Category Archives: Mtb

Chunky wheels. Suspension. The correct way to ride.

Mt Porepunkah Road Loop

Continuing my vow to post some interesting rides, here’s a local loop out of Porepunkah or Bright which is a pleasant couple of hours out on gravel – good for an MTB and also excellent if you happen to have a gravel grinder or CX bike in the stable.

The embedded strava ride starts out of Porepunkah, which is home, and takes the Rail Trail towards Roberts Creek Road, a slight uphill that features in the Tour of Bright TT course. It continues over the bridge and along a short stretch of gravel to a short, sharp tarmac climb up towards the crest at the start of the Apex walking track and the junction with Mt Porepunkah Road.

There’s a nicer start to this, if there’s no logging or maintenance activity, taking Tom Briggs road over the shoulder, which brings you out at the same spot – the foot of the Apex walking track. If there’s logging or maintenance activity going on, I’d strongly advise staying off that trail though. If you’re coming from Bright, you can get to the same spot via a steep road climb, ending on gravel, by turning off Back Germantown road at Mt Porepunkah Road.

At this point, you head Northeast and downhill along Mt Porepunkah Road for maybe a kilometre before the climbing starts. From here it’s a fairly constant 15km climb through the backcountry. There are no real pinches or challenges, but the climbing is fairly constant. Eventually you’ll pass a signposted junction with Smart Creek Track, which would take you down to Kancoona Road and offers a possible return route to Tawonga Gap – a ride I’ve got my eye on for later.

At about 11.5km from the Apex Track junction, you get a sharp, signposted left turn that continues upwards, and at about 14km from Apex, another left turn allows you to head either up to the bushfire lookout tower, or head downhill to the finish. I’d advise heading up to the tower, because there’s a lovely view across to the Mt Buffalo plateau and a good spot for a break and a bit of a munch (you did bring some food, right?).

From here, retrace your steps back to the junction, where you turn left and start down a good old fashioned rocky downhill. On my first expedition, I met with a couple of 4WD vehicles on this descent, so take care with who you meet and how you ride – don’t go blind into corners, because this road is used by vehicles, especially in the summer months. Eventually you’ll pop out of the trees onto One Mile Creek road, which heads down and meets the Great Alpine Road and the Rail Trail.

If you turn right here, you’ll find Boynton’s Winery. If you turn left, Ringer Reef winery – both are great places for a post-ride snack and a glass of wine – and thence to Porepunkah, completing the loop.

This is a splendid little afternoon out on the gravel – not too challenging, not too long and not so far from civilisation that you’ll need to pack a ton of kit. If you’ve got a few hours free and feel like some firetrail rolling, I’d say check it out.

Bright to Freeburgh via Hillsborough Track

I have resolved to blog more in 2018, and as part of that, I thought I might post up some routes I’ve ridden, or that I’m planning to ride, with a map and a description. I thought perhaps I’d start with a short-ish evening MTB ride in my new neighbourhood.

This route starts in Porepunkah, though obviously you could start down the road in Bright. It crosses the bridge opposite Punkah pub, and takes the riverside track upstream. It’s a fun little ride, taking a nice flat gravel path aongside the Ovens, over a suspension bridge and onwards, emerging at the Porepunkah roundabout and onto the Rail Trail. This is followed to the Bright info point. From here, we hop onto the Great Alpine Road for a bit, then turn left at Fraser’s Lane and follow the Canyon walk into town. From here we head out to Wandiligong. The route isn’t hat important, but on this occasion I followed Wandi walk up Morse’s Creek through the (frankly packed) caravan park and into Pioneer Park

At this point, you’re officially into Mystic Mountain Bike Park, and there’s a plethora of possible routes out to Wandi, ranging from the road, the bike path or firetrail and even tricky singletrack. I mixed a few up, starting on The Highway, then Flying Solo, then a little firetrail which dumped me out onto the bike path, which I followed into Wandi, then round Centenary Avenue to Wandi Pub.

Opposite the pub, you turn onto Growler’s Creek Road, which is where the ride proper starts.

I called this ride “Banjo Country”, for no other reason that riding out along Growler’s Creek Road from the Wandi pub and vanishing into the bush does feel a little… backwoods. You follow that for a bit over a kilometre until you reach Hillsborough Track on the left. This is the beginning of the proper climbing, about 350m (or thereabouts) of it, from about 400m above sea level to a little over 700.

