Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday night training for epix.

Wednesday night I ventured out on the FTF club ride along the Yarra trails. I decided to ride from home as it had been two weeks since I had been behind the bars. With the future Epix rides coming up I know I need some fitness to get through them.
With all the regular crew there it was on from the start. We headed into the city which meant I had my work cut out for me, and it showed all night. When you have riders setting the pace like Adrian Jackson who just won the Wildsidemtb race, you don’t get much of a rest throughout the night.

I managed to take one happy snap that described my night, OFF THE BACK!!!

Rolling home with Bellie and Nat was an achievement in itself. By the time I got home it was 10pm which meant 4.5hrs in the saddle. Not bad for a school night, but it certainly hurt getting up today.

On the way home we found a lost child with a flat tyre. If you look closely you can see how happy he was to see us.

Now its time to rest for the weekend Epix ride. Hopefully I have a better day at the office!!?

Until next time, Jason

Epix #2 is nearly upon us.

The bakers dozen looks to be the magic number for the second ever Epix, supported by Felt, judging by responses. A very nice number it seems for a bush bound adventure. The weather appears to be a playing nice for us, with a nice amount of rain keeping the dust down and a forecast of 30 for the actual day. Should be a good one, and with a wide variety of riders including Felt Racings' crit killer Jack due to join us for the day, the Felt Epix juggernaut rolls onward! Sadly in a sheduling clash with the National Round at Mt Beauty, we'll be shy a few riders, but I'm sure they'll join Jason and myself in the future.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Epix #2 rolls onward

This coming weekend sees riders lining up for the second Epix ride, a local one close to Melbourne. The list of riders is coming together over the next few days, the route is basically decided, the weather looks like its playing ball, and the bikes are primed and ready to go. Our Virtue ones have really benefited from the effort and detail that was put into them as they came out of the box, as (touch wood) we've had no real issues at all. Over the next few rides, we'll be posting up how some individual parts are performing in the real world, things like the new XT wheels and the XT brakes, also the RockShox Forks with their amazingly handy u-turn adjuster and floodgate system.

Also we'll have a closer look at the backpacks that we use for each ride and some of the more Epix specific equipment that we use.

So stay tuned for more!

Finally, it looks like Epix 3 has been decided for a location, and its a doozy!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back to the Randall!

With Jason away for the Australia Day long weekend, I teamed up with Ben Randall and Andy Bell to return to the site of the first 'Randall'. We were attempting to get some trails to connect up so a huge killer loop could be formed, and maybe make some new trails, but firstly to scout out the area.

Looking down over a drop in the road that was bloody steep, setting the tone for the day really... This was just after both Ben and Bellie had just acquired new green leather couches from a phone call atop a mountain. Weird!

There was an awful lot of walking today by all of us. This place is steep! Steep to go up, and oh boy, steep to go down. The Virtue was absolutely eating it up every time the trail tipped over, limited only by my confidence that the knowledge that stuffing it up meant someone would find a skeleton in a few years. Inaccessible is a pretty good description.

The drive in was a little dicey... They didn't make ute trays terribly long back then eh..!

The connection attempt. Thats a lot of contour lines, for those in the know about maps... For those not, well thats pretty steep!

And the trail begins there. Where??? Thatta way..!

With every scouting mission comes the adventures...! Down the hill into the creek bed, with thick scrub meant we had to use the most efficient way of getting though, and that was down the creek.

Creek style, there was a lot of portages! We were all dreaming about water and rafts to carry us through!

And from the awesome down, one must go up... Bushbashing with bikes!

Did I mention it was a long way up!?

And it would seem that you sometimes forget essential items... Mine today was my gloves, and in the high 20's, it wasn't the best. What I can say is however that the Cycle Design Lock on grips were an excellent, low cost alternative to the genuine article, which surprised me a fair bit. With no visible wear on the grip, and the same features of a genuine, they hit the spot remarkably well!

So it was a great way to spend Australia Day, the stats and maps are here and have a good weekend won't you!

Friday, January 25, 2008

And the finale!

I lie, there are photos of Klingsporn. Thanks to Bellie, you can really see how wet it was in this pic!
We all look like we're having fun, this is when Bellies GPS equipment was telling us we were descending at 95m/min, something we were a little dubious of, but happy to believe!

And so it goes, Epix #1 in the bag, and wasn't it epic!! I think we were all pretty toasted come the end of this ride, but the photos bring you some way to enjoying the ride without getting wet or cold!

