobblestones of the Appian Way was a welcome diversion to clear the cobwebs away.

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