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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ground Work

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We’ve been organizing a group social ride through the Glasshouse Mountains which we plan to run next week (23 March). We expect about 30 people of varying skills and fitness levels to turn up, so it was important to make sure our planned route was suitable. The last time we did this ride was in the dry spring months last year, and the challenge is that we’ve had a lot of rain recently, so a few parts of the previous route are really muddy, or blocked by fallen trees. Our aim today was to ride the original route, note where there were problems, and find alternative trails to “get around” the problems.

That’s where fit mountain-biking friends come in :)

Pine Forest Trail

Glasshouse Mountains Lookout

We started from Beerburrum and rode west towards the Glasshouse Mountains Lookout. It takes about an hour with a really challenging climb just before the lookout, but the effort is worth it for the panoramic views of this magnificent ancient volcanic caldera. Apart from a few navigable fallen trees and small mud-patches we didn’t encounter any major issues, and I think most participants next week are going to enjoy it.

Hennessey Hill

After the lookout, it’s a short ride to the Hennessey Hill Downhill MTB track. This professionally designed track is a hoot – you don’t need a downhill rig to ride it. In fact Eric and Darb did it on hardtails with no problems. There a loads of jumps on the way down – but if you’re shy of getting too much air (like me), they’re easy enough to roll over with no “gaps” to fall into. The only problem is that in one or two spots on the downhill side of the jumps, there are a few muddy ruts which might catch an unsuspecting front wheel, so I think we might need to warn everyone before we send them hurtling down the trail with our fingers crossed :)

Climbing a Hill

So far, everything was going perfectly as we followed last years track. But curiosity got the better of me at the bottom of another fun descent. “Why don’t we check this track out instead?” I suggested as we veered from our previous route and headed into unknown country.

It was a mistake.

We had to brave a couple of nasty muddy bogs, but also had to push our bikes up some horribly steep hills. Even worse, we ended up heading at right-angles to our desired direction, and eventually scrambled out, exhausted, an hour later onto a gravel road.

“Ummmm, perhaps we shouldn’t ride this route next week” I sheepishly blurted out, stating the bleeding obvious.

Crossing a Creek

After having lunch in Woodford, we started our return leg to Beerwah through some more state forest which had been affected by recent rain. Jason has the same aversion I have to getting his feet wet, so we both did a “Charles Blondin” (look it up) and tight-rope walked our bikes over a fallen plank to avoid having to wade through the flooded creek.

Bush Mechanic

Several kilometres later, with mud and sand in our drive trains, we stopped to clean up our chains. Jason had a brilliant idea and hung his bike from a tree branch – just like a bike mechanics stand. Surely this man is a mechanical genius? Once again – a quiet note to self. We’ll probably modify the route next week to avoid the flooded tracks, unless people turn up with snorkels and flippers.

Trig-Point Hill

With bikes now running much smoothly, we eventually wound our way up “Trig-Point Hill“. This nastly little climb takes you up to the highpoint of the ride, but not before forcing you to work tired legs to grind up the rocky track.

The best thing about Trig-Point Hill is a descent we’ve dubbed “The Giant Drop”. We all had a bit of a double-take as we looked over the edge to make sure it was all ok before committing bikes and bodies to the bruising descent.

We made it down without any mishaps. I made a mental note that perhaps this point would be appropriate to explain to riders next week that if you don’t feel safe riding down The Giant Drop, it’s quite ok to walk. As if to confirm my thoughts, some people in a Four Wheel Drive car stopped at the top, took one look at the descent, and drove off looking for an easier way down.


We eventually made it back to the cars about two hours later than expected, after all the back tracking. We were bruised and exhausted. A couple of us (myself included) fell off and suffered a couple of minor “war wounds”.

I love days like this. A bunch of friends head out into stunning countryside to explore new tracks, battle the elements, and work out a plan to share it with other friends. What better way could you spend your Saturday?

Unlike next weeks ride, which will be social, challenging, but enjoyable, todays ride was tough. It had to be tough today, so that it can be easier next week. Today we rode about 70km in about 8 hours including breaks. I burned up about 3,300 kcal, as we completed about 1,300m of vertical ascent. I’m rating it 10 out of 10 on the tough-o-metre because of the one hour “sojourn in the wilderness” that we endured because of my curiosity. Next week, I’m expecting a 7.5 out of 10.

Thanks to Eric, Darb and Jason for a fantastic day.

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