Plan was Nelson'd finish work at 3 and we'd meet across at the end of Bowenvale Ave for to ride up the hill. Paul d'Sp' was joining us too. Meet we did, but the rain was sort of looking like it was getting a bit more serious, so Nelsie decided to bail (on account of not wanting to get all mucky and have to clean his just-cleaned bike again). So, Paul and me (and Jet) headed on up the valley. Going was good, up the valley-bottom track, and then we headed up the walking track to the left, riding, pushing up steps and riding, up to the stile on the Old Skool / Hidden Valley Link trail. Down this, around the first two hairpins, then hung a left onto the walktrack that sidles across above the lower section of the trail. Once or twice having to get off, cos rocks were slickity slick. Then down the rocks and steps to the valley track (bottom of Lava Flow), and up this valley, climbing as per the Thursday Night crew of several months back. Clamber clamber, off a few times and riding some more to the intersection where we hung a right, sidling down valley this time back down to the start of Bridges, up this to the bottom of Brents.
Here it was a choice of up around to the right of Brent's, or up the valley. We chose the latter, cos I'd not been up there for ages, negotiating our way up the steeeeep 4wd trail crossing through Tilted Sally and Cool Runnings then up to the corner start of Rad ^ Sick and on up to the skidder site. Been many many years since I'd climbed any of that. From here it was up the main grovel of a climb (K2 extension?) and up past Brake Free into the rabbit paddock where the extent of the fires could be seen. Grass had burned (but already had green fresh growth), and the trees on the west side of the hill above the (see-saw) fence. Climbed up through this, the burnt smell everywhere, and the trees immediately above the see-saw were fine (except for a couple) and the native plantings on the right (below the top track junction) were all burned through (cabbage trees should survive?), and then Thompson's entrance was 'Closed' and everything from there on was burned. As well as above the road here, up towards Sugarloaf - those few big pines all cut out, nothing but black stumps now.
Turned downwards here, towards the Traverse, then around in the trees and back across above the see-saw, fast blast down the rabbit paddock and into the rockgarden. Slick-as through here, and fire had burned to this point too. Into the gums and they were all intact. Around, greasy greasy, and then into my little favourite lefty, blitzing down this and careful on the steep corner (it's got some roots (wet) I'd never noticed before), and across and around and back and then back around out to the edge (where that jumpy trail is) and the fire had made it to there too, but hadn't got the gums (altho we could see some of the tops had burned) - man that was close.
Back to the skidder site and into Shazza's. Careful down here, and then down to Brents, careful in here too. Mostly dry under the trees tho, so all those roots weren't actually that bad. Then into Bridges, and starting to get pretty slick here, the wetness was visible on the surface of the clay. Around this and into Flow, under the trees dry enough but that last rocky corner was dodgy. Down valley here to Hidden Valley Link and up this, climbing climbing, rocks slick out, but dry under the trees.
Finally, onto Old Skool. Pretty good at the top but the rain was increasing and the lower we got the more mucky the trail was, mud actually making splecky sounds under tires. Traction was never a major issue, slight drifts around corners and the requisite rockslips but all good. Finally down the last and back to the cars, filthy bikes, filthy people, and a dirty wet dog... Smiles all 'round.
Less than 10 kms and only 374 climbed (felt like more, what with all that steepness).