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...


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