Sunday, 29 January 2006

Sunday 29 January – Ourimbah State Forest

A novel ride for the ShutupandRide crew, quite different to what we normally do – but it turned out to be a ripper!

We met at Ourimbah just before 8am, and managed to catch up with the excellent chaps from the FatBoysMTB team – thank you Matt and team for the guidance and company. Rees, Whisperer, Brian and Stephe were joined for the first time by Paul, riding a very mean looking downhill machine. After an introductory circuit, we had some idea of the nature of the place, with lots of narrow singles tracks tracing up and down the hills, some groovy drops and rises, a wander through a closed canopy forest, and then back out into the open forest etc.

The track was laid out in a relatively tight space, which was quite different from the open cross country runs that we were used to (or, even, Manly Dam and related tracks). However, given the layout and the quality of the track (and the company!), the intensity was kept to a very high level for the entire circuit – ensuring that pretty well the entire team were breathing very heavily at the end of that first run. After a quick break, we were back for a second run, leading to a much better performance around the various elements than first time ‘round, particularly noticeable in the Rollercoaster which turns out to be a very hot section, *if* you kept your speed up (and threw you right off the pace if you didn’t!).

We finished the second run tired but pretty happy, although it would be fair to say that some of us had some misgivings about whether or not we’d be likely to return soon...

But! We threw in a long (long) ride up the hill from the car park along the access road to the top – where the downhill boys were getting their bikes delivered to them (struth!). After some Whisperer whispering (Rees had run out of front brakes, not surprising given his aggressive approach…) we were joined by a very decent bloke from Newcastle (Whisper, what was his name again?), who deserted his partner to join us on the downhill drop. The drop was almost entirely doable, although we managed a couple of amusing get offs (Rees forgot that his front brakes now worked, and almost went over the front end; Brian’s new found caution kept making it hard for him). Paul tragically came into his own and looked very much like a man born to downhill (albeit shadowed very closely by the man from Newcastle). Half way down, we had to get off the track for another bunch of downhillers (as their bikes were delivered to them at the top again), which was educational in itself. A future challenge involves jumping off the tree stumps through the not even a little tiny bit threatening one bike width gap between a couple of other trees!

The track then emerged at the bottom of one of the rises of the earlier circuit we’d been travelling and – after watching the downhillers do some more Very Silly Stuff off a big rock – we pressed on for another circuit. This one was absolutely magic – and we discovered what joy there was in simply refining our technique with a bit of speed…

All in all, a great day (finished off with meat pies and milkshakes – you legend!). We’ll be back pretty soon I’d wager.

No photos, or GPS given the last minute withdrawal of Doug from the team.

Thursday, 26 January 2006

Thursday 26 January – Redhill / Oxford Falls / Cascades / Oxford Falls

Is it just me, or is mountain bike riding just getting better and better every day? What an absolute blast of a ride… with a bit of everything thrown in (technical climbs, technical / slow rocky drops, fast drops, singles tracks, open fire trail, bitumen transfer stages, a huge drop, a huge climb, and a beautiful Deep Creek finish).

On another perfect mountain bike riding day, we managed to get Joe, Matt (a first for us), Brian, Doug and Stephe out to the Academy of Sport at 7am. Some unnecessary fiddling around (maybe one day, Stephe will do his bike repairs at home, rather than at the beginning of the ride!), we headed off up the hill at the back of the Academy. A bit of a drudge, and a bit of a walk later, we were cruising across the top, down Whisperer’s singles track – where there were a couple of ultimately successful attempts at various challenges on the way – and then down the good old Redhill rocks. We were all on fire, although – since doing “Rock Brian” once more to get rid of the hoodoo – Brian has become much more mature suddenly: possibly the most tiresome aspect of the day!

