Monday, 31 August 2009

Bellbird Wall (Sun 30th Aug)

Actually went climbing with Neil on Sunday, in spite of it being a real howler of a day. Last time I climbed with Neil outdoors was probably Araps Feb 2008! He was keen to do something after last weekend's blokefest, so we initially eyed up BBB, but the winds made it all too dangerous. Instead, decided to do "Bellbird Wall" at Pulpit rock near Blackheath. Facing east it should have been on the lee side of the wind and sheltered, yet get morning sun on a chilly one - the perfect location for such a day. Unfortunately, whilst generally well protected from wind, the sun was already round the corner when we arrived. To add insult to injury, the rap in was a bit of an epic - although at least it was in the sun :) Should have been 2 strait-forward 50m drops, but we somehow started at the wrong rap station (the one in the sun!) and ended up descending down what turned out to be a grade 27 called "Stone Poem" involving 3 drops, 2 of which were hanging belay anchors which requiring some swinging to even reach! Fortunately, Neil has a very cool head for such things. Ended up doing the climb - pitches of 16, 17, and 15, which on the whole is probably worth the 2 stars apportioned. Ring bolts all the way. 1st and 3rd pitches lovely- 2nd one; awkward loose damp crumbly horrorshow, but with amazing warm moist draft pumping up the upper crackline - a first for me and very welcome for numb fingers! Normally such cracks give you a blast of chilled air. Afterwards went to Mt York to try to catch some rays in the form of Exhibition Wall. Last time i climbed it was probably 1991! Still a great route, which pushed me at all three cruxes but I got it clean...just... again. Stiff for 21 - probably why i've given it a wide berth for so long.

The grade 16 slab on Bellbird Wall - a clean bit of rock amidst a sea of rubble

Neil topping out, with good exposure below

... and hovering on the upper section of Exhibition Wall

pizza wheel

Monday, 24 August 2009

Old farts blue gum whiskey bash

With Ian turning 40, Heidi requested I help lure him out of the house for a "males howling in the wilderness" type of experience, just like times of old. So it was that the two Daves, Ian and Neil ended up walking into Acacia flat next to the mighty blue gum forest for a night of blokey excess. Actually, it was the two Daves who got there first. We were one of just two parties in the forest that night, and Dave and I set up camp at the blue-gum end of the flat so that Neil and Ian, who would be walking in through the dark, would have no trouble locating us amongst the scrubby wattles, growing back vigorously after the fires that ravaged the forest a few years back. We needn't have worried. Before taking the big plunge down from the lookout at Perry's, Neil proclaimed to Ian with lofty outstretched arms, "there is mars, and there is Dave", presumably followed by considerable laughter. Apparently our camp fire was one of several bright objects in the darkness that eve, and could be clearly identified from the top of the valley wall some 400m above.

When they stumbled into camp, the clock really could have been turned back 20 years - same voices, laughter, bad fashion (tracky dacks, flannos), vintage rucksacks etc. Only thing to change is that we were all at or around 40 now - sporting in some cases either less hair, some grey hair, or a combination of both. Anyway, it was a great night involving curry (thanks Heidi) beer, wine and whiskey. The next day we slept in, breakfasted on pancakes (nice one Dave), slowly packed up and set off back up the track at about noon. Once back at Blackheath we sampled more pies and chocolate before the drive back to Sydney. It was great to catch up with everyone in the context of that great place. Looking forward to doing it again, hopefully many more times before we add another 20 years to the ledger.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Old Stump

I have a bike and I named it "Stump",
he takes me over every bump
Out on the trail the Stump and I,
sometimes thought we'd e-ven fly.

Through the cuttings and round the berms,
Stump cradles me on every turn
Even when I drop him hard,
Stump gets up and wheels still turn.

Oft I'd think 'bout the times we had
once when I kicked him when he was bad,
but wherever i point him he still goes,
is the best damn dually I've ever known

Hounding out there lookin for beer,
wasn't scared of jump'n off rocks in high gear
Out on the trail the Stump and I,
sometimes thought we'd e-ven fly.

Now the 24 is nigh,
no more sleepy's through the night
No rest for the trusty steed,
or Jurassic Arse will surely bleed

(With apologies to Neil Young)
I suppose thinking about the 24 is getting me all nostalgic. Here are some snaps of the Stump at work in various enduros

Monday, 10 August 2009


A few months ago I received an email from Bart (Ham connection) enquiring whether I'd like to do a 12 hr event with him. I replied "sure!". Well, it happened last weekend. Team Mud Puppy comprised 3 engineers (Bart, Dave and Hamish - Bart and Dave with Resmed connections) and me, an engineer of sorts (genetic). The course, just west of the Nepean, at Yellomundee, was not one I'd ridden before, but comprised a 9.5 km loop of 2 halves - technical first half, and flowing 2nd. Actually a great course to race on - the technical stuff wasn't too horrendous (on one lap I accidently found myself dropping through the worse possible line on the gnarliest descent and lived), and most of the flowing stuff had beautifully bermed corners, although there were still a few punters evacuated by ambulance. As a quartet we weren't too lofty of ambition, and were basically there to roll some laps and soak up the atmosphere on what was a simply perfect Sydney winters day - after a chilly start maxing out at 19 C with not a breath of wind nor cloud in the sky. As a team we finished well down on the leaders - in part as our team of 4 was reduced to 3 courtesy of Hamish taking a spill, then a few km later having his rear derailleur hanger snap and eat itself, the result being a bit of a trudge back to transition. At least that's the excuse i'm running with. The only blood spilt was courtesy of Bart, who managed to walk into a tree. On a personal note, no crashes or spills to speak of but not sure that I've got my lower back quite sorted yet, which is a bit concerning given the Scott24 on the horizon. More fine tuning required. Best fun and split for me was late in the day when I started in twilight and finished in the pitch under those awesome AYUP lights. BTW, more 29ers on the track today, and not just single speed, but plenty of geared monster trucks as well - the way of the future.

nice scar, Bartman

Bart and Hamish in the pits

Dave P ready to roll

Riders coming into transition

CANYON minus derailleur

The Stumpy did the valleys agoin on Sunday