A spontaneous weekend adventure p1

20 12 2011

Talking to B-rad on Tuesday night, he decided to call off his return attempt at the HuRT with a severe bout of Whittakers syndrome.  I hadn’t given any thought to the weekend plans but it occurred to me that it would be the perfect opportunity to spend some time mapping trail for the Big HuRT and an opportunity to play with gear, ride some sensational trail and beat my legs back into shape.

I’ve spent a little time pondering the things that chew up time while you are bikepacking. Normally, this doesn’t really matter since part of the appeal of disappearing on your bike into the wilds is that there is no pressure to be anywhere. But when it comes to honing a bike packing race setup, I quite enjoy the tinkering. One of the slowest things I had to do on the small part of Trans-Oz I got through was setting up and pulling down my sleeping gear. Stuffing sleeping bags in to sacks, stuffing the bivvy sack into a bag, rolling up the neo air and fitting it back into the seat bag. It all soaked up a deceptive amount of time. For this trip,  I set things up so that the neo air and the sleeping bag were already inside the bivvy bag and the whole lot just rolled up and strapped straight to the bars. Setting up camp literally took 30 seconds, just take it off the bars and unroll – done.

The trip started at Adamstown train station with an early train heading to Woy Woy. Having mis-spent the better part of his youth on the central coast, B-rad has an encyclopaedic knowledge of every piece of trail in the whole area. At times, it’s almost scary.

Upon arriving at the start line, we made our way to the obligatory bakery for a commencement breakfast pie. One of the exciting things about a Grand Depart for this style of race is the camaraderie with other riders. Getting the chance to check out what everyone else is riding, carrying or left behind. Sharing pre race nerves and strategy and generally hanging out with like minded people.  With this in mind, we decided the Grand depart will feature a neutral roll out from the pie shop to the start line a few kilometers down the road. From there all bets will be off!

The view from the start line

The start of the ride was pretty cruisy with some sneaky single track through a rock garden and then fire roads and bike paths to reach the start of the fun stuff. Of course, there is a little bit of hike a bike but it is fairly easy going and visits some sensational places. The rocks slabs near the Mt Wondabyne are breath taking. They endlessly join and flow to make the most inspired trail. It’s like nothing in Newcastle and despite the fact this was the second time I have ridden it, I think it was even more captivating now than it was the first time.

While the riding across the top of the plateau is all grins and scenery gazing, it really comes as a surprise when the trail starts to point down. Not the gently undulating fire trail that seems to dominate XC riding now, but gnarly, rock strewn, chaotically lumpy bliss that simultaneously scares you half to death yet dares you to try and roll through it. As the descent progressed, I found myself trying to roll through more and more silly situations – places I had no business visiting with a tent strapped to my bike. The end result was inevitable as I attempted to drop off a chunky ledge and simultaneously throw a loaded bike through a tight turn. With a glorious cascade of Stan’s finest, the tyre rolled off the rim with a bellowing hiss as I threw a leg out and somehow saved my skin and my neck. All I could do was laugh and all Brad could do was poke fun at me as again I was breaking out the tyre pump early in the ride.

Cause and effect

Taking heed of the warnings handed to me by the rocks, I fitted my only tube and we continued on our way on a big loop back to Woy Woy. Without really planning it, we ended up back at the same bakery that we started at before grabbing some food and heading to the waterfront to eat and drink. While the weather was remarkably cool for what is meant to be summer, I was still feeling the heat and took the opportunity to suck down a bottle of coke to try and find some spark.

The next section followed a cycle way before heading into a techy hike a bike. I fiddled around playing with the camera while Brad headed off ahead and I was waylaid as I found myself stuck in a rock crevice balancing the bike and wondering how the hell I was going to get up there. Amusingly, I’m actually coming to really enjoy a difficult hike a bike. Carrying the bike up stairs is boring, carrying the bike through enormous rocks and spectacular scenery is inspirational. Brad and I joked that for people to train for the Big HuRT,  they are going to need to spend quite a bit of time at the biggest stair case they can find with a loaded bike and SPD shoes walking up and down.

Brad demonstrating the orthodox De Bellin portage

The gap to the right is where I got stuck. Turns out Brad was left scratching his head in the same place too.

From here we connected into the trails at Bouddi that I rode a fortnight ago and they just destroyed me. It’s only a couple of kilometres of single track and there is little climbing involved but the obstacles are relentless. Rocks steps, logs and tight corners keep coming and by the end I was shattered. There was a short stop for us to regroup and take on some calories before continuing on.

We missed a turn somewhere looking for  an elusive bit of single track before giving up and deciding we will draft Chad into the hunt since he lives just around the corner. Another hike a bike followed by some beautiful flowing single track ended in a rest break in Kincummber reserve.

To be continued

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One response

20 12 2011
b rad

not too shiny!

so far…

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