Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Wednesday 28 November 2007 - Oxford Falls

Well, it barely actually rates a post (and no photos, maps or anything), but two things mean that this post was required:

1. Nic and Stephe were joined by Brian O'K, a guest from the US, on a short afternoon Oxford Falls ride and it was very good (around the cross country track loop, and the out and back from the top of the XC track). What an excellent way to spend a Wednesday evening!


2. Must acknowledge the work of City Bike Depot (CBD Bikes), without whom we wouldn't have had the afternoon's entertainment. Thanks muchly to Hugh at CBD - a good man indeed. If Stephe wasn't already addicted to Bike Addiction, CBD would clearly be the bike shop of choice. As it is, we now have two to choose from, while shunning sad imitations!

Anyone not going to either Bike Addiction or CBD is probably doing themselves a dis-service...

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Sunday 18 November 2007 - Middle Cove / Tryon Road / Manly Dam / Return

Well, it turns out this was an eventful little old ride! Perfect conditions, great track and excellent company - but the odd mishap...

Johnbo, Brian and Stephe left from Middle Cove at 6.32, for the short sharp road section to the Tryon Road Tennis Courts at Lindfield, picking up Whisperer along the way. This 15 minute road section is a great little warm up to the action... Ed rang along the way to say he had only just woken up (surprised gasp from everyone!), but still managed to pass us on his way to Tryon Road.

As we met up with Ed at the car park, we also met Brian's mate Donal, and then dropped down to the fire trail to find their two other colleagues, John and Martin (with Brian and the latter two planning an AROC race in the near future - this was their "learning what a mountain bike was" practice).

So, as eight happy little mountain bike riders, off we set for a good roll down the hill to the steps at the beginning of the Two Creeks track.

A couple of serious attempts were made at the rock climb without any dabs, with very limited success - and then, once we'd all made it to the top, our first mishap of the day: Brian's rear wheel, having been beaten senseless for the last few years decided it had finally had enough and gave up the ghost (with the free hub locking up solid). Some quick whispering failed to resolve the issue, and - after briefly flirting with the idea of riding fixed wheel style (!) - Brian set off back to the car park, fortunately with Ed's keys so he didn't have to walk all the way home...

The remaining seven adventurers had a good little ride to the Roseville Bridge, climbed up on to the single track around the harbour, cruised through there like seasoned professionals, exited at the first road section and re-entered at the Old Folks Home in Forestville.

Here we encountered our second mishap of the day: Martin (who was one of our 'new to mountain bike riding' folk, but scathingly fit!), missed the fact that his six colleagues turned left off the road down to Bantry Bay (let's hope he's not navigating during the adventure race), and kept on going down the track to the bottom of the Bay. With the operative word being "down"!

Alerted to his plight, John and Stephe gave chase, but didn't get him until he had actually managed to turn around at the end and started working his way back up again.... Ah, an interesting little 1 or 2km hill diversion on a ride which was already turning out to be both long and hot!

In any case, we meandered on over to the oval at the end of the fire trail, along the sniggle to the lookout over Bantry Bay, past the Scout HQ and finally emerged at the sniggle on the Northern side of Wakehurst Parkway. Where we bumped into the first of 5,342 other mountain bike riders out enjoying the glorious spring day...

After another moment or two sucking up the sights, we crossed over to Manly Dam and started in on the 'standard' lap - with Donal coming in to his own, on what seemed to be very familiar territory... Managed to get a couple of snaps along the way (in the group photo, we have Donal, Whisperer, Martin, Johnbo, John, with Ed starring up front):

Shortly after that section we came across Matt doing his duty on the Trail Maintenance Day, although Nic was too busy organising things and generally being in charge to make an appearance as we hung around and chatted. Lots of good work being done by stacks of volunteers - very impressive!

Finally managed to pull the troops away, and we headed off for the downhill Manly Dam blast - yee ha! Along the way, while waiting for the bunch to catch up, Whisperer was overtaken by some strangers which sufficiently affronted him that he demanded we chase - and off he went like a bat out of hell.

Because of this little effort, Whisperer and Stephe missed the next instalment of disaster - which was Ed coming off the bike at the top of the last drop into the Hydraulic Labs, managing a "chest plant" into a big rock, with subsequent winding, hand and other damage, and general lack of cheeriness (these photos were about ten minutes after the recovery process was underway!):

We finally managed to patch Ed back together enough to get him on to the bike, and on with the lap of Manly Dam - including some solid efforts at the steep white sandy hill up behind the houses before the road section to the golf course:

Unfortunately, by the time we'd made it to the Golf Course, Ed was becoming much the worse for wear, and he and Stephe limped off down Wakehurst Parkway, until they managed to find a spot to relax, get a car, and get out easy...

The then diminished bunch did the rest of the Manly Dam lap, some of the bush track on the return, but perhaps with a little more road section, and headed home - hopefully a little more bike informed, wiser (?), and happier... (?)

