TRAIL NOTES: THE OAKS; BALTZER LOOKOUT;SINGLETON; MOWBRAY PARK FARM; HODDLES TRACK
THE OAKS: Enrico Stahn - Easy and fun, especially the downhill part. The last single track gets a bit technical. Check out http://connect.garmin.com/activity/291017024
Posted: 2013-04-18 22:07:25
BALTZER LOOKOUT: Mario - Completed the track today... I have to say it is FANTASTIC !!! I'm considerably new to mountain biking and really thought this is a great track for riders that are just past the "newbie" stage.
Track is in good condition, some sandy parts, PLUS the usual loose rocks.
Really impressed with the downhills, generated some great speed, so again, be wary, you can lose your back end.
The view at the end is WELL WORTH THE RIDE! Will be doing this track again and again!!
SINGLETON: - Malcolm - Was camping at Lake St Clair over Easter and drove down to have a ride. Heaps of fun; nothing really technical but enough to make sure you pay attention! Nice flowing single track all the way. No steep climbs; middle chain ring all the way. I made it 9km+ for a circuit which for me took about 45 mins the first time around and about 40 the second time around. You’d get faster as you learnt the circuit. Well done Singleton.
MOWBRAY PARK FARM: Damien Murray - My mum's farm is a couple of K's away...haven't ridden this area since I was a kid on my BMX... Geez, 28 years ago!
HODDLES TRACK: Troy - Rode it recently, over the 2013 Easter long weekend. Long, hard ascent on tar then grass and then a very short and average bit of single track before arriving at the peak. Tar all the way down. Overall it was nothing more than a (hard) training ride. You definitely wouldn’t do it for the trails.
MOWBRAY PARK FARM; OMV NEEDS SOME LOVIN!; ROADS WERE BUILT FOR CARS; TRAIL NOT
* *MOWBRAY PARK FARM: TRAILBLAZING
Posted: 2013-04-03 21:26:10
One of the challenges for most MTBers is to find and ride new and interesting trails. Grant Byrne has scouted out a wealth of trails over the years and after completing a trail building and maintenance course a few years ago, he honed his new skills on tracks like Appin, Loftus, the Kessel Run and Bargo Colliery, and upped his advocacy involvement to try and negotiate formalising a track at Bargo Colliery. For all his effort, sadly, the latter never eventuated and early last year he put that to one side and changed tack.
Realizing the long-held need for a Western Sydney MTB Club, Grant launched Wollondilly Trailblazers, and set about to find (or share) a sustainable, challenging and interesting MTB track for the club. (As you may recall the rug was also pulled out from under Appin late last year so plans to share that with Wollongong MTB Club dried up.)
Then about 6 weeks ago he got a call from his mates at Phantom Cycles bike shop in Tahmoor telling him a guy was looking for a trail builder to help develop a MTB track out at Picton.
This was the opportunity he had been hunting for. Mowbray Park Farm is a Historic and well-known Farm Stay centre located just out of Picton. I drove out there last Saturday with Grant, Geoff, Jake (both from the Wollondilly Club) & Brian to scout out part of the trail Grant had been designing with the manager of MPF, Blair Briggs.
Grant, Brian & I biked while Geoff & Jake walked perhaps a quarter of the potential track and while I didnt get a sweat up, it was highly motivating to compare the trail options in a farm setting. Having had a couple of dogs, chooks and rabbits and a sheep in our Kiwi backyard as kids (I recall the sheep got turned into a roast and then shepherds pie!), and with a couple of farming uncles, I am well used to and love spending time on farms. Mowbray Park Farm brought it all back to me. While its set up for tourists, day visitors and school groups, it is a real working farm with a herd of sheep, pigs, a couple of dozen cattle, and of course enough horses to stage the Melbourne Cup.
So, why MTB?
Well the owner, Blair Briggs, wants to increase the range of activities for guests and tourists. His original idea was to set up a (moto) dirt bike track, but a couple of his farm workers suggested the noise and the ongoing upkeep of such a track would be a poor return, whereas MTB would fit well, especially bringing in more locals and for the visiting Dads & sons, looking for something a bit more exciting than milking the cows.
The 1,000 acre farm, 9Km west of Picton (about 43km from Campbelltown) is built on a slope, with paddocks, creeks, bush and rolling hills, ideal for a diverse riding experience.
