Sunday mornings are a good excuse for sleeping in but the bush is calling me. I still have my mum’s ute so I can take my mountain bike down the road to Daisy Hill Forest Park rather than being limited to riding in Bayview. Plus my partner has to get up to go to work. So everything points to me getting up. Mind you, it is already 6am and that’s much more civilised than 4:30am.
I load the bike into the back of Mum’s ute and drive the 20 minutes to Daisy Hill Forest Park. There are mountain bikers everywhere. I get a few dismissive looks as I mount my ugly but functional purple beast. It certainly doesn’t have the style of the tens of other bikes being prepared and ridden around the carpark. But I am used to this by now and know that I’m going to have a great time out on the trails.
I have some geocache coordinates programed into my Garmin Edge 800 so I hit the trails in search of the first one. It’s not long before I come across an overgrown trail to my right; it looks like the geocache might be down there. The trail is muddy and steep. By the time I get to the geocache I’m sweaty and dirty, and I’ve only been out for 15 minutes. I find the cache without difficulty and set off down the trails again. I am on less popular trails, well away from the five-ways. There aren’t many other riders out here in this section of bushland; a fact of which I’m grateful because I prefer to ride alone.
I ride some single track and fire trails, traveling from one geocache coordinate to the next. I drop down steep tracks, slipping often as my tyres fail to grip the wet clay. I can’t wait until my tyres wear out so that I can buy a set of off-road tyres to replace my commuter tyres. By then I’ll have so much practice riding with near-slick road tyres that I’ll have a massive performance improvement simply because all of a sudden I’ll have traction after training without it.
Towards the end of my ride I turn down the Nirvana MTB trail. I can see why the trail has this name, it’s beautiful. I ride the trail in an anti-clockwise direction, dropping down a narrow winding single track from the top of the start ridge into a deep gully. I pass cyclists coming up the hill from the other direction who warn me not to continue to the end of the track; that I’m doing it the hard way. I don’t quite understand their warning so continue on my merry way. The trail enters a patch of dense rain forest, which is beautiful and cool.
I climb out of the gully back up towards the ridge. So far I’ve not come across anything too difficult or steep so I keep climbing. Besides, I’m down here to find a geocache (which I never actually managed to find). Near the gully floor I come across two more mountain bikers. They also warn me not to continue. I ask why not. They tell me that the exit to the trail is too steep if I keep going in the direction I’m traveling. One of the cyclists looks my bike up and down, and tells me that I’ll definitely not make it out.
Well, don’t ever tell me that I won’t be able to do something because it puts fire in my belly. I am now determined to see how steep this hill really is. I keep riding, grinding comfortably uphill with my heart rate fluctuating somewhere between 73 – 80% of it’s maximum. I stop to try to find the geocache and, after coming away empty-handed, continue up the trail to the ridge.
The climb is magnificent and never gets too steep. I admit to walking through some of the steep switch-back corners but that’s more a statement about my skill than the climb. Just near the top, while I’m waiting to come across this super-steep hill, I meet three more cyclists. They tell me I’ve come up the trail the hard way. Apparently that thing I just climbed was the gut-busting hill. It feels good to have climbed something others struggle with so easily; perhaps I am a little competitive after-all.
I enjoy the rest of my ride on fire trails, collecting a geocache and enjoying the cool fresh bush air. I return to the ute and find that it’s alone in the carpark. All the other mountain bikers who left at the same time as me are long gone. I listen to the whip birds calling each other as I pack my bike and change into warm clothes. The bush around the carpark is all mine for a few minutes before I head home.
Total: 12.65km geocaching MTB for 1hr 45minutes at 69% maximum heart rate. Average temperature 12.2’C. Three geocaches found.