Sunday 31 January 2010

Sunday 31 January 2010 - Redhill / Oxford Falls loop

Peter and Stephe had a little sleep in, and kicked off at the car park outside Academy of Sport at 7.15am for a short sharp Redhill / Oxford Falls loop.  Had the pleasure of being joined by Bruno, who runs very quickly and effortlessly for long distances (!).

Turns out that we only travelled 17kms... ah well, at least it was fun (perhaps all the effort of avoiding any closed NPWS trails shortened the route). Stephe managed a quick OTB at the same point on the Redhill rocks where he previously split his lip (at least this outcome was better), with Peter doing an impressive 'over backwards' on a subsequent tricky climb section.

Good news is we were reminded of our fallibility, without too high a cost...

Was a hoot. Not many photos (those that there were, are here).

Sunday 17 January 2010

Sunday 17 January 2010 - Old Great North Road

It was great to be back to the spiritual home of mountain bike riding. Awoke to a fantastic day, and Helena, Donal and Stephe arrived at Mangrove Mountain pumping station not long before 8am, looking to make the most of it.

Predictions were for a hot one, but as we set off it seemed pretty reasonable. The climb to the Wat Buddhadhama was all good, and we were feeling pretty chipper. We had also passed a group of very clean lycra clad dudes heading down from Ten Mile Hollow as we rode up - which is not something you often see...

In any case, arrived at the junction of the ridge line and the Western Commission Track fighting fit and ready to roll:

Some excellent riding thereafter, with the usual shenanigans around and about the place.

Although it was all going well, and we had originally considered doing Spiders as well, we met up with another couple of lads at the Spiders junction and between us all figured it might get a bit hot later to be cruising up Shepherd's Gully, so we decided just to finish off at Devine's Hill and head back. The snack at Devine's Hill was, as ever, very much required!

As we headed back, it became clear that extending the ride would have been a bad idea, with temperatures (particularly around Donal's bike) hitting a rarely recorded 7 gazillion degrees. Fortunately, it really only kicked in towards the end of the ridge line so, while energy sapping, we were still in good enough condition to spend some time playing on the rock ledges:

And, to make it look as if he wasn't really having a rest, Stephe stopped and took photos of the local flora:

To cap it off, Stephe had casually mentioned to Helena that the road riders charged the little hills on the way back along the fire trail to the top of the descent, and that was pretty much the last that we saw of her until Donal and Stephe arrived at the bottom of the valley on the way back to the pumping station. It appears that some folk are not quite as heat affected as others! And, of course, by that stage the big thunderclouds had rolled in, the breeze had kicked up beautifully, and we were treated to perfect conditions to get back to the cars, get sorted and underway, just as the rain came down.

Yet another brilliant mountain biking day...

All the photos (again, such as they are) are up here, and we are *still* waiting for Doug to come back and ride with us, as well as to take better photos!  The track (.kmz) file is here (43kms, over about 4.5hrs).

Sunday 10 January 2010

Sunday 10 January 2010 - Mooney

Well, well, well. Turns out Mooney is much better than we had perhaps recalled... On a glorious Sydney summer's day, Peter, Lisa, Colin and Stephe arrived under the Mooney Mooney F3 bridge at around 7.30am - returning happy and tired around 12 noon.

We had ourselves an absolute hoot - although fair to say we weren't setting any land speed records: 25kms over 4 hours and 15 minutes. But that meant we had plenty of breaks, and played a bit at all the relevant stops (including a long session at "Rock Brian").

Took the standard ride along the creek to the crossing, which was fun, and all 'do able' (with some differing degrees of success - video of Peter being successful here).

Then off up the hill past the dam (Peter was looking confident the whole way, but easily distracted; Lisa and Colin just enjoyed it and got very, very hot; Stephe managed a single dab, but was disappointed not to nail it), and then off to the water towers, where we stopped and pondered whether to add an extension for a while.

We agreed (after a hot cross bun!) to kick on to Oranges for the loop, and spent some time playing on Rock Brian on the way back (video of Peter looking good on Lisa's bike here, and less good on his bike here!). The ride back down was, as ever, a whole heap of fun - with no falls. And the view from the creek crossing was also as cool as ever...

Lisa's legendary machine (a fancy new Trek) ate up the track, Peter's was very orange (!), Stephe broke a hydraulic line on his rear brake and discovered a whole new way of riding (downhill charging with only a front brake leads to some very scary / sketchy front wheel moments!) and Colin managed to do the entire thing on a hard tail with V-brakes, without appearing at any point to be doing it harder than the rest of us.

The photo collection is here, including a couple of quick videos - but, as ever, desperately need Doug to come back riding not just for his company, but coz he can take a decent photo! And, finally, a gps plot of the route (.kmz format) is here.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Thursday 7 January 2010 - Morton National Park / Fitzroy Falls / McPhails Trail

This ride is so new, I don't even know what we call it...  Donal, Phil, Helena and Stephe all traipsed down to the Southern Highlands for a look at what had become a bit of a legendary / 'must be done' track through the Morton National Park.  The travelling time was itself a fair indication that we were expecting an epic ride - it must have been at least two hours to get there (including getting lost a couple of times on the way - not to mention a similar problem on the way home!).  In any case, we eventually parked at Glengarry (opposite the entrance to Scot's College's Southern Highlands campus), got our gear together and got going.

