But my friends and I have a motto: “No boring rides” – and this unusually tough loop seemed like the perfect fit.
We started near the wide-open pineapple fields just out of town at Wamuran. The cool air and flat terrain was a perfect way to start our ride.
The recreational trail is clearly marked around here, and it’s easy to follow the markers along quiet roads to the state forest.
We followed the sandy bush trails at the end of O’Shea Road westwards towards the Wamuran Rail Trail.
“Smile, Jason!” I yelled out as we rolled through some old railway cuttings, pointing my camera over my shoulder.
“No need to ask me, mate”, he replied. “I can’t help smiling when I’m out riding with friends”.
Our plan was to follow a road reserve westwards from the top of McLeods Lane. It looked ok on the map, but as we often discover, bashing through the obstacles was more challenging than we expected.
Once we reached the small town of Delaneys Creek we kept riding westward up into the D’Aguilar Range. Although the road here was paved, it was steep, reaching gradients of almost 20% in parts. Paul kindly hung back to keep me company as I trailed behind the faster riders.
In a paddock at the bottom of Nine V Road we found a few old bath tubs. They were empty, but that didn’t stop everyone jumping in for a bit of “Mountain Bathing”. I know Becca loves her bike, but I didn’t realize that she would bathe with it.
Our fun with the bath tubs was a pleasant diversion from what was really on our minds – the tough climb up Nine V Road. This gravel road winds slowly up from the Delaney Creek valley to the ridge of the D’Aguilar Range. We stopped halfway up to catch our breath and enjoy the view. Sometimes “enjoying the view” is a euphemism for “having a rest”.
At the top of the climb we entered the State Forest and enjoyed the shade of the Hoop Pine plantations. Some of the gradients in here are quite severe, and I found myself pushing the bike up one or two hills.
Halfway up the major climb of the day, we encountered some friendly moto-cross riders. Our ride was taking longer than we had anticipated. The hot weather was taking its toll, and we were running low on water. One of the motor-cyclists kindly gave Eric a litre of water.
We agreed to stop at the first farmhouse we encountered and ask for water.
By some amazing stroke of luck, the first people we met were Kev and Kay Hennessey – the kindest, most hospitable people in Mount Mee. Quick as a flash Kay emerged with a couple of jugs of ice water. To a hot and dehydrated mountain biker, what could have been better?
The Hennesseys love their farm. Kev’s family settled here over a century ago. Kay’s parents ran a dairy farm at Mt Mee when she was growing up. Kev and Kay proudly showed us the stunning views they enjoy from their back door every day.
Re-hydrated, and with our camelbaks reassuringly heavy with water, we pointed our bikes eastward for the return leg of our ride.
But the gradients got even steeper. What began as a “downhill” ride quickly turned into a “drop”. The steep descents along R.Williams Road are fun, but very challenging.
Our final stop was an old historical site marking a camp oven used by Neils Anderson and his family in the late nineteenth century. We imagined a few tough old germans sitting round the fire, smoking their pipes, and wondering (like many farmers today) when the rain would come.
All up we rode almost 60km in six and a half hours, climbing about 1,300m of vertical ascent.
I burned 3,200 kcal.
Becca tells me she’d rate this one about 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter, but she is so stong a rider that she’s able to beat most of us to the top of most hills. She rode up all of the hills that I had to push the bike up.
In today’s heat, and with some of the steep climbs, I’ll rate this ride 9 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. Subtract one if you do it in cooler weather. Make sure you take plenty of water – at least 5 litres.
Thanks Becca, Eric, Paul, Jason and Darb for another memorable ride.
Definately not boring!
Max elevation: 510 m
Min elevation: 32 m
Total climbing: 1636 m
Total descent: -1629 m
Average speed: 18.24 km/h
Total time: 06:18:03