Rumble in the Jagungal #2

Over the Easter weekend I joined my friends Chris (from canyoning adventures) and Ollie (from my ride across Wales) on a bikepacking adventure through the Jagungal Wilderness. The ride was organised through Omafiets bikeshop which they happen to run, and is one of their 2018 Shop Rides which is an awesome initiative. As it was the second year the ride has been run it was called the Rumble in the Jagungal #2.

The ride they’d planned out was to me big and intimidating – although nothing like the Hunt1000 or the Monaro Cloudride – it still aimed to tick off 124km with over 3000Vm in four days. Given the number of injuries I have sustained over the past year or two I honestly wasn’t sure how I would go, but with a lot of physio and my new pilates classes plus a little bit of training I set of with the bunch on Friday morning ready for an adventure.

Day one started with a long slog up from Dension campground on a good fireroad – at 15km to the top it was a nice way to warm up the muscles before heading onto the double track out to Mackay’s Hut where we camped the night. Until we got to camp I hadn’t really realised the number of people who were joining the ride (39) or the diversity of fitness, experience and gear of those people. It was amazing to watch the faces of everyone as they arrived to a chorus of “Yewww’s” from those who were already there!

Day two was probably the toughest -the steep ascents and descents meant a whole lot of hike-a-bike when the hills were just too steep and too loose to ride up, and then some brake testing descents. But once we’d made the Mt Jagungal turn off the ride along the ridge line was beautiful and not something I’ll forget – just riding along chatting to other riders and enjoying being on a bike. At Round Mountain Hut we were treated to an absolutely stunning sunset!

Day three proved to be my un-doing. A short section of road, followed by an epic descent and then we were on the climb out of Happy Jack’s pondage. This hill wasn’t so much steep as relentless and the fatigue was enough to bring back the knee pain I’d avoided the past few days. After hanging out with Ollie and a few others for lunch I decided I would bail back to the car and head home.

A massive thanks to everyone for making me feel so welcome on the ride, and to Chris and Ollie for organising!

Oykel to Ullapool – a touring bike don’t (oh and mum don’t read this, just look at the photos)

Yesterday I completed one of my typically silly days of outdoors adventure, honestly I’d put it in the same league as my Naas Valley fire trail weekend but I should vet to the point. I decided to ride from Oykel Bridge to Ullapool via the dirt roads and bern at Loch an Daim. With my fully loaded touring bike. In summary – anyone with a touring bike should NOT do this, even if the guys in the pub at Oykel tell you it is easy and they drove it DO NOT BELIEVE THEM!!!

Anyway, the back story. I have put in a few big days recently riding from John O Groats to Bettyhill (83km, 900m ascent) and Bettyhill to Lairg (76km) and was looking forward to getting into Ullapool for a rest day. To make the day interesting I noticed a marking on the Sustrans Map stating there was a mountain bike route from Oykel to Ullapool, and after talking to locals and people in bike shops I decided to give it a go.

The 10 miles of dirt roads up the Strath Mulzie is spectacular and has to be some of my favorite riding of the trip so far. The road is a bit rocky, generally pretty flat and feels like genuine wilderness which I absolutely loved! It is the first place I have not been able to see houses or sealed roads and it is just spectacular.

The downside of this ride is the 2+ miles of goat track connecting the two dirt roads. This track is tough, and although I did manage to push through the track with my 50kg of bike I would bot recommend it to anyone. The only reason I made it is that it hasn’t rained for nearly a week and the track and bog had dried sufficiently to be safe. In the rain I would definitely have turned back scared.

Once through I must admit that I was supremely happy to have made it, extremely hot and sweaty, and very very excited to ride my bike!

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Some other snaps

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Guest Post – Glyn’s South Coast Adventure

This guest post, possibly the first in a series, comes from Glyn the bike packer. Now most bike packers seem to be a little on the crazy, but Glyn’s adventure seems to be positively enjoyable, and I can’t wait to try out his route myself when time permits.

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