OTB, 1 (Martin)
Photos by Martin
Approx. 30KM, 2h20M Riding Time, 4 Hours out there
At 9:30am on sunday morning 10 people rolled up (2 from Canberra, Andrew and Steve, 1 from Sydney, DaveS on his way to a big mtb ride down in SA, and the rest semi local (Wagga Wagga or Albury)) for another taste of the Single Track Nirvana, or Land of Endless Single Track; Livingstone State Forest near Wagga Wagga in NSW.
I (Steve) had only realised as we pulled up to park that I stupidly left my camelback in Canberra that morning (also containing my toolkit). Fortunately I was able to carry a few bidons and a 1.5L bottle someone had handy in a backpack for the ride. So we set off up the first climb, a fire road. This climb at the start made a liar of me with my claim to Andrew during the drive up that there was no real climbing as it is all flat.... yeah sure, right whatever Steve.
At the top of the climb we dropped down the first of many single tracks, this (named Goonrooter) took some skill to get down on the bike, I walked part of it. Many of the single tracks in this forest were formed by motor bike riders and are at times sub optimal for riding, still lots of fun to try to ride it all though.
After this we got into some of the long flowing single tracks that make livingstone so much fun. At one point DaveB pulled up fast and pointed at something, a large Goanna (see the photo) scampering away from us. Not long after this we passed a large eagle's nest, and soon after that saw a large eagle up really close. Livingstone it seems was providing us an abundance of impressive fauna on this ride to accompany the fun single track. Martin mentioned he has seen a few large eagles around the forrest over the years.
We stopped for a short break soon after this and as it turned out this was a wise decision, a group of 10 or so motor bike riders appeared out of the track we were planning to go down next, it would not have been pleasant playing chicken with them on a fire road somewhere. Tim seemed to know all the motor bike riders and chatted to them briefly. Fortunately these guys seemed to be alright, they were not the EFRD versions of motor bike riders and Tim said they tended to stick to firetrails and ride sensibly.
At this time Tim and Adrian had to head back to the cars as they had other commitements to attend to. This meant Martin and Rohan spent quite a while attempting to describe a way to get out of the forest without getting lost. For those who have not been to LSF (Livingstone State Forest) it would not be hard to do, A number of confusing trails (single and fire) over a large area, Martin knows the area due to spending a fair amount of time out here with a GPS and poring over a map and getting the area nailed down in his head. Rohan mentioned, just the previous week someone who visited his shop (bike shop) had headed out ot livingstone at 3pm, with no lights and had not found their car again until 10pm (due mostly to some luck in recognising a sign on a fireroad he had seen earlier in the day).
Around this time Martin had the first mechanical of the day, a flat back tyre, most of us were astounded he could get a flat with 6" of travel, but hey strange things happen. Martin zoomed off ahead and soon after we found him OTB on a loose corner, his front wheel attempted to go somewhere else and he went sliding. I came over the crest of a hill to find him in a superman position on the track. Some people have all the fun....
Next we headed into a section of single track, long (about 5KM) flowing, mostly downhill. Last time I was out here this is the section after which mikey coined the term Fun Mud (and now Martin says this will be the name of this track the "Fun Mud" track, though it never rains and mud is an anomally in LSF according to Locals). This time though dusty it was just as much fun and quite a lot faster. Various bermed corners, loose corners. Logs, Sand traps and other points of interest on this track heading down to the scout camp. When we got to the bottom Andrew claimed he had a scary almost OTB experience. Martin who saw it said it was a miraculous save.
We started the climbing back out of this end of the forest towards the cars (via a lot more fun single track) and once more it became evident DaveB really likes to climb. All through the ride DaveB climbed up pretty much everything (only two sharp uphills got the better of him) so when we were all pushing the bikes he was already waiting at the top for us.
As we got to the top of all the climbing and were about to head down into the P Plater track and on to the Pod Racer track (the wagga guys have actually named most of these tracks it seems, and Martin could probably put a name to all the tracks we rode pretty easily) Rohan claimed he was starting to tire so he and Geoff headed back for the cars early.
The P Plater track, so named because one day Martin and Michael were riding it and in the middle of the single track there was a P Plate, seeing such an incogruous item on the single track in the middle of no where they both cracked up laughing and promptly fell off their bikes... Michael requiring stitches. Anyway this is a section of track with three steep descents to the bottom of small valleys followed by steep ascents (one of which undid DaveB's climbing efforts). This would not be so difficult except there are large baby heads all over the tracks on the descents (see the photos) and at the bottom of the first valley there is a crater just to your right that would be easy to fall into, according to Martin this crater is filled with barb wire (ouch). No one fell off here and it was a fun challange to ride through (and still attempt to look good for Martin's camera on the last descent). Definitely easier than riding this in the mud as you didnt just slide all the way down...
Following the P Plater track is a downhill single track named Pod Racer that makes pushing the bike up the ascents of the valleys in P Plater worht it. Fast Flowing, Long, Heaps of fun. We were all grinnning out heads off half way down when Martin got another flat on the back wheel (pictured fixing it), this time he looked carefully and found a tear in the sidewall of the tyre which caused the two flats today. Surprisngly there was absolutely no one here with duct tape in their tool kit (my tool kit with a roll of electrical tape in it was still conveniently located in my camelback in Canberra) so we didnt attempt to fix it and Martin decided he would probably be able to finish the ride without it going flat again (he was successful in this).
After we finished Pod Racer with grins on our face most of us noticed we were close to (or had already) running out of water so instead of finishing off with another 6-7 KM more single track we opted for the 2KM fireroad climb up to the cars (with one last approx 1KM fire road descent with good water bar jumps after the climb before the cars).
Another LSF ride over, gladdened to see Tim and Adrian's cars were gone (they made it out alive, before we returned) the albury people left and Martin, DaveS, Andrew and myself returned to Wagga Wagga for Pizza and Beverage.
Much fun was had by all, bring on the Livingstone, Tumbarumba weekend....