Today’s adventure took us through the scenic southern section of the Conondale Range near the small town of Kilcoy.
By Queensland standards it was cold.
When we rode off from Mount Kilcoy State School, the temperature had only reached 5C. A stiff breeze was blowing, and grey clouds kept the sun away.
We donned our jackets and leggings, bunched up, and set off up Mount Kilcoy Road towards the mountains.
Eventually the paved road ran out and we crunched happily on the gravel until we reached the bottom of the Hill.
The steep four-kilometre climb spread us out – the stronger riders surged ahead; the slow-coaches like me brought up the rear.
I arrived at the top of the hill to find my friends shivering from the cold.
“Let’s get moving and stay warm,” Jason suggested.
Eventually we left the main track to follow a little-used fire break – Cockalorum Creek Road.
Branches and leaf litter covered slowed our progress as we disappeared into the thick forest.
At that time, this track was quite overgrown. When planning for today’s ride, I wasn’t certain we’d get through, so I had a “Plan B” in reserve in case we were thwarted.
Thankfully, that was unnecessary – the track was rough and overgrown, but it was rideable.
Quiet creeks stood mirror-like at the bottom of steep descents.
This was beautiful country.
The rough track emerged on Sunday Creek Road.
We rode for a few minutes, then took a short break at the Sunday Creek Environmental Education Centre to shelter from the cold.
This area was very busy with gold-mining a hundred years ago.
Peter asked me, “How did they know gold was here?”
Good question, Peter. I have no idea. Perhaps we should bring a pick and shovel next time.
“Pick a plank!”
The gaps between the plank yawned hungrily at us, daring us to try our luck and ride across.
We decided to play it safe and walk, instead.
We stopped for a quick break on Ten Mile Road.
It was still cold, so we didn’t stop for long.
The sun popped out for the first time today.
My GPS told me the temperature was now a balmy 6.5C.
The track got very steep along Willogan Road.
None of us could ride it – although a couple of the “Ninja’s” tried.
It was steep and muddy. I had trouble even walking up it.
The view from the lookout was stunning.
Lake Somerset stretched off in the distance, with the peaks of Deer Reserve to the west.
We followed an exposed ridge along the top for a while. It felt like we were riding on top of the world. Icy wind cut our faces, trees rustled loudly, and the horizon stretched off forever.
Places like this are why we love to ride.
We followed an old road reserve down the mountain.
It was covered in grass and strewn with rocks.
But if you took it easy, it was quite safe to ride.
Somewhere in the back of my head I imagined a downhill mountain biker racing down the slope.
“Nope. Not for me. I’m happy to go at a slower pace”
Part of a track meandered onto Ed’s farm.
He was waiting at the bottom of the hill to say “G’day”.
“Geeze your face looks sore, Ed,” I said sympathetically.
“Yeah. I had an argument with a tree branch,” he replied.
Farmers are tough.
We rode a total of about 63km in about six and a half hours including breaks.
During that time we climbed about 1,700 metres, and I burned about 3,500 kcal.
I’ll rate this one 9 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. It’s steep, rough and remote. Add an extra point in summer, when the heat would make it even more challenging.
Total climbing: 1866 m
Average temperature: 6.7
Total time: 06:42:47
Thanks Eric, Calum, Jason, Kaye, Simon, Paul, Peter and Aaron for another amazing adventure.
I’m looking forward to the next one!