Sunday, 15 July 2007

Sunday 15 July 2007 - Old Great North Road

It seems to me that OGNR defeated us today... We were optimistic enough at the start, with Rob, Matt and Whisperer driving up in convoy with Brian, Johnbo and Stephe, to meet Rees and Doug, and Steve K. at the Mangrove Mountain pumping station.

[Steve K, Rob, Matt, Brian, Stephe, Johnbo, Rees, Whisperer, Doug]

But things started to go wrong when Stephe missed the Peats Ridge turn off (the conversation (about a topic not fit for the delicate sensibilities of readers of this blog), was clearly fully engaging). After a flurry of calls from Whisperer et al, we managed to get back on track and arrived not too long after everyone - and, indeed, before Doug and Rees (coming up the Old Pacific Highway).

Things deteriorated further when Brian discovered that when you buy new shoes you have to actually install cleats in them (ah deary gracious me). Matt came to the rescue with a pair of flat pedals, Brian changed back into his runners, and we were eventually on our way (some time after 8am).

It was around 2°C as we dropped down into the even colder valley where the Pumping Station had water flowing over the weir (and most definately over the rocks below the weir). Our crossing was cold and wet - with a couple of brave souls riding across, and a bunch of loonies taking off their shoes and socks and walking across in near freezing water! So, by the time we finally managed to start the ride proper, everyone was desperate for a climb, and slowly but surely we warmed up as we made our way up to Ten Mile Hollow, and then on to the junction of the OGNR track and Western Commission Track.

We met the first of about five groups of folk (riders and walkers) at the junction, with others along the ridge line, at the entrance to Spiders, top of Devines Hill, and on the way back at Ten Mile Hollow.

Johnbo was an OGNR newbie, and was happy to ignore the difficulties of using a hard tail beastie on this track - taking in the surrounds and making 'happy noises' from time to time.

Steve K. was struggling with the pace (that is, he kept trying to find a low enough gear to not be more than 2kms in front of Stephe at any point!). At least Doug, Matt, Brian and Rob had someone to hammer off with now and then, when they needed to clear their lungs...

Whisperer was clearly feeling the affects of his week's illness, and was part of the ultimate (dastardly) movement to scotch the planned drop via Spiders into St Albans... That said, even when we arrived back at the cars with Whisperer telling us all he was buggered, he managed to be among the first in the final sprint.

The ride across the ridge line was excellent as always. Steve K made a spectacular dismount at the first of the drops into a switchback, and Matt mastered the infamous two stage rock climb on his first run (leaving all other eight riders in his wake - humiliating!). Stephe was playing silly buggers, and only discovered after knocking Rob to the ground (and then riding over him), that Rob wasn't playing... ooops.

We arrived at Spiders, decided against it and went on to find the old road down Shepherd's Gully from Devines Hill, but retired defeated - although we did find a nice little section of single track heading out to look over Wiseman's Ferry (sort of the mirror image position on the North to Finches' Line on the South).

The ride back was a bit tiring - and Rees, Johnbo and Stephe were all grateful for the brief respite that came from a flat on Rob's bike (why is Rob still riding a bike with tubes?). We were hoping for some company from Brian - but he managed to hammer through the last sections, without being overly handicapped by having flat pedals rather than clips...

In any case, the pace was off a bit, but we all arrived safely back at the Pumping Station around 2pm (?) and then made our way back up the vertical bitumen road to the cars.

In all, a good ride, but not one of the better OGNR ventures. Nonetheless, a pleasure to have had the company on what was a great day for a ride.

Photos, a single video, the Profile, and stuff are up here...

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Sunday 8 July 2007 - Lindfield to Seaforth Oval / return

Ah, the reason this ride feels like a proper 35km ride, is because it *is* a proper 35km ride! [ed: Matt, can you please confirm the actual final distance?]

In any case, on a beautiful, albeit somewhat chilly morning, only Matt and Stephe managed to front at Tryon Road, Lindfield for a good little local ride (Whisperer pulled out due to ill health the night before, Paul dropped an SMS at 6.05am, and Doug and Rees have become roadies (hard to imagine...)).

