Fairly impromptu weekend was organized between my mate Leigh and I, as he only decided to go on Wednesday.
So 4pm Friday I knocked off work and made a beeline for home to load up my gear and bike and start trucking (from Glenelg, SA). Arrived to the pub at 12:30am and Marlon the publican was only too happy to wait up and help me get settled in.
Awoke on Saturday to an almighty fright, 0.5 degrees Celsius! Us Adelaide folk aren't used to the frigid conditions in vic but I managed to get the blood flow going along with a fraction of warmth, just enough to function. 8am Leigh said he'd arrive and OMG he was minute perfect on his arrival time. Quick coffee and catch up and we were on our way to unload point, our mutual friend's property.
This ride will be my first in four years and Leigh's first since a shoulder reconstruction (cause being dirtbike accident in Feb I think) four months ago. Also my first ride on my super shiny 'berg FE501!
Leigh was responsible for navigating as he's been there before but they hadn't explored very far so he only knew of very small loop, probably 5 k's. The loop itself was perfect for getting warmed up and feeling out my new ride but it was apparent that I'd be after something a lot more substantial. The loop was pretty tame with some rocky and hardpack terrain and anti-erosion drains. Difficulty would have been around level 2 and pace probably the same. We stopped at the top of a marked hill to take in the views and headed back down. Leigh suggested that we do the loop in reverse and I obliged (not having any idea where the good trails were).
On the loop Leigh pointed out a trail that he hasn't been down and told me that it links to the rest of the State park. He asked if I wanted to explore and I jumped at the chance! The whole time I was riding I was taking in the layout of the geography and started to figure out that different tracks I was observing would link up. The lack of any sort of map was a bit of a bummer but we did have a gps that we couldn't operate to it's maximum ability but we could see the map. The track that deviated from the original loop turned out to be Old Landsborough Ridge Track heading south. We followed it a bit and whilst observing the hills in the distance I started to get a bit frisky because it looked like we were quickly heading towards a lot more State park with some big hills! The hills ahead looked to make a peak with the bush land extending east and west. We arrived at a four way junction which looked like it would loop back around either way and link up with where we'd been. But straight ahead was heading straight up the big hill (south) and into the guts of the body of bush I had observed. I stopped to ask Leigh and with a massive grin he pointed up the big hill! Looks like we'd found the gateway to the more challenging terrain with a lot more trails! We arrived at the peak of the not too overly challenging hill where sat a three way junction. Leigh checked his fuel and it looks like his old 'berg FE501 was a bit thirsty as it had used around 3/4 of a tank. My injected 'berg hadn't used 1/4! So we had a little squirt in the unknown area before heading back to the car for lunch and fuel.
After a feed we headed on the original loop but this time took a track that linked up the four way junction mentioned above. On this trail we came across our first tree down over the trail which got me more excited. Most of this trail was very free flowing with a loose surface perfect for opening up my '13 model blue beast while traversing the rolling hills. Still not very challenging at this stage but still very fun none the less.
So we found said junction and ascended back up to where we had decided to turn back. Up that way the trails were obviously different as they were bark and leaf covered so were a lot of fun with both tires getting plenty of movement. We completed a few small loops and got to a point where it was getting cold and on the shady side of the mountain. Leigh was really getting into it at this stage and was very keen to explore further but with no clear indication on the gps or any real idea of a good loop to link us on our way back to the cars (north) I decided to explore another trail that I had a good idea would link us back to the track home.
Now I'm not one for magical $hit and fairies and garden gnomes and stuff but that decision to head generally back to the cars put us on the trail where we found the more challenging trails!! Thought we'd hit the jackpot we did. But considering that starting the track so late in the day, we could be stuck into it for a while. Shag it! We're going for it. The track looked to steeply descend a ridge into a gully and from there who knows? It was very tight and rocky in and out of trees, under logs and ducking under as well. By the time we had descended, the trail went into a massive serpent like trail with heaps of twists and turns, more logs and puddles. We were thinking the trail might even link up with our trail out but no, it pointed straight back up the way we had come from on the next ridge (we had unwittingly rode straight past our eventual exit)! Our next issue was that of our first proper challenge of the day; only about an hour before sun down. At this stage our lack of bike fitness kicked in and we found ourselves very tired/exhausted but still having to grit our teeth and do whatever it takes to get out safely. The hill in front of us was a lot more eroded out than our entry with a fairly steep incline, rocks and logs. My 'berg was hooking up perfectly and had no problem getting up anything that the exit had thrown at me. On the other hand Leigh's bike (and operator) wasn't getting the same result, and he very quickly got to the last reserves of energy. I had to repetitively ride a small section and walk down and take the reins of the old yellow beast and get it up to the next (not so steep) platform. Now this situation is exactly why I love riding; no matter what happens you have to pull together and do whatever it takes to get home. You can't just fall in a heap and swear and cuss or have a meltdown, keeping your wits is an absolute necessity. It got to a point, to quote my words to Leigh "Just don't stop for anything, momentum is your friend, eyes up look forward, all the fundamental $hit" and Leigh went for it, as spent as he was his resolve took over and smashed the rest of the hill! Well done bro I always knew you've got it in you.
After sweating profusely it was a bit colder on the trail back to the cars but alas it was only temporary and like any other ride we were buzzing when we got back.
So no crashes, no offs it was a very positive first ride in four years and has only reignited my love of riding. My next objective will be to organise properly with Dirtriderz another ride at Landsborough and/or lead a ride up at Jamieson.
Unfortunately Leigh isn't on Dirtriderz yet but I'm trying to change that.
Thanks for reading it was fun reliving the experience. A few pics to come.
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