Sunday, 25 March 2007

Sunday 25 March 2007 - Redhill (from Oxford Falls Weir)

Ha! All those sad wusses who figured they would stay safely tucked up in their warm, post Daylight Savings Time bed missed out on an *excellent* ride...

After a couple of late withdrawls (ah Shawn, you showed such promise; Ryan, we're missing you; not sure what's happened to Doug), Brian and Stephe drove down to the Weir off Wakehurst Parkway with a degree of trepidation. Indeed, they had actually formulated a plan to pull out if there was no-one there and it was still raining. However, Matt - the ever reliable - was already well unpacked, together with Joe and then Whisperer, and there was nothing for it but to clamber out of the car and into the elements. We found Darrell a little further up the road, and (almost magically) the rain stopped.

We rode up to Wakehurst Parkway, and into Redhill via the little pumping station. Although everyone was still cold, we made a fair go of climbing that first rocky channel to the track proper, and then sloshed our way through the puddles and mud to the bottom of the Redhill technical section. Some time later we'd managed to have a large number of attempts at each of the little climbs on that section (they all seem so much easier on the way down, instead of up!), and moved on - particularly when Whisperer pointed out that we'd only managed to travel 2kms by that point.

A fairly fun run along the track (again, with lots of water and reverse direction challenges) back to the main trail, where we turned right to travel to the playground just off Lady Penryhn Drive. We then did Jenzen's Single Track, down behind the playground to the block of units - with much entertainment as we puzzled around and over each drop off, rock step and general challenge - and then also had to deal with very tightly covering bush (all wet, of course), a wet and slippery track, and huuuuge spiders. After a great blast along the track, teetering on the edge of control, we came out at the units, climbed the hill to the next entry to the track and scooted along the power line access road back to the main Redhill trail.

Another quick diversion off to the top of the Rim Track, which was itself a serious hoot (albeit a very muddy one!), and then we arrived at the top of Sport and Rec. We must remember how much fun the Rim Track is...

Given the time, we turned around and legged it for home - pausing briefly to have some more fun on the Redhill technical section - and then back through some humungous puddles, down and up the track to the pumping station, and back to the cars.

Wet, muddy, and very, very amused. A great ride indeed.

No photos, no GPS, no record of our passing - no good. Hopefully, Doug will be back soon - not just for his excellent company, but also for his record keeping skills!

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Sunday 18 March 2007 - Redhill / Oxford Falls

Despite the fact that Doug and Rees chose to road ride instead (what is that about?!), we got a small group together for an excellent Redhill / Oxford Falls loop.

Meeting at Sport & Rec, Matt P., Brian and Stephe were pleased to welcome T-Bone back to riding after an unreasonably long absence... It was good to have his limitless enthusiasm back in the group!

The day was perfectly overcast, so that temperatures were reasonable, although it was a bit muggy. With the water on the track, we each had a few of the "no, I am not going to be coerced into doing that bit of track" moments (other than T-Bone, who lacks that necessary element of brain function that comes with grey hair!).

That said, once we'd crossed over to Oxford Falls side, we still managed to do the Northern drop into Deep Creek, from the Road to Nowhere. It was fun as always, with a range of styles from smoothly elegant, to ugly sliding... By the time we'd made it that far, T-Bone's lack of match fitness was beginning to show, which managed to bring him back down to our level...

Matt P. took on everything with his usual aplomb, but we were pleased to have been able to at least put one or two of the climbs over him (just desperately clinging to any possible chance of not being at the very back of the pack!).

Stephe tried Wimp Rock one more time, at the entry to Deep Creek - and one more time exited the bike in a fairly ugly way. Ah, one day....

A great ride, and one we should certainly do more regularly! No photos, GPS, or anything else I'm afraid - other than great memories of another great ride...

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Sunday 11 March 2007 - Old Great North Road + Spiders

As we said before we started - this is *the* classic ride in the greater Sydney area! Given the weather (about 36° at the peak of the day), it was a bit of an epic - but nothing can beat being out and about on the Old Great North Road, with the perfect combination of technical and smooth running, single track and firetrail, solid climbs and solid drops...

We arrived at the pumping station at Mangrove Mountain at around 7.45am, and did the standard 'oops, forgot my bike maintenance' stuff - but were still underway by about 8am.

Pumping station crossing and group photo (Stephe, Brian, Doug, Whisperer (obscured), Richard and Matt P.).

The group photo shows Richard, but just as we arrived at Ten Mile Hollow Richard discovered a crack straight through the Rocky Mountain frame top tube and retired a sad and miserable chappy... (even worse that he found it once he'd ridden *up* the big hill to Ten Mile Hollow, and not before).

By the time we made it to the turn off to the ridge line single track, everyone was warm and raring to go (although, in a sign of things to come, Doug was beginning to feel the heat...).

