Sunday, 27 November 2005

Sunday 27 November – Redhill / Oxford Falls – Rees’ curse is confirmed!

In marked contrast to last weekend, the sun never actually rose this morning – it just slunk about somewhere in the miserable overcast sky, not even seriously attempting to break through. The day dawned cold wet and sad, and sought as hard as it could to stay that way.

However, we were not having a bar of it.

The rain stopped briefly so we could saddle up at the Academy of Sport, and then resumed once we’d set off. The initial climb was cold and uncomfortable (mainly a walk in the rain), but once we got going on top we started to warm up and get slightly more comfortable. To the extent that you can get comfortable as the rain buckets down on you, and water and mud fill your eyes, glasses, contact lenses etc.

The famous Redhill grit bit in early, particularly given that the track was essentially one long creek – so there was a constant background grinding noise as brake pads wore down and chains had their lives halved. Again, Redhill proved to be the most expensive place in the world to ride!

Rees is clearly personally responsible for all the misery (he is yet to have a dry Redhill ride in the midst of the longest drought Sydney has ever seen), but he made up for it by turning up with a brand spanking new bike (and didn’t he look hot!). Brian complained of chain suck towards the end of the ride, but don’t be fooled: after a couple of early and stylish moments, he had a Registered Shocker of a ride – always nice to see the legends coming back to earth occasionally… Doug just got cold, and figured that destroying the camera in the rain was a less than good idea, so there ain’t no riding photos.

Indeed, we just “shut up and rode”.

Despite all the environmental issues, it was a very good and ultimately enjoyable short ride. What a great activity - where even such adverse conditions don’t ruin the fun!

Photo, maps and profile here, and if you’re interested Doug’s broken down some of the satellite images:

Sunday, 20 November 2005

Sunday 20 November – Old North Road (South) – the mountain biker’s mountain bike ride!

It was beautiful out this morning. No question. The sun shone, despite the oft threatened rain. We arrived punctually, and Brian didn’t even consume too much of our valuable (and limited) riding time with his inevitable Sunday morning maintenance requests (on this occasion, we had to remove his cluster to clean out the damaged plastic ring from three rides ago and then replace a pedal… ah, Brian).

The track was dry, indeed – perhaps even a little too dry - some of the loose sand and gravel gave rise to amusing (because no-one was hurt) excursions off the track and off the bike (Stephe executed a graceful somersault off the bike very early in the ride, while Brian took to the drain beside the road when he lost control at high speed on the final drop – even funnier given that he was trying to take Whisperer at the time).

Not many photos – we had no Old North Road novices, so rode fairly solidly – which, of course, meant the whole thing turned into a fair test of fitness (which a couple of us failed). We explored a side track near the Wiseman’s Ferry end, which looks promising for the next ride, but unfortunately going up and down it took even more of our limited energy. Still had some puff left for the drop into the switchback (always fun, even if the photos don’t show just how tough we all are!).

A flat on the way out (surprisingly, Brian didn’t have a spare tube…(!)), and a flat for Richard on the way back, which required a couple of stops for further repair, were the key delays, on what turned out to be quite a long ride. As we were flagging on the way back (with Doug continuing to set a tough pace, just to show that he could), Whisperer decided to go up the second switchback the hard way – again, just to show he could. Fairly dispiriting, and behaviour that will be banned in future!

There was a bit of traffic out there (some fairly taciturn groups of three and four, and two dudes who were just out to check out the ride), but the only time it mattered was the drop into Ten Mile Hollow, when the speed differential (us coming down, and them grinding up) was a little scary…

Lots of good skills development and a fair bit of fun meant that the Old North Road again lived up to its reputation as the premier ride around Sydney.

Photos, maps and profile here (disturbingly out of order, but such is life), and some highlights below:

Sunday, 13 November 2005

Sunday 13 November – Mooney and the Orchard

Not happy. Not even a little bit. Brian was on fire. No-one else was. ‘Nuff said.

Well, not quite enough (just can’t help myself!). It was a great day – there was a risk that it was going to be too hot, but turned out to be beautiful. Good clean riding fun, with a dry track and no excuses for slipping on the rocks. Brian took a little while to warm up (his attempts at Smartarse Creek early on were mildly embarrassing), but thereafter only put a foot down so he could look back and check just how far behind him we all were.

On the climb up the first hill past the dam Brian was a machine, including a whole sequence of elegant climbs up the little rock steps (on which each of the rest of us simply fell off). By the time we were circling the track to The Orchard, I confess that we derived some delight from the huge slide he got into on the fast run – with our joy only to be dashed as he maintained control and stayed upright (at least he did eat a bit of bush by the time he’d got it back together – pathetic, I know, but we needed some sign of fallibility!).

Andrew turned out to be not a real Newbie as we had been led to believe by Brian (ie, he was fit, generally talented and knew how to ride a mountain bike!), so Brian’s treachery and good fortune continued hand in hand…

Rees, Doug, Richard and Stephe just meandered about behind the legends, with tears in our eyes. And, Stephe broke his bike. Again. Never was much fond of mountain bike riding. Not coming back. Ever.

Richard (who was actually leading on the way home – because, in fact Brian was not a legend the whole time!) spotted a huge goanna on the way down, which promptly sprinted up the nearest tree - which was kinda cute.

Photos (of guess who) are to be found here (although, I’m pleased to say there’s some good other shots as well!). Some highlights (ie not including Brian):

Sunday, 6 November 2005

Sunday 6 November – Lindfield to Manly Dam (but not including Manly Dam!)

The day started beautifully, with perfect weather, a gentle breeze and general good humour. Obviously, things were going to get a whole lot worse… (perhaps the lack of Brian should have been some sort of signal?).

Ashley led the troops out of the starting gate at the Tennis Courts on Tryon Road, with Graham in hot pursuit. Whisperer was sitting just off the lead, awaiting the time when he would be called upon… Doug, Rees and Stephe just meandered along behind them. And, then, the second signal that something was probably amiss: Ashley came down for his first of probably three falls for the day – having not previously fallen in living memory. Hmmmmm. The fact that he then attempted to ride the remainder of the track with his left wrist not holding on to anything probably should have alerted us to increased risk, but alas and alack it did not.

The ride itself was actually very pretty – with a lot of up and down into the very nice valleys surrounding Roseville Bridge, Bantry Bay and environs (ultimately covering the areas we ‘discovered’ last week in addition to the area before the Roseville Bridge).

Unfortunately, it also required an increasingly large number of bike carrying stages – which knocked us about fitness wise even more than riding (that is, those other than Ashley and Whisperer who appeared to just laugh it off). The foolishness peaked when we did an extended carry from the oval in the middle of [Roseville?] straight up a hill, instead of taking the fantastic little singles track we took last week… We also discovered that a substantial part of the singles track zig zags back and forth just back from Wakehurst Parkway (something that we had previously missed – taking some of the mystery out of it!).

The upshot of all the carrying and the various misguided attempts at rock hopping meant that we were all pretty happy to skip a loop of Manly Dam, and to execute a quick coup to establish Whisperer as leader for the return so we could cheat and use some tarmac - avoiding the more egregious “walk down into the valley and walk back out” sections. We did play for a little at the top behind Wakerhurst Parkway, which was mildly entertaining, albeit somewhat painful for Stephe’s bike

So, a great ride, with lots of interesting sections and relatively short singles track, but also lots of carry. Useful for technical improvement, but perhaps we need to spend some time stitching together more bits of riding rather than walking. Ashley was very patient with the whingeing (and the coup!), and I look forward to posting the medical summary on the wrist!

Photos here (very limited, given that we were all very keen to ride when possible, and were otherwise walking).