I must confess, there was no climbing done by myself this weekend (though I did belay D up some climbs, and had an interesting moment of possible personal protective equipment failure; more on that later). Having bought new mountain bikes recently, D and I have a mission: find trails. Ride them.
Saturday morning, I drove North to have breakfast with my folks, and to go out riding with them. This is no mean feat; they don’t mountain bike, but they do go on fairly long touring trips, from Brisbane most of the way down to Sydney, or around South Australia (~12-1300km each). Their trip blogs are here:
…So I think it’s reasonable to say that they are probably fitter than I am, and their endurance for uncomfortable bike seats must be atmospheres higher than mine (their padded pants probably help).
After a sumptuous breakfast, many hugs and admiration of my lovely new Jamus X3 mountain bike, we piled into the car and headed out to a reserve, ending up at Katandra, which showcases a lovely view of the ocean out over Terrigal.
We started off down the narrow tracks which lead to the main fire trails; in Australia these run through most reserves along the ridges and down through valleys, to allow fire-fighter access when bushfires occur, and are fantastic places to walk, cycle or ride a horse along, assuming you are prepared to meet all three such locomotives on your stroll.
For a large section of ridge-top, the track from Katandra to Rumbalara is wide, 4WD-friendly space, fairly easy to cycle on. Further along, past the trig station, the track narrowed, and became littered with rocks sprouting from the ground like broken, rounded teeth. This was where my new pocket rocket came into its own, and I can honestly admit to shouting things like, “Wooohooooooooo–!” as it pogo’d its way down the narrow track, the shocks absorbing foot-high impacts beautifully (of course I aimed for the rocks, what else was there to launch from?).
Further along we needed to push the bikes, and still further, it became necessary to carry them up the steep section of steps, before cycling out along another obstacle-littered section of track, to reach the tarmac at the top of Rumbalara Reserve, after which Dad took me off down some kind of rabbit-trail, where rocks on the track were not so much a problem as seeing the track at all. Too much city riding, methinks.
We turned around and cycled home, where I narrowly escaped being mummified through sheer photo-quantity that the parents wished to show me of their recent South Australia trip.
“You can show me as many photos as you like,” I finally caved, “But you have half an hour in which to do so.” Ten minutes later, D called me to meet at Berowra, and I made my escape, with some photo-obligation time still pending.
Yes, Berowra of last weeks’ climbing.
Ladder of Gloom, Berowra. If we climbed in horror movies, this toothy maw would snap shut on us as we went up it…
However, D and I were not there to climb. Not yet. Instead, we found a trail ride which looped around with a view across to the Mt. Ku-ring-gai climbing area, and huffed our way up slopes made of ball-bearings, fist-sized lumps of vaguely spherical sandstone.
At the end of this ride, I was pretty knackered, and was happy to belay D up a few climbs (he still had plenty of energy) at the Berowra crag, skipping up the Ladder of Gloom, and up another climb just around the corner from it, which he made look easy and desirable.
While he was safetied in and organising up the of the route, I happened to notice that there was an odd ridge in the top of the locking biner that I belay off. What the…?
No sense in worrying D… I grabbed a non-locker from my harness, and clipped that through the belay device, just in case of system failure on the way down, and told him when he was safely back at ground level.
I’ve since had a PPE-knowledgeable friend check it out for me, and it was judged that the faint ridge was a result of the cold-forging extrusion process, as there was a corresponding one on the base of the biner also. However… I’ve retired it, seeing as it is probably over a decade old.
Following that moment of excitement, we headed inland towards St. Albans, a lovely little valley where we were going to do a 40km cycle loop the following day, staying the night at the old sandstone pub…