Good Beer, Angry Magpies and Preparing to Climb a Mountain

It feels like I’ve been talking about this climb for bloody ages.

The countdown has been a long one, but this weekend is the weekend when I will finally ascend (or at least attempt to ascend) Mount Warning.

I feel like I’ve neglected this blog, and the reason my posts have gone from every few days to every week is for several reasons. The main one is saving money for November (where I will aim to post once a day because I will be doing A LOT in a very short period of time) and there’s not too much to talk about when it comes to work, but another reason is the weather, to be honest the weather has been pretty average. 18 degrees sounds great, but with cloud and a lot of coastal wind, it makes the outside a lot less attractive.

In saying that, it was a cracker on Monday so I decided to take the push bike up to Kingscliff, which is just under 20km from where I live in Pottsville. The ride is something I’ve been building up to, and I was keen to break the 40km round trip barrier. The way there was a breeze, as I had a nice southerly wind guiding me gently up the east coast. Too bad the wind couldn’t push me out of the clutches of the angry magpie who thought that I was after its eggs.

It’s actually pretty cool, really. The male magpie is so protective of its eggs (that reside in the nest for 6-8 weeks between July and November) that it will attack any threats within a 150m radius. Considering the amount of cyclists, pedestrians and other birds it must encounter, that’s some pretty tiring work. I’ve been told that some people put zipties through their helmets so they appear like spikes, and that apparently repels the magpies. Needless to say I’d rather not test out this theory, and I’d much rather leave the protective father alone,  so he can deal with more obvious threats like seagulls.

While I’m on the subject though, I was on the phone to a family friend today who informed me that a friend of his in Western Australia found a dead magpie and glued that to his helmet to ward-off the real-life angry birds. A pretty morbid medieval approach, but apparently pretty effective. Considering I’m still quite new in the area, I don’t think I’ll use this method either, as parading the carcasses of dead animals on one’s cranium isn’t usually considered a cornerstone of mental stability.

After some flailing and a few choice profanities, I stopped for a quick drink before heading back in the other direction, this time pushing myself against the oncoming wind. Now that was hard graft, I felt like my legs were going to fall off afterwards and every revolution of the pedals felt like I was pushing twice my weight. You can either look at this ride as good preparation for climbing a mountain, or a way to make it much, much harder. Only time will tell. I’ll let you know what it’s like once I’ve hit 50k.

Away from nature, I’ve been trying my fair share of different beers while I’ve been here. It’s become common knowledge among the locals that I spend most of my time here drinking my brother-in-law’s booze, and while that may be a slight exaggeration, I have been taking every opportunity to try some of the local beers.

Australia is great for beer, mainly because of the sheer size of the country, it allows local breweries the opportunity to be discovered. Unlike the UK where the choice of piss in most places is limited to a selection of the same 10-20 international brands, Australian states all have their own (often large) range of local craft ales. Not only that, these craft ales almost always take priority position at the bar, with the more nationalised brands tucked away together for the less adventurous drinker.

The brand I’ve been enjoying most is Stone & Wood, who have a mixed bag of lagers, pale ales, and dark ales in a variety of  flavours from the lighter casual beer (Green Coast Lager) to the refreshing, kicks-you-in-the-tastebuds ale (Pacific), and the rich, malty hairy-bastard dark ale known as Jasper. I’ve never known a brand of beer to tick so many boxes and give me a different way to embarrass myself for every occasion. With breweries in Byron Bay and Murwilumbah close by, I may need to pay them a visit and get a tour sorted out!

I’m far from being a beer connoisseur, but I do know what I like and when I find some more suds that dance on the buds, then I’ll keep you fine people updated.

For now, I will update again after Mount Warning so you can hear about it one last time before I move onto something else, most likely scubadiving.

Goodbye, and remember that strapping dead birds to your bike helmet may not be a beacon of decorum, but you will be feared by the aviation community.

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