In the early part, you cross a couple of creeks and start climbing in earnest. On the evening I rode it, the lower part was a little sticky from a short spell of rain, and the track had obvioulsy been churned a bit from 4WD traffic, and there was definite evidence of heavy machinery, which made going a bit rough and slow. The humidity was fairly punishing too, but this would be fantastic on a drier, cooler day. You climb steadily until just under half height, at which point you find the first of a series of hairpins which zig-zag you up to about 650m elevation. This was probably the smoothest going of the ride, as the very last section, after a hard left turn, brings a less consistent gradient and some decent-sized loose rocks, which made climbing a little tougher. However the gap soon appears ahead of you and it’s a last blast to the junction with Wet Gully Track and the Reliance Track, which is the chosen descent.

Bit warm out.

Bit warm out.

Reliance Track is pretty steep, and with a fairly loose surface, which would make it very tough going in the opposite direction, but heading down is fun. I guess it’d be more fun with full suspension and 200mm discs. I did it on my XC hardtail, so kept the speed down to avoid boiling my brakes too badly, but in the lower sections the surface firms up, the gradient evens out and there are some fun waterbars to catch a little air from, before you fly happily down past the Bright Storage reservoir and onto Great Alpine Road.

From here, turn left and then shortly afterwards head right onto Old Harrietville Road for a quieter road experience.

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Once at the end of Old Harrietville Road, you have the choice of turning right and then left onto Back Germantown Road, which will take you back to Bright, or just taking the main road into town for refreshment. In my case, I hopped onto the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail and followed that back to Porepunkah Roundabout, at which point I reprised the Porepunkah riverside path back to the bridge.

This is about 40km round trip – about 30 if you start from Bright, and takes in a nice middle-sized climb over the ridge back into the Ovens Valley. There’s an alternative version of this that starts further up Morses Creek Road from Wandi, and drops you out at the old Harrietville Cemetery, but that’s a story for another day. And besides, it may be better ridden in the opposite direction, so I’ll save that one.

So that’s what I got up to the other night. More to come later.

Riding Update Jan 2017: It’s a biggie

So, it appears I haven’t blogged here for nearly a year. Doesn’t time fly? I guess it’s about time I posted an update.

When last I blogged, I was still trying to find my feet again after some time off the bike. I had officially declared I was quitting road riding, and was working with a psychologist to try and mitigate some of the worst effects and try to get back on the Mountain Bike at least.

It worked, partly. I rode one MTB race (retired) and did a few Zwift races, but there wasn’t enough momentum. I was still not where I wanted to be, though I was in a better place than I had been when I declared my retirement

As things turned out, mid-year I was offered a new job – and this proved to be the turning point I needed. This particular job offered remote working options, and so a plan began to form. A cunning plan. A plan so cunning, you could pin a tail on it and call it Mr Fox.

In October, it all came together, and I left Sydney altogether, and moved into the glorious Ovens Valley, NE Victoria.

Yes, I now live at the foot of Mount Buffalo, right in the middle of 7 Peaks country. Specifically in Porepunkah, a dormitory village for the neighbouring town of Bright, the famed cycling and tourist mecca.

Since I got settled in, I’ve been riding more often, in more scenic surroundings, with safer roads and nary an argument. I’ve had the grand total of one moderately close pass from a driver but – get this – it didn’t bother me in the least.

I haven’t hit the mountain roads in earnest yet (notwithstanding one ill-prepared, spur of the moment assault on Buffalo), but I’ve been riding the MTB on some amazing trails and doing a lot of flat-to-rolling road. I’ve been up and down the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail enough that I know every bump and ripple between here and Gapsted. I’ve thrown my hardtail down the one-of-a-kind Hero Trail, encountered snakes, magpies, kangaroos and wombats and generally had a great time of it. I’m slowly dropping the weight back off, and transitioning (again) from couch-potato-who-used-to-ride-bikes-a-few-years-back to masters racer and MTB explorer.

You might say I’m back.

Not being much of an early bird, I haven’t yet managed to get out for the famous 6am Bright bunchies, but it’s a new year and the mornings are clear, so that’s going to happen soon. I’ve met a few of the locals, I’m getting familiar with Mystic MTB Park and I’m planning lots of rides on the long local mountain trails, some sensible, some on the adventurous side.

And the blog? Well, I might blog a few local routes, and maybe get some picks at the upcoming Audax Alpine Classic, but I’ve also got a new project in the works, which I’ll announce here soon.

