Sunday, 26 March 2006

Sunday 26 March – Aerodrome Tracks

Well, we missed out a Sunday ride last week, and then no-one managed to get organised for a short Saturday ride this week, and come Sunday we had a bunch of folk bail out between 10pm and Midnight on Saturday. But, the good news is that it was their bad luck – we only had time for a short one, but conditions were pretty good, and we extracted good value from the good old faithful Aerodrome Tracks.

The satellite photo shows the meanderings quite well, and it was a good opportunity to introduce Jennie to Oxford Falls (long may she avoid Manly Dam now!). Doug was feeling ‘off form’ but still managed to look the part – although wherever there was a foolish mistake his self admonitions carried very loudly to those of us behind…

The day was otherwise uneventful until the final drop down the singles track to the car park at the bottom of Morgan’s Road, when Stephe managed a miraculous escape from an over the handlebars excursion, then tempted fate by going back and doing it again – this time even less successfully. So, a sad and sorry ride home with a bent hanger and lots of blood – but otherwise the ride was a short but sweet goodie.

Photos up here, with some highlights below:

Saturday, 18 March 2006

Saturday 18 March – Mooney

Mooney – it just keeps on getting better (while always finding a way to sneak up on you). After a couple of organisational delays, Jennie (new to the ride), Graham (joining us again after a long absence), Doug, Rees and Stephe arrived at Mooney on a day which could hardly have been any better – clear skies, sun was out, but the weather was cool.

The ride was clean and dry, and everything was do-able, although Graham was forced to be a little sensible given that he was still nursing residual hip and pelvis fractures (you’ve got to ask yourself, who rides with residual hip and pelvis fractures!)… The ride out to just before Lower Mooney Dam was relatively uneventful, punctuated with some loud yelling from Stephe as he managed to cross the river rocks for the first time without putting a foot down.

However, just as Doug was setting up for a group photo at the Dam, we found the reason for Jenny, Rees and Graham having disappeared on the last 500m up the hill to the dam – a collapsed bush on Graham’s rear shock (which had, incidentally, been the specific subject of a review request at the bike’s last Brookvale Bike visit). After brief consultation with Rees and Jennie, Graham had chosen to walk back from that point – so Doug and Stephe were spared the moral dilemma of working out whether to join him or not!

We continued on up the hill from Lower Mooney Dam, with Doug and Stephe executing a joint first trip to the top without putting a foot down! Conditions were perfect for the run, but it still felt pretty good having made it.

The rest of the ride proved what a fantastic and enjoyable track Mooney really is – with a dash out to the Orchard and back, a quick bite to eat, then a hurtle back down the hill to rescue Graham back at the cars. The profile again tells the story of how much fun the drop back is, while the climb was so much fun that we’re all scared of going back when conditions are not so good (and, perhaps, not faring quite as well!).

A great ride, on a great day to ride it – photos up here, with some highlights below (group photo is unfortunately sans Graham!):

Sunday, 12 March 2006

Sunday 12 March – Old North Road (North)

Well, ain’t life a funny thing. All this time, I’ve thought of Old North Road (North) as a boring “wanna be road ride”, and it turns out – with the right attitude – to be an entirely decent ride.

A number if mishaps marred the morning (power outage at Doug’s place mean the alarm didn’t wake him, no time to respond to Rees’ SMS, so Rees was planning to go back to bed, no Brian because he broke his fork / steering tube on Wednesday, etc). We arrived at Mangrove Mountain Pumping Station at 8.20am, to discover that Joe had actually arrived 20 minutes early at 7.40am – so was well prepared! We then spent at least half an hour trying to resolve Rees’ new brake pad issues, before finally setting off scarily close to 9am.

Weather was near perfect on the way out, although the heat had kicked in for the return – making the (near vertical!) 500m ride back up the bitumen road to the cars fairly challenging…

We were planning to do Old North Road (South), but as we approached the Wat Buddadama, figured this was our big chance to check out the North ride for a change – so we turned right at the camping ground before the Wat and started the long run. At least we got to show some new folk the old bridgework etc

With only a little bit of loose rock along the way, we had a fairly good pace out – stopping for lunch at the furthest point Stephe had previously made it to (although, in the interests of ensuring that we went further than Brian had ever been, we went on another 500m from there after lunch!). Rees has been on a fitness improvement regime for some weeks, and decided that yesterday would make a great day to do 40kms of interval training in Centennial Park, and the return journey showed up just how little recovery time he had given his legs… Upshot was that he managed to keep to his promise to keep Stephe company at the back, while Joe and Doug went ahead for some faster riding.

The trip back was great (albeit a little slow), and the final drop to the cars was – as ever – an absolute hoot. It even made the last bitumen section bearable – having the memory of such an excellent ride fresh in our minds.

All in all, it’s not as bad as I have previously alleged, but probably good that we’ve now done it and don’t need to bother again for some time. The profile says it all (although the map also tells a good story) – big climb, long flat ride (with some ups and downs, some of which are mildly challenging, but mainly long runs), and a big drop to finish. It was good that it was almost 46kms long, because it certainly felt like it!

Photos up here, some samples below:

Sunday, 5 March 2006

Sunday 5 March – Menai

We like Menai! A large playground filled with interesting and differing tracks – from open, sweeping runs, through to fast downhill sandy sections and treacherous rocky shale climbs (and drops). There’s also an abundance of larger rocks on which entertainment can be had (and the ‘playground’ areas off the edges of the main tracks, for even sillier folk…).

With all the sand around, we (just Doug, Brian and Stephe today) spent a great deal of time with the front wheel sideways, gliding across the ground in the loose dry sand. After getting over the sheer terror of racing down a hill with extremely limited front steering and braking (!), this was actually quite an entertaining experience – which Doug likened at one stage to surfing…

Unfortunately, the small group meant that Stephe’s complete lack of fitness (although his defence is that it was an absence of carbs for dinner last night) showed up – and both Doug and Brian moved into sympathy bypass mode after the first of what needed to be many stops to wait for him to catch up.

Some limited playing around on rocks produced the only injuries of the day – but far and away the most entertaining event was when a spider the size of a house decided that if Doug was going to take out its web, it was going to take out Doug (see the photos for further amusement).

We still haven’t quite worked out why the FatBoys club chose the particular tracks they mapped through this wonderland, but we’ll keep on working on it (see this slide: green is this ride, purple is FatBoys, red is last ride – lots more looping back on ourselves on this ride, which is not entirely apparent on the maps)

Photos up here, some samples below: