Sunday, 30 April 2006

Saturday 29 April and Sunday 30 April – short local rides

Almost, but not quite, right back into it – Doug, Brian and Stephe managed a short local ride on Saturday morning (before the big weekend of the Maitland Music Festival “groovin’ the moo”!). No photos, but a good (albeit wet) short sharp ride from the retirement home, out to Manly Dam for a lap and back home. No injuries, no bike damage. Yee ha. Track etc, here.

Then on Sunday, Whisperer, Doug and Rees appear to have managed to string together a ride from Morgan Road to the Cascades, back to Oxford Falls, a drop from the North into Deep Creek, over to Redhill and back to Morgan Road. Sounds like they did a little ‘investigating’ on the far side of Deep Creek, although (without more information) my suggesting that they were lost might be unkind. Pending a ride report from Brian (or Whisperer) I can say that there appears to be a bush tick problem with the off road excursion… (!). Photos here, with a couple of samples below (cute snakeskin Rees!, and on the satellite picture, green represents the more ‘usual’ Deep Creek track!).

Updated for Rees’ ride report:

Well I have no idea where we went? We started off at sport and rec, got to the top of the first hill and saw a beautiful black and red cockatoo so we stopped and Doug took some pictures, then Brian found a snake skin and so we looked at that and Brian put it in his bag and off we rode. Thinking back on it now I think Brian cursed us for taking the snake skin from the native aboriginal burial ground.

Carried on did the normal red hill track, crossed the main road and started on the rest of the ride and stopped and had lunch at the normal spot.

This is where the trouble began, after lunch there was a lot of debate on which tracks we should do, I think but not sure, Brian and I wanted to go one way and the other boys another. After a long and drawn out discussion some one said (not mentioning any body's name) let just go along this track and Tool around a bit. None of us realised that tooling around meant being lost in the wilderness for several hours.

Thanks to the heroic effects of Whisperer who literally used his bike as a machete to get through the dense jungle and Brian once again showing his great prowess as a bushman and not to forget Doug with his finely tuned tracking skills on the gps we managed to get out alive (all Rees was doing was looking at Doug for the first human sacrifice once we had run out of food). Oh I forgot to mention we heard voices and that gave us a rough direction to go on and then Doug realised we were at Deep creek so we crossed the creek and found that we were at the tail end of the Red hill ride and we rode very, very happily back to the cars.

Updated for Brian’s ride report:

We got to breakfast rock without incident, except for Rees’ classic swan dive over the handle bars when his front wheel dug in and caught him by surprise. Lucky he wore his leg armour.

After breakfast Whisperer’s best laid plan was jettisoned by our Furher Doug in favour of “tooling around” Red Hill.

At the lookout Whisperer, as always, shared his dream of one day finding a track across to the Baha’i Temple, only this time we all agreed to give it a go (tooling defined!). Doug’s GPS indicated a track of some sort running along the ridge on the opposite side of deep creek.

The track down to deep creek was entertaining, some steep leaf littered sections with zero grip, some even steeper rocky technical stuff and two or three ‘undoable’ drop offs.

The valley was a boggy flood plane, trafficable on foot once we pushed our way through the 2m high reeds. There was no sign of a track on the opposite side, only impenetrable bush, so we headed up river. The first 100m or so was easy going – we even managed to pedal a bit. The bush on both sides was closing in inexorably, however, to the point where going in any direction (other than back the way we came) was equally foolhardy. We pushed on! Some time later we shared out the last of Doug’s apple and Whisperer’s Muesli Bar. The ferns were viciously barbed, our legs were lacerated, except for Rees – lucky he wore his leg armour.

The forest and vines closed in until we had to blaze a trail before we could carry the bikes through. Then we heard voices! We altered course and a short time later broke through to deep creek and a sight for sore everything – there was a trail on the other side. Rees shouldered his bike and waded in – lucky he wore his leg armour.

Sunday, 23 April 2006

Saturday 22 – Sunday 23 April - Newnes

Another variation on the standard theme, when Brian, Rees and Stephe took their young ‘uns (Joe, Alex and Cooper) off for a camping weekend at Newnes.

