Harrison and I decided to check out Mount Joyce Recreation Park yesterday.
It’s built on the shores of the new Wyaralong Dam between Beaudesert and Boonah, and has some great Mountain Biking trails.
We really enjoyed the trails, but I made a couple of big mistakes that caused us some major problems….
After riding down some beautiful long, smooth, winding downhill single-track, we ended up at the bottom of the hill at a junction of a few different tracks. It was getting late so we thought we’d follow a service road west in the hope of getting back up the top of the hill for one more ride down. The only problem was the service road west just kept going west. After half an hour, it was getting close to sunset, I was worried about it getting dark, but made the mistake of pressing on in the hope the trail would brng me out on the road for a quick ride back.
I failed to take into account that I had an 11 year old boy, so the riding would be slower than usual. Plus I failed to factor in that these were new trails – I didn’t have any of the tracks in my GPS.
Another half hour and it was totally dark. We were in the middle of the bush, with no maps in the GPS on trails I knew nothing about, and all I had was a little night rider light and tail light. Harrison was upset, cold, and tired. All he had on was board shorts and a tee-shirt. I had a garbage bag in my pack and made a poncho out of it to keep him warm, gave him a spare pair of winter gloves that I also had in my pack and soldiered on.
Thankfully I had a Spot GPS Satellite Messenger (Mobile phones don’t work out there). So I sent an “I’m OK but I’m going to be late message” to let everyone know we were ok.
After another half hour of riding in the bush in the dark and we found a gravel road which we followed to Beaudesert / Boonah road, and headed eastwards back to the park along the main road. Since we only had one set of lights, I made Harrison ride in front of me, so my light lit the road in front of him, and cars approacing from behind could see my tail light.
It took us over an hour riding back along the main road in the dark until we reached the turnoff, back to the Mt Joyce car park, to find the carpark empty except for our van.
Freezing and hungry, we stashed the bikes in the van, and headed back to Beaudesert for a bite to eat.
We eventually got home at 10pm.
I feel bad about this because I made some stupid mistakes. I’ve attached the track log so you know where not to go. (Given enough daylight hours, it would have been a really nice XC ride) The worst thing is I put my son thru a pretty distressing experience. He was in tears, had to walk up some steep (to him) hills in the dark, and had to brave highway traffic on a dark main road. I knew he was upset, but I had to be mean and tell him that crying wouldn’t get him home, and that he didn’t have the luxury of feeling sorry for himself.
“If it is to be, it is up to me” I told him. Plus I made a few Bear Grylls jokes about eating our own poo, or him eating me if I couldn’t make it. It seemed to do the trick.
The best thing is that he did it. I’m so proud of him.
I’m annoyed at myself though.
All up, 55km, about 1,000m of ascent, 3,000kcal and 5 hours on the bike. On the tough-o-metre this one was 10 out of 10, not because of the physical difficulty, but the stress of trying to safely get an eleven year old boy out of the bush in the dark in the middle of winter on unknown terrain.