The first MGG ride out of Lilydale is in the bag. 42 riders resisted the temptation to ride Around The Bay In A Day and came out to the hills to ride 75km of what can truly be described as very “mixed terrain”.
It was kinda cloudy, kinda windy and kinda sunny all at the same time. Cool when it clouded up, warm when the sun came out. Could have done worse on the weather front.
Numbers were down a little due to ATBIAD being on the same day and various MTB events over the weekend as well. Still, it was a decent group that milled around at Lilydale train station to hear the obligatory warnings and course info - “It’s a ride, not a race, watch out for traffic, close the gate or the cows might get out” etc. There were one or two Warby Trail rides starting around the same time and a couple of unsuspecting Warby Trail riders fell in with our group accidentally. Fortunately, the mix-ups were sorted out before we hit the road or there may have been some very surprised recreational cyclists.
A few minutes after 10am the group rolled out, did a quick dash through Lillydale Lake and pretty soon were faced with the first challenge of the day - Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Trail. It starts off unridably steep (for most) before flattening out after a few hundred metres of achilles-bending hike-a-bike. Reportedly, some rode the whole thing though the more common story was of lost traction, dabbing, then walking. Allegedly Reuben tried to give Mitch a friendly push up the hill except he yanked up on the saddle, rear wheel lost traction immediately and poor Mitch fell over sideways in a heap. It’s the thought that counts.
The cue sheet for this one came out quite long for some reason. Try as we might, it couldn’t be edited down any further, much to the chagrin of grumbling riders, “Oh man, we actually have to do some reading!” “Oh, it’s like a really big novel!” Yeah, suck it up kids, this is not Around The Bay remember! Apparently the wordy directions were mostly adequate but there were a number of navigational incidents out on the course which saw riders do some sweet bonus miles. The directions could probably have been clearer in places but the course was a difficult one to write up as it hit a bunch of unsigned and, indeed, unnamed tracks.
In fact, the terrain on this one may have been the most “mixed” yet. Paved road, decent sections of singletrack, overgrown easements, fast rolling dirt roads, fire roads and slippery bush tracks. The rough terrain took its toll on man and machine. Everything from normal punctures, to sticks in derailers, to multiple broken spokes (four on one wheel apparently) through to Trigger’s spectacular ride-ending stack.
Apparently, it happened on the steep grassy hill with the fence and stile at the top. Jelmer was first to drop in, the others followed and apparently Trigger was doing 30kp/h at least, rattling around in the drops saying “Speed is my friend! Speed is my friend!” when he ploughed straight into the water bar half way down the hill. Front wheel folded up like a pretzel and Trigger went head first directly into the ground, cracking his helmet in the process. The hearts of those who saw it skipped a beat - surely that godawful SNAP! must have been bone. Fortunately Trigger, whose heart was probably going a mile a minute, came out of it bruised, scratched but otherwise ok. The front wheel? Not so much...
Calls were made, locations were zeroed in on and Trigger was evaced by a rider who’d already finished and given a car ride home.
About four hours after starting, riders started to roll back to Lilydale Station. The first group back was Jeremy, Scooter and Matt G, followed shortly by Mitch, who was dropped with a puncture and Jason who had to bend his sticked derailer back into shape and remember to shift carefully so he didn’t throw it into the spokes.
Once again, there was bread for the first riders back. Iain from Fruition had generously supplied a whole bunch of freshly baked sourdough loaves for the riders which were very gratefully received. Iain really goes above and beyond to support the local cycling scene. His partner Lyndall drove the loaves over to Lilydale Station from Yering Winery where they sell their wares at the farmers market there on the third Sunday of every month. She rolled into the Lilydale Station carpark, two skinny loitering dudes walked over and stuck their heads in the car window and came out with a brown paper bag, then she took off. Didn’t look dodgy at all. Lilydale.
Stories started coming back with the riders as they finished. Some stopped to watch the finals of the BMX races at the awesome Lilydale track. There were no cows in the gated Ingrams Rd section, thankfully. Some riders noticed the ski-jump-looking things on Ross Rd - yes, they’re actually used for serious ski/snowboard jump training - skis and helmet on, lifejacket on, fly down the ski jump, do backflips etc. land in the stinky dam water at the bottom of the hill and then drag yourself out and do it again. Looks like awesome fun!
There was one unsubstantiated report of a rider, possibly Brad, hitting a branch and taking a massive tumble and actually coming out of his shoes and flying off the bike i.e. the shoes were still clipped into the pedals on the bike and the rider was lying on the ground some distance away in his socks, shaking his head and trying to work out what happened.
There were awesome views around the national park - the descent down Silvan Rd from the arboretum was thoroughly bombed and the two climbs of the day - Bartlett Road and Olinda Creek Road - were either enjoyed and/or cursed, depending on who you asked. The lady at Kalorama General Store apparently deserves a big high-five for being welcoming to all riders and even staying open past her normal closing time of 2pm. Thanks general store lady!
Nikcee had somehow scored a sweet 2013 Jamis CX bike w/disc brakes from iRide to test for the day and it passed with flying colours. Liam was having “one of those days”, much to Jesse’s amusement and Longy hung around after the ride and gave up some sweet local knowledge on MTB trails and where not to dump bodies (!)
Riders continued to roll in, mostly with grins on their faces, hang around for a little while and then rush over to the trains to get back home. Captain K sold a bunch of hot chips but remained consistently grumpy, ginger beers were drunk, the ride was relived - who stayed on who’s wheel, who missed what turn - and the little hidden gems were noted, like Water Race Trail which seems like it’s going to end any minute but just keeps on going, snaking along between the houses.
All in all another successful ride. Thanks everyone who came out on the day. Thanks to Iain and Lyndall for the bread and thanks to Che for helping out with course ideas and recon despite being hammered at uni.
That’ll be the last MGG ride for this year. We’ll be back next year with more rides in more out of the way places. In the meantime, feel free to go back through the old MGG rides and have a crack at the ones you missed. Or, better yet, fire up the googling maps, find a place you’ve never been before and go ride there!