Some superb riding from the young fellas, and a fortunate finding of some spare bike parts from fellow campers, meant that we rode the Newnes camping ground to Glow worm cave track south, and the old railroad track north on Friday and Sunday respectively, with some general mucking about on Saturday.

The Glow worm cave track was about 15 kilometres climbing up the old rail line to the cave, with a large part of the track along the very edge of a fairly steep slope down to the creek. It proved to be very challenging and time consuming, and as darkness fell at our destination, we decided it would be wiser to return on the general access road (rather than riding along the edge of a cliff in the dark!).

The ride on Sunday was equally good, with a beautiful stroll along the side of the Newnes River (?), and a couple of steep up and down hills thrown in for good measure.

[Not sure what the others did while we were away...]

Monday, 17 April 2006

Easter Weekend – Friday 14 - Monday 17 April – various local rides

With people away, looking after children, etc – there was some scratching around and a couple of short rides accomplished over the Easter Weekend.

On Monday April 17, Doug, Rees and Joe managed to finally get Joe out to Mooney – and, by all accounts, a fine time was had. Waiting for a ride report from Rees (c’mon man – get it up here!). Photos here.

It appears that everyone took on “Rock Brian”, with some shots of Rees and Joe looking stylish.

On that same day, Brian and Stephe managed to get their young ‘uns (Joe and Cooper) out to Manly Dam for a quick lap – which would have been just plain fun, had Stephe not managed yet another spectacular high speed ‘get off’ in front of a bunch of bush walkers. Ah well, at least the boys have witnessed where blood comes from…

Sunday, 9 April 2006

Sunday 9 April – Forestville and Manly Dam

There’s something very peculiar about the fact that every Sunday morning seems to be perfect weather… How is it, exactly, that week after week the conditions are simply ideal for whatever mountain bike journey we have planned? [Perhaps it’s because no conditions are *not perfect* for mountain bike riding?] In any case, the day started off crisp and clear, and stayed that way – just what was needed for Forestville and Manly Dam.

We had planned a relatively short local ride, but didn’t count on an ongoing series of equipment failures. Both Brian and Stephe are waiting on complete drive trains to be shipped from the US for their bikes, and so there were a range of funny rattles to be heard from each of them at crucial gear changing moments. Ed returned to the track, with a bike that was last maintained in the early 14th century and – unfortunately – paid for it later in the ride (when the rear derailleur wrapped itself into the spokes, bending the hanger, breaking a spoke, shredding the control cable and generally messing up).

If only we all had Doug’s wisdom, patience and unlimited budget for bike maintenance!

In any case, we started at the Retirement Home on Cook Street, Roseville – dropped into the fire trail, and had a warm up drop into Bantry Bay with the climb back out getting us all into the groove. The Forestville loop over to Manly Dam is relatively short, but there’s still some interesting sections to get across and a few challenges to overcome. The drop into Manly Dam was fun, including the uphill fire trail section which is always a challenge. We captured Ed making a fool of himself on a mountain bike variant, and then had a race to the bottom of the Dam. It was on the climb back up to the golf course that Ed did his derailleur in, which meant we needed to lock him in a gear for the balance of the climb. By the time we got to the rocks overlooking the golf course, we figured we were only going to be good for one lap, and stopped for a quick snack (and checked out the fact that every other person riding around Manly Dam was doing so on a $12,000 bike – wow, there are a lot of flash bikes out there!).

As we set off again, we discovered Ed had by now managed a puncture (ah, the joys of a ride where things begin to go wrong and then stay that way). The rocks above the golf course were not as kind to us today, so Doug, Brian and Stephe settled in to making repeated runs at getting them right – fortunately (and ignoring multiple attempts) with each succeeding in putting together a bottom to top run.

Back over to Forestville for a fun and relatively uneventful ride home.

A good Sunday stroll – but not one that will live on in my memory particularly… Photos up here – check out the colour of that sky! - with some highlights below:

Sunday, 2 April 2006

Sunday 2 April – Old North Road, with a twist!

