Wednesday, 27 June 2012


U3A Peddling For Pleasure Group

Cycling is one of the most enjoyable pastimes anyone can participate in. When families are involved, children start to ride at a very early age and the majority continue to ride for most of their lives.

The extroardinary thing about cycling is that people participate for varied reasons. Some riders are singular in their purpose whilst others embrace riding for a multitude of reasons.

Here are some reasons why cycling is so popular:
  • Health....low impact sport/recreation
  • Recreation and enjoyment .... whether you choose roads, bike lanes, shared paths, mountain trails there is one form or another suited to you.
  • Transport....maybe to avoid delays on public transport.
  • Social aspects....If you are single it's a great place to meet someone with a similar passion.
  • Fitness....the more you ride the fitter you become.
  • Something the whole family can participate in....apart from the initial outlay, cycling is a relatively cheap form of entertainment.
  • Environmental reasons.... less polution and that's good for every one of us.
  • Avoiding congestion on the is generally accepted that cycling to work is quicker than driving a car or taking public transport.
  • Stress buster....Nothing will destress you more quickly than riding a bike.
  • As a way of saving money....every time you choose a bike to commute, it's money in the bank and the saving is tax free.
  • Freedom....Oh yeah! freedom. There's nothing more to add.
Wide open spaces

If you choose to ride a bicycle for no other reason than either to gain better health or to regain it, you have made a sound choice. Here are a number of reasons why that choice is so sound.

Low impact form of exercise.
  • Can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.
  • Gentle on the joints.
  • Can improve your general health.
  • A fun exercise.
  • A great way of improving fitness levels.
  • A good way of keeping healthy for the whole family.
  • As cycling can be done in groups, it is beneficial to your social health.
  • It is easier than walking as cycling takes less energy to cover 1k than does walking.
  • It is much cheaper than going to a gym and arguably more enjoyable.
Over 1 billion people use bicycles every day throughout the world and they can't all be wrong.

 Don't think about it. Don't procrastinate. Do it.
with a little determination, the following will happen:
  1. Your whole self will begin to feel better.
  2. You will discover things amd places you didn't know existed.
  3. Your body will start to become fitter.
  4. Your outlook on life will become more positive.
  5. You will not need to feel the need to visit your GP so frequently.
  6. You will generally become more positive, feel less bored and stressed.
When I next see a healthy, smiling face pass me on a bike I'll know it's you, and don't forget to wave.

U3A Peddling For Pleasure Group
Become a Health Evangelist and preach the good word "Cycling is good for the soul"

Jimmy Bee

Friday, 22 June 2012


Both an avid cyclist and dedicated gardener

Why is cycling and gardening so compatible? Well maybe it's because they are both a tool to use in the overall goal of achieving physical and mental well being. Each activity is a form of aerobic exercise and if used in the correct manner can:
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Increase general stamina
  • Increase resistance to fatigue and build extra energy
  • Improve mood
  • Decrease tension
  • Aid sleep
  • Reduce depression and anxiety
  • Tone muscles and increase lean body mass

By exercising you are increasing your body's cardiovascular endurance and efficiency.

Shovelling a load of chicken manure

All of our garden beds are prepared manually using implements such as forks, shovels, mattocks, rakes, etc. requiring a fair output of energy. Even the rotary tiller plays a part in improving our resistance. By spending a couple of hours a week in the garden you not only receive the benefits of aerobic exercise but you tend to keep your weight in check as well. An added benefit of course is the regular supply of fresh vegetables to supplement your diet. Now combine this with regular cycling and you should be well on your way to achieving a healthy lifestyle.

U3A Peddling for Pleasure Group

Not a grouch amongst them

From personal experience, both cycling and gardening attracts nice types and it pays to belong to both gardening and cycling clubs or groups purely for the contacts and friendships that can develop from such activities. There are a lot of lonely people out there who can derive many benefits from giving a little of themselves and receiving in return the comradeship that groups offer.

In both the cycling and gardening clubs you hear a lot of friendly banter and laughter which indicates that people are relaxed and enjoying each others company. Tension and stress seem to take a vacation when engaging in these two activities and this alone must be good for the soul and reduce any anxiety build up you may have.

Even the bird is relaxed in our garden

Don't procrastinate any more, do it now, join a Recreational Cycling Group and or a Community Garden, give a little, reap the benefits and watch your life change for the better.

