Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mt Herbert with the Hoff.

The latest Epix has been a little while in the making, with a few false starts on other Epix due to riders and schedules but better late than never, they say in the classics!! The Mt Herbert Epix was a combination of a great ride, and the opportunity for ex Felt Racing team mate Matt Hoffmann to show us around his original stomping ground. For those who haven't had the opportunity to race, train or ride with Matt, he has the skills to pay many many bills, and regardless of stepping back from racing, he still has more than enough pace to keep the ride frisky. Riding his new Orbea for the first time, there was no settling in period for him, hitting the singletrack not more than 50m from his door and keeping it wide open for hours after that.

For the rest of us Melbourne dwellers, it was an early alarm to drag our carcasses out of bed and caffeinate them into function. Still in the darkness when we all met up on the highway, we cruised up the highway to Bendigo town through the fog and mist.

Clearing just as we reached the Hoffmann Ranch, we were treated to a bluebird, still, and perfect day.

Joining Matt, Jason and myself, was Nat and Matt II who were all ready for another day of adventure.

(Matt, waiting whilst we all faff around with our gear)

(Maybe everyone was waiting for me...?)

We are currently testing a variety of new products for Ascend as well, including an electrolyte drink and some recovery bars, which have the best flavour and texture of any athletic bar known to man! Think choc-mint Aero bar!! The prima packs are a handy single serve of the energy drink, and with a bit of water in a bottle, they worked well with a mild sweet flavour.

Rolling out the gate, we headed off into the unknown for us.

Less than a kilometre from the ranch, Jason succumbed to the first flat of the day, caused by a rock hard thorn penetrating the tyre. A quick change and we were away once again.

I know you all love my self portraits!!

Food time!!

Here's Nat, who has actually found a use for one of those silly bento box things that were given away at the Mont 24 years ago. Thats also an ex Felt Racing team bike, still loving service out in the real world, and going exceptionally well!

The first loop took us back towards Bendigo through some awesome singletrack, tight and weaving, and much more enjoyable when not at full race pace.

Hell, often it was just the 'gun show'... Makes skinny blokes want to ride a bit faster to make up of a lack of something?

After Jason's first flat, we were happy to play around and not take many photos, and we popped out back in town.

Rolling through the industrial part of Bendigo in full kit was pretty amusing, and we got some funny looks, let along motoring incidents. They don't seem to be all that keen on cyclists out this way, at least not the people we encountered. Perhaps they could sense that we weren't local...?

This little bit of a hindrance is apparently the done thing for riders in this area. The shotgun shells kinda inferred otherwise.

Up you go boys! On the right of shot, just along that treeline, is a motorbike 'widowmaker' where the only way you'd make it up is total commitment - getting halfway and deciding against it is totally not an option. We laughed about trying to ride it in granny ring on the grass, but even that was too tough an ask. Not even Randall could ride it...!

Umm yeah, we're going up there...

There are some steep climbs out this way, and the view from Mt Herbert makes it worth while. Whilst the climbs don't go forever, they're certainly are tough on the legs, and the rocks make it particularly hard for balance and traction. I found myself climbing with some success with the pro-pedal off on my Virtue 1, allowing the bike to still use full travel and keep the wheel in contact with the ground. Descending on these bikes was just awesome - pro-pedal off, and find the biggest rocks to boost the furthest over all the scree. The 2.3 tires were awesome, fast rolling and as Pirahnas are known for, their awesome predictability! I'll post about how the clearance went in a different post.

Under the watchful eye of our state champion (veteran), I bludged off Matt until the last possible moment then rolled him for the top. Yep, thats my story, and I'm sticking to it! I think in reality it played out a little different, but you can't take the racer out of the boys, even without a number plate.
So the view was pretty good for up here in the flatlands eh!

Lunch time, after plenty of awesome bermed singletrack, a few climbs and a whole lot of sweet trails.

Now what was I saying about shotguns??

Now is that 'team' or what ;)

And with that, we're off again. When you come up this high, the only way for you to go, is down!! We'll cover the second half in part 2, and add some more photos as they come to hand!!