Again, the Old North Road proves to be a superb ride, with challenge aplenty, but fun galore to go with it. We bit off a little bit more than anyone was originally planning to chew – with a total ride distance of 53kms over 6½ hours (hoooeee!). The original plan was to leave an hour earlier (5.32am) taking advantage of the extra daylight savings hour. That worked all right, and we got to Mangrove Mountain pumping station around 7am, with a chance to do some quick maintenance work on the bikes, setting off at about 7.30am.

Graham joined us for another attempt to check if we were sane (I’m pretty confident that the result has again been returned in the negative), and Doug, Whisperer, Rees, Brian and Stephe made up the balance of the crew.

The warm up was excellent, the weather was nothing short of magnificent, and the run across the top was looking positive. Unfortunately, we arrived at the rocky ledges with at least a couple of the riders feeling a little cocky – Stephe’s first attempt at the climb trashed both a perfectly good tree, and yet another hanger. Brian’s form was pretty near perfect up until his first couple of shots at the ledges - which chewed him up and spat him out (and also bent his hanger!). Whisperer was the first to accomplish what really shouldn’t have been that hard but was proving well nigh impossible, and Doug was inspired to do the same thing (successfully, including a rare photo). Rees also had a few shots at it, but – unlike his form on the rest of the ride – paid a heavy price in ego damage! Graham sat back and wondered just why people would blow themselves up on a couple of rocks at pretty well the beginning of the ride. There are pages and pages of photos of the rocks for those that think it might be interesting to see wombats in action…

In any case, when we finally tore ourselves away and moved on – with both Brian and Stephe’s bikes emitting very sad noises in the gear changing department – the ride was as good as ever. As we neared the end of the ridge line (just before the white road down to Wisemans), we took the little track off to the North, and set off to explore what we assumed was a quick drop back into St Albans (or something!). Turns out no-one had any idea where we were going, and there were about a million spiders across the track (which kept getting in people’s faces etc, erk). That aside, the little track was in fact a blast, with a very solid drop down to a creek which proved immensely challenging, and certainly worth a re-visit (Rees capitalised on the huge effort he was making on all the uphill sections, by demonstrating that he could get to the bottom of the downhill sections faster than anyone else too!).

We followed the creek for a while, finally managing to escape in some farmer’s back paddock (with all the attendant scary issues about getting shot for creeping through the backyard!), then back on to the nearby road – looking for the way out.

After cruising along the road for a while, we came across yet another old convict road (which I have since been told is called Shepherd’s Gully (and some further history here)), which was a long, long, long slog up a hill with long, long patches of loose rock to get over. After around an hour or so (that might even be an accurate time), we joined into the top of the white road from Wiseman’s Ferry (top of Devines Hill) and then sat down at the beginning of the Finches Line track for a bite to eat.
In light of the generally felt massive exhaustion the ride home was a much quieter and more sensible affair, with various folk getting off and walking their bikes as the hills got steeper and the legs got weaker!

To finish off the ride, Stephe managed to snap his chain right at the bottom of the 500m vertical bitumen road back to the car – a sad, but fitting end to a really great ride, with significant physical stress…

Photos up here, (there are five pages of them!) with some highlights below (including the magnificent profile):

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Saturday 1 April – Aerodrome Tracks

Following a late invitation from Ryan and the NobMob boys, Rees and Stephe joined a very civilised ride around the Aerodrome tracks and Redhill starting at Morgans Rd at 8.30am (how good is that for a start time!). We met a bunch of new good folk (there were about 15 people there at one stage - hopefully, we can induce some of them to join us occasionally as well), and enjoyed the quality riding that is Oxford Falls and Redhill.
A good run out to “moon rocks” (assuming that’s what you call the bit off to the left at the top of the Aerodrome Track), followed by the drop to the bottom of the Aerodrome, then a climb from the creek up the dirt road, back down Little Moab, dropped into Deep Creek (which was a blast), and then decided to try on a shortish Redhill ride – which, of course, turned out to take much more time than we had originally anticipated… The challenge with starting late became apparent as we all rushed for the cars at the end of the ride to get home to our various domestic duties without incurring the wrath of those left at home to take up the slack!

Tragically, no photos or GPS (you just don’t know how much fun those bits are, until you miss them!).