Sunday, 23 August 2009

Sunday 23 August 2009 - Old Great North Road + Spiders

An Epic Ride - absolutely beautiful, big, exhausting, great fun.

Perfect weather, perfect track conditions, great company.

Life is excellent, and mountain bike riding on a day like this, in Dharug and Yengo National Parks, is a great way to be reminded of that!

Whisperer, Dylan (aka LadyToast) and Stephe set off at a leisurely 7.30am from Chatswood, arrived at the 'chook shed' end of Mangrove Mountain at around 8.45am. Where we bumped into Glen, who was also about to set off on an explore of the Old Great North road environs, and convinced him to join us...

So, we all set off together, down the big hill, across the valley floor, up Simpson's Track to Ten Mile Hollow and then up to the Western Commission Track junction with OGNR.

Glenn demonstrating along the way that he was a fit bugger, so keeping Dylan company, and Whisperer being kind and keeping Stephe company a little way behind on the hills. We then stepped up the pace a little on the single track, although Glen had to leave us about five minutes in so that he would get back in time...

The track was beautiful and flowing - the air was clear and the sky a fantastic shade of blue. And the riding was fun - all of which distracted us from taking too many photos unfortunately.

We did stop and play on the two stage rock platforms for a while, where Dylan discovered major front wheel tyre burping (more than once) on the challenging rock step - which kept he and Whisperer amused for a while on a "technical review".

From there it was smooth sailing along the ridge to the Spiders Track turn off, where we grabbed a bite to eat. The temperature was getting up, but still pretty near perfect...

Our first real shock of the day was when we started down from the obviously graded turn off point to discover that the grading continued along the Spiders Track itself. Turns out that it's now a major two lane freeway (give or take...) graded in for burn off access, running the entire length of the track until the launch point for the downhill run.

But, as it happens, that just made the ride to the top of the descent a good little blast - and then the fun started...

Apparently a bunch of (400!) horses had been through recently, with some major churning of the soil cover (and lots of hoof marks on the sandstone along the track generally). The net result for the descent into the creek at the end of Spiders was that there was a lot of sand filling in the bigger rocky bits, and a lot of sand loosely covering rocks - which made for a fast, broadly uncontrolled descent with one or both wheels slipping at any one time. It was a deadset hoot and a holler. Ear to ear grin stuff. Much goodness.

In any case, we made it to the creek alive, tried to do 'limited dabs' along the creek with varying degrees of success, and then emerged into the farmland at the other end, where we bumped into Ranger Richard (apparently he does South Yengo, and Ranger Jeff who we previously met out there does North Yengo). We had a good yarn about horses, erosion, burning back, the meaning of life and such like, and then headed off on our way out to the road.

After an uneventful passage on the road, and then a challenging (now getting hot) ride up Shepherd's Gully, we made it to Devines Hill where Stephe demanded a rest and another feed (the healthy lads had been pushing the pace all day, and it was beginning to show on the less fit members of the crew (well, actually, just Stephe) at that point).

We then cruised back along the ridge line, with Whisperer and Dylan challenging each other on each of the climbs (as elite athletes are wont to do!). At Ten Mile Hollow we diverted up to Clare's Bridge, and then down Donny's Trail - which was yet another absolute blast - including a fast and sketchy drop back to the valley floor.

Not ashamed to say that at least one member of the crew was using the granny gear up the big hill back to the chook sheds at the end, after more than six hours of elapsed riding (but only four or so actually riding, according to Whisperer's records - hmmmm).

The track looked like this:

The minimal photos are here, and the .kmz of the track is here (a google earth 'flyover' of the track, with 'terrain exaggeration' turned on to 2 or higher, is *really* cool... Don't forget to turn off all the waypoints though (it works much better just doing a tour of the tracklog)).