If you would like to change your life for the better, click on the following links:


Jimmy Bee

Monday, 18 June 2012



One movement and this frame is lost forever

There can be a perfect marriage between cycling and photography in that one compliments the other.

When cycling, and I am talking about recreational cycling here, your vision takes in the broader picture. Taking photographs whilst cycling changes the whole dimension. from the broader picture, your vision tends to narrow and targets specific points of interest, e.g. Whilst riding through a forest, you notice a specific tree, it may be the colour of the bark that captures your eye, or it may be the pattern in the bark. This is where the dimension changes. Normally, a cyclist noticing the tree would merely think "pretty tree", the photographer on the other hand would stop to take a photograph of the tree. A sequence of events may then take place...whilst studying the tree you notice a pattern as unique as a fingerprint. Whilst framing our shot, the photographer within our psyche notices a pattern within the pattern requiring a macro shot. Pleased with this result, the stimulated mind requires more and the eye starts to look further afield. You may then notice that the sun's rays are playing on a particular leaf, another pattern emerges and you take another macro shot.

You can now see the number of events that have evolved from first sighting the tree and thinking "pretty tree". A conscious decision is made to stop and photograph the tree. That photograph is unique. Why? because you have just photographed a moment in time because that tree is not going to be exactly the same in an hour, a day, a week, a month or even a year. The tree is going to lose some of it's leaves, the colour of the bark will change, insects will leave their mark, the weather or time of day will change the lighting conditions and that is why you have recorded a moment in time. How unique is that!

Trees may not be within your scope of interest and that is why I have included a number of photographs below to demonstrate my point of view. Each one of these photographs is captured as a moment in time and therefore, in themselves quite unique. Every one of you with a camera in hand, at any one time, would record these photographs differently.

The tree stopped me, the colours grabbed me

A wisp of wind and this moment is changed forever
I am really beautiful

Colour is the essence of life
Maybe I cheated.......just a little
Where does cycling figure in all of this?........simply, not unlike a normal marriage, one relies on the other to carry out certain functions. If you hadn't been on your bike cycling through the forest at that point in time, you may not have noticed the "pretty tree" and you wouldn't have started a sequence of events that would result in bringing you added pleasure.

In my case, this journey has provided the contents of a blog and through you reading this blog, I hope that the next time you hop on your bicycle to go for a recreational ride, you won't forget to take and use your camera.

In conclusion, think of it this way....cycling + photography has the ability to get the much needed psychology mix right and transport you from the mundane to experiencing a form of relaxed pleasure. How good is that for the soul.

Cycle in the zone and make it safe.
Jimmy Bee

Thursday, 14 June 2012


A young cat posing in the grape vine at Back Plains
This ride is easy and within the scope of any cyclist who can ride 40k.The entire ride takes place on sealed country roads, there is little traffic and the riding conditions are excellent.

Clifton, Darling Downs, Qld.

On leaving Clifton, head towards Nobby on the Felton - Nobby Road. At Kings Creek, turn left into Bellview Road, after riding a short distance turn right into Gillam Road.

Keep on this road until you reach the junction of Felton - Nobby Road, turn left and ride until you reach a sign with Pittsworth to the right and Back Plains to the left.

Having turned left at the sign "Back Plains" you continue on your journey through this little hamlet. There is nothing here to alert you that you are travelling through Back Plains apart from the sign. The old telephone exchange and general store have long gone, but the school built in 1879 and the local hall which has been the social hub of local farming families for many years are still standing proud. Although the old farming families are diminishing rapidly in the area, they still leave a trace and I dare to say that the old cemetery could tell you many a ghostly yarn.

A Back Plains Farm

Interestingly enough, I happen to be in possession of the "Back Plains School's Centenary Tucker Book" comprising of recipes supplied by local families, and my wife, a descendant of the early German settlers happily agreed to bake a Banana Date Loaf from a recipe out of the book.

