For the last few years a large group of mountain biking friends have gathered for an annual “party on wheels” riding through the Glasshouse Mountains. This year sixty-eight happy riders took up the challenge.
We started at Beerburrum on bikes of all different shapes and sizes – Fat Bikes, Cyclocross, Hybrids, Hard Tails, Duallies. This wasn’t a race – we just wanted to have fun, enjoy the views, and get home in one piece.
After allowing for the late comers (“Wasn’t it supposed to start at 8.30? Oh 7.30? Sorry about that!”) It took about twenty minutes for all the riders to leave the car park. By this time our muddy peloton was spread out over several kilometres. I kept in touch with the guys at the back via UHF radio, while my brother Kevin kept a watchful eye on us all from the support vehicle.
This was logistically challenging, but we had a wonderful team who knew what to do.
A few of us had pre-ridden different sections of the course over the last couple of months. It was a fine balance – we didn’t want our friends to disappear up to their necks in mud, but we didn’t want the route to be too squeaky clean and boring. We ended up with a happy medium, being challenged but not overwhelmed by the obstacles.
The aim was to keep everyone happy. So far so good.
The wonderful thing about the Glasshouse Mountains is the variety of terrain. We started on flat quiet forestry roads. Pencil-straight pine trees filtered out the morning sun either side of the trail. This was a nice easy way to start the day, but that was about to change…
The climb up to the lookout was rough and steep.
We dropped down into granny gear, gritted our teeth and mashed the pedals.
Eventually the track grew too steep and we had to walk.
At the top of the hill we enjoyed a bumpy downhill roll to the paved road. Kevin and Tim hid in the bushes taking photos of us as we bounced past. I heard their voices, but had no clue where they were.
The final push up to the lookout is steep, but it’s on the road. And as any mountain biker will tell you, if it’s on the road, it doesn’t count : )
Darb had agreed to stay at the back of the pack to make sure no one got lost. He’s often beaten me up this hill. It seemed strange to stand at the top and watch him come up after me. Thanks Darb!
At the lookout we had a quick break and enjoyed the view.
I got a chance to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen for a while, and to make some new friends.
Lisa kindly cut up a few bags of oranges for the riders. They tasted great after our first frantic effort of the day. Thanks Lisa!
Odd-shaped peaks of different members of the Glasshouse Family poked up in the distance from different points of the compass. This place had great views.
After the lookout, we bounced back down the hill and continued our journey west.
Tim was omnipresent, appearing regularly at different places along the trail, photographing everyone.
Tim took hundreds of photos of us. Thanks Tim!
We emerged from the forest at the bottom of the Hennessey Hill downhill track.
This is a challenging run with tricky jumps, drop-offs and berms.
The idea was if you were crazy enough to ride down it, you first needed to ride UP the hill. This gave slower riders a chance to catch up, while the quicker riders climbed to the top to pit their skills against the trail features.
I decided to be a spectator for this part of the ride and set myself up near a particularly scary double-jump to watch the mayhem.
Most riders baulked at the double jump and went around it, but…
…one crazy downhiller came barreling down the hill in his full-face helmet, and rocketed over the jump giving us a lesson in downhill insanity.
We continued towards Woodford through the pine plantation.
Behind us the peaks of Tunbubudla – “The Twins” poked out above the trees as we climbed up another hill…
…then rolled down the other side.
The mud at the bottom of this one was nice and thick…
… but as far as I know, everyone managed to get through.
Some of the riders today would be competing in “The Epic” mountain bike race in a few weeks. I think they welcomed this ride as a chance to test themselves out against some difficult terrain.
Others were here simply to enjoy the day.
From here it was an easy roll westwards through the plantation to our lunch stop.
Kevin rescued some riders who were starting to tire. On big rides like this it made a big difference having a support driver.
We emerged from the forest on the outskirts of town.
Lunch time! There were many of us, so we all split up and roamed around Woodford hungrily looking for something to eat.
After lunch, we headed back into the forest and followed Black Rock Creek.
Although the trail was wet in parts we were able to dodge most of the obstacles…
…although the barbed wire slowed us down for a few minutes.
A few people asked, “are there many big hills left?”
The climb up to the power lines on Trig Hill is always tough. A few of us rode, some of us pushed.
At the top there’s one particularly nasty pinch climb. Most of us avoided it, but one or two “Ninjas” impressed us with their climbing skills. How do they do that?
We dubbed the next section the “Secret Single Track”. Motorbike riders call it “Rattlesnake”. It’s basically a 6km twisty narrow track that snakes through the pines, and takes about 45 minutes to ride through.
Our strange convoy slithered through the trees: a mile-long multi-colored python on wheels.
It was a challenging track, but fun to ride.
We slowly emerged from the other side and continued our adventure eastwards towards Beerwah.
The giant slowly swelled in size as we approached.
In Kabi aboriginal legends, Beerwah is a pregnant mother of a mountain, waiting eons before she gives birth. I think that sounds much nicer than merely calling her a volcanic plug : )
Near Beerwah we deviated the course slightly. I wanted to give people a different view of the mountains. We had one last climb to endure.
The view from a hilltop to the north of the mountain was spectacular. In the distance Tibrogargan gazed out to sea while Coonowrin stood next to him like a finger, pointing to the sky.
By now our group had spread out over five or six kilometres. Some riders were already arriving at the finish while others were still making their way home.
I waited in the bush for the guys at the end to come through.
After about ten or fifteen minutes of silence half a dozen riders ripped down the track past me.
Paul led the last few riders out of the forest and back towards Beerburrum.
Back on the road we relaxed. This years adventure was drawing to a close…
…one or two people had some minor injuries, a couple of people got lost, but everyone was arriving back safely.
As they left the car park, people seemed tired and happy.
I felt relieved.
Big rides like this have many logistical challenges. It wouldn’t have been a success without many people who worked behind the scenes to ensure everyone had a good time.
I owe a big debt of gratitude to Darb, Eric, Paul and Jason for helping to ensure everyone was safe, and got back ok.
I’d also like to thank my brother, Kevin, for driving the support vehicle and helping riders when needed. There were a few times on the day when this proved invaluable and made a big difference.
Thanks to Lisa for the delicious oranges, and to Tim for putting your body on the line to take some great photos.
Thanks also to Ben Johns from Bushrangers MTB for organizing a permit with HQ Plantations.
Finally – thanks to everyone for turning up, having fun, and staying safe.
Max elevation: 241 m
Min elevation: 26 m
Total climbing: 1482 m
Total descent: -1444 m
Average speed: 15.77 km/h
Total time: 07:36:03
We rode about 70km in about seven hours including breaks. We climbed about 1,100 metres in elevation, and I burned about 3,500 kcal.
If you did the ride, what would you rate it on the tough-o-meter? Please leave a comment and let us know.
Let’s do this again!