And a challenging and interesting riding experience is what Grant Byrne, the trail designer and builder, has in mind. Open field switchbacks, singletrack through thickets of small trees, rocky creek crossings, long flowy sections, hairpins, across cattle fields and grates, with the option of a perimeter track of about 4.5 km and a more exciting 8-9Km of largely singletrack.
We spent a bit of time looking at a tricky creek crossing just metres away from Mowbray Park Road where you would ride in and out. Grant & the guys talked about shifting huge rocks from the banks to create a natural bridge, and then later, Blair said he would provide PVC pipe + aggregate to shore up the bridge. As most of you know, sustainable trail building is all about drainage. The ride out of the creek bed appeared a tad too steep to me, though Grant said he himself had ridden up but he admitted he was planning to flatten it out a lot more on the curve. One challenge in clearing this trail is that Lantana is everywhere around the creeks but, on the plus side at least it holds the riverbanks together!
The track will be for Farm Stay, Wollondilly club members and local and visiting riders, and as this will be used as the club's main track, Grant & the boys were already waxing on about events they would like to run, with some promoters already signaling to Grant their interest to run events there. This is before the trail has even been built!
The other challenge for us MTB riders is balancing time riding with keeping the rest of the family happy. This is where Mowbray Park Farm has it in spades over other trails. While you ride, there is a huge range of facilities for the rest of the family: canoeing, horse-riding, bike hire, cow milking, feeding the pigs, a shearing demo, swimming, campfire dining, damper cooking, Kids Club, tennis, archery and even bass fishing in the dams! And they have facilities for conferences and functions; so there's great lunchtime and evening dining, a huge open-area with a fixed roof which appeared perfect for a Bike Event HQ, especially with motel-style accommodation, and camping areas already available for the overnighters.
Grant reckons the MTB trail could be built as soon as the next couple of months but might take up to 9 months, depending on weather, the creek crossing engineering and how many challenges he has yet to discover!. If you are keen to get into this side of MTB or interested in learning how to design & build your own tracks and are available to give a hand help out, then check out the Wollondilly Trailblazers club website (http://www.wollondillytrailblazers.asn.au/), or their Facebook or contact Grant via the forums.
Trailflix will certainly update you as it progresses.
Photos of our Easter Expedition on Trailflix Flickr and Trailflix Facebook.
* *TRAIL NOTES: THE GROVE, INGAR, WINGELLO
THE GROVE: Steve Dabs - Rode this trail with my 9-year old son the other day for the first time. WOW, what a great little trail! Has a bit of everything, but ride-able for all levels as there are really good B lines for the less adventurous. Thanks to those that did a great job. I will be riding more and more.
THE GROVE: Tamara Howlett - I rode this trail yesterday for the first time. First time round I actually walked some of it but the second time round I did a little better. I went home and told my husband about this track and today we went back together. By the third time round I was keeping my feet on the pedals the whole way around (we went around four times). It is a great track for me. It runs so smoothly with a few exciting bits. Thank you to those that who have made it. A lot of effort has gone into it and it is such a pleasure to ride.
THE GROVE: Grant Crossley - The new section is finished now. After passing the gate at the start of the down hill section you go over a little jump then the trail has a fork, the right fork is the main flow trail that has 2 little double jumps, then goes through a little creek and then turns right. The new section goes straight ahead there. You can see the new trail returning there next to it. If you turn left at the fork it will still join the new trail as well.
THE GROVE: Wally - New trail section is looking sweet, great work to all those involved. Also the first downhill run that has been fixed up as you hit the bottom is perfect now. Loving it this ride!
INGAR FIRE TRAIL: Enrioco Stahn - The trail is quite nice. I wouldn't score it (as you guys have done as "More Advanced" though.
Here are some links to see the trail and download coordinates into your bike computer: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/290572647 & http://www.bikemap.net/route/94586
WINGELLO: Craig B - We rode the Yellow Trail today (29/3/2013). It is partially closed (not sure how long for but my guess is for a while) and is reduced to something like 9km and its basically just an extension of the Blue Loop.
It is possible to do the full 17km version on days when the forestry guys aren't working (which is what we did.) The sign posts are all in place although some have been covered up (but thanks to fellow MTBers, most of these covers have been removed).
Some pretty challenging climbs but with some great scenery - but no single track at all.
The start of the tracks weren't obvious (IMHO). You need a keen eye to spot the coloured arrows that set you off in the right direction - if in doubt, blue and yellow head out the way you come into the camping area, red goes the other way.
OLD MANS VALLEY: Noel - Guys, please use the new tyre scrubber on Quarry Road to remove mud from tyres (for Plant disease control).
TRAIL NOTES: OLD MAN’S VALLEY; JINDALEE NATIONAL PARK; HEATHCOTE PIPELINE; COOTAMUNDRA MTB TRACK:
OLD MAN’S VALLEY: Robert - Just rode Old Mans Valley at Hornsby and it was magic. It is only about 4k at the moment (if you use the Green loop in the Quarry) but it all rocks!! Saw some good falls, so do a loop first to check it out, then have a go.
Posted: 2013-02-18 18:36:46
JINDALEE NATIONAL PARK: Rick - Great free flowing track. An excellent workout to ride out from town (the road is very quiet) then ride the loop then push yourself back to town. The track has some excellent gullys you can really swoop down at speed. Fantastic!
HEATHCOTE PIPELINE: Gavin - Rode this trail for the first time on the weekend and like a couple of others have stated on here the climbing in the first half of the ride is quite challenging. It was extremely hot so a good solid workout. Returning from Woronora provided some good downhill fun followed by some straight section and a stiff little climb at the end. Enjoyed a cool off in the water near the weir.
COOTAMUNDRA MTB TRACK: Jamin - Great track! It has something for everyone - challenging climbs, fun descents and technical single tracks.
COOTAMUNDRA MTB TRACK: Rick - This is a great little ride. Its accessibility right on the edge of town means it's easy to find and get to. The course has something to please everyone. The country club is only 200m from the finish of the track so that hard earned beer is also easy to find.
JUBES MTB PARK - Adam from Synergy Trails told me Synergy are currently 're-jubinating’ another North Shore favourite - the Jubes MTB Park at Wahroonga. So the trails will be closed until place “gets a good dose of funk and flow” (redesign of the 800m single track, and securing the surface of the pump track). It is currently closed for this upgrade). Should reopen again in April.
INGAR, NORTH ROCKS, SPARROW HILL, COOTAMUNDRA
> > BORING, BORING, BORING…?
Posted: 2013-01-31 19:46:33
Last Saturday we rode Ingar (AKA Murphy’s) Fire Trail in the Blue Mountains. I hadn’t done it for maybe 10 years, and the trail page was looking pretty thin, so I needed to get some photos, get a GPX & map it etc. Tristan wasn’t keen until I agreed to do the double with St Helena’s, which he’d never done, and I hadn’t done for a couple of years.
As we were on the train ($12 return to the Blue Mountains: Bargain!), Tristan told me about a comment he’d read on nobmob.com:
"Ingar Firetrail is BORING, BORING, BORING! Don't do it to yourself, DO NOT TAKE IT! Everyone knows the funnest way from Wentworth Falls to Woodford is via The Andersons."
Well, we didn't find it as boring as all THAT!
In fact there's at least a bit to like: a patch of singletrack to muck around on at the start; goes nowhere but gives great views over the area... A campground halfway along, and just 700m off the main drag, with a picnic area with a swimmable dam & toilets... Followed by a steep, steep mother of a downhill that approaches Andersons for its treachery... And tall trees to shade you on your downward journey.
No, not boring at all, as far as firetrails go. Heck, it’s a shorter than Andersons if you are going to do the double (with the Oaks*), so if you are in the area, may be worth a gander...
After winding our way up the strenuous exit from Murphy’s we stopped at the top of the Oaks to liquid up and then headed down the Oaks on the best start to that trail I’ve ever taken – have to say it's riding beautifully. Fast, not-too loose, few people about… Magic!
...which is the opposite experience we had riding/hiking St Helena’s.
For a start I took the wrong turn and went down to an area called ‘St Helena's Crater’. Hint: Grassy NO EXIT Wasteland! That meant a couple of k’s back up the steepness we didn’t need. Then the famous St Helena's tight and almost straight singletrack towards the canyon; Hell, it was like being beaten with birch trees after a roll in Scandinavian snow…
The trip downhill at St Helena's didn't impress either of us and the hike-a-bike up finished us both off. We now rate this trail a paltry zero. The tell me ‘never-say-never’, but life’s too short to waste 2 hours on that excuse for a trail, compared to the excellent Oaks. (I know many will disagree…)
*A few crazy’s do the Oaks up, the Ingar up, the Andersons down and finish off with the Oaks. We met a couple of them on the day; Graham & his mate (name forgotten) riding 2 Cannondale light-as-air (9.5Kg) Lefty’s. Bike Envy ensued.
We’ve renamed Murphy’s Trail page (which is actually the name of the trail up from both Ingar & Andersons) as ‘Ingar’:
See the revised Trail page at Ingar Fire Trail Page
> >TRAIL NOTES: NORTH ROCKS, SPARROW HILL
NORTH ROCKS: Keenan - Rode this today on hybrid tyres, and managed OK with low pressure. I'm a newbie. Started at Heidi place down and over the creek bridge, turned left and down to M2 tunnel. Doubled back 30m and crossed creek and followed ‘til trail came to a very steep descent, which looked a bit too much for me and mates. All in all, a good first trail ride!
SPARROW HILL: Steve - Rode Sparrow Hill for the first time the other day with my 9 year old son. What a great day we had! Great trails, great fun: a must for everyone to ride and will certainly do it again soon.
COOTAMUNDRA MTB TRAIL: Debbie - I love this track and the wildlife on it. I do it about 3-4 times per week and I often see wallabies and bearded dragons and have now mastered the rocky section. Fun for all the family.
COOTAMUNDRA; PROSPECT CANAL CYCLEWAY, KESSEL RUN
> > COOTAMUNDRA MTB
Posted: 2013-01-31 19:39:36
Got an email recently from Hamish Nott, asking if we would be interested in putting up a couple of trails up from his town, Cootamundra. For all you historians and cricket fans, it's the birthplace of Australian crickets greatest batsman, Don Bradman, and the location of NSWs oldest golf course... and one of the oldest (1895!) cycle clubs in NSW. Located 360 Km southwest of Sydney, between Canberra & Wagga Wagga, the town is surrounded by fields of wheat and canola, so in spring the bright yellow flowers of this near-ubiquitous oily seed plant scent the air and dominate the landscape.
No problem! I replied, and Hamish provided details of the first of several trails which Ive mapped and put up. For a small town (just 6,000), they seem to have a very keen community of both on- and off-road members. If youre out that way, check them out: www.cootacycleclub.com.au/
The trail page is here.
plus has its first comment from Stuart Luff - already!... I've ridden this track quite a few times: Nice flow, takes about 30mins to do at a fun pace. I'd compare it to the flowing style of Awaba XC instead of the more technical nature or Ourimbah XC. Great fun!
(Still to come: The Ironbarks - 11Km - and Pioneer Park - apparently very technical)
> > TRAIL NOTES: PROSPECT CANAL CYCLEWAY, KESSEL RUN
PROSPECT CANAL CYCLEWAY: Markus - Nice ride! I did it with my wife last weekend. It's a really nice ride. You can extend it a little bit. We did 20km. No big climbs. We took the sealed cycle way one way and the gravel road (just next to the sealed one) back.
CAMDEN: Shorty - About 1hr all up - to the very end (1/2 way around the return loop) and back. That's going pretty hard, for me anyways.
BUTTERBOX POINT DAWN
The last time I rode this, the 360-degree view of the Blue Mountains from Flat Top Hill (about half way along the trail) was so spectacular, I told myself I must head back there one morning to catch the sunrise.
Posted: 2013-01-27 16:51:35
Truth be told, I was half kidding myself (what an exercise just to see the ol’ sun come up!?), but as I related the story to a few other bike mates (most of whom didn’t believe me either) I created this picture of a spectacular dawn that just stuck there and slowly started to form a germ of commitment…
And this past weekend (when things were a lot cooler and no bush fires!), the stars were in alignment, with a social-event-free Friday night and I finally did it. Tristan and John had been starters but for various reasons, couldn't make it, so there I was at 4am on Saturday, biking along Mt Hay Road under the light of a half moon and 2 tiny LED commuter lights. After the Blue Mtns National Park gates there wasn't another light until I got to the top of Flat Top Hill about 45 minutes later.
The experience was pretty close to what I’d expected; but I was about 30 minutes early, so after taking a few photos of the distant Sydney City skyline I spent time with my iPhone Universe app, star gazing, sweeping the iPhone round the sky while the app read out the names of stars, planets, constellations and even some satellites, most of which I could spot through the cloudless and largely haze-free atmosphere. I never get time to look at the night sky in the city and here I had 30 minutes of uninterrupted astronomy. Memories of childhood telescope awe flooded back and I think I gave control to my internal 10-year old...
Also unexpected was the epic SILENCE atop the mountain: no birds, no breeze, no distant traffic, no nothing. Hard to find that anywhere within the city boundaries these days. My ears were a bit confused…
Dawn came soon enough though as a red glow inked its way across the eastern horizon. The tiny, bright lava-coloured sun rose like a fireball over the distant city.
Apart from a few pre-dawn chills from a sweaty back, the conditions were perfect and it was as close to a spiritual nirvana off a bike as this boy ever gets.
A hundred or so photos later I was hiking down the 10-minute (unrideable, overgrown) path back to the firetrail and continued my ride to the end of the track: Butterbox Canyon and Mt Hay. I walked up a few of the hiking trails to take in a few extra Blue Mtns vista shots, then, just as the first of a few abseiler-filled vehicles rocked up to start their early climbing expedition, I rode back to enjoy the rest of a full day.
I’m happy riding solo in the dark and it only hit me later...that maybe I should be a tad more cautious…
I stopped on the way back to photograph the signboard at the park entrance. It featured the Broad headed Snake: and I read, “…Broad headed snakes are largely nocturnal,… aggressive and venomous…” (Gulp!). There I had been, hiking up a dark track in the ‘nocturne’, so to speak, on my own… Lucky, then, one of these guys hadn’t been nocturnalising around that area at the same time or you might be reading in the obits about this fool who died of a snakebite, while biking back to the Blue Mtns hospital! :|
The Butterbox Trail has about 1-2 Km of annoying but tolerable corrugation (washboarding) at the start of the dirt track, then it eases off, with evidence of recent grading from that point. The trail is up-and-downhill, with a few steep ascents/descents in parts, to become a pretty fair 2-3 hour workout including the run up to the top of Flat Top, which - even in the daytime - is well worth an out-of-bike experience.
(Mostly) Snake-free photos on Trailflix Flickr.
Maps & other stuff on the Butterbox Point Trail Page
TRAIL NOTES: LAKE PARRAMATTA RESERVE; NORTH ROCKS; MANLY DAM; SINGLETON; GREAT NORTH ROAD; KESSEL RU
LAKE PARAMATTA RESERVE: Dirk - Living on the Central Coast means I rarely get the chance to ride the Sydney trails. This used to be my local though, but having not ridden it in over a year I was fortunate enough to get out there yesterday.
Posted: 2013-01-27 16:48:17
This trail is wicked! Bit of everything and some of the best technical stretches in Sydney. If you love your biking then you need to give this one a go!
NORTH ROCKS: Tim - Went for a ride thru the first time; couldn't find the entrance from Ted Horwood so ended up heading down a track off Candowie Cres... (I think it was a sewage access track!). I ended up carrying the bike a bit but went past the M2 bridge to the tunnel further along and then doubled back coming out at Ventura Road Northmead. This section from the M2 bridge thru to the tunnel seemed the best for a newbie, nice and flowy. Does anyone know where this ends up? I'm going to give it go this arvo...
MANLY DAM: Phil - Very impressed with the track! Could not ride all the uphill, heck, it seemed to go forever …but the downhill at the end made it all worth it where you can see far enough ahead to keep off the breaks, and the dropoffs aren’t too big.
MENAI: Toby G - Any news on whether this trail is now open or shut??
SINGLETON: John Humbley - What a difference 12 months makes! Returned here after a year and the trail builders have done a marvelous job, adding approx 3km of singletrack, some fence crossings and re-routing much of the original course. It’s brilliant! Each climb is rewarded with a fast, flowy, sometimes twisty descent. Heaps of fun!
OLD GREAT NORTH ROAD: PSW - Lots of variety! If you go out to the Buddhist monastery, I think it’s a bit further than 28kms, but the [potable] water is great - thanks! Big climb at the start, lots of up and down, single track and fire trail and quite technical, hard for a beginner like myself but I think I am better for it; got to practice technique and to figure out how to get up and down rocks. Coming back was fun, although I struggled to get up any slight incline by then, being saddle sore and exhausted. Fire trail return was smooth as, so we got lots of speed but watch out for the gate at the end, my mate pulled up with only a metre to spare. Exhausting but fun ride: Take snacks you need to recharge along the way.
KESSEL RUN: David - Just got myself a new bike and have started to ride the Kessel Run, I have only had time to go to the first pump station and back. How long does the full trip to the end take? [Ed: Write responses in the Comments section in the Kessel Run Trail Page