Banana Date Loaf

Old Recipe

The Humble Banana

Banana Date Loaf

I suppose if you love city scapes you may find this ride boring, but to me, just the openness of the plains inspires me. I love colour and I can see why the early Irish picked this area to settle. Having been lucky enough to visit the Isle of Colour, Ireland, and in particular, Tipperary, there is a great similarity of landscape. I think I would get my rear end kicked if I didn't mention here that the district was equally inhabited by German immigrants as well and both the German and Irish names are prominent to-day.
Tipperary, Ireland

I have completed this ride a number of times and never seem to tire of it. As the seasons change, so do the colours. The changes in temperature between summer and winter is to the extreme and this changes the colour contrast. My favourite time to cycle in these parts is in the Autumn and Spring, the colours are so much softer.

What a specimen
The ghost of a tree keeping watch over a paddock of sunflowers

Autumn colours

Spiritual seeking is treasure hunting (metaphor, unknown author) and I feel as if I am riding in a very special zone, whether that is spiritual or not, I have no idea. Whether it is due to the lack of traffic and urban noise with just the bird calls, the lowing of cattle and maybe a far off sound of a tractor working in the paddocks, there is only the noise of my tyres rolling freely on the road. Maybe it's nature at it's best

Plane on Bange's Airfield

Google Map of Clifton to Back Plains and Return

From here on in, it's just following the road as it meanders back to Clifton Leyburn Road where you turn left and enjoy the ride back to Clifton. Just as a landmark, Bange's Airfield is on Clifton Leyburn Road and if you don't come across the airfield you know that your in trouble and it might be time to look at a map.

I hope this post inspires you to get on your bike and make the effort to make this ride. Better still, make a week-end of it, as there are plenty of other local destinations to ride to.

Length: 42K
Bicycle required: Suitable for most
Skill level: Low
Level of fitness: Low to Moderate (It is an easy ride except on a windy day)
Accommodation: Hotels & B&Bs
Maps: Google, Bikely, local maps
Location: 40 mins SW of Toowoomba on the New England Highway

Cheers and safe riding,

Jimmy Bee

Monday, 11 June 2012


This is the place to come for the weekend if you are seeking a picturesque ride in the countryside.

Clifton on the Darling Downs

Clifton is situated approximately half way between Toowoomba and Warwick just off the New England highway. There are a number of rides of varying distances and the majority are on good quality sealed roads. There are a few hills but generally the terrain is flat and depending on the season, there are a multitude of excellent views, some of which are depicted in the photographs.

The town itself has three hotels, one of which is an Irish hotel, having Irish publicans. Each hotel serves meals and one has take-away pizzas. There is an excellent Foodworks store which also supplies take-away as well as a couple of cafes. I personally have eaten at two of the hotels and found the meals to be very good. As an example, on my last ride my friend and I dined at the the Pink Pub (Club Hotel), where we both chose lamb shanks accompanied by a bottle of Pepperjack Cabernet Sauvigion.  Having just consumed a couple of cold VB's in the bar and running an eagle eye over the menu, we decided to eat in the dining room,  where we had the added pleasure of an open fire. Not being an expert in the matter of food, I would rate the meal 4 out of 5 stars. Unfortunately, I neglected to take my camera with me. There is also accommodation available at the hotels.

As it was my friend Murray's first visit to this part of the Darling Downs I decided that we would ride Clifton to Pilton and then west to Nobby and back to Clifton. The weather, although overcast, was ideal for riding and indeed for landscape photography.

Reaching the crest of the hill before reaching Pilton

Looking west from the top of the hill

We left Clifton early and took the Heifer Creek road. The quality of the road as depicted in the above photograph was excellent with the traffic being light to moderate. Even though we had a long climb to reach the summit it was well worth it as the decent down the other side was awesome. I don't know whether I was enjoying the exhilarating fast decent or whether my attention was diverted to a shudder coming from my front wheel but I completely missed the Pilton Hall where we were to turn to head west on Manapouri Road to Nobby and it wasn't until we climbed another hill that we were confronted with a sign stating we were at the top of the Great Dividing Range.

Murray wasn't too keen to go over the top as he said "Jimmy, if you've got this wrong and if we were supposed to have turned somewhere back there - indicating where we had come from, we're going to glide all the way to Gatton (at the end of Heifer Creek Road) and it's going to be one hell of a climb back". The decision was made and we retraced our ride back 5km where we came across the Pilton Hall and a road running west, signposted "Manapouri Road". It was here whilst we were taking in some refreshment that Murray exclaimed "I don't know how we missed this place it's bigger than Myers!" I muttered something like "It was probably obscured by that tree." He didn't reply....the look was enough.

