I perused the extremely helpful "Where to MTB in South East Queensland" for a beginner friendly ride that we could attack. I was leaning toward a ride on the Sunshine Coast as the countryside there is spectacular but after checking the contours on the maps the rides all looked to be too steep for a ten year old. So I settled on the Lake Manchester loop. At 18km (11mi) and some change I thought this would be an interesting ride for us both as I hadn't yet ridden these trails. The profile looked a bit "uppitty" but the ride was listed as beginner friendly, so we headed out for a look.
Miss 10 was very excited on the way to the start point and was so keen to get going that I could hardly make her stand still for a "before" photo with all the huge taps.
Funnily enough, this gung-ho attitude changed within about 100 metres(yards) as we had to cross a wide, swiftly flowing stream. I had visions of her taking a dunking if she tried to ride it, so it was off with the shoes and push the bike across while I pedalled through the shallows.
What you can't see is the terror she was gripped by while walking this shallow crossing. She must have had visions of being washed away, as I had to coax her to move across even though it was only ankle deep.
Once across it was all smiles again as I dried her feet and she bolted her shoes on again.
We then headed up a short, sharp climb to be abeam the dam wall. Unfortunatley, her legs were "sore" by this point and would prove to be on most of the climbs throughout the ride. :(
The blurb on this ride was that by riding it clockwise most of the climbs were in the first few kilometres and it flattened out toward the latter stages. What I hadn't factored in was the complete lack of riding Lucy had done in the last 6-8 weeks and the resulting skills erosion. This made not only the climbs difficult but the descents were also being walked. I had visions of us finishing the ride in the dark at this pace, so the positive re-enforcement was flowing freely from quite early on. I knew she had the ability. She just needed reminding.
I also had to keep in mind that these WERE steep hills and for a ten year old, small mountains in fact. So almost immediatley, I was pushing two bikes up the hills. The ratio of whinging to walking decreased in proportion to how much I pushed right away!
Our confidence grew to the point where we were riding the downs as well as the flat parts. We soon came across a small cabin on the foreshore. One of the interesting things here was a piece of 4x2 that had been attached to a young tree some time in the last few years. Much more interesting than the cabin!
The trail was relatively flat for a while with just the odd boggy patch to negotiate. That was until we came to Branch Creek. Here was a reasonably deep, fast flowing creek where we stood to get wet feet. There were some strategically placed stones that saw me across using my bike as a walking pole. Dry feet so far, but with a daughter on the wrong side of the stream and no other real options I plunged in and carried her bike over, then held out a "Daddy" hand so that she could hopscotch her way across with dry feet this time. Lucky for me winter in Brisbane sees daytime temps of about 22C(72F)!
This crossing worked up an appetite so about 100m from here we stopped for some food. To be exact, some more food, as Lucy had been eating her way around the lake so far!
One peanut butter sandwich dispatched, then it was time to move on. I say move, not ride, as we were steeply uphill from here. This was the biggest climb of the ride and I must have been propogating a hunger in my offsider as she decided to tuck into a Mars bar as we climbed the hill toward Light Line Rd. Shame that I had a bike in each hand and couldn't partake of the Mars bar but it certainly put a smile on Lucy's face!
Once we crested the top it was a more pleasant rolling trail that could at least be partially ridden up. This part of the trail had a small black x on the map with the word "Wolseley" next to it. This was an old car wreck and after my missing the Bora Ring on the way to Blackbutt, I was definitely on the lookout for this feature. So was the little Miss! She spotted it and tore down the hillside to check it out. About 1,806,462 questions followed. "Where are the door handles?" "Where are the seats?" "Where are the wheels?" were in the opening salvo!!
The trail flattened out from here and we were passed by a few dirt bikes at the next creek crossing. In typical dirt bike style they passed us on narrow firetrail on the back wheel. F#cken tools. Do they think we are impressed? This is after all a no motorcycle area.
After just a few more climbs the trail started to flatten out and we could pedal most of time.
Apart from when we were looking at interesting trail side stuff.
We passed a couple of horse riders and the questions started flowing again.There is nothing like having an inquisitive child with you to make you feel uneducated!
On the roll down to the front gate the trail threw one last hurdle at us in the form of a total bog! I am so glad I told Lucy to wear her new white joggers! I was going to be so popular when I got home!! Whoops....
We rolled along the main road for the last few kilometres and this was about enough for both of us. A recovery lamington was stashed in the centre console of the car and was duly inhaled upon arrival back at the car.
So, slightly covered in mud, slightly tired and slightly hungry we finished this ride in just under three and a half hours. I was very happy with this time after the ominous look of the first few kilometres.
And the first thing that Miss 10 told her Mum about the ride?
How much fun that first terrifying water crossing was!!