And so we look forward to another adventure coming to you in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, there will be almost daily posts of different things on here, and the blog will continue to undergo development. So it will be by no means stagnant over here at Felt Epix. Jason and Ash would like to thank (in no particular order) Gez for his timeless and dedicated assistance to our mad endeavors, and for the stunning photography. Our partners must be mentioned for waiting hours in the cold (bar...!) for us without hesitation, Felt Bicycles for providing 2 amazingly reliable and comfortable Virtue 1's, ideally suited to this type of riding, Stronglight for their ceramic headset bearings which kept us in line all day, Sport Recovery for great prices on our fuel and finally, Joel Read, Ben Randall and Andy Bell for making the most of some challenging conditions.

Thanks for reading, please be sure to check back regularly, and we'll see you out on the trails.

Ash and Jason.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Into the Village and on to Klingsporn

A few of these have fallen out of order, sure you'll forgive us!

Back in the saddle and headin' for Buller.

River crossing, and I think we all managed to ride this one!

Atop the hill, caffiene back coursing through our brains and bodies, ready for more!

The road to Buller, sometimes she ain't an easy one...!

Inviting isn't it...

Meeting the girls up there, in the swirling fog and driving rain, we elected not to filthy the Cattlemans Bar in which they were waiting (and had been for some hours now!), instead we sullied the public shelter with our mud.

Warm water on hands and faces was a welcome change, and whilst feeding our faces with fresh rolls and fruit, a large bowl of hot chips turned up as well! As is usual for cyclists, we all confused confidence with ability and rolled our sick bellies out the door and into the weather once more. A quick photo op down some surprisingly steep stairs (sorry MtBuller) and we were back into climbing mode in the rain.

Up past ABOM and out to HorseHillChair we climbed and arrived to get some exact directions from a liftie who didn’t quite believe what we had done in the morning… Still, to her credit, she pointed 5 bedraggled and muddy skinny blokes off to their impending death with a smile, and we bombed off down the hill to the top of Klingsporn Trail. There is a certain mythology to Klingsporn, and its all deserved. Originally a horse trail to access the high country for the cattlemen, it has a wonderful reputation for descending and in the rain, its even more dicey. Slabs of rock, boulder fields, slippery roots and some off camber sections make it a pizza with the lot. Due care is necessary along here, as falling off the track can result in a long slide down to the main road. The XT brakes on the Virtue 1’s were flawless, even with the resin based pads, although the howling from my set was a little off-putting. Mine were the only set to do it, so it sounds like a setup issue. Pads were a disposable item today as well, with most people going though close to a full set in one day!! Joel had a bit of a bobble with his eyes caked full of mud, and rode off the trail and Bellie ended up following him, giggling like a schoolgirl with the sheer ridiculousness of it all. Pouring rain, freezing cold on the mountain and having a ball! Thankfully that was all the moments we really had, as skinny XC boys don’t seem to bounce that well, and we were spat out at the end to find Gez getting ready for a little nap in the drivers seat at Mirrimbah. Not expecting us for a while, he was pillowed up and ready to snooze, but that all changed as we were ejected onto the paddock from the trail.

And the final installment shall follow shortly. Unsurprisingly there are no photos that I have of Klingsporn, something to do with it pouring rain, and our hands being cramped into fists on the brakes. Plus we thought it was time for a reward! So get out there yourself and experience it!

Thanks for reading thus far,

Ash and JAson,
Felt Epix

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Part 3 - Corn Hill Logging Road.

With labels on the map like ‘impassable in wet’ we were a little uneasy, but another river crossing and we were right in the thick of it. Well, more like sliding down the face of it. Slick clay, impossibly steep climbs and a huge amount of gain to make, we set about our task one step at a time…

With all of us wishing for studs, many of us had some moments. Bellie hurled his bike at one stage, frustrated at constantly slipping down a rut, Joel high sided in a rut and banged himself up whilst climbing (?) and everyone else got stopped by the clay and needed a hand up. Pretty crazy for a while, thankfully it settled down to a solid climb.

Reaching the clouds and subsequently the top, we again met Gez for some more inspiration (coke) where I sadly managed to hand out cans of coke to everyone, keep one for myself, open it and realize I’d grabbed an ‘adults only’ can of coke out… Whilst everyone else would have liked me to drink it, I traded in for a kiddy coke, and sorted myself out.

Having gained some serious elevation, the temperature was dropping once again in the clouds, and we were heading for Mt Buller itself. The Ciruit road was a reasonably easy climb in the cloud and mist, then we turned up the final hill to Mt Buller. Where it got considerably harder! Battling up in granny ring, front wheel leaving the ground most pedal strokes, we were all consumed with destination fever! Up and up we climbed, past all the notable parts of Mt.Buller like the quarry, the septic tanks where we sucked great lungfuls of sewer smell and the construction areas (Ahh, the glamour of it all), we made it to the village square amid the pouring rain. be continued.