The full set of photos are here.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Sunday 11 November 2007 - Oaks (and *not* St Helena's) Trail

After a week of consistent rain (quick note: none of it in the dam, surprise, surprise!), Sunday dawned crisp and clear. Very strong evidence that there is in fact an ultimate deity, given her consistent protection of all things mountain biking!

In any case, Paul, Matt, Nicole, Ed, and Stephe met at the car park for Glenbrook Railway Station in plenty of time for a baked goods snack, before jumping on the train with our bikes, bound for Woodford - for what was to be a St Helena's track adventure, with Paul showing us the way.

Paul (Fearless Leader) was fearlessly leading, with assistance from Team Leader (who shall remain nameless, but *she* does seem to have a natural desire to 'follow' from the front!), and Map Man Matt (who we called upon when Paul was very worried); while Ed and Stephe just came along for the novel ride experience. It did seem a little odd for it to be a novel experience, when there were approximately 413 other riders on the train with us...

In any case, arrived at Woodford, cruised down the road, and off to the fire trail that formed the backbone of the Oaks Trail. A very pleasant ride, cool conditions, blue sky and big fluffy white clouds. Much happiness. We made polite conversation with other folk on the track (when they actually wanted to talk with us - funny crowd on occasion!), and cruised along, checking out the scenery and enjoying some excellent hills - just the right length and pitch to make the hill a challenge, and rewarding when done, but not too much as to cause real grief... There was even a little challenge along the way, at which Matt and Stephe spent far too much time, with far too little success:

We then came to what the consensus opinion agreed was the beginning of the St Helena's track, which looked like a very overgrown fire trail (entirely consistent with the product description!). After a very cool drop, with lots of slippery leaf litter, and a number of little trees to jump, we arrived at a very overgrown single trail, which - after much plowing through overhanging vines - took us to a smallish clearing with large trees across the road:

Although relatively comfortable that this was indeed the right point to be in a general 'correct part of the world' sense (!), there was limited consensus about whether or not to push on, and we wussed it: climbing back up the hill to the main fire trail, and getting back on to the Oaks Trail.

From there is was just a high speed blast along a very enjoyable fire trail (*much* better than the Six Foot Track fire trail for some reason), until we made it to the other end - where we had a quick snack, before jumping on to the single trail to return to the road.

The single trail was a great, smooth, hard packed clay ride, just sitting beautifully on the downside of the hill contour, so we had a pretty continuous five or so kilometre high speed run. At the car park at the end, Matt, Ed and Stephe tried riding down the steep stairs to the causeway, with only Matt looking like a rider with any credibility!

We then had a quick chill at the small pond behind the causeway, and then climbed the big steep road to Glenbrook - where we jumped in cars, stopped for more baked goods, and headed off home!

Full set of photos here (still no Doug, so no GPS etc).

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Sunday 4 November 2007 - Smugglers, Coba Point

The day dawned wet and drizzly after dumping many mm of rain overnight... fair to say there was a little trepidation from the limited number of folk (Paul, Nic, Johnbo and Stephe) that managed to make it along for a quick ride out along Smugglers, and back up the three big hills.

As we pulled up at the starting point, the rain came down again - we had a quick discussion about sitting in the cars for a little while, but were on a tight deadline to get Johnbo back in time to organise his afternoon tea party. As it happens, ten minutes was enough for the big rain to blow over, and we set out with nothing other than a pleasant misty drizzle.

By the time we'd made it along the fire trail to the beginning of the Smuggler's Ridge single trail, the rain had disappeared and we had to stop to take off our spray jackets as the sun came back out to heat us up. Thereafter, the sky was a brilliant blue, and it was hard to argue with the quality of the day...

The ride along the top was excellent as always, the view of some note, but the abundant moisture on rocks etc meant that most of the tricky technical stuff was not worked too hard... Paul shone, as always (both he and Johnbo will be scary when they move to lighter, and dual suspension bikes).

After completing the final drop, we meandered along to the Orchard, where Nic's lack of sleep started to catch up on her. Even so, the short rest break was very pleasant, enhanced with an abundance of nut choices from Johnbo and Paul.

With sustenance under the belt, we headed back off to the hills to begin the long climb out, but it would be fair to say that no-one made a serious fist of the Hill One (maybe 30% of it by Johnbo, and less than 25% for the rest of us - and everyone was off by the end of the first segment). Hill Two was marginally better (indeed Johnbo may have done the lot?), and by Hill Three we were all looking like we were credible contenders.

The ride back along the fire trail to the cars was uneventful (we did spot a potentially interesting looking side track at the top gate, heading down and North?), and the whole trip was done and dusted in three or so hours (allowing for plenty of down time along the way). And, the hills were merely a memory - yet again proving that it's worth waking up for a mountain bike ride, in all circumstances!

No pictures etc - we're getting a bit hopeless, eh.