400 elapsed minutes, and 64kms of pure bliss... and we all slept very well that night!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Wednesday 19 August 2009 - Terrey Hills - Waratah Track

Donal, Chris and Stephe managed to wrap up a hard day's work with a quick blast out at Terrey Hills...

We headed out of the shops, and down the single track that starts off the edge of Mona Vale Road, to join up with Duckholes Track. From there up the road out to West Head, to the Waratah Track, which Chris and Stephe hadn't been on before.

Donal managed to provoke the mountain bike gods by thinking how well he was riding, and was spat off in the most unlikely of places - leading to some attractive grazes (ooops).

Some entertaining pinch climbs along the way, and then out to the 'lookout' at the end for some fabulous views, with a whole heap of very gorgeous flowers out looking great (what a cool time of year this is!).

There was even time for some childish photos, before a hurried return back along the Waratah track, down the road, and up Centre Track and along the road back to the shops...

Another great short and sweet ride!

The full set of photos, albeit limited, are up here.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Sunday 16 August 2009 - OGNR - Donney's Loop

An excellent short ride: with a long downhill, a flat, a good uphill, a downhill flat with a challenging hill at the end, a fast downhill and a long uphill back to the cars... 26km of fire trail, but fun nonetheless.

Ben, Doug and Stephe set out a little after 6.32am, and arrived at the Mangrove Mountain chook farm entrance at around 8am (ooops, a little later than anticipated!). We bumped into some lads from Turramurra Cycles at the turning circle, scoping out a ride for a couple of weeks away - anyone know who they are?

In any case, we then set off on Ben's first ride on a mountain bike. Turns out, as always, that fitness counts for much - and, without anything technical, Ben was comfortable the whole way. That said, at three hours for the ride, we weren't breaking any land speed records, eh!

We road from the chook shed down to the valley floor, then up Simpson's Track to Ten Mile Hollow. From there, we meandered up to Clare's Bridge, and then to the junction of Donney's Trail and OGNR North. A quick bite to eat, and then along Donney's Trail back to the valley floor, and a long climb up the hill to the car.

The wattle was beautiful, the wild flowers were out, and we even took the chance to do a little more investigating the Mangrove Mountain settler's cemetry, taking good care not to disturb any of the fairly old site... Was very impressed to see that the early settlers at Mangrove Mountain managed to live pretty decent lives (92 and 93 years old in 1947 seems impressive even by todays standards with 'modern medicine' etc).

There was even time for a quick relax before the final hill, and a look back at the ridge over which Donney's Trail travels:

Profile tells the story, even if not a real long ride:

Back at the cars, happy and pleased to have taken Ben on his first ride out...

All photos up here (thank goodness Doug is back!), and the .kmz is here.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Wednesday 12 August 2009 - Coba Point

A quick opportunity to get out on a beautiful day, with Chris, Toby and Stephe managing to work their way around the various other things to do on the day - to check out the hills and wildflowers that make up Coba Point.

Parked the car at the end of the road, then meandered out for a quick out and back to the lookout (eschewing the 'proper' out and back to the end of the ridge...). We then came back past the cars once more, and headed off to Smugglers Ridge. The flowers were fantastic the entire way - with Chris' need for the occasional stretch giving us plenty of time to check 'em out.

Over the end of the ridge and down the drop was fun as always, and then back along the bottom to the base of the climb out. At which point Toby's legs started cramping up - putting him in just the right frame of mind for the climb out, eh.

In any case, he made a very fine effort on the hills, particularly for a man with both legs cramping - and only just behind Chris and Stephe with no such challenge.

Photos up here, and .kmz is here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Wednesday 5 August 2009 - Two Creeks Track

Chris and Stephe snuck out for a cheeky midweek ride along Two Creeks track in fantastic weather.

The ride was brilliant, even including the bits we had to walk the bike along to comply with NPWS rules designed in the dark ages... On the way back, we dropped down to North Arm and had a quick kayak, just to top off a very grand day indeed.

No photos, but the .kmz of the track is here.