We then investigated the alternate route from the rocks to the track leading to Wakehurst Parkway, and had a look at an entirely doable but very scary rock. Unfortunately, demonstrating that particular brand of psych that is mountain bike riding, Stephe managed to tear a big hole in his fancy new Nix, without actually even attempting to ride down the rock. Hmmmm.

A short blast across and down the hill to Wakehurst Parkway, and we were ready for the road crossing to Oxford Falls. The singles track up to the Aerodrome track was in excellent condition, and much fun was had – although the pace somehow got moved up a notch, causing grief for the tailenders. Matt had to take off early, and missed out on the trip out to the Cascades…

We then crossed Forest Way, and caught up with Lloyd, who was preparing to do the drop down to the Cascades. With a little bit of bravura that mature people are not meant to demonstrate, Brian tried to take the pace up to Lloyd, which proved successful only because he then stopped to chat (which was fortunate for him, because we showed him a better path down the singles track to the Cascades fire trail)! The drop down to the Cascades on the singles track (rather than the fire trail) was every bit as much fun as we recalled, and highlighted just how much good track you can squeeze into one tiny National Park!

Back up the long, long, long, long, long grind up the hill from the Cascades, then over to Oxford Falls again, where we farewelled Joe.
To finish, we dropped down into the Aerodrome, along the Deep Creek track, and then back out to Wakehurst Parkway for the road stage to the car (although Lloyd then continued on along the road to Manly).

A Very Much Fun ride, and one we need to do much more often (perhaps starting at Acron Oval, and adding in that drop / climb). Photos up, at this link (including Doug’s new fetish, lots of short videos, some showing competence, and others not! Also up is a really good satellite shot of the ride, and the profile which shows just how big that hill is!).

Sunday, 22 January 2006

Sunday 22 January – Mooney

Mooney is a just plain fantastic ride!

It was forecast to be 31°C on the day, and turned out to be at least that – but there was a little bit of shelter along the way, which helped immensely. The rocks were green and slippery from the previous rain, and all “do-able”. There were a variety of pre-prepared excuses (out until 3am the morning before, only just back from holidays, no exercise for months etc), which were all ignored (and forgotten) as soon as we got going.

Despite the heat and excuses, we were all riding pretty solidly – and probably put together one of the more ‘flowing’ rides for a while (our average speed may have climbed from 12kmh to 12.5kmh!). On the big climb from the creek crossing, past the little dam, all the way to the Crosslands turn off, we all had a big shot at making it without a touch. Doug was ‘nearest the pin’ with a single touch near the top, based on a momentary lapse of concentration (that’s why we love mountain bike riding, eh – it’s a harsh task master!).

Rees was clearly still in shock from Brian’s attempt at Rock Brian a couple of weeks before (see the video footage linked from Mooney on 8 January, below), and was riding unbelievably conservatively for most of the ride out…. However, that changed once he saw Brian re-conquer his new found adversary (Rock Brian). It’s worth noting that Brian refused to allow his attempt to come back down the rocks to be captured on film – he’s obviously aware of the impact of the digital camera stealing his spirit and causing him to become a “jumper”! In any case, Rees then decided that there was no longer any reason for caution and hammered all the way back down to the cars. Indeed, for a while there was a real risk that Doug (who continues to avoid any ‘stair’ higher than four centimetres, but can come downhill at a crazy man’s pace) was going to find his match – but Doug showed his true colours and left us in his wake…

Really, really good ride!

Too much riding for photos, although there are a couple at the top of the climb, and maps and things here.

Sunday, 15 January 2006

Sunday 15 January – Acron Oval and back, via Oxford Falls and Redhill

A great ride, brought on at the last moment because of Doug’s need to be back by 11.30am – turns out to have been a Very Good Thing indeed.

We started at Acron Oval, down the drop, and up the interminable (albeit not real steep) climb on the other side. A handy warm up, in excellent mountain bike riding weather (mildly overcast, moisture about but not too hot or muggy). Across the road section to Oxford Falls, then down the track to the Aerodrome for some fun, and along the track to Deep Creek and then out on to Wakehurst Parkway (for even more fun, and a bit of ‘chasing the locals’). The climb up from the Academy of Sport was a challenge, and we probably didn’t execute it as well as we expected (although with flashes of brilliance from Doug along the way).

