Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Annual Trip, Westside - The Lyell

So... i'll do these in bites, rather than all in one big post...

Pete and Wayne picked me up on Tuesday morning at 8.30am and we Falconned out of town northwards, meeting up with Andy, Tony and Mark and Marie in Andy's van in Woodend then driving in convoy from there.

First stop, the Lyell, for what I thought would be a nice leg stretcher, after the howmany hours in the cars. Wrong carpark for a start, but got there in the end, then wrong trail for a start too, taking the track to the Lyell Cemetery, which was cool as, I've never seen anything like it, a bunch of headstones completely surrounded by big native beech forest. anyway, it had some grunty wee ups and a couple of steep downs to a cool bridge then a heap of steps and lo and behold we arrive, after a big climb, at the track proper, which is as i'd imagined it should have been, a reasonably wide, benched, singletrack (an old Dray road to be precise).

The track surface is good, most of the time, or soft and sucky leafmatter muddy stuff, which takes away your power like nothing else. we were to encounter this type of stuff numerous times in the days ahead. This climb just plods its way away up and up and up, and there's never really any reasons for stops except for the sake of stopping for a rest. occasionally you run into a wee stream crossing that might prove a challenge, but the guys that have worked on it have done a really great job tidying this track up.

I guess we rode up for about 2 hours. We went through a few smallish slips, but decided we'd had enough when we reached a massive slip that was obviously one of the "massive slips" that i'd read about on Vorb and elsewhere. A track has been carved into this slip, and it looks pretty scary. It was certainly a lot further on from the 8 Mile site that Mountain Biking South book said was the end of the riding. i'd say we were pretty close to the saddle, but we'd all had enough, and were looking forward to getting back down that track.

Marie headed off ahead while everybody sorted themselves out, then the fun began. what a w00t inspiring descent. what was a grind up, became a magic carpet ride. with various roots and rocks you thought were going to be dodgy on the way down just flew past under your tread. one or two sketchy bits, but mostly just fine. some of the softer mud almost-ruts we'd created or were already visible became traction-mongering berms. sweeeeeeet. caught up Marie reasonably quickly, and then mud in my eye let Wayne get by me and he was flying.

After what must have been 45 minutes of continuous descending, cramps starting to niggle calf muscles, hands worn out from gripping and braking, faces sore from the grinning, eyes watery from the wind and mud, we passed the track we'd come up and enjoyed the final throes of the trail down, then briefly up, and down again to the end. Back across the 'dam' road bridge (massive ship's prow log catcher in steel girders above the water tunnel), and meandered round to a track i'd checked out earlier, but didnt think was the bike track cos of the steps, we had to climb up steeply to get to the campground. quickchange cover of seats and away from the sandflies for Westport (and a great meal at The Pines pub, owned by a friend of Pete's)

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