Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Top Gear Epix that never was...

*More pics to come*

What a weekend... From something that I was so excited about doing, the first Epix of 2009 and damn it was an adventure! The plan was Hotham to Dargo, racing 4wd's and that plan lasted right up until 10pm thursday night whilst we packed. Jason rang and pulled the pin on coming. Prior to that, Grover had also pulled the pin and then midday Friday, one of the 2 4wd's also bailed out.

By 2pm friday, the 4wd was back in the game, and we were racing out the door and heading for the hills with 1 bike, 3 trucks and a very flexible plan. Neither pigheaded nor determined to the point of danger, we'd developed a plan that was still achievable, and allowed for escape routes in a number of directions, so we proceeded as planned. One could not ignore the warnings that littered the state, however as I can still attest, the situation out on the ground is certainly different to the one reported in the mainstream media. We do live in a big state.

Friday arvo we cruised up to Hotham. A pub meal in Myrtleford was pleasant, however we're quite certain they were out back killing whatever meat was used, as it took simply AGES to get served. Regardless, we made it to Karnulurra Ski Lodge at about 11pm Friday night, on a warm, still, clear evening. So nice was it, we stopped on the ridge line leading to the mountain for a while to soak it all in!

Saturday dawned and with it a reasonable breeze, warm weather (25-28deg perhaps) and I geared up to ride. Following the XC ski trail down to Dinner Plain, the Compulsion was simply loving it. With a pack on, the bike was just loving it, manualling at will and just generally having a blast. The uphills were conquered simply by moving up the saddle and tapping along, and with a minimum of fuss, so its all happy days there!

This bike was just 'parked' on the side of the track - do you think it has a wheelie bar on the back?

We had grand plans to set the whole deal up as a race. Helmet cam, cameras in the trucks, sabotageing the trucks where they weren't watching, and hammering as fast as we could. As I guessed, there was no way that the trucks could follow down anything that you could call slightly rough, and so it was actually concievable that we would have a chance! But all that went down the toilet as the plan fell to pieces late in the week, and if I'm honest, I wasn't really that excited by the whole idea any more as the amount of effort for one person to make it happen was pretty unreasonable. So I reverted to my fallback, the reason I ride bikes - just have fun!

So much fun can be had on these contraptions called mountain bikes, and when you get one that is in its element, its even better!! After rolling along the undulating double track for 15km or so, past the huge open plains that dot the high country, I came out at Dinner Plain, and headed down Dinner Plain track.

Dinner Plain track is great, mostly downhill and a great mix of trails. Rocky as all get out in some bits, flat and fast in other, and steep to boot, its got some great sections. Bashing up the climbs was a nesseary evil as always, but each time the trail tipped over, there was no chance the trucks could catch me, and the bike was just eating it up.

The new black OzRiders grips, matched to a set of felt alloy bar end caps, made the perfect combination. No worries about acciently dropping the bike, and nice plush grips to hang onto meant that I was hanging 'er out all over the place!

Down dinner plain track was a great run, plenty to do and play with, but ultimately riding alone, I got bored. I was never going to do the whole descent, (crazy maybe, stupid no) and rode it for 15 or 20km until I'd had enough and pulled the pin. The ride would have been great if all the plans fell in place, but they didn't and thats part of the adventures we create.

And so we returned to the top of the hill, and whiled away the rest of the weekend atop the hill. STanding at the dam watching the Myrtleford/beachworth fires in the distance, the wind was roaring up the valley so hard it was possible to lean into it and be supported. The other horizon had the Dargo/waterford fire putting along in previously burnt timbers, so there was plenty to see!

On the way home, we got to witness plenty of carnage close to melbourne, and a lot of smoke in other areas, but didn't actually see any fires about. Appartnly the 20,000Ha in Beachowrth/Stanley/Myrtleford was a big one, but we certainly didn't see anything about. Kilmore, Wandong, Kinglake (amazing fire pics) and all that area are totally descimated. Whilst its the most trivial thing in the world at the moment for so many thousands of people, I wonder if its still going to be possible to run the National Marathon champs somewhere?

This Epix was, as planned, an adventure. It just just didn't quite go the way I wanted. Regardless, I got to ride part of a trail I always said I would, and I guess the trail isn't going anywhere soon so I'll be back one day.