Tag Archives: Daisy Hill Forest Park

Three different MTB rides in two days

in amongst the she oaks by Andrew Gills
in amongst the she oaks, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

With the Rogue 24 Hour Adventuregaine just one week away, I really hit my MTB stride this weekend with three very different rides. My goal after the iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race in March was to improve my MTB skills and, with the new bike giving me new confidence, this weekend I really tested my improvements.

It started Saturday morning when I hit the trails in Bayview for an easy solo adventure. I had just bought a magazine with 128 MTB skills listed in it so decided to try some simple things out. My focus for the ride was to get back in the saddle when riding downhill, lift myself up over small jumps instead of braking before them, to push out with the outside foot while cornering and to shift my weight forward when climbing.

It doesn’t sound like much but these are things I’ve never actually thought about before. I’ve always just been an MTB plodder who takes a tentative approach, rather than being aggressive.

I enjoyed my little 23.3km ride through the fire trails and single tracks of Bayview. I stopped often to take photos and enjoy the serenity, barely working up a sweat but not worrying about it either.

Enjoying the Bayview swamps

Enjoying the Bayview swamps

On Sunday morning team Whoops Witch Way had our weekly MTB ride. My sister bought a new mountain bike this past week and Sunday morning was her first ride on the new beast. It’s similar to mine but one model down (also a Merida Big Nine 29er).

We had a grand time riding the single tracks up at the top end of Bayview where there were plenty of rocky hills to challenge us. We rode 16.3 glorious kilometres and got the bikes nice and muddy.

Daisy Hill trails

Daisy Hill trails

An hour after finishing my ride with my sister, I was out at Daisy Hill Forest Park to ride with D from Scouts. He’s the leader and he invited me to join him out riding. D usually rides with a bunch of guys who sound like they ride hard. I was to discover that D, as the slowest of that group, is super fit and fast by my standards.

D took me along trails I’ve never ridden before and pushed me faster than I usually ride. I didn’t want to be left behind so pushed myself the whole 23km single track route.

D took the time to give me some tips for riding downhill and popping my bike over obstacles I previously walked over. Now all I need to do is to practice practice practice until I feel more confident riding at speed.

All-in-all a fantastic weekend of riding. I still found time for an afternoon nap on Saturday and to spend the rest of Sunday visiting friends so it wasn’t all training.

Totals:

  • Saturday solo ride – 23.3km MTB
  • Sunday team Whoops Witch Way ride – 16.3km MTB
  • Sunday ride with D – 23.0km MTB

Daisy Hill MTB

Daisy Hill MTB by Andrew Gills
Daisy Hill MTB, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

My Whoops Witch Way teammate suggested a break from our usual routine with a morning MTB ride at Daisy Hill Forest Park. Not being one to miss out on the fun, I was quick to agree.

Daisy Hill MTB map

Daisy Hill MTB trails – Trails I rode are highlighted yellow

I arrived an hour earlier that my sister who had to drop kids off at vacation care. The sun had just risen high enough in the sky to save me having to ride under lights. Though the sun hadn’t quite won the battle over the darkness. I rode down the main trail to The 5 Ways. In the past, I’ve had to walk the hill on this section of track but I found it easy to climb today.

From The 5 Ways I rode Tunnel of Love. I almost managed to ride over the rock garden, just paddling the ground with my feet in the crux of the route. Given that I’ve always just walked over the rock garden in the past, I was pleased with the progress. The rest of the trail was smooth and fast. I started down Koala but explored a side trail that led to a section of fire trail on the park boundary. At least it gave me another chance to work on my fire trail hill climbing skills, which is handy in adventure racing because course-setters seem to like sending teams up fire trail hills. The ride back up Koala and Tunnel of Love to The 5 Ways was a good confidence boost, especially when I again managed to paddle my way through the rock garden without getting off the bike.

Things almost went horribly wrong as I dropped down Possum Box. I let my mind start to wander to other things like university assignments and work. Before I knew it, I clipped something on the trail, dropped down off a log step, started to go over the handlebars, managed to correct and found myself heading straight for a tree leading with my forehead. I don’t know how I pulled myself back onto the track and missed a trip to the hospital. But at least I got my head back out of the stresses of life and onto the trails.

I rode back up to the top carpark to wait for my sister, having ridden 10.6km. After she arrived, my sister and I rode down to Turning Japanese. This is a fantastic flowing trail with a few log step offs, and some rock and slat bridges. I took some video footage of the trail to share with you. I only could capture the smooth flowing sections, not the technical stuff, because I had to hold the video camera (actually just my mobile phone) in my hand while riding.

Total: 20km MTB

Daisy Hill MTB trails

Tunnel of Love MTB trail by Andrew Gills
Tunnel of Love MTB trail, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

With Sunday being Easter and my teammate having young children, team Whoops Witch Way went on our weekly MTB training session today instead. It’s Good Friday, so we have a public holiday. Instead of our usual ride through Bayview, we drove further afield to Daisy Hill Forest Park where were hit some popular purpose-built trails. Our two-hour session was fun. We pushed ourselves to ride more obstacles and hills than we have in the past.

I took some short videos while we were out to give an impression of the ride. I used my smart phone so only rode with one hand while videoing us so it’s all on the easier trails. But hopefully it’s enjoyable to watch.

Total: 18.1km MTB

Sunday morning MTB

Is there anything better than the morning sun shining through trees?

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.

A bearded dragon

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.

Nirvana MTB trail

More of the Nirvana MTB trail

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.

Mothers Day walk and MTB

Creek at Karawatha

It’s the day after the Byron Bay Triathlon and it’s also Mothers’ Day. After my walk through Karawatha Reserve last weekend I invited my mum and grandmother to come to the Reserve for a picnic. I’d found a beautiful picnic area that would be perfect for a cooked bacon and egg brunch. So that’s exactly what we do this morning; bringing our camping stoves with us to cook up a bacon and egg storm.

The tree was attacking me – LOL

After our meal Mum and I set of on a short bushwalk. We walk down the Wild May Trail along the creek’s lagoon where little pathways lead to the water’s edge to allow walkers to enjoy a closer inspection of the creek. At the end of the Wild May Trail we turn down the Hakea Trail, which is a mixed-use trail that leads slightly uphill from the swampy creek bed up to drier ground. We then turn down an unnamed track that heads in the general direction of the picnic area. Just before it joins the Casuarina Track (which leads directly to the picnic area) we turn left down an unmarked trail. This single track takes us about 2km out of our way in a big loop back to the Hakea Trail. The walk was wonderful.

Total: 6km walk.

Daisy Hill Forest MTB ride

After our picnic I drive over to Daisy Hill Forest Park to do an MTB ride and geocache hunt. Daisy Hill Forest Park is an excellent local place for mountain bike riding. There are marked trails dedicated and designed specifically for MTB riding, containing all the usual MTB obstacles riders expect, such as logs and rock gardens. Mountain bike riders also have access to the mixed use trails for shared use by walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Some of the Daisy Hill Forest trail

More MTB trails

I spend two hours cruising some of the trails, sticking to the wider fire trails because I’m tired from yesterday’s race and not feeling confident. I’m still a beginner MTB rider and need a lot of practice but I have to be sensible about the way I go about getting that practice. I enjoy my afternoon out on the trails, taking it relatively easy and finding three geocaches while I’m out. I’ll definitely come back to more fully explore the trails, including the single track areas. Particularly as Daisy Hill Forest Park is only 20 minutes drive from my home.

Total: 14km MTB