After a short break we meandered into the entertaining rock section of good old Redhill, and got some corny video shorts… We also found a new way along the track towards the “victory tree” which was fun.

The climb back up the singles track at Oxford Falls was testing on our fitness (Rees and Stephe bringing up a fairly consistent tail end!), but still a good bit of riding entertainment. As we made our way along the road stage to head back to Acron Oval, there was yet another time out for Stephe to play with his mal-adjusted rear brake all over again, and then on to the top of the drop. Unfortunately, given both Whisperer and Doug’s time constraints, we had to skip the superb singles track drop into the Cascades, and made our way down the much more mundane (but still enjoyable) fire trail.

Which left us with nothing but the huuuuuuuuge climb back out of the Cascades to the top (I don’t care what the GPS says, it’s a nasty old climb…).

A pretty solid ‘local’ ride, which may perhaps be improved by doing it by starting at the Academy of Sport (getting the big climb over in the middle, and finishing off with the delightful Deep Creek).

Limited pictures, and the corny videos are here. A couple of photos here for space filler:

Sunday, 8 January 2006

Sunday 8 January – Mooney

We were just a mite apprehensive about our first serious ride of the 2006 season, but the weather turned out to be absolutely perfect: rain overnight, a little drizzle on the way, but clear and dry when we arrived, with a cool start. The only challenge (to the extent there was one) was the muggy atmosphere on the big hills – and the increasing heat as the day went on, but never too much.

Unfortunately, a lack of pre-trip bike maintenance meant that the start was a little delayed – and we set off with Stephe’s front brake level touching the handlebar with no discernible effect on the brakes; and with Brian’s back wheel continuing its now weeks old saga of not rolling around very well… (perhaps, Brian, at the risk of pot / kettle / black – you might consider visiting a bike shop one day? On that subject, the folks at Bike Addiction seem to know what they’re on about and there’s parking beside ‘em – we may yet find a decent bike shop in Sydney!).

Given our fitness, it was a good call *not* to do Old North Road this week. Despite that, we were all looking fairly comfortable technically – particularly along the rock bed sections, which were all accomplished in both directions with a minimum of fuss. Rees’ first ride at Mooney on his dual suspension bike had him looking pretty darn good – born to ride!

All in all, a really good and enjoyable ride out to the water tanks – some big efforts on the hills (Brian managed a one stop climb (well, sort of), but then buggered it up on the little rock ledges towards the top; Doug was looking good whenever the chase was on, but became complacent whenever he went to the front. Rees just kept on working hard, despite having just recovered from a two week kidney infection – *and* came down everything we threw at him, including the big steps!). We also bumped into a couple of downhill riding dudes, who gave us a fair description (most of which we’ve now forgotten) of how to get to Ourimbah – any other hints are welcome…

BUT – the real fun was to be had when we ducked out for the loop to the Orchard and back. On the way back - with some fairly juvenile egging on - Brian decided to test his capacity to fly. Turns out, he can’t. But – given that he didn’t break his back – it was pretty funny… Will be even better next week, when he tries to ride the Old North Road with a Really Sore Knee. The movie of the incident is here (caution, language warning!).

Today’s photos are here, including a couple of other movies – with a selection below.

Wednesday, 4 January 2006

23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30 December, 3, 4 January – Forestville / Manly Dam / Redhill (Aerodrome)

Making the most of the Christmas break, the boys got out and about a bit... Looks like those of us that didn’t make it missed out on a bit of fun.

Maps and tracks for each at the Albums Page, and some good photos of at least Brian and Whisperer hamming it up a bit on the Aerodrome tracks.

Also, Whisperer’s broken frame on 3 January…