Visiting : Gardiner’s Ck Trail, Lysterfield Lake, 1:20, Sky High
Distance : ~120km
When : Saturday 9th May 2009, 7am @ Fed Square

Chapter 1 – The Bike path

So I picked up my gearie mate Chris and we got to Fed Sq a little late. Rolled out at about 7:30am and it was drizzly as hell which made for a good soaking. Neither of us knew the Gardiner’s Creek Trail beyond a certain point and one navigational blunder followed another which put us way off course. Dunno if it was my poor trail notes or poor signage or what but we ended up on Canterbury Road, far north of Gardiner’s Creek.

Chris decided to bail at this point and I can’t say I blamed him. It was bloody miserable weather and he was only planning to go as far as Jell’s Park anyway. So, we both adjusted our routes and headed off in different directions. I got back on the track and it was smooth sailing through Jell’s Park and beyond. No more navigational issues. The rain stopped too, which was good. Bike paths can be pretty boring.

Chapter 2 – The Mountain Bike Trail

Rolled out the end of the bike path section and into Churchill National Park. Bit of fire damage still evident and a handful of punters on squishy bikes unloading in the carpark. I planned my path from Churchill to Trailmix off a map and I’ve never ridden there before, so, lots of walking up steep gravel roads. Bit of local knowledge would have been handy. Anyways, I ended up at the trig point right at the top of Lysterfield Park. Awesome view, couple of roos nibbling grass, well worth the indignity of pushing it uphill on foot.

And of course, it was mostly downhill from there to Trailmix. I hit Lysterfield Hills Track, Wallaby Track down to Redgum, up Middle, across Upper buckle and down Buckle all the way to the car park. Awesome! I kept off the (front) brake and used resistance to modulate my speed a fair bit. Also did a bit of skipping down the hills to scrub off speed – I read somewhere recently that skipping down gravel hills can feel somewhat akin to telemarking on skis and I gotta say I can see the logic in that. Very cool fun and I got way more confident bombing down gravelly hills throughout the course of the day.

I’ve never done any proper mountain biking before so it was probably more of a novelty to me than it would be to most. Managed most of the terrain just fine – only thing I didn’t tackle was logs and I think my choice of trails kept me away from any really technical stuff. For 90% of the trails, my fixed Crosscheck was more than capable enough. Ok, I wouldn’t set any speed records but I wasn’t out there to race.

Got a lot of confused looks from other riders out on the trails. A couple of “Whoa! Road bike!” One guy asked “What?! Are you trying to kill yourself on that thing?!” and a lot of whispered “Fixie”, “It’s a fixie” after I’d passed. hehe, riding singletrack and providing entertainment at the same time – I was happy to be of service.

Anyways, I fuelled up at Trailmix and then took off. The smooth straight road’s a nice change from dirt but there’s a few rollers on the way to Upper Ferntree Gully that showed me how tired I was – mountain biking’s really a full body workout, ay? Had a bad patch around here and started thinking about bailing at Upper Ferntree Gully but, as dumb luck would have it, I totally misjudged how far away it was and completely perked up when I realised it was only ten minutes away, not an hour. And then I got a flat on Forest Road which gave me an enforced rest stop before the climb.

Chapter 3 – The Mountain

So, pretty soon I arrived at the bottom of the famous “1 in 20”. Been up it plenty of times in a car but never ridden up it. Wasn’t full of beans at this point so took it slooooow and crawled all the way to the top. Stayed seated the whole way, focussed on turning smooth circles with the cranks and made sure to keep the heart rate way down, like, not puffing at all “conversational pace” down. Gave g’days and nods to the roadies passing me going up and then coming back down again and just enjoyed the scenery.

The road surface was great and even though there’s no shoulder and lots of double white lines which make it harder for cars to pass you (in theory anyway) it was a stress free climb. And not too steep that I couldn’t do it comfortably running 72″. No wonder it’s so popular.

Had a quick break at Sassafras to message home base and then when I got back on to continue up to Sky High I almost fell off sideways onto the road. The climb had affected my groinal axis. At this point I thought I couldn’t continue so I ummed and ahhed a bit, debated whether or not to continue, “walked it off” and finally did the right thing and got back on the bike. The pain wasn’t so bad after a while and I managed to push on to Sky High. A couple of steeper grades on Ridge Road had me out of the saddle but that actually came as a relief from the slow seated grind.

Quick break at Sky High and then the descent. Coming down Ridge Road I was on the brakes and spinning out. Wasn’t looking forward to 6km of that but, surprise surprise, the descent down to Montrose was freakin awesome. Smoooth surface, steep enough that I was hammering but not spinning too fast, corners wide enough that barely a dab on the brakes was sufficient. Wicked. A nice big spin to unwind the legs from all that slow climbing.

Time was against me by now. Prior engagements meant I wouldn’t have time to continue on Canterbury Road all the way back to the city so I pulled the pin and detoured to Croydon Station where I jumped on the long silver sag wagon just as it was getting dark.

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