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Monday, October 21, 2013

Lakeside Epic

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Forgan Cove

Riding around Lake Samsonvale via Dayboro is a popular ride for road-cyclists with great views. It has an awful lot of paved road for a mountain biker, so we decided to do an off-road version taking in as many trails and tracks near the lake as we could while still enjoying all of the views.

Forgan Cove

We began by following some quiet meandering tracks around Forgan Cove. I often ride through here during the week on one of my “chill-out” sessions. It was fun to be able to share some of my home trails with friends.

Old School Road

The quiet flat trails were soon distant memories as we pointed our bikes up Old School Road. This is a reasonably tough dirt climb up Clear Mountain, with a nasty little pinch climb at the end.

Old School Road

The final climb on Old School Road is a bit of a bellweather test for me. Until my recent knee injury I prided myself on being able to climb it. This was my first attempt since then, and also the first time I’d tried it using flat pedals instead of clip-ins. It was really difficult, but I made it, puffing heavily, unable to talk. Sue has wanted to nail this hill for a while. She made it,, and put in such an intense effort that she heaved up what was left of her breakfast at the top. Well done, Sue :)

Clear Mountain

But the top of Old School Road only marks the half-way point of the climb. After a bit more huffing and puffing we finally made it to the summit of Clear Mountain near the resort.

From there we rode the downhill jump-track to the bottom of the hill.

Clear Mountain

Some people rode the twisty single-track all the way to the bottom. I decided to play it safe and avoid further injury by following the “Pineapple Break” fire trail to the bottom.

South-Western Trails

South-Western Trails

After a couple of kilometres along Winn Road we followed a few more trails along the south-western shoreline of the lake. The shoreline hass many “fingers” of land protrudiung into the lake at this point, so if you wanted it would be possible to meander around countless peninsulars all day.

Mount Samson

Mount Samson looms large in this part of the world.

Mount Samson Rail Trail

We eventually met up with the remnants of an old railway line that used to pass through this area fifty years ago. Much of the railway is under water, but it’s still a viable track in some parts.

Mount Samson Hall

The day grew hotter, and we had been working hard, so we stopped at the Mount Samson Community Hall to fill up with water and rest in the shade.

Mount Samson Rail TrailMount Samson Rail Trail

Mount Samson Rail TrailMount Samson Rail Trail

The remnants of the railway line emerge from the lake near the small locality of Samsonvale. This once used to be a thriving little town. Now all that remains is the cemetery. We followed the railway line along the shore, past the site of the old Samsonvale Railway Station.

Leis Crossing, Dayboro

Leaving the flat shoreline of the lake, we headed west into the hills behind Kobble Creek. Although the roads were paved, this was a hot and challenging section because of some of the steeper gradients. A few people were starting to feel hungry. We had toyed with the idea of having a quick swim at this pleasant section of the North Pine River at Leis Crossing, but I think most people could smell the cafes of Dayboro so we decided to keep riding.

Lunch at Dayboro

Dayboro was a welcome lunch stop. Because there were about a dozen of us, we split up around a few of the different shops around town to have lunch. A few people had a quick lie down on the picnic benches, or topped up their water supplies.

Strongs Road

A farmer out the back of Dayboro kindly gave us permission to ride through his property along the old Strongs Road reserve.

“I thought all you bikies were in jail”, he quipped as he let us through.

Strongs Road is a quiet alternative route east out of Dayboro. Part of it runs through private property, so there are no cars. Most of it is unpaved, which makes it a pleasant ride on a mountain bike.

King Eric

At the end of the road, Eric sat on an old couch and “held court” with anyone who needed his sage advice.

Dayboro Rd Horse Trail

Once we met up with Dayboro Road again, we tried to follow some of the horse trails by the side of the road to avoid traffic. Although the track had been mown, it was still rough going. Eventually we decided to take our chances for 4 or 5km along the bitumen until we met up with our next off-road trail.

Looking over the lake

Northern Trails

The endless trails on the northern side of the lake are a lot of fun to ride. The views were impressive, and the shady green tracks were a welcome relief from the hot tarmac.

North Pine River

Towards the end of the ride, as luck would have it, I was “leading from the rear” and lost about half the riders who rode ahead of me the wrong way. While they rode on ahead, a few of us followed the final few tracks along the river back up to our starting point.

Forgan Road

This ride was 77km with about 1,500m of ascent. It took about 8 hours including breaks, and I burned 4,500 kcal.

For a fit rider I’d rate this one about 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. For beginners or anyone nursing a reasonable injury I’d rate it 9 to 9.5 out of 10.

Thanks everyone for a great day. I’m so pleased to be able to enjoy long rides with friends again!

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