DOWNHILL DAY

23 Feb 2021 

I smiled at the pink helmet strapped to a petite little girl as she walked into the bike hire shop. A miniature mountain biker. She looked up to her mother and announced in a clear voice “Mummy, I’m really excited!”  

“Me too!” I giggled as I realised she’d struck a chord with how I was feeling. ‘Mummy’ caught my eye and laughed, the little girl looked a bit startled at my spontaneous outburst. 

We were waiting to load our bikes onto the shuttle bus taking us to the Trailhead of the iconic Thredbo Valley Track, one of Australia‘s best day rides. After a few days of slogging uphill, today promised to be an epic day of (almost) all downhill, all day. All Hail the shuttle bus. 

“Nice bike!” 

“Thanks” Dave smiled as he lifted his new bike up to the guy loading the shuttle. And that guy would see a lot of bikes! 

I was feeling a little nervous about how technical this ride would be – it’s the first at time I’ve been on single-track. And then on the way, the bus driver pointed out the escape routes from the track, to get help in the event of an accident. He also mentioned to watch out for the “wild-life” which is code for snakes, right?

Letting the serious cross-country riders go ahead, we dropped onto the undulating trail. Following the Thredbo River through snow gum woodland, the trail zig-zagged cross the river via a series of fun suspension bridges. 

“Woohoo – I did a Mono!” I cried out to Dave proud of myself. (Kind of like a wheelie – lifting the front wheel off the ground to clear an obstacle).  We were enjoying the technical challenges of the track.

Further down the valley the forest closed in. After an hour or so of dense forest, and twisting and turning through tight blind corners we rolled into a clearing – Ngarigo Campground. 

We found a picnic table on the river bank for a break. Smooth flowing, crystal clear water snaked through the snow gums. I stood for a moment on a boulder and watched the river slink past me, lost in the white noise. An invisible whip bird awoke me from the trance. 

“The track get’s harder from here” I called out to Dave as we set off from the camp ground, “more technical” as they say. 

In no time we were rinding over exposed roots, rock gardens and steep blind turns leading into short but steep assents or descents. We needed to focus, to have our wits  about us; this is a two-way track and shared with hikers.  A couple of times we got off and walked up a tricky patch, but generally we bashed through the rough stuff feeling that the bikes can take it. 

After the next campground, the track eased out into a smooth flowing gravel track that was such fun to ride. Leaving the river behind, the track passed through a more open grassy snow gum forest. Rounding a corner too fast, I overshot the path and ended up riding through the long grass and dodging trees. Luckily I didn’t come off! Lucky it wasn’t rocky. Lucky no one was watching!  I reminded myself not to go too fast, even though this section was encouraging it.

Later in the afternoon, we were exhausted. My afternoon snooze plunged into a couple hours of sleep. And we couldn’t stop eating. We’re discovering it requires  a different kind of fitness to running, more about strength and focus. I wonder how fit we’ll feel after a few more months of riding?

This trail has given us a deeper appreciation for our new bikes. Modern Trail bikes are insanely capable.  

“I love how in control I feel on this amazing bike, the wide handlebars, full suspension, and being able to get low and over the back tire…and the gears! Flying up three gears in one shot – that’s a massive help!” Exclaimed David when I asked him what he thought  of the bike (this was his 3rd ride with it). 

“It feel like the bike can bash through any terrain!” I agreed. As adults (sans kids) it’s easy to forget how to play- and riding a mountain bike is really playful. 

So let’s play!

2 thoughts on “DOWNHILL DAY

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