Folks, there is no way to describe just how brilliant a mountain bike riding day today was...
The sun was out, the sky was blue, the clouds were fluffy and white. The bellbirds belled, the valleys were beautiful, the lyrebirds ran, the goannas were big, fat and happy, and the track was dry and in perfect condition. I have never seen so much magnificent wattle in my life... In short, it was great, great, great.
T-Bone, Joe and Stephe met Darrell at the pumping station at Mangrove Mountain right on the button of 7.45am (having spent a couple of minutes cruising around at the top to find each other). We spent a little time getting our act together, but were relatively soon on our way...
The long climb was, as ever, the perfect warm up - and by the time we got to the junction of the Western Commission track and the Old Great North Road single track, we were ready and raring to go. It was so warm, we actually needed to stop part way up the big climb
to doff some of the cooler weather gear... Lots of excellent riding followed - with very little going wrong (Stephe's forks continue to be a little troublesome with the cable
, but we managed to sort that out as we went along).
We were on fire, and riding comfortably through the technical sections (including a substantial number of zero touch sections which usually caused more trouble) - and arrived at the beginning of "Spiders" with everyone cheery and looking for more (although, to be fair, Darrell was perhaps not entirely certain what we had in store for him, and may have been a little apprehensive).
Spiders was a blast, and the drop into the creek was in superb condition - we spent some time attacking different angles on the way down (Joe and Darrell caught on film being a little conservative in some sections and taking the walking option; T-Bone and Stephe doing their best to learn how to fall gracefully!).
The only real injury of the day was Joe falling over a rock into another (sharper!) rock down on the creek section - and it was one of those "really, really hurts mum" shin bashes, that gets insufficient sympathy from loved ones... Until that point we were all looking pretty impressive on either zero or a low number of touches on the tricky rock sections.
The ride out past the farmhouse and on to the road stage was pleasant and uneventful, although some of the troops were flagging a little at this point, particularly as we hadn't yet stopped for any snacks.
Shepherds Gully: fantastic. Perfect conditions for one of the best 'honest' climbs in Sydney, marred slightly by a T-Bone flat. Then up to Devines Hill for a well deserved snack break.
The trip home was a more quiet affair, as the tiredness started to take an impact on some folk - although once T-Bone had forced some Magnesium into Joe, he started riding like a man possessed and, indeed, ended up winning the drag up the bitumen road to the cars at 3pm. The downhill run involved far too much speed, and plenty of air, without even the standard someone off into the trees overcooking section!
I can't think how the ride could have been any better - other than, I suppose, being able to share it with some of our absent buddies (c'mon boys, get those backs fixed!!).
The Old Great North Road is just one of the best balanced rides around - we should do it every week!Photos here - sorry about the quality, no Doug (although we also now have Darrell's photos up as well)
(and no GPS, although Darrell's speedo told us we cracked 50kms I believe (Darrell, any confirmation on the distance?)). Some highlights below:
The untidy unpacking business, and the team ready to roll:
General ride stuff: