MTB Kalamunda

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First ride up here in two year and this place has been developed! Nice signs and maps labelling all of the tracks. Started at black stump and played on the pump track for a bit then headed towards the dell via tangaroo kick and facid ashback. Then up up gunjin by way of rocky balboa and mother in law then a nice quick descent back to black stump on goldilocks (fun!!!), muffin top and horny devil (pic above). A nice way to spend an hour or so.

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Learning to Surf

After reading Bruno Castello da Costa’s article on The Inertia about the benefits of a maritime education i was intrigued by his ideas. As it is almost the beginning of a new school year and having surfing back on our programs after several years on the outer i was inspired by some of the concepts he elaborates. I followed the link over to amazon and bought the ebook version of  ‘Oriented Conciousness Mastering in the Practice of Surfing’ which does seem a little unwieldy as a title but the book is printed bilingually.

Having previously completed a level 1 surf coaching course and done some coaching myself the ideas intrigued me. Two different ‘schools’ of teaching people to surf are compared. One founded in Waikiki with its ideal set up to teach anyone to surf on long fat softly breaking waves (the Hawaiian Model) and those used by youths to teach themselves to surf, based in this instance in Brazil (the Natural Method). Having taught myself to surf using the latter method i could see the points being made when contrasting the different styles. The Hawaiian Method based surfing lessons do tend to foster some bad habits such as surfing in big packs, walking more than paddling and letting instructors choose and push students in to waves. The outcome is to get people to stand up rather that accumulate the series of skills that are necessary to participate independently as a surfer.

Not training students to be independent in the surf may be short changing them a little in the pursuit of ticking off the box of standing up on the board. Is that what it is to surf? According to this study on competitive surfing, surfers spend about 54% of their time paddling, 28% of their time sitting still, 8% riding waves and 4% paddling for waves. I would guess professional surfers competing go a lot harder than the average punter learning to surf or surfing for fun. The overwhelming amount of time is spent sitting around in the right position or paddling around to get in to the right position. The knowledge and skills required to find the right position to catch waves and get yourself and your board in to that position should take precedence over learning to stand up which comes later on after skill development.

The authors of the ebook go on to elaborate that skills like surf lifesaving, swimming in a marine environment, bodysurfing, oceanographical elements and some marine biology should be taught before the focus of lessons becomes standing up on a surfboard. All these skills and knowledge are acquired the hard way through years of experience using the ‘Natural Method’. Now this method can exclude those with limited time, fitness, knowledge etc so what the authors suggest in the ebook is to run a surfing program that takes all the elements of knowledge, the fitness and the skills acquired through the Natural method and embed them. This way the accessability of the the traditional Hawaiian Model can be infused with the broad ranging skills and understandings developed through the Natural Method. At least that is what i took away from the text, I find it a unique insight that i hadn’t put my finger on before. Now while the ebook does go on to list lesson sequences and content headings, almost all of the finer detail is left for the program coordinator to create, which does seem wise as conditions vary from beach to beach and teachers need to be familiar with their local conditions, oceanography, weather patterns etc in order to fully develop an effective program.

I look forward to reading the next book. Well now the bar has been raised so it looks like i have some work to do to bring my surfing program up to scratch!

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Port Beach to Rottnest Island and Back.

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22 December 2013

Port Beach to Rotto

Dist: 19.7 km – Time: 2.3 hours – Avge Speed 8 km/h – Max Speed 18 km/h

Rotto back to Port Beach

Dist: 18.7 km – Time: 23.04 hours – Avge Speed 6 km/h – Max Speed 9 km/h

thanks to Keith Smith for the pic.

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La Reunion: Tour Des Cirques Walking the GRR1 Part 1





GRR1 symbol on a rock

After spending a year living and teaching in neighbouring Mauritius i wanted to sample some of the famous walking that Reunion has to offer. So saying good bye to the family as they flew east, i headed west on the 45min flight to St Denis. A quick overnight in town then on the bus to St Louis. From St Louis the bus up to Cilaos was a picturesque ride up into the mountains with one of the highlights being the bus squeezing through a one lane tunnel with less than a foot clearance on all sides.

So far my limited French was getting me by but finding accommodation in Cilaos proved a lengthy process as most things were closed on Sunday. After finding a B&B that was open and checking in, i roamed about town in the afternoon stocking up on food for tomorrow’s walk at the super market and investing in a fleece jumper that had not been necessary in Mauritius. Cilaos is a beautiful place built in an extinct crater with huge mountain walls surrounding it and the impressive Piton des Neiges overlooking town emerging from the clouds sporadically.

That Sunday night in early December was colder than i had experienced in a year living in Mauritius. The next morning was my first encounter with French breakfasts. Faced with a bowl, baguettes and jam i promptly tucked in to the baguette and jam over my bowl, filling it with crumbs. Turns out the bowl was for coffee, which was had black and in large quantities. Also turns out that most people dipped their baguette in the coffee and the crumbs just went everywhere on the table cloth. This new cultural experience had me ready to hit the trail so i set off across to the north end of town and the beginning of the trail.