Views from Pilton to Nobby

The ride from Pilton to Nobby was uneventful but never boring, not on a beautiful autumn day, sucking in cool clean air and taking in the majestic views that this part of the Darling Downs has to offer.

By the time we arrived at Nobby, we were both feeling slightly peckish and pulled into the general store, come service station come take-away. This clean and efficiently run little establishment was well and truly up to the task of satisfying our hunger. Whilst consuming our lunch, we sat outside and watched the world go by and took in some of the historical sites within our vision.

Nobby has a couple of well known claims to fame, The Rudd Pub named after the legendary author of the "Dad & Dave "stories and "On our Selection", Steele Rudd. If you choose to have a meal in the pub, you will not regret it. Not only will you be pleased with the meal but you will have the added pleasure of eating in a local museum, reminding a lot of the older generation of memories many would rather regret, the era of The Great Depression. The other claim to fame, is a memorial in honour of Sister Elizabeth Kenny, an Australian bush nurse who promoted the need to exercise muscles instead of immobilising them when treating poliomyelitis (polio).This treatment was prior to vaccination.  Her principles of muscle rehabilitation, became the foundation of physical therapy or physiotherapy.  My father in law was one of many such sufferers living in the district that benefited from her work.

Having had our energy levels replenished, I decided to take an alternate dirt route the remaining 11 km back to Clifton just to add an element of difficulty.

Distance: 60km
Surface: Sealed road all but the last 11km
Traffic: Light to moderate
Difficulty: Easy/medium. You do need a suitable level of fitness to ride some of the hills.
Bicycle suited: All types. The last 11km can also be made on a sealed road.


Jimmy  Bee

Monday, 4 June 2012


Kangaroo Point

This is a great ride to take the whole family on, particularly on a beautiful sunny day and it doesn't have to cost a lot for the family to have a fun day by the river. Pack some sandwiches, fruit, cordial for the kids and a thermos of coffee or tea and then everybody can have an ice cream at Southbank. Parking doesn't have to be a real chore either, if you can't find a spot to park in the parking lot at Mowbray Park, there are plenty of side streets close by.

Mowbray park, East Brisbane, Qld
Shared pathway at Mowbray Park, East Brisbane, Qld

It's a matter of following the signs from Mowbray Park to Dockside. The traffic on the side roads here is light but if you feel safer then stick to the footpaths. When you arrive at Cairns Street, just locate the cycle path and follow it to the riverside

A beautifully restored home in Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Qld.

Dockside, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Qld

I think Kangaroo Point is one of the more interesting places along the river in that it is steeped in history, cliffs high enough to climb, great views of the city, a jazz club, organised kayaking and a myriad of spots to indulge in a social BBQ or picnic with friends and family.

Shared pathway leading under the Story Bridge, Brisbane, Qld.

Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Qld.

Why not combine the cycle ride with an history lesson. What a great way of learning about our beautiful river, from early sailing ships keeping the lifeline open for Brisbane to World War 2 battle ships including a fleet of submarines. Now everything comes in by air or road transport when not so long ago it was ships and rail. A quick stop at the Maritime Museum is a must, particularly if you have the children with you and then it's on to Southbank.

A history lesson at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Qld.

Kayaks for hire at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Qld.

Paddle steamer on the Brisbane River, Qld.

Southbank is Brisbane City's playground both for young and old. Restaurants, bars and cafes are bountiful and in the main good quality. The Southbank Parklands are great for relaxation and the beach is a must in warmer weather, particularly for the kids. There is always the Cultural Precinct with it's theatres, art galleries and Performing Arts just to keep in mind for a day not so suitable to soaking up the outdoors with cycling and walking. The shared pathway continues on to the end of Orleigh Park, Hill End.

Southbank, Brisbane, Qld

For those more imaginative and adventurous, you can weave your way through the side streets to cross the Eleanor Schonell  Bridge to the Queensland University or continue on to Chelmer where you can cross the bridge to Indooroopilly, trace your way back along the northern side of the river to the Story Bridge, crossing to Kangaroo Point and on to Mowbray Park.

I'll leave you with this anonymous quote: "On a bicycle, citizens experience their city with deep intimacy, often for the first time. For a regular motorist to take that two or three mile trip by bicycle instead is to decimate an enormous wall between them and their communities."

Jimmy Bee