Sunday 28 October 2007 - OGNR
Perfect conditions for a great Old Great North Road ride, which - in the end - it was for some, but not for others!
We started out at the standard time, and after meeting up with Paul on the freeway, were thinking about leaving the pumping station at Mangrove Mountain at about 8am - without Ed, who had forewarned that he was recovering from a cold... But, lo and behold - down through the mist emerged the man himself, looking for all the world like a mountain biker's mountain biker.
So, just after 8am, Brian, John, Nicole, Paul, Ed and Stephe set off down the road to the pumping station, across the weir, and into the standard group photo pose.
[At this point, we pause to remember that mountain bike photographer of record, Doug, is still swanning about France - so we feared we were without quality assistance - but we were able to call upon Nicole's skills with a camera (they're the good ones in this set!).]
We then climbed the big hills to the junction of the Western Commission Track and the OGNR, without much incident - and with the young guns (Ed and Paul) taking an aggressive lead, and Brian biding his time for the inevitable "old bull" run at the younger folk (with John also cruising along comfortably)... Nicole and Stephe took their time to enjoy the ride from the back of the field.
The run along the ridge line single track was, as ever, a great one - and by the time we arrived at the 'mound of death' and bumped into Ashley, Graham and co, we were warmed up and raring to go. Paul showed Stephe how to get air off the mound of death (scaring him greatly in the process), and then we cruised on down the next minor technical section.
And, then: disaster... on the last of a short series of three bunny hops down the ledges, there was an almighty crack, and Stephe found himself on top of a very broken Rocky Mountain bike frame. Did we mention that the bike was borrowed from Richard, just back from being repaired... Aaargh.
After some quick engineering input (consensus: Not Good), Stephe started the long trudge back to the car (not even able to roll down the hills on what was left of the very sorry bike), with Nicole honourably offering to accompany him. The rest of the lads cruised along the ridge line to the top of Devine's Hill, had a quick snack and headed back. At this point, Ed's facade of being completely in control finally cracked, he hit the wall and came back well and truly in Stage IV...
Stephe was picked up by a ranger at the Wat Buddha Dharma (after about two hours of walking - seriously trying Nicole's patience!), by which time the other lads had caught up, and we were treated to a personal tour by Ranger Jeff of some Aboriginal art work on a cave by the track which we had never previously seen.
An enjoyable trip back down the hill to the Pumping Station (somewhat less so for those in the 4WD...), back up the hill to the cars, and off to the cafe by around 2.30pm. Many thanks to Ranger Jeff for the rescue.
[photo album page now up]