It was a hoot - cold for the first technical section up the climb to the river, and didn't quite pull it all off. But then Matt got in front, and hurtled down the downhill technical section, with Stephe struggling to finally catch up at Roseville Bridge - where we made a valiant attempt at the climb back up to the road.

On to Roseville boat ramp, where we climbed up to the track and cruised along the Magazine Track, up behind the houses and down the excellent drops (again, not quite doing it all! Scary moment with Matt over the bars at one point, but all ok (other than a scary swelling to the hand, which came up real fast).).

For those cynics who think that five hours is a bit long for 35km, it's worth noting that the "hike a bike" sections are part of the charm of this particular ride - but they *do* take a lot of time! As does dodging the inevitable "OxFam"ers along the way...

Anyway, back on to the track [will insert real name here, as soon as I think of it], across on to oval and along the track beside Wakehurst Parkway to Seaforth Oval. Back across Wakehurst Parkway for an absolute blast along the Manly Dam technical section (Matt on fire by this stage, the good news is that he finally got tired as we crossed back across Wakehurst Parkway for the journey home, so Stephe got to actually stay in touch for a while...

A great ride back, marred by the bit alongside the Bantry Bay section (two million downed trees were just a little difficult to get across).

Stephe fell at the end of the ride (at the bottom of the stairs back on to the Lindfield fire trail), but otherwise a superb ride, there should be many more of them!

Monday, 2 July 2007

Sunday 1 July 2007 - Acron Oval to Terry Hills

Sunday's ride was an exploration trip, with some old and a whole lot of new (for us) stuff along the way.

We set out from Acron oval (Stephe, Brian, John, Matt & Whisperer), in arctic conditions surrounded by flocks of Oxfam walkers. We took the excellent descent into Garigal, flowing over the water bars as well as we could 'cold'. Went round the lower Cambourne track down over the creek crossing (with a couple of wet feet adding to the arctic feelings) and on to Bear Creek track.

About 3 1/3 metres along the track, a huge stick decided to impale itself in Stephe's derailleur, smashing the jockey cage into uselessness, and taking a spoke with it (the bang was heard by one of the Oxfam group 50 meters ahead,to which one of the women muttered 'that sounds bad')....

No amount of whispering could have fixed it, so Stephe had to turn around and walk back to the car for an early finish. The remaining crew continued on, led by Whisperer who was trying to find a 'lost' track to the north east of the park, coming out near Bunnings warehouse for a quick cross over Mona Vale Rd and into Terry Hills. It was not to be, and after a few forays down power pylon access tracks, we ended up at the Belrose substation. A short trip up Forest Way, and we were into Terry Hills fire trails.

We went on an out-and-back trail, deciding not to do the Duffys Forest link, and returned to Mona Vale Rd. The track was relatively dry as anticipated, and a few challenging pinches made it reasonably interesting. On the return to Mona Vale rd, we took a small promising track that ran parallel to the road east towards the St Ives showground. This turned out to be a real gem, tight, twisting and fun.

We stopped at the showground for a snack, were nearly tempted by the sizzling sausages and coffee at the markets there, but resisted and continued on. We crossed Mona Vale Rd and picked up the northern rim track of Garigal, an undulating 'tight' fire road, and came out near Acron for a short 'where the blazes are we' trip back to the cars.

All in all, a reasonable alternative to the 'trails of endless puddles' when things are saturated generally, a good bit of climbing, some single track,and a decent distance.

Unfortunately, Doug has become a road rider, and so no photos or GPS again!

Addendum from Matt:

Not much to add to the ride report except that Stephe wasn't the only one with a mechanical
as I discovered back at the car... Taking the front wheel off things feel a little looser than normal in the axle/skewer area and lo and behold on taking the skewer out 1/3 of the axle comes out with it! I must've been riding a snapped axle for a fair while as I recall having to tighten the skewer very early on.

The moral being she'll be right mate / what you haven't a clue of can't possibly hurt you ;-}