Demonstrating a new found commitment to mountain bike riding, Brian, Joe, Cooper and Stephe braved the chilli weather of the South, and headed down to Canberra for an exploration. The plan was to check out Stromlo on Saturday, and then try Sparrow Hill on Sunday.
After a bit of a slow but amusing road trip - where we discovered that Blackberries are harder to configure than initially anticipated (!) - we arrived at Mt Stromlo in the early afternoon - to find that there was a road riding event on, and we had to navigate our way through a race in progress just to get to the Stromlo Forest Park car park, which was almost completely full of various roadie types, young and old. It was a very festival like atmosphere, and was a good sign for the forthcoming ride.
We navigated our way up to the top of the hill, along the fairly easy perimeter track (the whole switchback thing taking all of the sting out of the climb, which is fairly easily accomplished without much fuss). The view from the top was terrific, but the trip down overshadowed that with much hooting and hollering as we traversed various sections of the ride.
Joe and Brian comprehensively demonstrated fitness and technique on the way up the hill, and Cooper demonstrated irrational speed on the downhill sections - a joy to watch, when you overcame your fears! Unfortunately, all that pace appears to have taken its toll on Cooper's rear Larsen, and he lost air pressure about 3 or 4 kms from the end. A quick stop for a tube gave Joe and Brian time to perfect their see-saw technique (again, some scary moments there), and we were on our way again. Stephe's "whispering" skills needs some refinement however, and Cooper punctured the new tube shortly thereafter and walked the last kilometre back to the cars... After some quick tooling around on the mountain cross track, and a little roll off or two, we called it a day, very impressed with Stromlo indeed.
After a *freezing* Canberran night, we kicked off the next day with bacon and eggs, pancakes, ice chocolates and hot butterscotch milkshakes in Manuka - and figured we needed a ride just to get the stuff we'd just eaten away from our hearts. Despite the initial plan, the time at Stromlo the previous day had just been too much fun, so we went back for more.
This time we discovered that the huge map signs actually had maps on them (!), and we planned our ride accordingly - following a specific route around for the morning run. Again, a slow and not too long climb to the top, and then from the top we meandered back across the front of the track (Skyline?) and down "the Luge" - which was more fun than you can poke a stick at. Cooper managed to come off spectacularly twice, but was striaght back on, and continuing like a maniac. Brian and Joe maintained a safe distance, but any time they got in front made it a challenge to try to bring them back in.
We hit the bottom with silly grins on our faces, and decided to take on the intermediate #3 run, with the aptly named "Heartbreak Hill" as the route to the top - up the centre of the hill. Turns out that not all paths to the top of the hill are really easy! However, having made it to the top, we were able to then do a large section of the northern perimeter of Stromlo, which was again much fun, and involved a whole bunch of excellent downhill sections.
All in all - Stromlo rocks, and we'll be back!
Naff all photos, but those that there are, are here
. We *really* need to get Doug back on his bike!