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Easter Weekend MTB Adventure - Part I
I had a great Easter long weekend riding the mountain bike trails surrounding the Lithgow area. A mix of fire trails, tight twisty single track, long adventures, regular GPS and map checks, a fair amount of hike-a-bike and even a trip to Lithgow Hospital.
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Keen on avoiding the Thursday night traffic jam we opted to leave Sydney at a respectable hour on Good Friday. With the obligatory Maccas stop out of the way we headed up and over the mountains via the Bells Line of Road.
On arrival in Lithgow we pitched the tent (my son's birthday present given to him by his Grandparents who would be our MTB Shuttlers for the weekend) and with lunch out of the way we headed up the Newnes Plateau to scope out some trails.
I am totally deficient when it comes to orienteering, this skill skipped a generation. My Father's expertise includes navigating the wilds of NZ, going overland through Africa during the 60s and many off shore yachting adventures. I was totally lost without GPS signal but my son was able to determine where we were with nothing more than an A3 print out of a Google Maps satellite view! With that in mind I went through some basic navigation techniques with the old man before heading off on the Nine Mile Cabin trail.
Despite erring on the side of caution a few times we managed to get to the end without any significant back tracking. A win for the anally retentive first born father (ARFBF); that is I didn't have #1 Son threatening never to ride with me again on day 1 of our adventure.
Day 2 and we were back up on the Newnes Plateau, only this time it was a 30km drive right across the plateau to the Glowworm Tunnels. The ARFBF instincts kicked in again so I made the olds drive us to our finishing point before driving back about 5km to the trail head.
We kitted up in knee and shin pads because despite being a fire trail we knew it was going to be long and fast; we weren't going to take any chances. Even the first 4km of well groomed dirt road had an ever present threat of speeding 4WDs or motocross riders sliding onto the wrong side of the road.
From the 1st gate the road turned to rough fire trail and began descending. It had it's fair share of steep sections and then smack bang in the middle of a blind corner a second gate appeared, the purpose of which was not clear at all. From the second gate the trail entered a valley and after a short climb dipped deep into the abyss.
The valley was deep and dark, the track covered in leaf litter and the edges lined with wet ferns. The amazing scenery was a little lost on us as we sucked every bit of enjoyment out of the smooth, fast and flowy track.
Once out of the valley the trail turned steep and rocky again as it skirt around the plateau. I was concentrating so hard on the trail that I didn't notice the enormous drops off to the right, in fact I got quite a shock when I watched the GoPro footage. Had I seen the cliff I wouldn't have been riding anywhere near as fast!
Around the back side of the plateau we opted not to ride right down into the valley, nor take the Rail Trail to Newnes, we continued to wrap our way around the plateau towards the Glowworm tunnel. But it wasn't going to be easy!
With the exception of the odd rock garden and gully crossing we rode the first couple of kilometres, however into the valley on the other side there were very few opportunities to ride - it was hike-a-bike at it's best all the way to the Glowworm Tunnel. On the other side of the tunnel there were still a few staircases but we rode most of the way to our rendezvous point, albeit an hour later than expected and totally smashed.
We had planned to visit the trails at Rydal that afternoon but the 14km ride (6km largely hike-a-bike) had taken its toll on the boy. We called it a day and hit the Lithgow Workers Club for dinner.
The opening two days of our Easter MTB holiday had certainly been an adventure, but there was more to come.
A HUGE Thank you to Flynny from the Central Tablelands Mountain Bike Club (CTMBC) http://ctmbc.net/ for the awesome tips and info about riding in the area.