Sunday 30 July 2006

Sunday 30 July 2006 - The Six Foot Track, Blue Mountains

It was an excellent day to attempt the Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains, guests of Celia Cramer's, on an epic journey of discovery.

Brian, Rees, T-Bone, Whisperer and Stephe met with Tony (someone known to Celia, and a regular on the track) at Blackheath Station. We discovered that Celia and her crew were running at least an hour late, so we went ahead to Ford Reserve (down the Megalong Valley Road, near Nellies Glen Road) and waited there for Tony - who had offered to be our guide for the day. While waiting, there was the standard Sunday morning flurry of activity, as Whisperer went from bike to bike, laying on hands and generally getting them roadworthy (of course, this mainly meant Brian having yet another Sunday morning bike overhaul!).

T-Bone was still riding with his mangled forks - with about 1 inch of travel and zero damping - which proved impossible to do anything about on the side of the road, but made him amusing on all the stairs... (bring on the new RokShox dude).

At Ford Reserve we met with Russel and Rowan, who were also planning to join Celia - so, on the assumption that Celia's folk could catch us later down the track we all set off - with Russel and Tony racing off to an aggressive start (Tony had ridden the 15km down from Blackheath Station so was plenty warmed up - while the rest of us were still waking up!).

After settling down, we cruised through a bit of farm land, eventually coming on to some really excellent singles track with a nice up and down undulation, but a very clear net downward trend. Quite a few steps (and we had to be vigilant to remember not to take the side routes / shortcuts around the steps, for fear of creating more erosion), but a very entertaining introduction to the Six Foot Track.

Lots of interesting technical bits, a few stacks early on, a bit of blood (Stephe finally trashing his long suffering ankle bone), and some set photos, and then we reached the Cox's River.

The crossing was a challenge on slippery rocks, but we seemed to make it across without major feet wetting - and were then ready to start what turned out to be a 90 minute ascent - Russel and Rowan disappeared straight up the hill early, and we didn't see them again for the day (hope Jenolan Caves was great lads!).

The ride was a solid work out, on a fire trail with a loose sandy / light gravel surface, and just kept going on and on. Sort of like the first hill back out of The Valley at Coba Point, or the first hill on the way out to The Bucket at Mooney, only several hundred kilometres longer (!). Check out that profile!

It would be fair to say that we had enjoyed the single track, and - while we were impressed with the fitness challenge of the long hill - no-one was too upset about turning around at MiniMini Saddle and avoiding doing the same sort of hill again (and, apparently, again!) to get to Jenolan Caves. We were, at that stage, hopeful of perhaps going back up the single track, turning around and giving it another shot back down.

In any case, the ride back down the long hill was a blast, with Tony showing us a couple of excellent detours along the edges on our way back down. We had quite a few near misses, as folks discovered the sand was slippery and the run off was very tight - culminating in a fantastic rear wheel slide by Tony as he rounded a corner which Stephe failed to negotiate just behind him - and which Tony then turned into a long and elegant slide on his back down the hill about 20 metres (coming to rest just on the edge of the steep drop to the creek below!). Ah, the absolute inevitability of the pain which was to follow - lots of gravel in his arm, bum and back...

After a cautious re-start (which still turned pretty silly only a couple of minutes later) we all made it safely back to the river - with the bottom of the single track on the other side.

We stopped for lunch (which seemed extravagant, given that we'd barely done 12 km or so by that stage), and then met Celia and folks who had just arrived down the single track on the other side. After an exchange of pleasantries, we left them to explore the big hills, and we set off back up the single track.

It was a long hard slog (fairly sad, really, given that the trip length doesn't seem to entitle us all to have been feeling quite so buggered!), and we were pretty slow by the time we made it back to the cars for the trip home.

[Tony, demonstrating that he is indeed a legend, then rode from there back to Blackheath station where he had parked his car - over an hour up yet another ridiculous hill... We did our best to explain to him that this was a Silly Idea - but failed!]

Photos, and GPS stuff here (Doug was kind enough to lend the GPS device to Rees, who managed not to break it!), with some highlights below. The photos are from T-Bone and Whisperer, so the order may not be quite right!

Here are the the folk that set out on the ride (Whisperer, Tony, T-Bone, Rees, Rowan, Russel, Brian and Stephe):

Bike maintenance:

Some of the scenery, and the famous Celia:

You've just got to love that profile:


At Tuesday, 01 August, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Guys

Great site and nice meeting you all on Sunday - hope you had fun. Russ and I were treating it as a training ride for the Sparrowhill 8 hour this coming weekend which is why we were keen to do some distance.

We turned around at Black Range campground - about 20kms up hill from where we last saw you so we certainly got our exercise.

We know some other big hills in the mountains if anyone is up for it...


At Tuesday, 01 August, 2006, Blogger Stephe Wilks said...

Rowan, I fear that your mountain climbing tendencies will mean we'll only see you at the beginning and end of many rides - rather than in the middle! Let us know if ever you want to join us for a more civilised / enjoyable training run (eg Old Great North Road in two weeks!). Stephe

At Monday, 07 August, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps with the all the broken skin, you should all concede to age! My guess is you're all testing the relativity of mind over matter/flesh - Ouch for the boy with the Wounded ankle.


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