Sunday, April 07, 2013

Saturday Craigie Luge Draco Hog Mission

Spectacular ride yesterday.  Drove the Fiat to Sheffield, overtaking the two marked carloads of the crew on the Old West Coast Rd (Steve, Marie and Robin, (in TFC) and Warren, Wayne, and Andy (Steel&Tube)), met Nelson and transferred to his car then on we drove, the others coffee-ing up in Springfield, us gassing up, then all continuing on to Castle Hill.  Gorgeous cool autumnal day in the hills.  From Castle Hill, transferred us each to their vehicles, leaving Nelson's car for the later shuttle, and drove through to Broken River carpark.  Marie headed in ahead of the rest of us, and once everyone else was ready, we headed straight into Sidle73.  Nice lung grabbing initial few switchbacks then, as the name suggests, a good sidle round to the Craigieburn Rd.  Easy grind to start with, eventually turning into the usual granny grind, with my now usual right calf giving me gyp.  Cooler and cooler it got as we climbed up towards the snow, which had dusted the tops overnight.  Nice and chilly at the skifield carpark, where we all layered or delayered or relayered accordingly.  Last wee grunt past the lodges and up to the lifts and we were ready for the descent.

Nelson and me out front, and most of the time, Warren following us, we rocked it and blazed it and cruised it and it was sweet.  Sweeter than I've remembered it before.  The first screes weren't bad at all, only dabbed coming into one, where straight out of the forest there was a loose climb, and of course the final one.  All the forest singletrack roots were slick but I only felt sketchy once or twice.  The climb to Lyndon Saddle was a steep little grunt as usual, and i had to get off at one point cos my legs just didn't have it in them.  Ground out the rest of it tho.  At the saddle, Nelson said, Up Helicopter Hill!.  I was the only taker, so we left the crew and hiked and pedalled and hiked to the top.  On the way up I was like, no way, and Nelson was like, hell yeah.  On the way down I was like, Hell YEAH!  Awesome views from the top and an awesome downhill, techy and sketchy and fun and fully rideable.

We got to the bottom and found our crew had changed into a smaller and totally different crew - who said ours had taken off already, so we headed straight in for the chase, tho, given that they were probably already at the bottom was kinda pointless...  Awesome descent of the Luge tho.  Tight and rooty as always, the 'modern' wide bars nearly getting the best of us both a couple times.  I was tight on Nelson's tail all the way down, having to consciously back off a bit so's to see enough trail.  This I found myself doing again and again later.  At the bottom, grins smeared across our faces, we found the crew, and we all headed off up the road towards Jack's Pass and the Dracophyllum Flat (out!) track.

Nelson led in, but after about 50m got a wasp sting on the leg, so I took the lead and blazed.  What a descent.  Different to what i remembered, it's been so long and details like the wee climb in the middle and the ever increasing steep bit near the end, and the off camber corner BEFORE the off camber corner at the end all gone from memory and having to be reinitiated.  Last blast down to a nice new bridge and another nasty wee grunty climb up to the ' Flat' ensued, giving my calf gyp again. Another regroup here and we got going ahead of the crew of 29er guys following us.  Nice blitz across the Draco flat, swoopy swoopy then through a forest bit, into more frost flats, and into the forest again.  In here the new climb switchbacked us up across the old sloggy rut that used to pass as the track, and spat us out slightly east of where the track used to take you across to the ice-rinks.

From here, another regroup, this time letting the, now interspersed with us, 29er dudes go ahead.  Blasted off, popping little jumps across the flat and into another forest section where the trail swooped and railed around down and through out across Texas Flat, with some really nice sections before railing round into a wee descent to a creek, where we found a couple of the 29ers walking through the creek.  Nelson powered through the stream splashing the other dudes.  I pulled up, changed down while they finished crossing, then rode through and out and up, past the other 2 then one of them on my tail made me nearly wanna puke on the climb.  On up along the terrace top and out onto the Cheeseman access road.

The Slogs Back...  Tired legs grinding, calf muscle screaming, on the zag after the zig I walked about 20 metres, then got rolling again and struggled up to meet Nelson on the corner.  Here we sat, and watched, as first the 29ers then finally, what? Steve, then Marie, and Robin were visible then climbed on up to us.  But where were the other three?  Finally they turned up, new pads being slipped in by Wazza at the creek crossing.  Supposedly at the top, we then climbed a couple short sharp switchies in a wee patch of bush then out into the open top, bit more climb, relief of descent, then yet more climb to Picnic Rock Lookout...  Another regroup before the best descent of the day, ripping down through a moonscape then into and long edge of forest ever sidling and descending, somewhere a bridge, then more descending fast and furious, back into forest, shredding!  Another creek crossing, with walkers, "you're doing well" they said(?).  Pinchy climb, then across a few scree washouts and the final climb of the day up to a big dead tree.  Nelson roosted, i sat, and we watched til the others came into sight, and then it was Warren and Steve the first to get to us, so as they were the drivers we all continued on and we ripped it up down the long open pedally ridge before blasting down through the last patch of forest out to the end, lots of neat jumps and near misses with trees...

An exhausted pile of bikers eventually rolling in, while the three drivers went off to get the cars...

Steve's posted on PFMTBC, with lots of pics taken by Robin's camera!

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