There are three rugged mountain passes south of Laidley that are quite close to each other. Today we tried to conquer all of them, and get back in time for lunch.
We started our adventure at Mulgowie and headed south through the Laidley Valley.
Red Gap is a rough track which leads over the Little Liverpool Range. It’s part of the “Epic” mountain bike race held each September at Old Hidden Vale. Some parts of it are steep, and a few of us had to walk it.
Thankfully, today wasn’t a race. We waited at the top of each hill to give everyone time to catch up.
As the one responsible for convincing all these wonderful people to show up, I hoped that everyone enjoyed themselves. Everyone was smiling and chatting happily. I felt relieved.
The summit of this climb was about the same height as the first climb, but the approach was longer, which mean the gradient was a bit kinder. I had assured everyone at the start that if they made it up the first climb, they’d find the second one a bit easier.
It was still hard work in places, and we were glad to reach the top.
Others bit the bullet, committed to the descent and hung on. I was mesmerised watching the concentration on everyone’s faces.
Psychologists talk about “being in the moment”. I think the intense concentration involved with steering a bike safely to the bottom of a treacherous descent is one of those “in the moment” times.
It was a relief to reach the bottom.
The Liverpool Range reaches over 850 metres high in some places. We were riding to a low point in that ridge, Laidley Gap, which (only) reached 525 metres.
Robert had borrowed one of my old bikes. Unfortunately the bike let us down – the front wheel buckled in what cyclists affectionately call a “Taco”. Even slow-learners like me can figure that one out. Robert heroically pushed his wobbly steed up the road without complaint. I later learned that a local farmer took pity on him and drove him back to the pub where he waited for the rest of us to return.
“How long did you have to wait, Robert?” I asked.
“Oh only a couple of beers”, he replied.
I like this new time-keeping system.
I missed my Anthem – because I was riding my friend Wayne’s Surly Moonlander fatbike. It was a wonderful bike, but I was not used to its extra weight. I looked enviously at the riders on lighter bikes as I slowly ground the pedals up the hill.
Others stubbornly refused to stop pedalling.
Towards the top, I decided to stop making pathetic grunting noises, and started singing “It’s a long way to the top”. I’m sure Bon Scott could have done a better job, but I felt better singing.
It’s a great feeling to beat three big hills in one day.
Everyone was happy. It was contagious.
No one seemed to mind me sticking a camera in their face 🙂
Without suspension, and with huge wheels, I struggled to keep my bike on the track. But I did.
Sam later told me he hit a bump and found himself floating in the air, feet off the pedals, bum of the seat, and clinging on to the handlebars. Somehow he recovered without crashing. How did you manage that?
More smiling faces. What a perfect day 🙂
We rode a total of 49km in four and a half hours, climbing a total of almost 900 metres in vertical ascent.
I burned 2,300 kcal.
I’ll rate this one 7.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks everyone for making this a memorable day.
I feel privileged to have such a great group of friends.
Let’s do this again soon!
UPDATE: Here’s Darb’s video of the day. I love it 🙂
Max elevation: 531 m
Min elevation: 116 m
Total climbing: 1095 m
Total descent: -1080 m
Average speed: 18.51 km/h
Total time: 04:34:00