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The speedfox at Bedford Creek

The speedfox at Bedford Creek

A linkup of three (well, four) classic Lower-to-Mid-Mountains Trails. The Oaks Firetrail and Singletrack is a classic - accessible in the Lower Mountains, well used, well-maintained, and very popular indeed. Going up the trail is less popular, but that's how this one starts. It took me an hour and a half in the saddle, according to MapMyRide, to get to the head of the trail, achieved mainly by playing "trail is lava" with myself for as much of the route as possible. This gave me a solid start to build on, but left me a little more fatigued than I'd hoped for the later sections. I never was that good at keeping a reserve. Still, I'm clearly a lot stronger than on my previous effort at the two-way Oaks.

Time to top-up the water supplies and venture forth. I stopped and chatted for a while with some other groups of riders, all of whom commented on the BMC Speedfox and the relative impressiveness of my intentions. Having never done Ingar or Anderson's before, I was keen for info, and got enough to make a pact with myself that if Ingar felt too hard, turning round was possible. I also met up with a mate from Twitter who was doing his first down-the-oaks run.

Next up is the Ingar Trail, after turning left off the top of The Oaks and heading down to meet the Murphy's Glen Road. Listed in TrailFlix as Murphy's Firetrail, in fact it's a link-up between the Murphy's Glen trail and the Ingar Firetrail at Queen Elizabeth Drive, via slightly non-intuitive right turn marked "walkers only". In fact, the signpost at the other end says "walkers and cycles". Still, it's allowed, ignore the sign. Ridden upwards, it's all climbing from Bedford's Creek, which itself is a freezing cold thigh-deep crossing. The drop in to Bedford's Creek, however, is frightening because of the inevitability of having to climb back out later on, after 70+kms of riding. It's steep. Still, once you're on the plateau after this dip, the riding is pleasant.

Ingar is, from the creek, a 12km category 2 climb all the way until you reach the residential section. But that's OK, because so is the bottom section of The Oaks. They both get the grade for the length, I suspect, since the climb back out from Bedford in the other direction is much steeper, but gets only category 4. The trail opens out and becomes quite scenic, and there's a Foursquare checkin along the way at the Queen Elizabeth Trail Lookout, which is and obvious clearing on the right a scant couple of kms from the tarmac at Tableland Road.

Having reached Tableland Road in Wentworth Falls, you turn left and speed down to the Queen Victoria Hospital, and join the McMahons Lookout Firetrail, until it meets the Anderson's Firetrail at a signposted left-hand bend. Fast, bumpy. Gives the suspension a workout, but not as much as later on...

Entering Andersons, you climb slightly to the locked gate, and ride for a relatively short distance to what is reputed to be a counter-intuitive fork in the road. Straight ahead is a dead-end, bending right is Anderson's, but the relative wear on the trails tells the story. The right-hand is the way to go, and the left is beginning to get overgrown.

This is where the really good stuff starts. Anderson's gives about 15km of downhill riding, on sweeping firetrails, before a short climb and the steep drop back to Beford's Creek. It was a tad wet on my run, so I didn't get the best speed out of it, but hell it was good, and I did manage to get my brake rotors sufficiently hot to burn a fingertip on the drop to the river crossing. There are, oddly, two creek crossings on the return run, which left me slightly geographically confused at first, since the first is not the crossing one takes on the 'upward' ride. I stopped at the second for a banana and some water. My camelbak ran out here (the river is reputedly non-drinkable so I wasn't risking it), and I was onto the reserve bottle for the big, nasty climb out. Protip: take enough water. Parts of the climb out were, unashamedly, walks, but the top eases off significantly and becomes ridable again until you meet the tarmac and take the right turn to find yourself at the top of The Oaks again, and have a chance to refill from the handy tap.

From here, you take the Classic Oaks experience downhill. My ride saw sunset coming in just before reaching the singletrack entrance, so I was perfectly placed to switch on the lights (I'd strapped them on at the helipad) and run the singletrack in the dark. Again, it was wetter than ideal, but since night rides are generally slower than day rides, that didn't seem such a bad thing. I hit surprisingly few spanning spiderwebs, had no punctures and hit the blacktop just before the rocky section of the singletrack letting me blast down to the Causeway as fast as possible. I slogged my way out from here, feeling increasingly exhausted, to hit 98.5kms as I got to the car. A quick loop around Glenbrook got me up to the formality of 100kms and I headed home, fatigued, light-headed and coughing my lungs up.

Did I mention I did the whole thing with a cold and a lung infection? Oh yeah, that.


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Notes

  • Rode this again on 16 July 2012. Was originally intending to add in a run to McMahons Lookout, making it more like 130-140kms, but started too late. As it was I finished The Oaks on lights. Bedford Creek was incredibly cold. I have no in-saddle timings for the full loop, as my battery died as I got to Wentworth Falls. I estimated about six hours overall.
  • Based on the three times I've ridden Anderson's so far, I'm tempted to label it the best firetrail in the Mountains, rivalling the scenery of Narrowneck. Were it not for the climb out to Woodford, it'd be the most enjoyable trail in the area. With the climb, you spend several kilometres crying blood after a fast, scenic, mostly-downhill experience replete with wildlife.

 

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