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Sunday, June 14, 2015


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Mountain Top View

“I wonder what’s at the end of this valley?”

“How far could I get if I follow that road?”

Some weeks I gaze intently into a map and almost magically my friends and I are transported to that place several days later to answer my questions.

Ropeley School

We started our adventure at Ropely State School – a place I’d never heard of until recently. Dodging friendly sheep and chickens we set off down the road towards Ingoldsby.


Last week, Becca and I had ridden out here with a few other friends to test out a few different roads. Mountain bikers prefer dirt over paved roads most of the time, and we wanted to minimize the amount of black-top that we would have to ride on.

Three Amigos

This week we came back with Darb, Russel and Jason, enjoying the crunchy gravel back roads in the remote hills of the upper Lockyer Valley.

Steinmullers Road

Despite the overnight rain in Brisbane, the morning had served us up yet another gorgeous winters day. “Just turn up” I muttered to myself. The adventurers mantra never lets me down.


Ingoldsby Road

As we pedaled up the gentle gradient of Ingoldsby Road, the hills slowly rose on either side of us.

Fascinating signs adorned cheerful houses.

Jim & Eileen's Place

Eventually we reached the end of the valley. I’d spoken to land owners Jim and Eileen a week earlier, and they kindly gave us permission to follow the road through their front gate and up the mountain.

Eileen met us while she was working in her stunning garden, and told us how Jim’s grandparents moved to this spot over a century ago. They built the original farmhouse out of Silky Oak trees which grew thickly along the banks of Wonga Creek which flows down the mountain here.

Jim & Eileen's Place

After a brief chat with Eileen, we rode past the farmhouse and up the mountain.

This is the start of the “Mistake Mountains” – a spur of mountains which runs south towards the Great Divide. Early explorers mistook these mountains for the Great Divide, climbed them only to discover they still hadn’t crossed the Great Dividing Range. Considering some parts of this range tower over 1,000 metres above sea level, that was quite a big mistake.

Climbing Ingoldsby Road

And so we started climbing the Mistake Mountains. The well-made road ascended for over six kilometres with a consistent gradient of between tent o fifteen percent. It was hard work.

Climbing Ingoldsby Road

At one or two spots we got off to push, and enjoy the view.

Climbing Ingoldsby Road

Other times we just hardened up, and mashed the pedals as we slowly climbed the range.

Car Wrecks

Towards the top, we encountered dozens of abandoned cars, a bus or two, and a caravan.

Rover Emblem

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

The god Mercury looked out at us from the bonnet of an old Rover. These cars may have had stories to tell – but no one was telling them today.

Bus Stop

This one brought back childhood memories.

“Have I ridden in this bus before?” I asked myself.

Enjoying the View

As with most climbs we attempt, the view at the top was worth the effort.

Looking down on Left Hand Branch Road

Through the trees we could make out Left Hand Branch Road – part of the Bicentennial National Trail which runs from Laidley Gap to Mount Sylvia.

Looking down on Left Hand Branch Road

To the northwest we could see forever. Some hills looked familiar, and I imagined they still bore tyre tracks from our previous rides.

Descending Ingoldsby Road

The ride back down the hill was intense.

Descending Ingoldsby RoadDescending Ingoldsby Road

What seemed like ages on the way up unwound in a frantic blur on the way back down.

Descending Ingoldsby Road

As if they had been holding off until we were safe, the clouds slowly closed in, spraying us with a light drizzle.

Zischke Road

Although we had climbed to over 850 metres and rolled back down again, we decided we weren’t done yet, and pointed our bikes up Zischke Road – another steep climb.

Zischke Road

It was only half as high as our trip up the Mistake Mountains, but the road was steeper.

Zischke Road

Becca left us in her wake as she powered up the hill.

Zischke Road

The rest of us followed some distance behind.

Rockside Road Reserve

Rockside Road Reserve

We had climbed this hill last week and got lost. This week I was determined not to leave the road reserve as we followed faint tyre tracks through the grass.

Rockside Road Reserve

Rockside Road Reserve

We didn’t get lost this time, but the tracks were just as steep and rough.

Rockside Road Reserve

Old fence posts disappeared up the hill reassuring us we were still on the road reserve.


On Rockside Road, at the bottom of the hill, we met Hayden. He was surprised to see five crazy mountain bikers bouncing down the hill towards his house, and came over to say “G’day”.

Ropeley Rockside Road

The final section of our ride followed Rockside Road back to our starting point at Ropely.

Ropeley Rockside Road

This ride covered 47 kilometres in just under six hours including breaks.

We climbed over 1,350 metres and I burned 2,800 kcal.

I’ll rate this ride 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. There are a few steep bits, and some challenging descents.

Thanks Becca, Darb, Russel and Jason for another fun adventure on wheels.

Thanks also to Jim and Eileen for letting us ride through your gorgeous property.

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