Sunday, 26 November 2006

Sunday 26 November 2006 - Old Great North Road + Spiders

I know it's boring and repetitive to say it, but the Old Great North Road remains the best mountain bike ride available to anyone living in the vicinity of Sydney, hands down!

Not only is it a great ride with a superb mix of both open running track and technical challenges, but with the addition of the 'Spiders' loop, you get an extra single track loop, a challenging and entertaining descent, a great rocky creek section, and a transit stage to prepare you for one of the best uphill climbs available - Shepherd's Gully.

All this, and the weather was great too!

The only real challenges of the day were (a) it took a long time to cover 54km or so (we were out for around six hours, with a total trip time of more than eight hours - pushing the family relationships a little(!)); and (b) anyone carrying only three or four litres of water ran out - so the last stretch up the hill was a bit hot!

Richard, Brian, Doug, T-Bone, Whisperer, Stephe and Rob all managed to get an early start:

However, this being an Old Great North Road ride, Brian did need 20 minutes of mechanical work on his bike on the side of the road before we set off - which of course set off the usual round of "Whisper, can you please just quickly check out my bike" queries...

The ride itself was one where all the bits seemed to be in the right place at the right time, with everyone having a great ride, taking on challenges and nailing them. Even the trip back was good, despite the heat coming on strong, and fluids running low.

T-Bone managed a flat on the downhill run home (changing his tyre with a variety of not very successful bike pumps did cause some amusement...), but we otherwise pushed the bikes hard with no ill effects.

We ate just before getting into Spiders, so that we had managed to get some energy back into the system for the climb back up Shepherd's Gully to Devine's Hill - this seemed to work, as everyone managed the climb pretty well... One for future reference!

Apart from exhaustion all around, and some cramping on the return journey, a great, great ride.

Rob's track profile is here (with more information than you can poke a stick at).

Doug has now uploaded all 234 photos and maps from the day (hoooeee!), which are here (including *many* of the Spiders track).

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Sunday 19 November 2006 - Redhill and Oxford Falls

A great day - marred by the absence of Doug (injury last week keeping him on tarmac), Whisperer (working too hard at the moment to have any fun), Rees (having too much fun at the moment, to be able to wake up with a clear head!), and Ed (bike repairs required)... (many others without current excuse notes from their mums!).

But, T-Bone, Brian and Stephe did manage to go back and visit the scene of the incident which led to Stephe's long absence - the great Redhill / Oxford Falls loop.

It was fun, fun, fun.

No photos or gps, I'm afraid - but we did discover a new track - meeting up with locals Kevin and Jamie as Brian was repairing the pinch flat that inevitably results from a roll down Red Rock.

Kevin showed us the "Rim Track" (I think that's what he called it), leading from the top of the track just before the famous Redhill technical section, back to the middle of the south western climb out of Sport & Rec...

That track was a hoot, and we were sad to farewell Kevin and Jamie as we headed back to the original loop - and they headed off homeward bound.

The Redhill rocks were fun - some intelligence appeared to be applied to the riskier sections, but then immediately eliminated as one or other of T-Bone, Brian and Stephe would provoke the others into imitating their latest initiatives… (T-Bone gets the award for doing what seemed to be the dumbest (ie scariest) move of the day over a rock ledge, then demonstrating that it was actually a well planned ramp).

Lots of good solid attempts on tricky bits followed, and a very close run effort into Deep Creek, although ultimately no-one managed to pull off the whole thing (with Stephe finally getting a dose of maturity at what is now (tragically) going to be called Wimp Rock – as both T-Bone and Brian rolled effortlessly over the entrance to the Creek).

All in all, yet another great day in the saddle – albeit with fitness being sorely tested.

Old Great North Road next week is going to be a real challenge (but sure to be fun!).

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Sunday 12 November - Old Great North Road - Wat Loop

We (Doug, T-Bone, Brian and Stephe) had a gentle 'come back ride' for the long absent Stephe, to see how he could handle the conditions. At the end of the day, it turns out that Stephe did ok, but - sadly - Doug did not...

The climb was a typically enjoyable affair, with much affable conversation and general skylarking (T-Bone was once again pleased to be joined by someone with the same level of maturity!). Although there was a brief suggestion that we simply go on and do the standard Old Great North Road ride (south), Doug and Brian insisted on remaining with the original plan, and we headed off behind the Wat Buddha Dhama.

Unfortunately, Stephe's lack of recent form meant that he 'dropped in' on Brian's line just as he was about to crest one of the many challenging climbs behind the Wat, lowering the overall civility of the ride at that point for some time... (the Irish are remarkably capable expletive users, we have now found).

We meandered out along the North track for a while, but - in a rare concession - the team took pity on Stephe's lack of match fitness and turned around early - with a total ride distance of just under 30kms.

Doug's recent run of bad luck continued on the way back down the hill to the pumping station, when he collected a stick (thrown up by Brian) in the front wheel - reducing his speed from 30km/h to zero in the time it took him to be thrown from the bike, attempt some sort of crash protection roll, and land on his knees...

The blood was ugly, but the graph of the track speed at the time of the crash is great viewing! Four broken spokes and other general impact damage later, the wheel was still in a relatively straight line, so we limped home slowly and cautiously.

Photos and track (including a couple of variations on speed / distance) are here.

A quick view of Stephe's scar now that it's all over (why? because we've got a photo, so why not!):

And a shot of Brian playing at the pumping station:

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Sunday 5 November 2006 - Old North Road

[Ed: Another day, another failure of all involved to prepare a decent ride report! Nonetheless, it appears that the boys had a great day on the Old Great North Road... ]

This bit from Doug (in response to the question, "didja ride"):


was the best

rain stopped for the whole ride…perfect conditions, rich smells…couldn't be better…did it in good time too

The photos and track are here, and this is a quick shot of the boys (Doug, Rees and Whisperer), and Doug's excuse for always standing like that for photos is that he has to run back after setting the camera!:

Whisperer in action, and Rees *not* in action(!):