Stunned, and worried, because I was unable to ride due to injury. I couldn’t even drive. So today I was a passenger, and relied heavily on my wonderful friends to help make this day a success
(Photo: Russel Scholl)
Robert was my chauffeur for the day. Our challenge was to drive Darb’s 4WD and try to meet the riders at a couple of dozen points throughout the day, help out where necessary, and cheer everyone on.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I hopped out of the car and jogged to the top of the hill, only to find these gnarly riders had already beaten us there.
Dozens of smiling puffing people pushed, dragged, carried and even pedaled their bikes up the hill.
After the first major climb of the day, some riders even had enough energy to pop a “wheelie” while riding up the last steep climb to the lookout.
We enjoyed the panorama of the Glasshouse Mountains from the lookout.
Some of us took the chance to do some minor repairs, or have a quick rest. Others just soaked up the amazing views.
Hennessey Hill downhill track is not far from the lookout. A few people, like Aaron, took their chances with the gravity gods and let their bikes fly down the hill – wheels hardly touching the ground.
Each rider descended at their own pace, and I was relieved when everyone reached the bottom safely.
From there we rolled off through the muddy pine plantation in search of the next hill to climb.
Once again the riders beat the 4WD to the next waypoint, but they kindly waited for Robert and me to catch up.
Despite the forecast of rain, this was turning into a glorious day.
The next big hill stretched out the group.
I watched in awe as the stronger riders easily crested the climb.
Robert and I checked out the local flora while waiting for Mike to catch up.
The other thing that slows riders down is sand. While everyone else struggled with some soft sand long a creek, Robert and I caught up with pack leaders by taking the long way round on the road.
Not far from Woodford, the group was now stretched out over a couple of kilometres. We waited in the car at the last waypoint before lunch as the last riders splashed through the creek.
Feeding 68 hungry mountain bikers is a logistical challenge. People spread out through town in search of lunch.
Half an hour later we regrouped in the park, ready for the return leg.
With full stomachs, the “peloton” of mountain bikers slithered out of town back towards the forest. They were impressive to watch.
They approached, and then like a herd of stampeding beasts, thundered past us into the bush.
As silence strangely returned, Robert and I hopped back into the 4WD in search of our next meeting point.
Robert expertly navigated around a few deep looking puddles. When you can’t see the bottom, it’s always wise to treat these sections with caution.
Meanwhile the riders were dealing with their own puddles. And unlike us, they were getting wet feet.
Not long after we stopped the car, after what seemed like too short a time, dozens of smiling riders popped out of the forest.
Obviously those puddles in the forest were no obstacle to them.
The bikes and their riders took a “short cut” north towards Millwood Road, while Robert and I took the long way round to meet up with them.
Darb tells me that Wendy tried to climb a tree to get a photo of everyone. I’m glad she didn’t fall 🙂
At our next waypoint, Trig Hill, we watched as ant-like cyclists emerged from the forest below and slowly made their way up the hill.
Way quicker than I had anticipated…
How did they climb so quick?
When you ride a bike you quickly discover that hills are a fact of life. Every adventure has a few hills, so the best approach is to embrace them and get used to them. When hills don’t deter you, a whole world of adventures opens up.
It took a while, but everyone made it to the top of the hill.
Hilltops are perfect places to stop for a short break, enjoy the view, and catch your breath.
A trio of motorcyclists looked familiar. As we passed them in the forest earlier in the day, Robert asked if they were ok.
“Do ye have a bog roll?” one of them asked in a broad Irish accent.
“Bog Roll?” Robert replied quizzically.
“Toilet paper,” he explained.
I was amused and found it hard to stop laughing.
But to top it all off, Robert reached into his pocket, magically produced a huge wad of toilet paper and handed it to the motorcyclist, who gratefully accepted the gift.
So when we met our newfound Irish friends again at the top of the hill, I asked if they minded if we dubbed their friend “Bog Roll Paddy”.
They laughed before roaring off on their bikes.
Robert and I mistakenly thought we should get a head start on the riders, and set off down the hill towards our next point.
We didn’t take into account that in a downhill race over rough ground, the mountain bike will almost always win.
Thankfully everyone gave us plenty of room as we bounced over the corrugations.
“The Secret Single Track” is almost 6 kilometres of flowing sandy trails which follows a creek through the pine plantation…
In previous years it was sandy and difficult to ride, but this year the rain had dampened the sand, making it firmer.
I sat by the side of the track and watched in delight as my friends rolled past.
It looked like they were enjoying themselves.
It took about an hour for them to emerge from the other side.
Rather than wait, we decided to head off towards the next waypoint.
As I turned my back and panicked, I thought, “this is Darb’s brand new car!”
Thankfully, Darb bought a good strong car, and with a combination of skill and good luck, Robert was able to free it.
Unable to go through the bog, we retreated a few kilometres before heading around the back of Mount Beerwah to rejoin our friends.
Unfortunately my GPS ran out of batteries, so I had to navigate using the paper map I had brought.
In hindsight, I’m very glad that I brought the paper map!
Towards the end of the ride, we caught up with the mountain bikers at Mount Beerwah.
Legs were tiring. Some riders were keen to get home on time. The group now stretched out over about 5 kilometres. We took on a couple of passengers who opted to be driven back to the start rather than pedalling.
It had been a big day…
… and Darb’s brand new car was covered in mud.
The riders started rolling back into the car park around 2.30 pm after about seven hours of riding, including breaks. They kept coming for the next 45 minutes.
As I thanked people individually for coming, everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
And, as we drove home, as if to underscore our good fortune with the weather, the forecast rain finally started falling.
I have some amazing friends. Thank you, Eric, Darb, Paul, Becca, Russel and Jason for managing this ride for me. You’ve proven that mountain biking is still fun, even when we can’t ride.
Thank you Darb, for entrusting your shiny new car to Robert and me, and letting us get it filthy.
Thank you Robert for being a great chauffeur all day, and for having the necessary super human skills when it counted.
And thank you to everyone who turned up today. It felt great to see your smiling faces.
Here’s Darb’s video of the ride:
Here’s the route I took in the 4WD:
Max elevation: 214 m
Min elevation: 26 m
Total climbing: 1724 m
Total descent: -1724 m
Average speed: 37.66 km/h
Total time: 07:53:32
Here’s the route the riders took, courtesy of Darb: