This time we returned with a few more friends.
The forecast for the last few days had been predicting heavy rain, and a few people decided to cancel at the last minute, but we still had 14 excited adventurers who decided to “turn up” to see what would happen.
So we rode out under cloudy skies from Rathdowney along Running Creek Road.
Weather is a fickle thing. I figured we might have some good luck with the rain, but the only way to take advantage of that good luck would be to turn up on the day, and adjust our plans based on the conditions at the time. We decided if things got too wet, we’d just turn around and roll back down the hill.
The big climb of the day was Philp Mountain Road. I had offered a tee shirt as a prize for whoever made it to the top first.
A few of us took it easy on the climb while a few “ninjas” decided to test themselves out and climb the hill as quickly as possible. We joked that we might end up passing a few exhausted corpses on the way up, but (thankfully) that didn’t happen.
As we slowly ground our way up the mountain, the views to the west grew more stunning.
Once we had reached the top we dropped in to see Richard and Susan Zoomers, who run Wild Mountains Environmental Education Centre. They had kindly prepared morning tea for a dozen hungry mountain bikers, and Richard told us a little bit about his vision for the property.
Richard explained how experiencing the beauty of nature first-hand changes us more than any political campaign can. Our attitudes and habits change when our hearts change. And the best way for that to happen is to help people see the wonder of our environment face to face.
Looking out the window while Richard spoke, I saw a rock wallaby sitting peacefully on a log in the rainforest.
Some parts of the fence line are very steep. Our plan was to make a final decision on the course at this point. If it was raining heavily we’d turn around and retrace our steps. If not we’d push on. Amazingly there was no rain, so we continued.
I skidded my way to the bottom while a couple of other dare-devils released the brakes a and flew down…
I think this forest must often be shrouded in clouds. Moss grows thickly on the tree trunks. A few of us commented that it felt like “Middle Earth” from Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” – giant mossy boughs reaching for into the clouds, surrounded by wisps of mist… I understood what Richard was getting at. Spending time here does affect you.
Russel got a stick through his chain which bent his derailleur up and broke his hanger. We weren’t able to replace the hanger, but Darb converted the bike into a single-speed while the rest of us watched, and Russel was able to ride out.
While we were standing around waiting, I noticed there were quite a few Gympie-Gympie plants around. These plants have horribly painful venomous stings. We made sure everyone knew about them and avoided them.
Mount Barney was shrouded in clouds as the rest of the group slowly ground up Barney View Road.
I was impressed how quickly these guys could climb.
I rode about 33km with 1,050m of climbing and burned about 3,000 kcal in five and a half hours including breaks.
The other riders completed about 53km with about 1,500m of climbing. I’ll rate the total loop about 9 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks Darb, for helping me organize this ride.
And thanks everyone for turning up despite the weather predictions. You guys definitely aren’t made out of sugar