I had spent a long time planning todays ride, only to have those plans disrupted by heavy winter rain. Here’s what we did instead 🙂
We were all up around 5am watching the weather radar. Becca lived close to where we planned to ride, and messaged me saying it had been bucketing down all night and that we should cancel. I contacted everyone and cancelled, but Jason P called and told me his bike was already packed into the car and he was ready to go.
“Come round here anyway”, I suggested. “I’ll work out an alternative ride while you’re on your way”.
Riding on muddy trails isn’t fun, so we both agreed to follow some bike paths to some local state forests, and follow the fire trails. Fire trails are gravel tracks in the forest built for fire-fighting vehicles. Many of them hold up well in wet weather – the trick is knowing which ones don’t get boggy.
As luck would have it, the tracks along the South Pine River have been recently upgraded. Previously it was a fun challenge to ride over some sections of the rough rocky path. The new wooden walkway made the section along the river bank quite easy in the wet weather.
It wasn’t long before we reached the fire trails of Bunyaville. Jason has been doing a lot of training on the road bike which has given him a lot of strength for climbing hills. He left me behind on a few of the slopes, but kindly waited for me at the top.
We followed a few quiet tracks through an old farm to Samford Forest.
“Surrey Farm” was home to the Collins Family, one of the pioneering families who moved to the “South Pine” district around 1880. The farm was a hub of the local community with several high-profile weddings occurring in the farmhouse in the 1880’s. In 1887 Eliza Collins married Frederick Roskin. In 1888, Mary Jane Collins married Edwin Phillips. It was also the site of a gruesome murder in 1888 of a nine year-old girl who was taken while walking along a horse trail through thick scrub not far from the Surrey Farmhouse.
These days it’s a tranquil park and plantation with rows of trees standing sentinel over the secrets of pioneering days.
At Samford Forest, affectionately known as “Ironbark” to most mountain bikers, we followed the Bergin Creek Trail past sleepy bee hives to the top of the range. When I normally pass these hives I can often detect the unmistakeable smell of honey.
“Can you smell honey?” I asked Jason.
He bent over and put his nose close to the hive. I had the camera at the ready in case a bee decided to sting him. Thankfully they were all hiding placidly in the hive and didn’t trouble him.
A few trail runners jogged along the “Three Sisters” break in the light drizzle.
“Well you’re not made of sugar!” I commented, admiring their tenacity as they ran despite the rain.
“Definitely not”, one of them smiled as they puffed past us.
“Threeways” is a point in the middle of the forest where three trails meet. It has a small hill in the middle which is a lot of fun to ride over.
Leaving “Ironbark” we followed some deserted streets back to Bunyaville.
There’s a new log feature at the top of “Jurassic” trail. I think this has been placed at the trail head because it has been re-rated as a “Black Diamond” run – a difficult ride which should not be attempted by beginners. The idea is that if you can’t handle the log rollover, you shouldn’t attempt the rest of the track.
Jason tried riding over this “feature” a few days ago and ended up crashing as he flew over his handle bars.
“You’d think they could have put a warning up” he complained.
“That’s what the Black Diamond sign is for” I replied.
Somehow I don’t think my words soothed the memory of his recent crash.
We followed the AS6 and Northern Breaks through Bunyaville. All of the fire trails we rode in these forests were perfect in the wet weather. The ground was solid, there were no mud patches, and we both had a safe and enjoyable ride.
We followed some bike paths back to Cashs Crossing…
The forest trails might have been nice and dry, but the local footpaths offered more of a challenge.
All up we rode 40km in about 3 hours. I burned about 1,400 kcal and we climbed about 480m.
This was an easy and pleasant wet-weather ride.
Even though we didn’t travel far from home I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun we had.
And Liz was pleasantly surprised at how early I got home.
I’ll rate this ride 5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks Jason for “turning up” even when it was raining. I’m glad you didn’t go back to bed at 6am!
Max elevation: 151 m
Min elevation: 1 m
Total climbing: 681 m
Total descent: -686 m
Average speed: 16.72 km/h
Total Time: 03:06:43