About halfway through the day, Sholto said: “The article about this ride should be about checking your equipment carefully before you leave home.”
And that’s right. Always be prepared. It’s what Lord Baden-Powell would have wanted.
I was never a scout. And without wanting to label others too much, I was in good company on Saturday. We got off scout-free.
The ride emerged from small amounts of chaos beforehand. Rowan was going to come along but found out he couldn’t. Various people were sick and sore and away. It took a while to get permission to ride the BQ postie bike on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. Eventually I heard back from the local ranger that the Trail ambassadors had given the idea the thumbs up. I promised that we would share the photos and stories we gathered.
And so we arrived in Moore for a day on the BVRT: the ride to Blackbutt, and back.
Photo-moto for the day would be Nick. First time on a motorbike since his teens, apparently. And with a head that required a special trip to Team Moto at Slacks Creek to find a helmet that fitted.
Each of the riders had their own answer to the question: What is the right bike for the rail trail?
Bruce’s answer was probably the most mainstream: a Norco Fireball hardtail mountain bike. But then he went off the reservation by choosing 26×1.25 inch slick tyres.
Sholto has two Surly Long Haul Truckers. You know, one to wear and one in the wash. So he brought the flat-bar version. Good call.
Emma has a go-to bike for any non-mountain-biking occasion. It’s a Cotic Roadrat. It has toured Victoria, with gears and a flat bar. And it has been a single-speed commuter. Once I think it was set up for bike polo! It’s been a fixie too, I think. With drop bars, but still only one gear, it did the midnight century. So this time, although we talked about the need for gears, Emma ran out of time and stuff to make that happen. So with a sweet new wheelset (Hope hubs!), the Roadrat was once again a flat bar singlespeed, running very cool Specialized cyclocross tyres. But with a cut in the rear tyre.
My ride would be my ghettocross machine. The Shogun Alpine GT, with 1×9 Shampag gears in friction mode. The last warm-up ride on this bike before it’s competitive debut at the State Cyclocross Championships at Ipswich the following weekend.
And the day was clear and beautiful, and warming up nicely. We warmed up ourselves with a steady 7km on a quiet bitumen road from Moore to Linville. And then onto the trail.
The rail trail follows the alignment and gradient of a disused railway line (as of course it’s name implies). And although the surface is far from groomed – its like any lightly used gravel road, it has good bits and rough bits – the climb is so gentle that you barely notice it.
Linville to Blackbutt is 23km, and the climb up the valley takes up maybe 13-15km of that.
We rode along steadily, stopping for photos here and there, stopping for any trailside feature that took our fancy.
And then it happened. All of a sudden I was lying on the trail, saying “What just happened?” I had stood up on the pedals, and the next thing I had gone over the bars onto the ground.
It was as though I had ridden into a deep hole and the front wheel had got caught. But I hadn’t ridden into anything. When I stood up, the forks had just snapped and collapsed under me.
Once we had all worked out what had happened, the problem solving started. We made a plan that Bruce would go ahead, to where the rail trail met the road, and he would go back down to Moore to pick up the dual-cab ute and come and pick me up. That plan took several revisions to come up with the right option, with Emma’s suggestion being the clearest thinking.
My bike was not going to be rideable in any way. So we strapped the front wheel to the postie bike, and tossed the broken forks into the postie’s carry crate.
I started walking along, with the remnant frame, handlebars and rear wheel on my shoulder, cyclocross style.
But Sholto and Emma were still thinking. Surely we could attach the remnants of my bike onto the back of Sholto’s?
And eventually, after a couple of tries, we did. The rubber strap which held Sholto’s bike computer onto the handlebars, and the two velcro straps that held my pump onto my bike were used to strap the Shogun’s frame to the rack of Sholto’s Surly.
MacGyver could not have done it better. Sholto claimed the only problem with the set-up was that he could hear the freewheel of my bike ticking away, which is disconcerting when you are pedalling.
So with me walking/jogging a bit, and Sholto hauling my bike, and Emma on the single speed, and Bruce up ahead going for the road, we all got a little bit spread out as we approached the point where the road crossed over the old railway line.
There is an elevation difference of three or four metres between the road (the D’Aguilar Highway) and the old railway line. When I got there, Emma was holding up the sole of a mtb shoe: “Does this belong to Bruce?”
And then, as we scrambled up to the road, Em found another sole. A matching one. Bruce’s shoes had remarkably both given up the ghost within five minutes of each other, and he was obviously riding back down to Moore wearing shoes with no soles. On SPD pedals that would be very uncomfortable.
So I waited by the road for Bruce’s return, on a plastic chair provided providentially by a roadworks crew. Who informed me that they had arranged for “my old mate” to be driven down the range because bikes were prohibited through the road works because of the timing of the temporary traffic lights.
And soon Bruce was back with the Rodeo, and off we went to Blackbutt. I gave him the soles of his shoes, and he just laughed.
So Bruce had a working bike, but no way to ride it and I had a busted bike. And being the generous soul he is, Bruce insisted that I should ride his bike. So when we got to Blackbutt ahead of those who were still riding, I jumped on the Norco and headed off in search.
All was well with the other riders, and soon after Emma was challenging me to a sprint into town.
Lunch at the Bunya Nut cafe consisted of an almost endless number of variations on the humble burger. And chips. Nothing wrong with either of those halfway through a day on the bike.
After lunch, Emma inspected the rear tyre on the Cotic. And we decided the cut might have been getting longer, so with two tyres unused now on the Shogun, we could swap one onto a bike still in use.
After all the dramas on the way up, the ride home was uneventful. But beautiful.
With all the drama of what happened when, I’ve neglected to describe what a gorgeous SEQ winter’s day it was!
Blue blue blue sky. Occasional gentle breeze. A shady trail, in places. A sunny trail, in other places. Thick forest, and open valleys. The rumble crunch of tyres on gravel. The ping, ping, ping of bellbirds. The friendly banter of friends riding together.
It was such an easy ride back down to Linville it almost felt like cheating. We stopped a few more times so that Nick could get the right shot. (You be the judge, but I think he did OK!)
All told it was a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I now have to decide how much of the busted forks saga I include in the piece for Ride On.
What do you think? Forksful or fork-free?