Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Escaping The Deluge

This week I launched into six days away at work. Ordinarily, I might be listing all of the things that I wouldn't get done around the house because I was on a work imposed hotel sentence. But Tuesday was going to be subtly different.

It started a tad early, at 3:30am Brisbane time, but the blow was softened by my first look at a new business class breakfast. It has taken ten long years to get to this point in time, but this IS living! Woo Hoo!

And no, I didn't eat it all!

Looking to my left, I had an amazing vista overlooking one of Australia's newest, coolest, mountain biking destinations. Mt Buller was looking pristine this morning and I vowed that I must visit it as soon as practically possible. Little did I know what the day had in store for me and how I would come to putting a small piece of that jigsaw in place, but more on that another time.....

Today I had the good fortune to finish up mid morning in our nation's capital. The forecast was for partly cloudy skies and a top temperature of 26C. Perfect mountain biking weather! My steed for the day was to be a Norco Nitro in stylish lime green and black, adorned with much low end, but reliable componentry.

This beast was courtesy of Capital Bike Hire and Peter had me sorted quickly, in a typically aussie no fuss manner. I could not recommend these guys highly enough and for the "not so tight fisted" they also have dual suspension bikes. For what I had in mind though, the hardtail would be just fine.

I felt like a kid wagging school as I pushed out of the hotel foyer, almost bowling over Geoffrey Rush in the process. As I went past, I wondered two things. Number one was "what is he doing in Canberra" and number two..."why are these celebs always shorter than you think"? Wednesday answered my first question. He was there to be named Australian of the Year. I am still waiting for an answer to my second question.

The rough plan for the day was to ride. The slightly more refined plan was to climb up and over the hills and find Majura Pines. This was achieved in short order and I was pleasantly surprised when I crested the hill above Majura Pines having barely broken a sweat. These sweet trails, as visited last month, are literally a stones throw from the eastern suburbs of Canberra, but I was glad that I scoped out how to find the trail head on my last visit.

From the hilltop I plunged down into the mess of trails that is Majura. I had a pretty good idea of where to go but one day I will have to bring a map along and tag some names to the trails that are etched in my mind. Some are easier to remember than others....

I really need one of these though.

At one stage I found myself smashing along the western trails of Auto Alleys, Car Body, Bucket Run, Dew Drop Inn and New Year's Resolution. I recall riding these a couple of years ago with Dean0 and laughing ourselves silly at the ridiculous trails. They seemed somewhat easier than I remembered this time though.

Not long after, I came blasting around the corner of a trail to find five police officers sitting by the trail side, one of them holding a large stick. I quickly blurted out "you aren't going to put that through the front wheel?" to which one of them answered, quick as a flash, "yep, this is a random breath test!" Who says the rozzers are slow witted or have no sense of humour? Funny stuff at the time.

It was then time to climb back over the range and my plan was to head for the highest hill to the south, namely Mt Ainsley. Canberra is laid out like a model in front of the viewer and there just had to be hidden single track across it's slopes somewhere.

I found this promising looking sign and proceeded to climb a rocky, rutted, loose mongrel of a climb, not dissimilar to something in Nerang Forest. Why does the breeze stop and the temperature climb about 10 degrees when one tackles these type of climbs? Does "tip"refer to going over the back of the bike?

This trail led me onto a rough, creek like trail that climbed all the way to the summit of Mt Ainsley. It didn't have a very "official" look about it, but like many of the trails around Canberra, it was a challenging, yet rewarding climb. The view is always one to savour....

After a bite to eat and a cold drink it was time to drop down into the less rarefied air and crunch out a lap of Lake Burley Griffin.

I managed to find some pretty serious downhill trail that had me "sucking seat", all within sight of Parliament House. How good is this?!

I then jumped onto the bike path around Lake Burley Griffin to grind out some training klicks and take in the various sights. Some stranger than others.

Would you believe this hair clip fell out of Julia Gulia's hair and threatened to crush my poor Norco leaving me to pay the excess? No, then how about I couldn't find any flowers to press, so I thought this MTB would look cool all pancaked?

Ok, clearly I needed some sustenance by this stage so it was on to the National Museum foreshore to rest, take in the sights and refuel.

If you have the chance to visit Canberra, I highly recommend grabbing a bike and taking in some of our nations capital from a saddle. They enjoy first class cycling infrastructure and it is eye opening to see how our tax dollars are spent.

To cap off a great days riding, my partner in crime and I found a top notch steakhouse where we enjoyed a perfectly cooked, succulent steak washed down with a smooth glass of moderately priced red wine.

All of this while Brisbane was disappearing under 300mm(12 inches) of rain! Some days I have to pinch myself to make sure this is all real!

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