Lastly, for those readers who I know in person – I know some of you exist. Yes, I have spare rooms. Come on down!

 

2014 Shimano MTB GP Series Round 1

This weekend saw the first round of the Rocky Trail Entertainment Shimano MTB GP go off at Awaba MTB Park in NSW’s Hunter region. A huge turnout braved the mud and changeable weather after some rather touch-and-go weather conditions through the week. The first attempt at running the event was a washout, so everyone was eager to get the series started, not the least being the organisers, who took to social media to calm nervous entrants who’d spent much of the leadup glued to the BoM radar.

I was, of course, entered – with two changes from last year. This year I’d be racing in the seven hour category instead of four, and also I’d be ticking over from the Elite into the Masters age group, since I’ll be turning 40 in 2014.

Continue Reading →

For sale

I’ve just been having a bit of a tidy-up around my studio, which is, to be honest, not much of a studio any more. It’s more a bike workshop and garage, really.

Anyway, I’ve rounded up a whole load of surplus components which I don’t need any more. So below the fold, I’ve posted a list. Pretty much everything here is flexibly priced. If you think it’s too pricey, make me an offer. Continue Reading →

WSMTB Summer Series Round 2

Photo credit: Bikeminded

What was effectively round one, since the original round one was cancelled, went off this weekend at Yellomundee Regional Park in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. A strong turnout, very dry conditions and monstrously loud cicadas were the order of the day

It was the first race outing for me on my Bianchi Methanol hardtail. I raced 2013 on my BMC Speedfox SF29 full-suspension rig, and I was itching to give the new hardtail a good hit out, even though Yellomundee is one of my least favourite circuits, mostly due to a broken rib I picked up there late in 2012. It’s a fairly short track, technical in nature with a nasty rock garden climb in the first half of the lap, often dry and dusty and with a couple of fast rocky descents. Suspension would be nice for those, but overall a lighter, more chuckable bike would be the better choice. Continue Reading →

Happy 100th Birthday Rocky Trail Entertainment!!

From the recent JetBlack 24 hour, Rocky Trail’s 100th event. Here’s to at least 100 more!

The Maverick Series is here

The author at Capital Punishment 2013

The author at Capital Punishment 2013

Australia now has an embarrassment of riches in terms of XCM racing, and yesterday that lineup was further strengthened by the announcement of the Maverick XCM Series.

The name is something of a thumbed nose towards the Real Insurance XCM Series, which formerly included two of these races but was dropped for 2013 and revamped for 2014 without its former flagship events, but with the backing of Cycling Australia, who have ambitions to integrate it into the national XCO and DH series, thus making it a far more national-scale event. From this it will gain a far wider reach but possibly alienate some of the XCM-faithful who could formerly ride each and every Real Insurance XCM event, but will now be hit with huge logistical hurdles if they want to do the same in 2014.

Obviously more than a few people were annoyed by the whole thing. Hence, I assume, the name of the new series. Continue Reading →

Flung

Yep, the 2013 Camelbak Highland Fling went off yesterday, but for me the day was not without a hitch or two.

Last year, I signed up late for the Fling after posting a competitive time at the 2012 Kanangra Classic. I figured another 100+km XCM a week or two later would be awesome, so I headed off to Bundanoon at an unholy time of the morning, only to end up parked at the side of the Hume Highway with a flat tyre and no spare. I’d used my spare the week before and not got round to replacing it, so 2012 was a no-show. I went home and sulked.

So this year, inevitably, I had unfinished business with the Highland Fling Continue Reading →

First Ride: Bianchi Methanol SL 29

Yes. Yes, it is.

Yes. Yes, it is.

So as I intimated in an earlier post, I’m now the proud owner of a carbon hardtail MTB, more specifically a Bianchi Methanol SL 29 XT. I took it out on dirt for the first time yesterday, and my impressions so far are more than positive.

So the basics on the bike

  • 29″ Carbon hardtail.
  • RockShox Reba RL 100mm fork w/poploc remote lockout
  • XT groupset (with the exception of a Truvativ X9 double chainset and FSA chain)
  • FSA components, Magura hydro discs, Selle San Marco saddle
  • Fulcrum Red Power wheelset, shod with Kenda 24seven rubber

In focus, it’s a racing-oriented carbon XC hardtail. Pretty straightforward, right? Well yes. But no. Because there’s some serious thought gone into this frame and while you might not agree 100% with what’s come out, you have to tip your hat to the design. Continue Reading →