Phil had an obsession with photographing gates, and Donal managed to get a couple of other photos:

Given that we had parked underneath what looked like a huuuuge escarpment, we were all reconciled to a long uphill ride and - in any case - had agreed that 'putting money in the bank' up front was a sensible idea so that we would be at peace when it came to 'spending it' later on the descent.  But, it turns out that the first five or so kilometres from our parking spot were in fact *downhill*, and in many cases, quite a long way downhill!  So, when we finally came to the creek crossing that seemed to mark the beginning of the climb, we were long on anticipation, and short on actual climbing...  that didn't stop us making a couple of different attempts at getting across the creek, some more succesful than others.

After a sequence of 'false dawns', where we went up and then down again, we finally arrived at what was unmistakeably the beginning of the real climb up Meryla Pass.  We were all in our granny gears and it was a genuine grind up the first long section.  In the end, the first third or so was a definite grind, the second third was just a very big hill (we took a break at that point), and the final third was more big hill, but not too aggressive.  Probably over a couple of hours or so... but, there's no doubting that the whole thing was very scenic and with the cool mist, it all smelled good too.

Helena was more than happy to keep hill climbing specialist Donal on his toes (his claim to having suffered from excesses over Christmas was clearly intended to limit the shame from being held off by a "young 'un"), and Phil and Stephe cruised up, smelling the roses.

At the top of the climb we were heading for Fitzroy Falls and Phil took a tactical decision to stick to the bitumen, rather than weaving through the national park, on the basis that it would be easier, and we would be less likely to lose our way.  Unfortunately, it turned out that we did some 20kms or so on the bitumen, up hill and down dale, and it's pretty clear that we wouldn't recommend this approach to anyone in future!

We finally arrived in Fitzroy Falls, had a quick drink and snack, and then headed out along the Fitzroy Dam canal to the top of the descent down McPhail's Trail.  There were a few good kilometres in the approach (we passed the 50kms mark on the way there), and then we were on our way down - and it was truly very cool indeed.  Just like in the movies / books / dreams... a really nice single track rolling down the hill.

With a massive hill in the middle (bugger!).

And then some interesting log rollovers from fallen trees (entertaining), followed by more downhill switchbacks (massive fun), and then a hugely steep final descent (scary!).

We were then back at the road, and cruised the last two or so kilometres to the car.

A hoot and a holler, and in all the fun of the descent we forgot the pain of the climb and the silly road based traverse!  Finished off the day with a pie and a drink from the Kangaroo Valley pie shop (which was good: Stephe is very happy to recommend the caramel + banana + malt milkshake, for future reference).

61.8 kilometres, at an average of 11.8km/hr (including all our (numerous) stops).  Probably at least 20km shorter if you skip the road section...  The .kmz file is here, and the full set of photos is here.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Sunday 3 January 2010 - Appin

Rob, Whisperer, Stephe and Bob were joined at Appin by Brian T, for what turned out to be an excellent morning's ride.

Leaving Middle Cove at 6.32am, detouring via Darling Harbour to collect Bob, we arrived at Appin at around 8am or a bit after - turns out that it's *still* a long way away!

In any case, weather was good - mildly overcast, but pleasantly warm. We set off, and pretty quickly got distracted with the 'new' creek crossing, which (if I recall correctly) no-one actually managed to complete cleanly.

With a fairly civilised pace (Bob, Rob and Whisperer comfortably taking duty in front, Brian T and Stephe keeping the tail end secure), we were warmed up and in the groove.  Rob's attempt at being a little more aggressive on the long run over the back of the circuit (before coming back to the main road, and the climb to the firetrail to the carpark) went astray when his front wheel slipped on a transverse root, leaving him in a pile of bike and bones on the ground (although he did manage to miss a big tree on the way down).  After a reasonable period of care and consideration from his very kind fellow riders, Rob was roused with cries of HTFU and the like, and got back on the bike to do another excellent lap.

[Turns out, we were a little too quick to judgement according to Rob's subsequent email:

So Pratiwi talked me into going to see the doc. The sports place that does scans, etc. had no doctors in so went to RNS. Diagnosis is cracked ribs so no MTB for couple of weeks. Will have to stick to gentle scumming instead. Pooh!


P.S. People complain far too much about the health system. They have the cricket on in the waiting areas, it costs nothing, was gently prodded and stroked by a number of younger, very attractive girls in triage, ER and X-Ray then given great drugs on discharge. What's not to love? ;)

end quote]

In any case, next lap was more fun, and we had a bit of a diversion by taking a different 'downhill' route, along the firetrail, rather than over the wooden bridge.  Gave us time to play on some rocks (fair to say that Stephe comprehensively booted Bob from the field of play (and the fact that it was just on this one rock, just once doesn't matter; still makes up for the many previous times Stephe has had his butt kicked by Bob's skill and fitness...).  We're not even going to discuss Stephe's earlier fall on the back of the track - clearly, there was a coordinated tree attack, which not even the most skilled of riders could have avoided...

Having completed two excellent laps, Rob, Bob and Stephe had to bail - leaving Whisperer and Brian T to complete a third lap in the company of two young locals, who we understand managed to confidently show that youth, fitness and local knowledge is a valuable combinaton.

Two laps captured in .kmz format here (lap1, and lap2). And the photos (thanks Bob!) are here.

At 9kms and about an hour a lap (hmmm, at least we can say we spent some time playing about each lap...), a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning.