Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sunday 30 November 2008 - Appin

A fairly poorly organised week was rescued by a txt from Paul J, suggesting a quick Appin ride with a comfortably late start...

The late start meant that Stephe was able to rustle up Cooper to come along. As we cruised down the M5, we discovered that Paul had arrived very early with Robert, and so they set off for a quick warm up lap pending our arrival.

Cooper and Stephe arrived at the originally scheduled time (to the minute!), but with no Paul in sight, figured they'd meander off to meet him along the way.

The day was clear and beautiful (and not too hot), and the buckets of recent rain had a minimal effect on the track, which was a lot more fun than I previously recalled. Paul and Robert found us around the halfway point (we having just returned from the new deviation around section three), and we were about to set off together when Mark and Paris arrived (some Wollongong regulars at the Appin track - new to us, but good company), and Cooper and Stephe figured they might be a better match than an 'on fire' Paul for an initial warm up lap!

We finished a great loop, with Cooper nailing nearly all the interesting bits (making a smoother job of the hard bits than he did of things which should have been much easier). A combination of no gloves on the first lap, the fact that Paul and Robert had to bail following a mechanical issue at the end of their second, and just coz we're bludgers (!), meant that Cooper and Stephe also pulled out at that point - but with fond memories encouraging an early return...

No photos, because we're slack!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sunday 23 November 2008 - Menai

We had an international guest join us today (Matt W), and the ride proved to be up to scratch, in demonstrating all that a decent Australian mountain bike ride had to offer.

It was great fun, and the company was excellent, even with lots of folk away.

Matt W was joined by Matt P, T-Bone, Daniel, and Stephe - arriving at Menai around 7.30am, and setting off not long afterwards - and home by 11am. On a borrowed bike, with borrowed helmet and various other bits of gear, Matt W quickly demonstrated that he was most certainly not put off by the company or terrain, no matter how different from his usual turf in the south of England.

The weather was perfect, with some spatters of rain on the drive out, dry for about 98% of the ride, and then some rain on the return drive. The track was pretty dry on the whole, and it would be hard to find a better set of conditions to ride in. The soft sand meant that anyone running more than 30psi in the front tyre had to deal with lots of washouts on the corners, but that only added to the fun.

T-Bone was unfortunately the first incident of the day, with a relatively straightforward slow speed OTB turning into a disaster, when he got his leg jammed between the bars and the frame, with the biggest haematoma we've seen for a long while resulting in less than two minutes... Not only did it look scary, but clearly had a big impact on his riding thereafter (and, by the end of the ride, T-Bone was in serious pain, and looking much less than good..).

Given that introduction, Matt W's various attempts over the bars paled in comparison, but did provide a good object lesson in the importance of actually fitting the bike you ride (despite borrowing a tall person's bike, Matt's extra three or four inches of height meant that there was a lot of unfortunate geometry happening). Although not clear when it happened, he managed a smaller scale (but apparently no less painful) version of T-Bone's injury, with a nasty knock to the ankle...

Daniel rode like a champion and showed his usual style, so by the time we arrived at the Rollercoaster of Death and played around for a while he was in the groove (scarily, it's clear that when he gets on a full suspension bike he's going to be even more competent than now). Matt P spent much time playing about on trials moves between various other elegant approaches to the track, and we all tried a few little stunts of our own along the way. The Rollercoaster playground was fun, as always, and the ride around the remainder of the loop was a bit faster than usual, and all the more fun for that - with Matt P leading a high speed bolt along all the good bits. Except for the charge Daniel put in on the smooth rolling track on the far side of the main ridge line, when he took off over the first roll off with a very nice aerial move, but failed to take into account the landing on loose sand.... ooooh, it was an ugly get off (but he rode on without complaint thereafter!).

We also grabbed a couple of videos (progressively more embarrassing - good thing they only load in Quicktime!), here, here and here.

In all, a great ride, a good intro to our foreign colleague, and a general hoot.

Full set of photos are up here.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Saturday 15 November 2008 - OGNR (Great North Road)

A last minute bit of excitement from Doug, and we had organised a Saturday mountain bike ride (lordy, who has heard of such a thing).

Akis and Stephe joined Doug at Old North Road, leaving from the pumping station at Mangrove Mountain, over to Wisemans Ferry and back. And it was, as always, truly great (although, again, seriously exhausting, and not as if we set any land speed records along the way). The 45km ride was under a gentle misty rain most of the way - except, of course, when we were shattered coming back up the various hills when the sun came out and punished us... ah, the Gods of ONR are a scary and cruel bunch!

Not too many people out and about, but we did see a couple of folk - and they too seemed to be having fun.

[Akis, Stephe, Doug about to set off]

Although it seems harsh to describe it as a fairly 'standard' ride, we did the usual things, and decided against doing Spiders - but the usual things were all fun, and the riding was good (requiring a bit of concentration now and then, eh!).

We also stopped and smelled the roses along the way (!), and had fun on the 'mound
of death':

The trail was great, and the view at the end superb:

And a bit of playing on the way back...

The profile and track are still a joy to behold:

The full set of photos are up here.