I had the day off work today so thought I had better put it to good use. No, I didn't mow the lawn. No, I didn't fix one of the two retaining walls that are falling down............Yep, you guessed it, I went for a ride!
I decided that after the year that I have had it needed to be a mini Epic ride and it needed to be on the mighty Muru BNT, the bike that hauled my sorry arse down the length of the US of A with such aplomb.
My go-to ride for something of greater length is to head just a few short kilometres (metric miles) out the back of the city of Brisbane. We are blessed in that the D'Aguilar Forest starts pretty much at Mt Cootha and extends upwards and outwards, covering a huge expanse of land that is riddled with fire roads that make for challenging and fun riding. It was my Tour Divide training ground and served me well, so I decided to start up South Boundary Road out of Gap Creek.
I was running a little behind schedule as I just couldn't get out the door but I managed to get my bum on the seat by 5:42am. I ambled along the bike way toward Gap Creek on the partially loaded Muru. Dozens of roadies whizzed past going the other way. It felt like a Sunday, not a Wednesday.
I was soon in Gap Creek and to the Echidna trail so that I could say that I had done at least one single track. What I noticed while riding Echidna was how much effort the Muru required to get it around the bends and over the step ups. I was already realising that I was really strong earlier this year due to all the Tour Divide training. Now, not so much. I keep despairing at the 12kg (26lb) that I have put on since finishing the Tour Divide in early July.
I REALLY need a goal to train for next year. Badly...
Anyway, once out of the single track the trail goes up. And up. 1200m(3900ft) over 25km(15mi). This may not look too bad but the climbs are mostly steep pinches which test one's legs at times.
I always enjoy the last few kilometres to the top as the forest changes from the standard dry Aussie bush to sub tropical rain forest. As I rode into the rainforest today I spied another rider coming the other way. It turned out to be Rients, another Muru BNT owning Brisbanite whom I have been speaking to about all things bike packing for about 18 months now. This was the first time we had actually met and how appropriate that it was on Sth Boundary Rd.
After a short chat Rients rolled on down the hill and I finished up my climb along the Boombana walking trail. Yes, it is a walking trail but I will not ride on the busy, winding main road just above it as I see it as just too dangerous. Every dickhead on a sports bike or sports car are testing their (mostly narrow) limits on the narrow road. No, I will take the verbal abuse about being on the trail from old ladies any day. Plus, it's right purty!
I rolled through Mt Nebo, too early for the shops to be open but it didn't matter. I had all the food and water I would need until I reached Fernvale as the climbing was mostly done now.
Up and over Hammermeister Rd kept me off the main road for longer and in no time I was at Dundas Rd, the fire road that heads west (and down!) through D'Aguilar Forest.
I saw a couple of dirt bikes near the water tank on Dundas Rd but they were heading down another trail so were no bother. I was soon dropping down "Whoa Boy". This is a very steep section of trail that drops 370m(1213ft) in 3km(1.8mi). Needless to say, the brakes got a great work out down here as the 5000km old front tyre was struggling to do much gripping of the trail!
Rather than drop through the "hippy camp" at the bottom, I wanted to stick to legal trail today and for the first time took the Corbould Pocket trail. It proved to be a mostly pleasant trail...well, apart from the Wall Of Dirt climb. That was a seriously steep push but was over in a few hundred metres.
The ride out to Banks Creek Road was quite steeply downhill and very rutted which necessitated some judicious bouts of hoofing it as well. How embarrassing!
Banks Creek Rd was the usual pleasnat roll. Crossing the Brisbane river I saw many families splashing around in the shallow water. I must say, it did look like an extremely good idea.
I was soon in Fernvale and headed straight into the bakery. No pie for the fat boy today though. A tasty chicken and salad roll washed down with a coffee fit the bill.
Then it was off down the (unopened) rail trail toward Ipswich. I had ridden this section a few years ago with Deano but it still wasn't officially open and I was worried about what sort of state the surface might be in after 3 years inattention.
A few kilometres down the trail though and I bumped into Peter, the BVRT Ranger! We had a good half hour chat about all things rail-trail and he said I would be fine to ride the closed section. There was one locked section but to just throw my bike over the fence and get on with it.(this section is only closed due to bureaucratic inaction, not any real safety issue)
So, I did. The trail was very "green" in that there was much grass on it, though, it was slashed and there was quite a bit of loose ballast stone on it. This gave me a bit of a pounding on the rigid Muru but was far better than riding on the roads, even if they were quiet.
The many gates are mostly locked in the open position which speed things greatly. As I got closer to "the 'swich" the trail "art" became very prolific and sometimes pointed.
I eventually rolled into Ipswich and found the train station but not before crossing a very
steep creek snake watering hole.
I was feeling a little worse for wear but I was very happy that all of my contact points were fine after 6 hours in the saddle.
I have heard stories that many of the Tour Divide racers from this year are still suffering various ailments that limit their riding or enjoyment. I have sort of beat myself up a bit these past few months, thinking that I could have gone a day or two faster if I had pushed myself a little harder during the race.
Now, I am not so sure. I have no lasting ill effects (unless you count weight gain) and I am not sure I would be able to say that if I had pushed myself harder....
This ride proved to be a very satisfying way of rounding out what was an amazing year for me.
2015 started with a huge goal. To train for the Tour Divide and to this end I put my head down and trained hard. It must have been serious as I even abstained from alcohol for the first 7 months of the year and I must admit, I never felt better for it!
Regular readers were no doubt bored with all of the TD related posts but my blog gave me a place to gather my thoughts and lay out a dairy of what I did and when. So thanks for bearing with me on that front. I have been a bit bereft of ideas since then. Well, that isn't strictly correct. Nothing much seems worth blogging about after such a mind blowing year!
My stats for the year were 9,193km (5712mi) ridden with about 133 000m (436 000ft) of climbing. That doesn't count the many hours I sat on a crappy hotel gym bike while away on overnights with work.
So, readers, in the never ending hunt for content (and reigning in my expanding girth) I will be setting a goal for early next year that will give me the structure and thus drive that I seem to have been lacking these last 5 months. Watch this space.....
Happy New Year and see you in 2016!
Cheers and thanks for reading.