Tag Archives: daisy hill forest

Great ride then whoops

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

J picks me up at 6:20am and we drive over to the Ford Road entry to Neville Lawrie Reserve. The Reserve backs onto Daisy Hill State Forest, which contains a fantastic array of mountain bike trails. We are a group of about ten riders of varying abilities. Some are experienced and confident mountain bikers, others are recent arrivals to the sport, and others are first timers. Together we will have a ball.

We ride a range of single tracks and fire trails. Some technical, others easy. When the going gets too difficult, people hop off and walk. Everyone has their strengths and challenges. For me, I sometimes struggle across large logs while others face challenges on the softer corners or steeper downhills.

It’s busy out on the trails today. We come across various other groups, many of whom move more quickly than us. Our group rides then regroups. The faster riders taking the lead and the newbies bringing up the rear. I ride near the back most of the ride, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. It allows me to take in the scenery. The tall gum trees and rather cute grass trees. Cicadas compete with our laughter as the loudest sounds on the air. It’s the perfect way to end 2012.

Bike after falling off the car

Bike after falling off the car

Well, it seems like the perfect way to end 2012 until the drive home. I didn’t see it but my friend (who was driving) did. All of a sudden she’s calling out and pulling up the car. I have no idea what’s happening. Until I look back and see my bike about 100m behind the car. It shouldn’t be there. It should be on the bike rack.

Bent handlebars

Bent handlebars

Apparently my bike flipped through the air in quite spectacular fashion. We were traveling at 60km (40mph) at the time. The handlebars are now badly bent. They seem to have taken the whole impact. I can’t see any cracks in the frame and the wheels are still running true. The front brake also broke so I’m not sure how the wheel survived. The rear wheel wasn’t so lucky though – it’s wobbling like a drunkard on New Year’s Eve.

My poor friend, J, is so stressed and feels so bad about my bike falling off her bike carrier while she was driving. I’m just glad it was my bike and not her’s because her’s is brand new and mine is old. My damage bill looks like it will be:

So at $134.06 the damage bill is a bit painful but some things needed upgrading anyway (derailleurs and front V-brake). The biggest frustration is the damage to the rear wheel.  I am tempted to buy a spoke truing tool to see whether I can true the spokes first because that’d be cheaper than a new wheel. The other option is just to buy a second-hand bike and hope to get something that works well because at some point my deraileurs will need replacing. Just wish the rear wheel wasn’t stuffed but it took a belting. Front wheel is fine though.

But before I go online and purchase all the parts, I am going to stay true to the original recycled nature of my MTB and am going to see what I can get from RecycleWorld at my local rubbish dump. I hear you can buy bikes for as little as $10. Perhaps there is a wheel, handlebar and set of shifters I can salvage from there first.

Total: 20km 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