As a side note, I've gotten the Garmin information uploaded as well, and thought I might share it with you. Have a little look at Epix #1 - 6 hours, 3600m vertical, 89km and some killer singletrack!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Part 2.

(Please seek permission before reproducing any images from Felt Epix)

Clean and shiny, and a little excited - Felt Epix has taken shape and now comes to fruition.

With a 6am alarm call for an 8am departure, we rose into the drizzle and sorted out all our kit. Bikes all ready to go, we attended to the other essentials for bike riders – food and drinks. So with all that boring stuff in place, people sorted into vehicles, radios, maps and a plan all attended to, we had the obligatory photo call and hit the road.

Andy Bell, Ash, Joel Read, Jason and Ben Randall.
Proven, even if it only happened once, heres the proof!

And our trusted steeds proved to be just that, reliable and super comfortable. Sore backs and arms, forgeddit! They are a thing of the past, and if you thing full suspension can't climb, I'll show you 3600 odd reasons to suggest otherwise!

By 8.30 we departed Tunnel Bend campsite and out into the rain. Out onto the main road, we headed along the Howqua and looked for the first bit of singletrack called the ‘low track’. Finding it within a few hundred metres, we all bombed down into it, hooting and hollering on the very first singletrack in our pseudo quest. Over some logs, a few slippy roots amid the long grass, and then it all skidded to a halt at a river…

Bugger. With not much left for it, we decided we couldn’t get much wetter and waded across. Back on the bikes, we hit up a bit more sweet singletrack before the track crossed back over and headed straight through the river again. Twice more we crossed that damn river before we came across a creepy little private hut called 4 Mile Hut and decided that before the rockin’ chair local returned, we should get out of there.

Back up towards the road, we came across some sweet cliff top singletrack which followed the river 50m above it, on the side of the hill. Ripping along with a sheer drop on one side was nerve racking to say the least! Slippery slabs of rock were everywhere, the clouds were hanging over the mountain peaks and the drizzle kept the temperature perfect! As usual with great trails, they end too soon, and we were spat out onto the road again.

Can you spot the riders?

Rolling along as a nice tight bunch, we sadly rode past what should have been our turn off, but looked nothing like we were expecting and we paid it no heed. Hindsight, being 20/20, says we should have taken it, but we’re learning here so we carried on all the way off our map. That took us out of phone reception, no UHF radio reception, up a massive hill and off our map. That’s what we’re talking about, adventure style. We did a very large climb to the top of a peak and descended the back side of it down some very gnarly tracks. And there are some serious climbs out there, but not once did we think we would rather any bike than the Virtue we were one. Climbing was manageable, descending was a treat and the whole package was perfect for this ride. During our climb, we came across some 4wd’ers who were amazed to see us and to hear where we were going, in equal parts. I won't print their actual words but if I mentioned their bum was hanging from their pants, that should give you some idea of the class...

With some discussion (and expletives, naturally), we ascertained our location and our plan, and hit 16 Mile Jeep track downhill to Pikes Flat where we met Gez for a pit stop. The mud was flying, glasses were doing nothing and a good deal of luck was needed! Jason had a huge mischief right next to me, eyes closed, riding sidesaddle over water bars and off track at warp speed but shut it down before any damage was rendered. Soiled pants would be a pretty apt description of the outcome of that, both from witnesses and victim. Our Virtue 1’s were on song too, flicking the ProPedal off on the Fox RP23 made it liven up and soak up whatever we threw at it, and the Revelation forks wound out to 130mm were perfect out of the box. They are super fast bikes, genuinely. Right down the bottom of this track, Randall was washing his eyes (sinuses?) out and I managed to catch a radio call from Gez. It turned out that we were very close to our destination, making us some pretty excited boys!

Mud mud glorious mud

(pics. Bellie)

Splashing our way over to him, we laid out all the food and tools we could find and went nuts. Chains got lubed, tyres topped up, brake calipers sworn at, and various other surprisingly minor issues were attended to. Food was a godsend and we fed our faces and topped up water bottles. The bikes were all putting up with the wet conditions admirably, our Virtues 1 were yet to miss a beat on their second ever ride, a testament to preparation. Straight back on the bike to avoid(ha!) getting cold, we were faced with Corn Hill Logging Road.

Dropping into Pikes Flat, more than a little happy about it!

Token effort?

About a 500 yard stare at this point. The lights went out later...

Navigation time, back on the maps!!

Part 3 to come....