I climbed for about 45 mins up quite steep terrain before re-emerging on the road above Cilaos.

IMG_20121203_094930The incline was very steep and didn’t look like letting up. At Le Bloc the trail left the road again and began some even more serious switchbacks as it slowly climbed in altitude. After an hour of steep ascent, during which i was passed every 15 mins by trail runners clad in lycra, i arrived at a small hut and fairly large plain called Plateau du petit Matarum. This is where i stopped for my first break and had an early lunch as the guidebook said it was all uphill from hear. While i was sitting and eating a couple of middle aged men with a younger woman came up and decided i had chosen a great place for a break. I stayed for a while and engaged in some back and forth in a mix of French and English before wishing them au revoir and getting back to some serious uphill walking.

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The next couple of hours was hard slog with the humidity being high as i walked up through the clouds. The ascent was relentless and a found my rhythm following the swithbacks up and up. About half an hour from the top i passed a camping site set in to the side of the mountain made from concrete. I didn’t have a tent and had no intention of sleeping there but thought it would have been a nice bit of intel to know before planning a trip.

IMG_20121203_114023After some more head down hard slog i made it to the top of the pass and felt the full force of the wind blowing from the east. The trees had started to thin out over the last half hour and at the top the vegetation was more like low bushes and shrubs with plant of moss. Less than 10 mins further on i spotted my destination for the evening, the Gite de la Caverne Dufour.

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There it is Gite de la Caverne Dufour!

I was not the first to arrive that day, a couple from my B&B this morning were there already and as i sat on the balcony and had a rest and snack, more people began to trickle in, all from the Cilaos direction. Turns out there were about 40 people staying at the Gite in the various dorms. There was not enough water to shower but the warmth of the Gite was much appreciated. There was a large middle age contingent who like my self, intended to climb to the top of Piton des Neiges the next morning. The food that night was hot and plentiful (saucisse e rougail and a bean stew) and everything was washed down with flavoured rhum. It was a very festive meal and while i couldn’t understand most of the conversation, all the people sitting near me took turns trying to converse with me in their limited english and i used my limited french. It was a memorable meal, the warmth of the dining room helped me crash out early before the next days early rise.

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Thats my bed on the bottom!

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Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire

Earlier in 2012 i had climbed Le Pouce, one of the distinct peaks overlooking Port Louis. At 828m Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire or Black River Peak is the highest peak in Mauritius and offers a relatively easy walk before a dodgy scramble to the summit and then some awesome views over the south-western lagoons. As i recall i think i did the whole out and back walk from the carpark is less than 3 hours.

Black River PeakThe drive up from Black River through Chamarel is pretty awesome winding through the hills. After passing a rock with Balck River Peak painted on it there is a clearing on the left where i parked. The track is very obvious as it runs through trees and foliage well over head high so the majority of the walk is in the shade!

After 15 minutes or so i cam across a clearing with the boundary marker where 3 different Mauritian regions meet.

Black River Peak-001There was plenty of bird life active in the area as this part of the island is all national park. I didn’t see anyone on the track so it was very much a time of reflection and taking in the sights and sounds around me. After 45 minutes the track takes a turn a little more to the north and at the corner there is a break in the trees where you can see Le Morne mountain in the distance. It is a prelude of the views to come.

Black River Peak-002Once the trail has made this turn the trees star to thin out as there are several big inclines and after a further 20 minutes or so the ‘peak’ was visible not too far ahead.Black River Peak-020Once the peak was in sight then it was not much further on before the dodgy scramble up the loose and slippery track to the top. The exposed soil on the track was very loose and hard to get a foot hold in without slipping. Holding on to exposed roots and plants on the way up helped to prevent a slippery descent. I think this part would be terrible in the wet as the already eroded soil would mudify and start to flow.

Black River Peak-006The view at the top was impressive as the views over the coral lagoons with the reef passes and islands really is magnificent. I think my dodgy Mauritian camera phone didn’t really do justice to the views from up there.

Black River Peak-009Further around to the north there were nice views of Tamarin and also the Black River Gorges.

Black River Peak-014Black River Peak-011After spending some time taking in the view and having a bit of a snack it was back down the same track that got me there. There was what looked like another track going north which would be into the national park further which may link up to the Black River end. maybe another time.

Luckily the first part of the scramble down had a chain attached which did help to regulate my descent speed.

Black River Peak-019After the scramble and a few slips and slides I made my way back to the car jogging part of the way as i was running a little late! get it? Anyway it was a nice little walk that is not difficult apart from the last 10 minutes of slippery scrambling. Worth it for the views of this beautiful tropical island.

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SUP around Ile D’Ambre

Having camped on Ile Bernache with the family a couple of weeks previous, i was determined to SUP around the bigger Ile D’Ambre. Setting off early through the cane fields it took around an hour to find a spot on … Continue reading

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Ile Bernache

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