Visiting : Bowden Spur, Spur Road, Toolangi SF, Mount Klondyke, Bald Spur
Distance : ~115km ride
When : Saturday 6th June 2015, 7:30am @ Hurstbridge Train Station

So I’m heading out to Toolangi State Forest to do a lap of Mount Klondyke and check out some sights along the way. Anyone want to join me?

My goals for this ride are to see the power lines track on the other side of Bowden Spur, spend some quality time in Toolangi seeing new (to me) roads, see if I can get down Rocky Track without walking the whole thing or breaking anything and, finally, not burn all my matches before the day is done!

I’ll be on a rigid singlespeed 26er so there’ll be plenty of walking. Should all be fine on a CX bike except Rocky Track which might not be fine on any bike. There’s no planned food stops until 94km in at Kinglake so bring enough food for the whole day. Water will be from creeks so bring your purification system of choice (tabs, filter, iron guts etc.), two bidons should be enough, depending on the weather.

Feels like I haven’t done an “open to all” ride like this in ages so let me just point out that I haven’t ridden this route before so shit may happen, there’s no cue sheets, it’s a group ride – we’ll stick together, there’s plenty of scope for bailing out early so have a look at the planned route and bring your sense of adventure.

See ya there!

The full story

Well that was a good solid ride with good folk.

About ten of us rolled out about 7:30am, it was cloudy and cool but not raining.

My mate Dave joined us for his first ever group ride experience. He’s new to cycling and found it hard to settle into a sustainable pace on the rollers out on Hildebrand Road. He pulled the pin early but promised to check out the next MGG ride. Nice one, Dave!

I had a good chat with Alan as we both hiked up the steeper pitches of Bowden Spur Road. We were up in the clouds by the time we topped out on the main road. Everyone else was patiently waiting at the top, freezing their arses off.

A quick bit of route-finding and we were flying down the other side to follow the powerlines down to Glenburn Road. This section was new to me and I loved it. Fast downs, pinchy ups, beautiful tall trees.

The private property situation was a bit of a grey area but soon enough we popped out onto the bottom section of Glenburn Road.

We followed Melba Highway for a couple hundred metres to reach the entrance to Toolangi State Forest. It was a rude shock after the solitude and beauty of the powerlines track.

We rode straight up Marginal Road into Toolangi SF. Second time I’ve ridden that road and I’ve enjoyed it both times. A nice steady climb that goes on for a few km, never too steep, a good road for riding.

I hassled Ed quite a bit about the bike he was riding, a National Forest Explorer by small scale builder Elephant, out of Spokane Washington. My questions were probing and abundant because, as it happens, I’ve bought a National Forest Explorer too! As I write, mine’s getting painted and should be shipped, built up and rolling by, I dunno, mid-July? I can’t wait. It looked great in person and Ed was loving it. For me, this bike will facilitate a return to longer rides, like I used to do. No more of that slacker stuff.

We regrouped at the big intersection of Marginal and Spraggs Roads. Al had a thermos of coffee! Legend!

While we were eating and chatting we heard some motorbikes come flying up the trail. First one turned the corner and went down Marginal, second one was carrying way too much speed for the slick clay conditions and his rear tire did a big slide as we watched on in growing anticipation, “Whoa!” and then another slide, I know we were all hoping for the same thing, “Whooooaaaa!” and then he finally lost it completely and laid down on the slick clay and skidded away out of sight round the corner as a massive cheer and laughter echoed through the bush, “Whaheeeeeyyyyyyyyy!!!” Che felt bad that we’d heckled the poor dude so hard and rode down to see if he was ok. He was fine and his mate was helping him pick up his bike. It was a slow speed fall and he had all the gear on, the only damage was to his ego, hehe.

We took stock of the time and realised we were running a bit behind. I thought we should probably cut the loop short at this point and, when MikeD said he had to get to work by 4pm, the deal was sealed. Instead of continuing on down Marginal to complete a circumnavigation of the titular Mt Klondyke, we headed back out of the forest on Victoria Range Road.

We regrouped at the top of Rocky Track and I tried to warn everyone of what was to come. I’d seen the bottom section of this track a few years ago and it looked pretty unrideable. It was super steep and rocky, as the name would suggest, but the rock was super chunky and ledgy and really washed out in places. The track was braided badly where the 4wd crew had chewed the A line to hell, then made a B line and trashed that, then started a new C line etc. etc. The place was churned up to hell. When it wasn’t bare wet rock it was deep fist-sized gravel or slick wet clay.

LP was on slick tires so he was up front about taking his time and being super cautious. Good move LP. Tom, on the other hand, was equally as vocal about riding the whole thing, no dabs. Predictably, everyone walked. Some started hiking earlier than others but, yeah, it was too steep and loose and chunky and wet and I guess everyone found their own bailout point on the risk/return spectrum.

Fortunately, the gnar only lasted a km or two and then we were back down at Melba Highway for a spell before heading up Glenburn Road to climb all the way back up to Kinglake on the paved road.

We stopped at Kinglake for a while, ate PCs, drank coffee etc. before climbing up to the top of Bald Spur Road for the ripper descent back down to Hurstbridge. Tom was psyched for the descent and had been saying how much he loved it but unfortunately he didn’t get to complete it!

Halfway down the hill, Tom’s rear tire lost a bunch of pressure. He figured he’d burped it on the vicious corrugations (Bald Spur Road’s not in great shape atm) so we pumped it up (a couple of times due to removable valve cores and screw-on pump heads!) and tried to keep going. Still wasn’t holding pressure. By now it was just me and Tom, everyone else had rolled on.

We stretched my spare 26er tube onto his 29er rim and pumped it up. Pssssssss. Took the tube out and tried to patch it with glueless patches. Grubby hands and not enough patience meant it took a couple of goes and lots of wasted patches but we finally got it holding air. Put the tube back in but this time the tire bead didn’t want to get onto the rim so we hamfisted it for a while before resorting to tire levers. Finally got the tire on and started pumping it up. Wasn’t going up at all. We’d butchered the tube in the process of getting the stubborn tire bead on.

We were both jack of it by now, Tom was like, “Fuck it, I’m walking!” Luckily, we were only about 15km from Hurstbridge, where I live, so I raced back home, jumped in the car and came back for him. Everyone else had already got back to Hurstbridge station and were halfway home by now.

Not the best way to finish a ride but, hey, it is what it is.

Thanks everyone for coming out and sorry I couldn’t see you all at the end!

See ya next time!

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