Hi all, sorry for the news black out, had a hectic weekend (or I have been in hiding fearing revenge attacks for dragging you over the Blue Man)
A few thoughts.....
Firstly a big thanks to everyone who came along and took part with good humor in very trying circumstances. Extra big thanks to Vern for taking some cracking pics.
The Blue Man. I guess this is the section that this ride will be remembered by. With the benefit of hindsight, its probably not a trail to be tackled with legs that have slogged 22 miles through deep mud, knee deep water and some impressive hills. For those reading who have never riden the Blue Man... well, let me tell you, its tough as hell. It is probably the
hardest trail I have riden in my 25 years of MTB- and it has really deteriorated in the last 20 years since I last rode it, although it was always bad. I think Ollie summed it up best with 'If it just relented for half a mile, I think I can make it to the end'.
That said, I always feel that it's a good thing to step out of your comfort zone every now and then. As with last years 'Green Valley of Death' and our first Cut Gate epic a few years back, this ride was as far removed from the trail centre riding that most folk do these days, as you can get even though we could see the fringes of Dalby over on the Horizon, it is millionmiles away in terms of difficulty.
The route also had a true oldskool feel about it- that sense of adventure, adversity, misadventure and hardship that, to me at least represented the kind of riding we did in the early days.
Thoughts on machinary and equipment... I chose to ride a full rigid set up for starters. Turning up on something with lots of travel would have taken something away from the experience I think. Yes, my battered left wrist gave me much discomfort throughout the day, but over the rocks of the last 5 miles I was greatful for the unrivalled accuracy that a rigid fork provides. Falling off onto those rocks would be a painfull experience- especially as I had run out of brakes some hours before.
Also my thoughts on SPDs.... Like lycra, they are for roadbikes! Flats and grippy shoes are king for rough trails. Skidding around on cleated shoes and constant re-engaging into pedals make for an experience harder than it needs be!
To sum up.... Yes it was hard work but very rewarding. Once again we proved that old bikes are just as capable in the right hands. Would I go back? Not this week, maybe not for another 15 years, but hell yeah I'll be back again one day.
I'd say that everyone who rode on saturday can stand with heads held high amongst their peers. Be proud that you not only completed such a tough route, but did it in style, with grace and in good humour. Also, revel in the fact that despite the horrendous ground conditions and terrain, that there was not a single mechanical or puncture, or accident. A pretty amazing feat.