Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mt Richardson Solo

After the last debacle of a ride at Bottle, I dragged the old bike out of the shed and thought I had better take a look and see if I can figure out the problem with the shifting (or automatic shifting) that I was still getting. I guessed it could be either a worn out derailleur or a bent hanger. I checked out both and lubed the jockey wheels on the derailleur as well. There was a bit of movement in the mechanism so figured that could be it. The hanged looked straight enough, but when I pulled on it there was a lot of movement. I got the right hex key and tightened up both bolts as they were loose as. If the quick release wasn't in the way normally they would have fallen out! On testing after that the problems vanished. So I guess the derailleur is still good for a while yet.

So I was keen to get out and organised a ride up the Blowhard for a change. Hadn't been up there since about October last year. Rich and a mate of his both pulled out, due to various reasons, so I sat about until 11am or so and decided I should go anyway. Drove to the start and arranged my gear (I decided to lug my army folding shovel to do some maintenance work if required) and then took off. Into Granny right from the bottom, but felt pretty good for about half of the first grunt to the ridgeline. Then I ran low on energy despite a good breakfast and powder stuff in my drink bottle. I grovelled on and tried to ignore my stomach. Got to the ridge in about 50 mins or so. The flatter parts at the top were pretty slow due to extra soft ground and some mud patches. Grip was good but the softness was sucking up lots of extra energy. I made the clearing and got blasted by a good nor-west wind and carried on down the scree into the bush again. Pretty sketchy in there due to loose material, which made me think the main decent was going to be super dodgy. (When isn't it?) I cruised on up and stopped a couple of times to look around and then found a good spot for lunch. Had a 1 Square and moved on. Near the turn off to the summit I came across one of the worst mud patches. It looks like there is a spring coming out right on the track as it seemed dry enough not to far above it. If I had a saw or small axe I could have cut in a little diversion track. But it looked like the water could be drained, so I spent about 20 mins or so with the shovel and cut some drains to release the water and muck. It will be interesting to see if it is better there next time. After the turn off I was expecting the last section to be muddy as, but it was pretty good. A few patches, but not as bad as last time. Made it to the top in about 2 hours 45 mins (including lunch and track repairs) and checked out the view. It was pretty windy, so didn't stay there long. Felt much better on the way down the first section than last time, mainly due to being able to pull my feet from the pedals confidently as last time they were sticking badly. Really enjoyed the ride down the ridgeline as usual. It is one of the most variable and interesting descents around. Got back into the bush and felt pretty good on the climbs. The soft ground was still pretty grippy and I was avoiding most of the mud puddles. As I approached the drop off from the ridge I made sure I wasn't going to fast. I went in under control and looked for the line I checked out on the way up. There is a washed out piece that has a nasty rut as one line in the middle, an off camber slippery line to the right and a nice line with a trick access on the left. I was going for the left line, but saw it a little late and had to change at the last minute. Went to change direction to the left and let the brakes go and I stopped. Up came the rear wheel and I hung there for a second or 2 before coming back down. A small rock had stopped the front wheel, and as I was going so slow at the time there wasn't enough momentum to get over it. I got off and climbed back up about 10 to 15 metres to somewhere I could start again not to steep. I got it right the second time. Then, not to much further down I was in one of the rut avoiding elbows in the track and a rock was on the line in the middle so I had to stay out to the right, but I clipped a tree and had to stop again. I restarted and was lining up another tricky drop and the back end suddenly locked up on loose gravel and I ended up facing side on to the line I wanted. Again I had to go back to the same spot and try again. Got it this time no problems. I was a little frustrated, but at least I didn't fall off on the way down this section. High tailed it down the rest of the track having a great time, had to remind myself I was on my own so don't go too silly though. Got down the last section of 4 by track, carefully avoiding the growing ruts snaking along the steeper sections. Got home at and had a big rest....

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