Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Coopers Wharf soaking wet dale

Forecast looked none too hot with a couple of southerly blasts expected, but figured we should just ride anyway, so got me out to Nelsons just after 8.30 and we headed round to Mountain Rd in Coopers Creek to ride to the Wharfdale track.

Drizzle was pretty well set in when we headed out and we were pretty much drenched within a few minutes. Along the river for a little with a couple of weird ups and downs, then lots of up. Largely rideable for starters except where it was too steep. Further in there was lots of gnarly rooty sections and the odd mudpug. Quite a cool track, every now and then there's little marker label things telling you what species of tree its next to. Kinda weird considering if you were walking the first one would be like an hour in...

We jokingly estimated the percentage rideable on the way in was maybe 72.6%. Anyway, eventually, after much trudging and climbing and a couple of descents (one quite steep but all rideable) we made the end of the 'link' track, which is the Wharfdale Track. Total altitude climbed around 360 m.

Whew we thought, now it'll be a bit easier. And it was! The Wharfdale's like a highway in comparison. Not far in, after the bridges, Nelson got a flat tire, so he replaced the tube with a 'race' tube (thin, light). I was getting really cold, so changed out the longsleeve lycra for a fleece. Some walkers cruised past just as we were heading off and said, "You're insane riding this". We said "you should have seen the trail we just rode up!"

Not much further on we stopped at that clay-ey corner and had a snack, and while we sat there we could hear a sssssssssssing. Yep, his back tire again. So he put in my tube, and we were off again.

Met another walking couple just before the switchbacks and not far later hit the saddle. Rain was infintessimally lighter here, sky too. Ate more OSM, and a couple of germanic runners passed by while we sat there, and we met another just after we'd set off down the way we'd come. Half way down my front brake started sounding like the spring on rotor, so we stopped at that rocky drop (after the unrideable climb from a creek) and i swapped in my new ones. My rear brake was dodgey-as too.

Nelson had a few wee moments, when his shoes wouldn't unclip, crashing a few times. Didnt stop him flying off on the main descent away from me. I was experiencing physical wreckedness most of the ride, my neck really sore from lugging hay bales on Saturday maybe, pretty uncomfortable, so was taking it easy, and i wasnt enjoying water and grit induced blindness when at speed. Eventually caught him at a treefall just at the start of the final climb, and we headed back up to the gate and track junction.

Hung our left down our track which starts off rooty and mucky, but largley, rideable, followed by a really nice section which seemed to go for a while. There are a few awesome blasts down through this track, a reasonable climb (ie, steep enough to have to walk) in the middle, and more really nice sections, all interspersed with nasty bits, heinous bog holes and unrideable slippery roots. In the dry you might clean some of them, but many were just too big and poorly spaced. Some hail, and thunder, and more rain kept us in check.

I came a cropper on one such section when my front wheel just went out from under me and threw me off to the bank side of the track. My handlebars spun too, leaving, for some reason, my rear brake with no action, ie, lever went right to the grip with no effect. So, hung the bike on a tree, removed the rear wheel and swapped out the worn out pads for some spare used ones that still had half left i had in my bag. the wee spacer spring had worn out too, so i had to run them sans spring. They still worked much better from here on out giving me a little more confidence, tho i was still struggling with the eyespleck.

After my brake change we were on pretty much the main final long descent, towards the end of which you leave DOC land and there's an open bit after some young macrocarpas with some rock outcropage, where i caught up to Nelson, just picking himself up after bouncing down the steps and off the track.

Some final steep down from here, couple tight switchbacks, over a couple of stiles, more steep down, then back onto the flat, passing a couple of walkers on the weird uppy-downy bits, and back to the car just as my hands were starting to get shooting nerve pain on the grips, frozen solid and wet through. i was SO glad to be back and into dry clothes and warm(ish) car. Pies consumed by both from Oxford dairy... Back to Nelsons to warm up some more.

Total kilometreage, roughly 14 kms each way. I'd ridden this route once before... i think i now remember why at the time i chose not to go back down the Coopers Creek track... Tho, under nice conditions, it really wouldnt be that bad but still a fair bit of getting off and pushing... We estimated about as much total effort as doing the usual View Hill Carpark right through to the Townsend and back.

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