[TWBD] Yarra Trails, Skyline Rd, Yarra Glen (Sat 10th Oct)

Pics herehttp://farm3.static.flickr.com/2656/3999369636_ea4297442d_o.jpg

Words here ////

Well, it was cruisy and fun for the first 45km and then it became hard and fun.

Happy Trails

Rolled up to Fed Square at 7am to find nikcee and tom waiting. We hung around a few extra minutes and LAM turned up too. Turned out to be a nice little group.

We hit the road and got our first taste of dirt at the Ghetto Cross track. Awesome course! The gnarly steep bit at the start/finish line is going to be carnage. (bummed i’m going to miss the race - i’ll be at Uluru when it’s on) From there we headed out to Burke Road and hit the Yarra trails all the way out to Westerfolds Park.

This was wicked fun as usual. The trails were dry and fast for a change so we got through there pretty quick. LAM hammered it on 23mm Gatorskins and this was nikcee’s first ride on his new Basso cx beast so it was fun all round. There may have been a few minor offs and tom had issues with an exploding saddle bag but we made good time and sent many rabbits running for cover.

Pretty soon we were rolling into Eltham where we made a quick stop for sunscreen. The weather was gorgeous - clear blue sky all round and the temperature was rising. Skin cancer = not good.

From Eltham we clicked into roadie mode and climbed out through Research and then Kangaroo Ground. The first hills of the day. Sitting and grinding and then spinning down the other side. All good fun.

Then we turned off the main road and that’s when the real fun started.

Climbs

Hills. Steep hills. The road was still paved and there were virtually no cars around so we were bombing it down empty roads, spinning as fast as we dared. The long fast run down to “Bend of Islands” was magic. Good road surface, no traffic, just caning it and thinking “Should I brake for this corner? Nahhh!!!” That’s definitely one for the “bombing hills” thread.

Unfortunately, you don’t get something for nothing in this game and we’d just unknowingly overdrawn our account to the tune of 300 metres vertical, to be paid back immediately.

The hills just seemed to keep going. And steep too. We walked a lot of them - pushing an avg. of 70 inches betwen us (not including nikcee who had the luxury of gears) we were only cranking up them at walking pace anyway. The heat was picking up too and a couple of us were forced to question our one-bidon strategy when we ran out of water. Gah!

And then we finally reached Skyline Road which was much the same except without the bitumen.

Dirt

Steep winding rollers covered in loose gravel - take away the grippy bitumen and then even the downhills become a test of skill and nerve. We joked about racing each other down. Racing to see who could get gravel rash first.

Turns out nikcee won that race. I rounded a tight downhill corner feathering the front brakes and skidding the back wheel to try to slow down when I came across Nick on the side of the road trying to twist his bars and levers back into shape, bleeding from various parts. Gah! I’ll let him tell the story but I think we all had a taste of what it’s like to be coming down a steep hill into a corner where the surface is so loose you can’t apply enough braking force to slow yourself down.

I felt a little bad around this point. I’d advertised the ride as a nice cruisy day on the trails and here we were, pushing our bikes up unridable hills in the hot sun, Nick had binned it into the dirt on his brand new Basso, Tom looked like he was bonking pretty hard and we weren’t even half way yet!

Anyway, despite the conditions, we all pushed on and there were no complaints. We could see Yarra Glen down in the valley now so we knew we weren’t far away from food and drink. At one point we heard what sounded like radio controlled planes and gunfire. We had to push on, if only to find out what the hell sort of fun was going on down there without us.

And then, at the top of a hill that we’d just pushed our bikes up, in a big clearing on a huge dirt mound, we reaped the rewards of taking the back roads - an awesome panoramic view of the Yarra Valley. The photos don’t do it justice. We saw that the “radio-controlled planes” were para-gliders - about four of them buzzing around high above Lilydale airport (the gunfire was still going on but I don’t think they were related.) And we saw a sweet eagle floating high and slow up above. Excellence.

