Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kinross State Forest Ride

On the way back from our most southerly port on this holiday and while visiting my parents in Central West New South Wales it seemed like a good idea to visit Kinross State Forest at nearby Orange, an easy hour drive away. Even better, while I rode, the bride could go on a trip down memory lane as she had spent several years living in Orange during her teen years. Win-win! Luckily for my credit card the shopping in Orange is fairly limited despite being a large country town.

Kinross State Forest was written up in an issue of Australian Mountain Bike magazine sometime in 2010. I can't seem to find the issue, but it was in the back of my mind as a ride destination after my plans to ride Mt Stromlo were scuttled by family matters.

Kinross Forest is managed by the Central West Off Road Bicycle Club. As a lad who grew up in the central west I am can only imagine the grief these guys and girls go through trying to be recognised as a legitimate sport/pastime. This (or any really) part of inland Australia is dominated by the macho, drink your bodyweight in bourbon/get into a fight/shag your missus,dog,sheep while driving your ute, type yokel and riding mountain bikes would be akin to coming out for these types.

With this in mind and knowing that Kinross was open to the public, ie, dirt bikes/bogans I was very kindly dropped at the Bulgas Rd carpark. We noted these locals on the way in. Was this a sign?

 I decided to start out with the "North Shore" trail on the north side of Bulgas Rd (click on the tag on the trails for trail names, on the Kinross S.F. map link above). It proved to be a bit of an uphill slog with some wet patches. Hey, we have had buckets of rain everywhere lately so that was expected despite the sunny skies and thirty degree C temperatures(lucky me!). At the end of this trail I was a bit lost despite the map that I had picked up from a local bike shop. There were some bits of pink ribbon here and there and some roads that were not on the map. So, I hunted around and found some more single track, which I followed to here...

Yes, that is half of a dead pig

Not the most pleasant of locations. I naturally decided to flee this cesspit as quickly as possible. This was not as easy as I would have hoped. The trails here on the north side of Bulgas Rd were not marked at all and even more frustratingly, they just seemed to go up a gut busting hill only to do a U-turn at the top and plummet straight down the fall line with no attempt to "surf" the forest. Have these trail builders even heard of IMBA ?

That is the trail coming straight down the fall line of the hill. This after climbing straight up the hill just further to the right! There was evidence of recent dirt bike activity on all of these trails, so I was hoping that these trails were all of a motorcycle origin. Surely a MTB trail builder would put more twists and turns in? I was feeling very disappointed with these trails as I found myself dumped out at the carpark again. I was considering riding into town to meet up with my wife but thought I would check out the "proposed" trails on my map, which are on the south side of Bulgas Rd. The first trail is "Brown Hornet" and after about 100 metres I could see this trail was made by mountain bikers. It had all of the IMBA trail building principles built into it already. It was with much anticipation that I turned right into "Southern Comfort"

From this point on it was GAME ON! The trail twisted and turned down stupidly steep slopes, the twisted back up them! I was waiting for my chain to snap as I grunted into tight uphill switchbacks, all my might pushing through the pedals. This was more like it!!!!  How old is that chain???!!!

In the eerie washed out light I ate up Turner Track, Issac As An Off, Joe's Track, Damn It Janet, Frozen Dead Guy and El Gastro.

The old growth gums that were bulldozed for the plantation made for some great trail features and there is huge potential for more.

This particular trail feature was spooky. The red line is to highlight the trail as it is hard to see in this light. Note the goat head in the tree!? At this point I was a long way from the trail head and all on my lonesome. I was starting to think about "Deliverance" type scenes and was not terribly comfortable with that thought, so I moved on quickly!

After EL Gastro I was feeling pretty flat. Due to poor planning I had not a lot of food and I was yet to ride into Orange to meet my wife. Compounding that fact was the free map I had picked up at the bike shop. The assistant's words were ringing in my ears at this point. "It only has half the trails on it" sounded fine in the shop, but out here it was disappointing as the first hour or so was wasted on the northern trails near the car park and half the best trails were missing! These northern trails are so poor in comparison that I don't think they are worth listing, let alone riding.

The 3100ft elevation as well as all the climbing (just on 700m, remember those goats?) had taken it's toll on my post christmas body and it was time to bail out. The aim was to go for the Orange swimming pool to cool down and have a shower before driving home, but I just had to call into McDeath and pick up some faux chicken nuggets lest I keel over! After downing these it was on to the pool and shower, then the 120 kilometre drive home to the folks place. All in all an nice little day out and well worth a ride on the southern trails. Perhaps a local guide would be the best option with some planning? Next time, for sure.

Best wishes to the Brisbane flood victims.

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