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Sunday, June 07, 2015

Rockside Mountain

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Rocky Descent 800

I have amazing friends. When I told them about some rugged hilltop tracks than I wanted to explore, they gladly joined me for another adventure on the bike.

Simon and TomBecca

Mount Sylvia has been the starting point of many exciting rides for us.

Zampechs Road

We rolled out of town on a crisp clear winter morning, past fields full of promising crops.

Zampechs Road

After a brisk warm-up along a flat road, our day of climbing began as we pushed up Zampechs Road and I quickly fell behind.

Zampechs Road

The Tenthill Valley spread out before us like a quilt, a patchwork rich in verdant shades.

Ingoldsby Road

After riding down the other side we briefly followed Wonga Creek along the Ingoldsby Valley up into the next set of hills.

Ziscakes Road

And so began our second climb, up Ziscakes Road. Although it is designated a “No Through Road” it is on a road reserve which led over this hill and down the other side to Rockside. I wanted to know if it was possible to follow that road reserve.

Ziscakes Road

It’s a steep climb with gradients exceeding 23%. We worked hard as we pushed upwards.

Ziscakes Road

Becca has superhuman hill-climbing abilities. She cheerfully rode ahead and held open the gates while we huffed and puffed past her.

Ziscakes Road

She then quickly caught up to us again after closing the gate behind us.

Ziscakes Road

Neil's Rocky Descent

(Photo: Simon Smith)

We had difficulty following the road reserve at the top of the hill, so we did the best we could, following a steep rocky track down the other side.

Paddock Bashing

We had answered my question – the track was passable, but in parts it was not rideable.

Paddock Bashing

We bumped towards the bottom of the hill – off course, but with a rough idea of where we wanted to end up.

Paddock Bashing

As we drew closer to the bottom, the terrain became steeper and rougher.

Paddock Bashing

We lost the track again, but Simon generously offered to bash through the grass and find it. Thanks Simon!

Paddock Bashing


Paddock Bashing



… we eventually emerged in a horse paddock near someone’s back door.

I sheepishly walked over to the farmhouse to confess our sin of trespassing. Mick, the land owner, was surprised to see us, and most amused when he found out where we had come from.

He explained how we could escape his hidden valley, but I told him we were going in the opposite direction, over Rockside Mountain.

“I’m telling you this in case anyone wants to know where to find the bodies”, I joked.

He chuckled quietly.

Ropely Road

And so we started the third climb of the day up Rockside Mountain Road.

Rockside Mountain Road

This one was easier that I had anticipated and we reached the top quicker than expected for a short lunch break.

Rockside Mountain Road

The 360 degree views at the top are spectacular.

Tom on Rockside Mountain

The blistering descent was frantic.

Rockside Mountain Road twists and drops steeply down the other side. We rocketed down the hill grabbing handfuls of brake levers before the tight turns, then tucking in as we accelerated out of the bend.

I am glad there were no cars coming up the hill.

Mount Berryman

“That was amazing!” I blurted out at the bottom.

Blenheim Public Hall

For the next eight kilometres we followed a quiet bitumen road with a gentle downhill slope from Mount Berryman to Blenheim. The kind gradient and generous tailwind pushed us quickly along the road. We were in Blenheim in a matter of minutes. I am sure it would have taken ages if we rode this stretch in the opposite direction.

Kowaltske Hill

My friends kindly granted me another indulgence as we took a detour to the northwest in order to “join up” this ride with the route from last weeks ride near Laidley.

After satisfying my OCD map-demons, we turned our bikes homeward and slowly ground our way up Kawaltzke Hill.

Ropely Road

Ropely Road

“All these German names” I mused to myself as I fell further behind the stronger riders, and thought about the German settlers who came to the Lockyer Valley to carve our farms in the nineteenth century.

Ropely Road

Becca rolled back down the hill to ride with me as I completed the climb.

Ropely Road

Today we had more than our fair share of hilltop panoramic views.

Weiers Road

The gruelling final fifteen kilometres led us down a series of quick gravel descents followed by short steep climbs.

Kuss Road

I grew weary as I lost count of the hills.

I continually checked my GPS for some reassurance of how far we had left to ride.

Kuss Road

I sighed with relief as we crested the final hill…

Zampechs Road

It was all downhill from here.


Ahhh Mount Sylvia. Why do I always associate you with exhaustion?


All up we rode about 60km in about 6 hours.

We climbed about 1,400m in vertical ascent, and I burned about 2,900 kcal.

I’ll rate this ride 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Thanks, Becca, Tom and Simon for another exciting adventure.

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