I awoke to rain at five in the morning (I didn't actually know there was a five in the morning until then ) and had grave concerns for the conditions that lay ahead for the Australia Day Wild Dogs ride, which I'd spent considerable time planning. However, my concerns were put to rest when we arrived at Cooranbong shops to find a dry carpark filled with some very keen mountain bikers.
After Oliver Hoschke finally arrived ( apparently he can't ride without a suspension coffee and they don't open till 6am) , we embarked on our mission.
First stop was a lap of the Awaba MTB Park, which was at it's flowy and tacky best after a few spits of rain overnight. I enjoyed my time at the back of the pack witnessing everybody 'mad-frothing' on the excellent trail conditions.
With such a dry Summer, we've all had very little time on grippy trails of late, so it was quite a treat to be able to lean it over a little and let the cards fall where they may.
Next up we tackled the six-ish kilometre climb of Mt Faulk Rd, where it was obvious that Oli's coffee was kicking in as he chewed my ear off for the entire climb and the traverse across the range. Annoying.
Needless to say, it was a bit of a struggle for anyone over 60 kilos but totally worth it - not only for the view from the top, but for the next 2 hours of descending.
As we neared the end of the range traverse, it was obvious that there were a few tired little legs out there. Everywhere I looked someone was popping a salt tablet, energy gel or other random home remedy. (Liquorice? What the hell Aza?)
The laughs and singletrack flowed like fine wine for the next few hours as the light spatters of rain kept the trails primed and our heads cool. The technical nature of the Wild Dogs track was an eye opener for some, but it seemed everyone enjoyed the challenge. The route we
conquered really did have something for every type of mountain biker.
I guessed that everyone was pretty keen for a moon pie and a chocolate Moove at the end of the ride, as the last 5 Km road section was over in the blink of an eye.
Looking at the faces in the carpark at Cooranbong, I felt satisfied that everybody's ability was put to the test in one way or another and it was a great start to Australia Day.
Photos: Adam Freeman & Aaron Newbury