Every year Melbournians say the same thing. This year is the coldest and wettest winter they have known, this year has been no exception. So I thought I would take the opportunity to head north to Brisbane for a few days, explore some new roads and ride the Rapha Prestige ride.
Words and Images - Glen O'Rourke
The format of the ride is you ride in a team of 4 people, Unsupported, unsanctioned and un-marshalled adventure across stunning terrain.
I met up with my team mates on the morning of the ride, All of which I had never met before and I was interested to see how personalities and abilities would gel on what would be a demanding day out on the bike. There were lots of smiles and a great atmosphere at the start. The event start/finish was at the Green beacon brewery so a great incentive to get to the end to enjoy a cool refreshing beer.
We set off at the tail end of the field and set into a nice easy rhythm. Nice start to the day across Jinker track and flowing rolling hills. As we hit camp mountain jack and Courtney (local to Brisbane) told me about what was coming up. A gravel stretch of road called The Goat track that connects Mount Glorious and Mt Nero. As we hit the track we could see riders who had started ahead of us all over the road. Some walking, some grovelling, panting, sweat dripping and salt patches on Rapha jerseys so early on what promised to be a gentle introduction of what was to come…
As we crested the top of Mt Nebo the sun was getting high in the sky and not a cloud in sight it made me glad that I had made the trip. Conditions where absolutely perfect 24 degrees and hardly a breath of wind. Cool in the morning and warm enough to not need arm warmers by mid-afternoon.
So over the top and we started the fabulous decent. Jack told me that now the fun starts and it really did. The road down from Mt Nebo is nice and with safe long sweeping corners and great road surface. We got about half way down when the course ground us to a halt and turned off on what looked like a fire trial.
A rocky pathway lay ahead of us and our first puncture of the day, Gavin hit the rocky decent full gas and paid the price. A quick and efficient change and we were on our way again. Things really got hard from here. Steep climbs up what looked like river beds with rocks strewn across the narrow tracks. It really was beautiful with dappled sunlight through the trees, birds chirping and a steely determination to ride the whole track while others were forced to get off and walk. We made it to the top and the terrain seemed to get even more challenging. This time with a steep decent that was really just hanging on and aim the bike and what you though could be the safest line. Back wheels locking up, dust flying and I have so say you could hear yells of fear and joy at the same time. One guy I passed just had to atop to give his hands a rest from gripping the bars so hard for so long.
Up next was the infamous Haven road with its 36.9% pitch. This is a serious grind of a hill and requires some zig zagging to just get up it. Later I was told that over half of the field had to walk it. Again the ride was producing one hell of a challenge. The team made it to the top and regrouped for more climbing on quiet roads only to turn into a dead end. Then the highlights of the ride, a pony track over soft grass with dippers that gave you a good kick off the saddle, a quick decent and back onto tarmac for a short period.
The final rocky steep track of the day was the one that levelled the field. It was near impossible to ride due to its loose rocks and steep gradient. I really didn’t want to succumb to the humiliation of walking but then realised it was impossible to ride it. I had to laugh at this stage. It was promised that we would ride roads that even the locals wouldn’t have ridden. That was certainly delivered.
Back on tarmac (I actually saw one person kiss the road they were that glad to back on tarmac) and the ride back into the city. We all felt like we deserved that beer and shared stories of the day with riders from other teams. There was a great atmosphere back at the finish with shared stories and experiences. The day covered 3,000 meters of elevation, 135kms and certainly one to remember for a long, long time.
Thanks to my team mates who looked after me for the day:
· Team captain Gavin Holbrook who rode on a flat tyre across broken tracks. Great bush mechanic skills!
· BMX skills Jack Elkins. Check out his skills on Instagram.
· Courtney Coyne who plugged away all day with a massive smile on her face.
Also thanks to Rapha Australia for putting on a truly epic event.