We had a good solid run along the ridge line, with no-one doing the two stage rock the first time 'round, but everyone pretty well satisfied with their subsequent attempts - and the general form for all the other technical bits was pretty good!

We fuelled up with fluid and food at the start of Spiders, just off the ridge line track - and then headed off along that great single track, with the only downside being the innumerable spiders along the way...

The descent at the end of the track was excellent fun as always, with mixed success but plenty of laughs... The run along the edge of the creek was nicely cleaned up after the rains, with enough leaf litter to help smooth the bumps between the rocks and it seems entirely possible to do the entire stretch without a foot dab (although no one did!).

For the first time, we met someone riding out across the farm land, but to our relief they were friendly, and we weren't shot or 'taken out the back'... The road trip to Shepherd's Gully was otherwise uneventful.

However, Doug had really started to feel the heat by this stage, and - for the first time in living memory - was not the man at the head of the pack encouraging us all to get along, and had a long, slow slog up the Gully (creating an excellent excuse for Stephe and Brian to fall back, with only Whisperer and Matt P. feeling the need to go for a race - they were at the top seven minutes before the stragglers!).

By the time we hit the top of Devine's Hill / Finches Line, most people were running short of water, and Doug was looking shattered.

We had a fairly cautious cruise back (the heat was seriously kicking in by this stage), and were *very* grateful to finish the ridge line and drop back down the hill to the Buddhist water supply... That was enough to refresh for the final drop back down to the pumping station - where the 500m vertical bitumen climb awaited (with the sun burning back off the bitumen into our already well cooked faces!).

So, a fairly slow finish - but a fantastic ride nonetheless!

The profile is a goodie:

Photos and maps etc are all here...

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Sunday 4 March 2007 - Coba Point, including Smugglers Ridge

Ah, mountain biking - she's a hard task master!

Today's report would have (should have) been, a quick discussion around what a great ride Coba Point is, and why Doug needs to change his mind about it - but unfortunately, in a lapse of concentration after the ride was basically all over, John came off over a water bar, knocked his head and is now ruing his foolishness at North Shore hospital.... (all looks ok, following what seems to be a bit of concussion, but they did a CT scan and kept him in overnight).

The day started out on a much more promising note... Brian and Stephe were joined by John for his first ever real ride out in the wilderness, and we also finally caught up with Justin (we've been "almost, but not quite" having him on a ride for almost a year now!).

We set ourselves up with a minimum of fuss, and then headed off for the 'out and back' section of the track as a warmup. Turns out to be around two hours (not the one hour that Stephe had promised), but still a great ride, with technical bits, up hills, down hills, smooth running bits, and lots of stuff in between. The recent rains had eroded a lot of the soil between the rocks, so the loose rocky climbs were looser and rockier (!) than usual. And, there were spiders everywhere!!

All good, and John was performing like a much more experienced rider...

As we came back past the cars, the day was heating up, and we topped up our water supplies - and then headed off to the Smugglers Ridge run.

Again, a great consistent run - with Justin showing us that the fact that he'd never before ridden this particular track wasn't going to slow him down... We arrived at the start of the descent, and made varying attempts at conquering each of the individually challenging stages, with equally varying degrees of success. There was the occasional moment of concern, but all in all, a great ride along the ridge, and a lot of fun navigating the drop.

At the bottom, the creek crossing was well full - so it was shoes off, carrying the bikes across and ducking our heads underwater to cool off. After a bit more mucking about we finally set off for the ascent.

Hill #1 was a beauty as always, with Brian and Justin riding the top half, John setting a cracking pace walking up, and Stephe trailing far behind from the very bottom... Hill #2 proved to be a better run for Stephe and Justin, Brian again nailed it, and John again showing his pace on foot whenever not riding.

Just before Hill #3 it got ugly, as John had a momentary lapse of concentration over a water bar, appears to have shifted his weight forward, and gone over the handlebars into the ground. He had a big whack on the helmet (always good to get a reminder of just how good helmets are, eh!) and a couple of hits to the head just below the helmet. He also managed to break the fifth metacarpal on his right hand, and gathered a bunch of grazes along the arms and legs. Nonetheless, after a few minutes recovery, he was happy enough to get back on the bike (despite the 30° plus heat) and wind his way up Hill #3 and out.

[Once we arrived home, John started exhibiting some curious concussion style symptoms, so he then managed to spend the rest of the afternoon being x-rayed, prodded, poked, dressed, CT scanned etc... as of the following morning, still recovering in North Shore hospital, but appparently ok, albeit more scans and a pin for the broken finger...]

So, other than that - an excellent ride, perhaps not for the middle of summer!

Photos, such as they are, are all here, but no GPS I'm afraid (there is a rumour that Justin had a GPS in his bag, but that he doesn't know how to use it - say it ain't so!!!).