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!

Mountain Bike Trails of Alice Springs

As i ride around Alice Springs on my mountain bike I often come up against a common problem. I don’t know where the mountain bike trails go, or what they are called. Being a nerd, and lazy, I felt I had to do something about it so I have started assembling my GPS traces into a map overlaid on Google Earth which shows all the trails I have ridden on the western side of Alice Springs.

My goal for the next few weeks or months is to ride every trail I can and record where they go, and how they interlink. Hopefully I will get some locals to feed me useful knowledge like names of trails etc.

Anyway this is an unofficial first draft of my map of the MTB trails of Alice Springs.


East Side Mountain Biking

Smooth trails, great company and a patched up side wall. What could possibly make for a better day of mountain biking then that combination?

Today I went out riding with a group of keen riders from the Central Australian Rough Riders to explore the trails on the east side of Alice Springs, including some freshly cut trails that most people hadn’t ridden before. The riding was generally smooth with early sections serving up nice technical stretches, some well designed switchbacks and a few hills. Alice Springs really doesn’t know what a hill is, but to be honest I think I will be able to deal with that!

Today’s course and vertical profile.

As mentioned in  my previous post today was also the first time I’ve seen clouds since arriving in Alice Springs and I am convinced that the stunning scenery of Alice Springs is only improved by partially clouded sky.

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Mt Gillen 6hr MTB Enduro – Alice Springs

Ever arrived in a new town and wondered what the best way to get to know the local mountain biking scene? On Sunday I tried my fourth method and it worked out brilliantly. The method, signing up for an enduro race as part of a team, and letting someone else put you in the team!

So after a late start I rocked up at the Mt Gillen 6hr Enduro race in my new town of Alice Springs about 90minutes after the race had started to be met by some very friendly event volunteers from local club appropriately named the Central Australian Rough Riders. They told me I was in a team of four people, and that the second team member was out on the course so I had some time to get ready. Their advice on finding my team? Head in that direction and shout Stephen or Jacob…

Amazingly that worked and 5 minutes later I was getting myself sorted my first lap while chatting to Jacob (a super keen young rider who despite crashing on the 2nd lap stood at the finish line until the last minute praying to get a third lap in), while George (an awesome kid but more about that later) waited for Stephen to get back from his lap.

In the true spirit of enduro races twenty minutes later, when Stephen (a cheery American from Alabama) was back from his lap, the team set about helping Jacob change his bald rear tyre for the new one he has just won. It seemed like a risky tactic to change from a 2.2″ to a 2″ tyre between laps, but when compared to having to walk up most hills due to lack of traction it seemed like a good idea. Of course the tyre being replaced was tubeless, and the new one wasn’t – but who ever let that phase them.

Eventually it was time for my lap of the course. I set out full of vim and vigour ready to smash out a lap on new ground. Unfortunately I should have taken more heed of the week sitting in a car for 3600km, or the cold I am still fighting, because as soon as I reached the first hill I was panting like a dog and praying the lap would finish soon!

The course was brilliantly set up, and the trails out here are amazing. For anyone interested I would describe it as being flowy like Majura Pines, with the persistent sand and rocks of Appin (though not the technical ones). Despite sore lungs it was impossible not to enjoy the riding, and the friendliness of everyone out there was something every race should aspire too.

The course was shaped like an animal, I am calling it a dog, but I am open to suggestions…

A special mention is needed about the number of juniors in the race, with a competitive schools comp and heaps of juniors out riding anyway. These kids have serious skills!

At the end of the day there were presentations. The event organiser JP had put a lot of effort into making cool trophies and to finish the day with the same sense of fun the whole event displayed, awarded a series of prizes to people for non-race related prowess.

As the only team of 4 we kind of won by default, but that’s a win right?

The mood around the event site was awesome. Three cheers to JP, the volunteers and everyone there!

Cycling Tasmania – Amazing ride around the whole state!

In December 2011 my partner and I set out on an adventure, to cycle tour around Tasmania from Hobart to Hobart the long way. Before setting out I had never really ridden on overnight cycle tours and you’d think that this should have led to some trepidation, but no, this was to be our big adventure and that is exactly how we treated it. Plus Tasmania is an island with lots of people living on it and plenty of places to get food and water so how hard could it be?

Before reading too much you might like to have a look at the map of where we rode, and the vertical profile showing some of the hills we encountered on the way. The map can be reached by clicking on the link below.

The Graceful Cyclists Tasmania Cycle Touring Map

The route we cycled anticlockwise around Tasmania. The vertical profile is shown on the right.

The route we cycled anticlockwise around Tasmania. The vertical profile is shown on the right.

Our itinerary was as follows:
Day 1: Hobart Airport to Cape Bernier Nature Reserve
Day 2: Swansea
Day 3: Swanwick (Coles Bay)
Day 4: Rest Day at Freycinet National park
Day 5: Scamander
Day 6: Binalong Bay and Cosy Corner Campsite (The Gardens)
Day 7: Weldborough Pub – Really worth staying at!
Day 8: Scottsdale
Day 9: Launceston

Day 10: Rest Day in Launceston and walking in Cataract Gorge
Day 11: Mole Creek
Day 12: Side Trip to Mole Creek Caves then Gowrie park
Day 14: Cradle Mountain – otherwise known as UP!
Day 15: Rest Day exploring Cradle Mountain National Park
Day 16: Roseberry
Day 17: Strahan
Day 18: Rest Day and river cruise on the Franklin
Day 19: Collingwood River via Queenstown
Day 20: Lake St Clair
Day 21: Rest Day: Exploring the national park and Mt Rufus – the day of snakes!
Day 22: Lake Meadowbank via the 14 mile road
Day 23: Mt Field
Day 24: Rest Day at Mt Field with riding and coffee drinking
Day 25: Hobart

Cycling Tasmania is an amazing way to see what is an amazing island. Each day we rose at a positively respectable time and set out on our bikes not really knowing what we would encounter before the campsite we had selected for that night. Despite this lack of planning we were never wanting for interesting landmarks to break up the ride as everywhere you go there are beaches, valleys, mountains, cafes, museums, creeks, rivers (proper ones) and more cafes.

Most of the time it was the small things which made out trip as enjoyable as it was. On one occasion as we rolled down cruised across the north of Tasmania we came across a sign for a Chinese mining exhibit of to the left. Having time to spare, and inclination to explore we followed the signs and found ourselves in the front year of a strangers following signs to the exhibit. At the top of the hill we found an excellent little display and walk that explored the cuttings and water works created by miners prospecting for tin and gold in the area.

Trip Details:

Days 1-3

Days 4-6

Days 7-9

In terms of notes we made that everyone cycling around Tasmania should know there are very few and are as follows.

1) The ferry between Swansea and Coles Bay doesn’t seem to run any more. We were quite disappointed when we found out we’d have to ride an extra 30km around the bay.

2) The Weldborough pub is excellent with hot showers and nice camping. Even better the pub has a great range of local beer and soft drinks which are worth stopping for.

3) The steepest hill we found was riding from Moles Creek towards Paradise on the Union Bridge Road.

4) Lake St Clair to Lake Meadowbank is a really long way (96km) but the 14mile road bypass of Tarraleah makes the ride manageable. Also there isn’t any water at the Lake Meadowbank campsites any more.

To see our photos go to our Tasmania Cycling Adventures photo album.