Sunday, 28 May 2006

Sunday 28 May - Forestville and Manly Dam

For those lucky enough to get out and about (Doug, Rees, Brian and Ed), apparently this was a good quick run through the standard Forestville (back of the retirement home) ride, out to Manly Dam for a loop, and back home.

Doug's report:


i'm a bit sick so that's fine any ride with ed, brian and rees is bound to be

Well, you can't argue with that, can you!

Photos here, with same samples below:

Saturday, 27 May 2006

Saturday 27 May - Oxford Falls

With lots of chopping and changing in the week leading up to this ride, we (Brian, Joe, Matt and Stephe) were lucky to score an invite to join Gavin, Ryan and Greg on Saturday afternoon at Oxford Falls.

The rain that fell earlier in the day had long gone by the time we arrived at Morgan Road (around 2pm), and the day turned out as beautiful as all mountain bike riding days are!

We decided to try going down the singles track from the access road (where we normally come *up* and have a bite to eat), with a view to turning North at the half way down mark, going across the valley back up to the bottom of the moon rock track (which we have previously called Little Moab?). In any case, it may well be a very fun ride to do, but it's a bit silly doing it without warming up... there were many grunts of discomfort, the key one of which was the very solid earth shaking thump Brian made as he attempted to reshape his hip bones at one point.

We made it back onto the main track leading down to Deep Creek, but went the other way, back across the swamp at the back of the Aerodrome, and back up the Aerodrome track (also called the Cross Country track I believe). Greg had to bail at this point off to more important things, and the rest of us then dropped down the moon rock track, down to Deep Creek, across the other side and climbed *up* the northern drop into Deep Creek.

By this stage, we'd done most of the normal tracks backwards, and were at risk of 'getting over it' (as the photos will attest!).

But, with a quick farewell to Gavin and Ryan (who had to get back to their families), we managed a final drop back down the moon rock track, and then home.

All in all, a pleasant Saturday afternoon - but we could probably have organised it a little better so that there was more fun riding and less 'tooling about'! At least we've done a couple of the tracks backwards, which may help for future reference...

Photos here, and some samples below (no GPS or mapping, in the absence of Doug!):

Sunday, 21 May 2006

Saturday 21 May – Old North Road + Dirtworks track…

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men… What seemed to be an excellent idea turned out to be an absolute debacle. First, to our (T-Bone, Whisperer, Stephe, Doug and Brian) respective spouses and SEUs (Willo, Alexandra, Sue, Marcelle and Gabbie) – we’re very, very, very sorry.

Although there remains some debate as to whether we were supposed to be back at 2pm or 4pm, it’s pretty clear that 7pm was not in the relevant window… (given that we were gone from a 6.32am start to a 7pm finish, that’s just a bit unreasonable, even for the more poorly adjusted of us).

Sorry! We ended up riding for well over seven hours, covering some 78 kilometres (or about 30kms further than we’d ever wanted to go before).

The plan was simple. We had been posted a map of the northern loop of the Dirt Works race day (thanks Rob (why on earth would you have done it!)), and we figured it would be interesting to check it out. Add a couple of hours to an otherwise great Old North Road ride, and all would be good (even if a little longer than usual). The reality was considerably longer and more boring than anticipated (see the comparison satellite photo)… The track itself (as now seems quite obvious – given that they had to get a zillion competitors along it) was boring as bat poo – a long, moderately pleasant fire trail out into the boondocks and back.

We started as usual from the Mangrove Mountain pumping station (got to play around on the weir for a bit, while we waited for Whisperer to do some emergency bike repairs), and then headed up the long road to the Wat Budda Dharma – where we headed off up the northern road. We then joined the loop across to St Albans (which went on and on and on), and then finally descended into the valley (doing our best not to scare the jeepers out of a very jumpy horse guarding the gate – fortunately, Whisperer turns out to be a bike Whisperer as well!). After another couple of million kilometres on the road we made it to Shepherds Gully, did the climb to Devine’s Hill, and finally commenced our ‘normal ride’ so as to get home…

Even the glorious weather (how good can it be, week after week after week?) couldn’t really make up for the fact that we were looking for some sweet single track and got nada!

Lots of beautiful valleys, and some entertaining downhill sections did something for the mood, but by the time we got to Shepherds Gully for the climb back up to the good old Old North Road track, we were collectively wasted, and not really in the groove for a blast back. Those who still had water left at the top of Devine’s Hill had finished it about a 100m later – so we all did the entire ridge line and return drop without water, without food, and without any excess energy.

Special mention to Brian for keeping a secret stash of apricot bars and fruit snacks for the top of Devine’s Hill – probably the only thing that got us home…

Lots of talk about sore bottoms, and T-Bone managed to start cramping at the halfway point (so he walked pretty well every up hill for 35 kilometres or so!). So, all up, an educational experience in some beautiful Australian national parks, but pretty unlikely to ever be repeated.

Photos, track etc, here (out of order, and *still* no Doug…), some highlights below:

Sunday, 14 May 2006

Sunday 14 May – Forestville & Manly Dam (a 3pm ride)

Mountain bike riding is definitely the bees knees – and afternoon riding turns out to be a Really Good Thing too!

Following a shift in plans to accommodate Mothers Day, we managed to pull together a brief afternoon ride from the retirement home on Cook Street, Forestville, over to Manly Dam and back. Rees, Whisperer and Stephe were joined by Wayne “T-Bone” for the ride (so named because of a very scary moment right at the beginning of the ride, when T-Bone thought it would be sensible to follow Stephe (no-one had told him what a silly idea that was sure to be!), hurtling down a hill at high speed, just as Whisperer turned left across his bows to get on to the right track…). In any case, no-one died (although, later, as Rees managed to go over the handlebars, T-Bone looked scarily like he was going to try to live up to his name one more time).

From the Retirement Home, we did the standard ride to the turn off that leads to the Scout Hall, but diverted at that point up on to the Oval, across to Wakehurst Parkway, across the road and along the water pipe to a section of the track that leads down to Eva’s Track (Allambie Heights?). After a quick (great) loop around the top, we scooted along Eva’s Track, joining in to Manly Dam at the top of the killer hill. We were all feeling strong (T-Bone had attempted to put us off our game early, be declaring that his fitness may be suspect – but he managed to finish the ride still elegantly lifting the bike off every jump without any apparent ill effects), and the pace was reasonably solid.

Whisperer clearly had his Vita-Brits this morning, as he pushed on every hill (sadly, his competitive spirit became more apparent on each occasion that we came across some other hapless soul on any hill along the track!). There were quite a few folk out and about, but the weather was perfect, the tracks were fantastic, and much fun was had.

A brief pinch flat on the way home (around the technical section of the standard Forestville track) failed to dampen our enthusiasm at all.

Rees deserves a special mention for moving into the “For real Maturity, Brian ain’t got nothing on me” award category, and was Very Sensible almost the entire way (or, was that just after he sliced the top off his knee, in the absence of knee pads, while following Whisperer over yet another silly drop?(!)).

Anyway, it was great – you should have been there! Unfortunately, in the absence of Doug (which was a Very Bad Thing), we have no photos, no GPS, no nuthin’! Ah well.

Saturday, 13 May 2006

Saturday 13 May – Oxford Falls

Another beautiful (albeit a bit cold!) morning, and another great bike ride. We (Doug, Brian, Stephe – although this is a fairly ugly photo of all of us, Brian’s midriff is just a *little* more embarrassing than the rest!) were probably not quite as focussed on a long flowing ride given our deadline this morning, with more poking about at little bits of Oxford Falls that we’d only played with occasionally… although we did manage to do a bit of riding after all!

Before we started, we went off and checked out the playground at Lizard Rock (near the top parking area on Morgan Road) – there are some silly people in the world! You have to be looking down the big jump to really appreciate the fact that down hillers are not a smart group…(!)

After the initial detour, we went down the Aerodrome loop (Doug was absolutely hammering (beautiful corners, lots of slides and elegant jumps off the rocks on the way down), so much so that he left both Stephe and Brian well behind, and very scared!), then up Little Moab (a great climb), followed by Little Moab down, and then back up the main Aerodrome track. At the top of the Aerodrome track, we went off to the single ‘out and back’ tracks, and had a go at some rocks (small but challenging) along the way – we also met up with a couple of people at the top of the big dish shaped rock drop, who appeared to form the view that we were a bunch of tossers for playing there for a while (ah well).

After some general hammering around in the singles tracks, we had a great run back along the top of the Aerodrome track to the roadway (indeed, quite a good finish to a short local ride).

Doug was in hyper-democratic mode, which was a very impressive way for him to be, and Brian (tragically) has now officially “lost it”. We don’t expect to ever see him back on a bike again – ah well, he was a fine rider once.

Stephe’s fancy new forks did what forks are meant to do, and – all in all – another great day out on the bikes.

Photos, track etc, here, some highlights below (still no photos of Doug!!):

Sunday, 7 May 2006

Sunday 7 May – Menai

Menai is great!

We arrived on time at around 7.15am, although Paul managed to get lost on the way, and didn’t turn up for a further ten minutes or so… But at least that gave us all time to get our bikes into the right shape for the ride. We (Doug, Rees, Brian, Paul and Stephe) set off on a fairly cool morning, with a slow warm up in mind. The track was *very* sandy, much more than on any of our previous visits – and was probably the only draw back of the day (lots of deep sand grinding, with uncontrolled slides etc!).

We did some great singles track, played around on some rocks (Paul coming into his own on each occasion that danger presented itself!), and discovered that someone had pulled apart the playground that we had seen on our last visit. We fear the reason behind pulling it apart – hopefully, not a significant injury. Also saw lots of motorcycles out today – always polite and careful of us non-powered folk, but occasionally a bit loud!

In any case, pretty soon into the ride proper – again, lots of good single track, and then out on to the fire trails. Although they were ok to ride along (some very steep bits, and *lots* of sand making it a bit hard), it was fun to get back off on to the single track. Found an entirely new section of track which looks like it will be worth re-visiting regularly and generally had a very good time. Along the way, we also found a very steep rock face to climb up, which Brian made 9,675 attempts at – finally, as dusk was beginning to fall getting up without falling off!

Turned out to actually be a fairly long ride – but much fun was had by all. Photos, track etc, here, some highlights below: