What a fantastic weekend of riding! If the 90 odd k's of road riding yesterday through beautiful farmlands and along quiet roads wasn't enough today a visit to Parklands on the Sunshine Coast really topped it off.
First things first. It has been a while since I have ridden with Steve so we organised a spin for Saturday morning. We had spoken about a nice cruisey roll of about 24-25km/h and maybe for 60km. A great way to blast a few cobwebs out after all the sickness and health problems that have been plaguing me. As it turns out there were two other riders joining us and they were pretty darn handy on a bike. Darryl and Luke were waiting with Steve at the agreed spot and I knew I might be in trouble. I had ridden with Darryl before and I know that at 40+ he is strong as an ox and able to pump out the power.
I struggled a little from the get go. We weren't breaking land speed records but the pace was certainly up. There were some long flat sprints and they really hurt my knee and made me more than a little uncomfortable. I looked down at the Garmin at one stage and we were knocking out 45km/h along a flat into the wind and had been for some time. So much for the 24 km/h cruise. Around the back of the route there are one or two small climbs. They may be only short but at 18% they really nail the legs and get the heart rate pumping. Anyway, rolling right along. The final few k's were pretty steady. I didn't attempt to smash myself but rather took it easy and just kept the legs buzzing along. After all that it ends up at 28.5km/h for 90km. Not bad.
Parklands. I have never ridden there before and all reports had it as technical and bloody hard work. It lived up to all that and more with the first entrance into the trails being a monster steep run in through rocky broken single track. From then on it was 2 hours of on the rivet madness.
Nick and I were meeting Pete along the way to the coast and as Pete climbed in the car the banter started and the trash talk flowed like warm honey on hot toast. We pulled into the carpark and met up with Andrew who would be our guide for the day. It didn't take long before he had joined in on the ragging and snapping off merciless one liners if someone put a foot down or blew some maneuver on an obstacle. The fact that this was his backyard and he was a very skilled rider meant it was instantly on for young and old. Pete was smashing it through the single track and keeping pace with Andrew while Nick would easily catch up on anything that pointed up leaving me to hang on by railing the descents as fast as possible and struggling to stay with gang on the climbs. It's important to note that all of this riding was on single track. The whole day we did maybe 500m of fire road.
We rode around to the far side of the forest and had a little breather and a muesli bar. The park was busy and we saw at least another 5 or 6 riders just while we sat there. The trail that followed was just another highlight in a day full of them. There were several log rides and the tightest, twistiest switchbacks I have ever ridden. My rear wheel spent more time in the air then on the ground as I tried to muscle the bike around the corners. Once the flow came on though I had a smile you couldn't surgically remove. Sometimes it just takes one move, one perfect placement of a tyre to switch the brain from the mode that has you trying too hard to where you let it all go and just let the bike do the work while your body just floats with it.
More climbing. Up out of the eucalypts again and along the rocky single track back to the cars. Mega. we had been riding for 2 hours, covered only about 23km and worked for every single meter. As a measure of the difficulty of the trails I can usually average about 15km/h in single track without much drama. Managing only 10km/h was pretty humbling. As we scoffed coffee and cakes at the Swiss bakery though Andrew admitted that 10km/h was a pretty good result for Parklands. Even locals struggled to grind out that pace and we had done it without the advantage of prior experience of the trails. I feel pretty good. Smashed, but good.