Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Muddy Mountain Madness

Another mission out to Craigieburn and the Hogsback today.  Tom was at mine just on 8 and we headed for Sheffield to arrive at the pre-specified time of 8.40something.  Met Nelson for transference to his car and the onwards drive to Castle Hill.  Pete and Steve were in the Falcon and Warren, Wayne and Tony were in Steel&Tube.  And so we met and left Nelson's car and transferred bikes and headed round to Broken River, nice clear day and a good hard frost.

Into Sidle 73, Nelson and me at the front riding crunchy ice around to the road and the endless climb to the snow.  Grind grind grind, meeting a bit of snow before the hairpin at the top, progressively getting deeper til the top where there was maybe an inch or two well deposited.  Regroup and layer changes here, sitting on tussocks, then off down the Edge...

Bit wet in places but mostly pretty good, all the scree faces were good to go, bit of snow on the first few.  Then Tom got a flat in the middle of one, fixed that and on we rolled.  Getting some pretty good speed up for a while, through the forest, when suddenly it was all anchors as we bailed up for the log.  Over this and on again, faster and faster, down, through where they've rerouted the trail, Nelson flying down the rooty drops and losing it on the bottom corner.  Next up it was some tight edges, then the last scree and into the climb for the saddle.  Ugh, this climb always gets me.  One section of steeper roots seems to always get me, walked it, and then got going again, getting to Nelson and Tom at the saddle, and waiting a shortish time for Pete and the rest of the crew to roll up.  Bit of a break for some kai and a chat.

I led the way into the Luge.  I was feeling pretty good, letting it roll nicely flowing down the way, opening up the throttle occasionally and not seemingly bothered by the slick roots.  I felt like i'd dropped the rest of them, and at one stage looked back and there was Nelson a wee ways back.  In the lower section, after the seat, it gets a fair bit rootier and that was when i felt the pressure building behind me, with Nelson and Tom both audible behind, but i offered Nelson the lead and he didn't mind.  Got to the bottom eventually, amped, and so everyone else rolled in, amped.  What a descent!  What a trail!

Climbing again, up to Jack's Pass to the Dracophyllum Flat Tack Track.  Some hesitation as to who was to lead, so Pete jumped in front and I chase in on his tail.  Was keeping him on a leash for a while, wondering about some of his dubious lines over the roots, til one of the roots got my back tire.  Nelson noticed it first - thought he heard hissing and commented but then thought it was something else, but then I noticed the wallowing rear and pulled up...  Nelson and Tom stopped to keep me company while the crew all bombed on past chasing Pete.  Once re-assembled we three got blazing, me leading down to the bridge, then the shitty little climb hit us and I let them pass then got completely dropped.  Made Draco flat and could just see Tom disappearing down through the scrub, no sign of Nelson, and so began the mudfest.  Fleck fleck splecking up and around all over everything and barely any control, barely needing to steer...  Into the bush, out of the bush again, back into the bush and climbing again, i was gasping, legs burning, struggling, tail end Charlie.  Finally out of the bush at the top and two women parked up and then across to the radio antenna tower and the crew all scarfing down some eats.  Another break here...

Then, Tom in the lead, followed by me, Nelson, Pete, blasting off down the hill into the forest and swooping.  Tom SO close to losing it in the first forest section, pushing across the not quite so muddy open land and in and out of forest in a long swooping section before turning round and heading down for the stream crossing.  Splish splash and through, the steep getting me letting Nelson past to chase Tom, Pete holla'ing he was stopping to film the others. Walked a few metres then got rolling again, round and up to the carpark, past the two women and on up the nearly greasy climb, mudweight adding pounds to the bike.  Wee walk due to lack of traction and lungs, and back on bike to top where we rested til all arrived. 

Next it was the hogsback switchbacks climb and out and up and up and up, bikes heavier and heavier with muck, trail with less and less traction as tires carried it all away with us.  Picnic Rock, greasy disgusting mucky mud and the descent began.  Not so bad in the moonscape, different spleck sounds at least, then a very greasy exit.  I saw Tom nearly lose it and thought 'what?  that doesnt look that bad?' then proceeded to lose it myself, greasy two wheel drift round a bend and onwards down.  Nice forest run for a bit then out in the open spleckings again and forest and bridge and long open greasy downhill some good jumps even, then around through forest and eventually creek crossing and climb to catch Nelson, and the women just taking off.

Bit of a regroup before the final traverse of some nice terrain, scree-gravel-creek-fan lack of mud being the highlight, and the final climb which started cramping my hamstring.  i stopped by the big dead tree to stretch and Pete went by and then I got moving again and the downhill started off slowly but accelerated til eventually dropping into the trees and had an excellent run down through them, into an open grease fest, then back into forest and eventually rapidly catching up to the pink woman and getting stuck behind her for the last 100 metres or so of trail.  At last, down the road to the car and a much needed rest.

Once again, lots of photos on PFMTBCblog, courtesy Stevo

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