Breakneck

So, after we paused to enjoy the moment, we pushed on and soon found the Breakneck Road. Hm, as a shortcut it wasn’t much chop. It was all rocky and bushy for a start - it’s got “no thru road” signs all over it so it’s pretty much a gnarly fire road. We hit what must have been one of the 20% sections and the surface was so loose and rocky and it was so steep that it was hard to actually walk down it without falling over, let alone ride. Down near the bottom of it Liam asked us all what could possibly make his bike even less suitable for this terrain? Um, no brakes? Yep, all the vibration and whatnot had sheared the bolt on his brake lever which was now hanging from the cable, useless. Lucky we were almost at Yarra Glen!

We stopped for food and drink at a bakery in Yarra Glen and Liam went to a hardware store and fixed up his brakes. It had taken us about four and a half hours to ride the 65km from Fed Square to Yarra Glen and we all decided that we didn’t feel the need to go back the same way through all those hills. We decided to take the main roads back to Lilydale and then see how we felt. At least we’d have trains from then on if we wanted to pull the pin.

Fast run home

Felt good to be on smooth relatively flat roads and we made good time. Lots of tourist traffic out there but we made it back to Lilydale without incident. Tom took off home from Lilydale and the rest of us pushed on up the Maroondah Hwy. A few hills between Lilydale and Ringwood but we were all travelling pretty well after our big lunch.

Liam took off home at Mitcham and Nick and I kept rolling. Pretty soon it was fully urban traffic, splitting lanes and getting doors opened on us. We decided to finish it off properly and rolled right into Fed Square for a quick photo to mark the event and that was that.

Fark, what a day.

Thanks Nick, Liam and Tom for joining me - it was a good little group. Hope you had fun and that everything’s pulled up ok (both bikes and bodies).

Next ride: Warrny!

Solid work guys. would have been there if it wasn’t for a shit load of uni and a suspect fractured elbow.
LAM - did you get any flats on that 23 gators? - if not, that’s awesome.

great writeup. no flats on the gators, was running them at about 100psi, to reduce pinch flats. pretty hairy riding the singletrack on them as well with so little grip

ride was really fun

skyline road was pretty crazy however haha

Oh, also thanks to Nick for setting the pace on most of the road sections. Hope you didn’t get sick of waiting for me and Tom on the hills :slight_smile:

Awesome sounding ride, great photos… makes me regret a fine sunny weekend spent in the office even more :cry:

Once again thanks to angry for putting this craziness together…
My (somewhat brief) ride report:

  • Now that I’ve ridden it in the day I’m even more excited about the ghettocross
  • Having not ridden mtn bikes (let alone singletrack) for about 9 years the yarra trail were hectic at first on the new bike. but as i settled in and got my head around the braking and handling requirements to stay ‘on track’ it got very very fun threading through the trails. this was one section where i couldnt keep up with angry and tom.
  • Riding out of eltham and hitting the first of the ‘real’ reminded me this was going to a good day in the saddle
  • Letting the cross bike (and fyxations) loose on the hard-[acked gravel of skyline drive was great
  • Binning it on loose gravel (and scaring the crap out of myself) on a steep descent = some rear dr alignment issues, a semi-squashed banana and less lost skin than expected.
  • The view from the ridge above yarra glen - amazing
  • Breakneck Rd was another ‘unexpected’ surprise.
  • The first hill out of lilydale made me feel a bit guilty about cajoling angry and liam to ride back to the city (the 2nd one wasnt a lot better). I had my doubts about another 40kms of hills…
  • By Ringwood we had a good pace going and it looked like we would all make it.
  • After blackburn the road seemed to just slide by and from balwyn onwards it was sunny and felt great.
  • Splitting cars and dicing with the saturday traffic along bridge road and flinders st was easy after all the singletrack.
  • Bananas are the best mid-ride food ever… (1st post-ride beer notwithstanding)

Photos to come tonight…

Glad the new bike (and you) survived in one piece Nikcee.

Great ride report Angry - love your work.

Bananas on bread with honey - my secret weapon consumed midride up the Dandenongs on Sunday. FTW.

SW