21 + 22 Apr 2021


“As I’ll ever be. Let’s go!” I said plating my foot on the pedal, pushing off and a crunching down our gravel driveway. We’re riding the cross-country trail Valley Ponds. Classified as a ‘green’ trail more about endurance than a technical gnarly trail. 18km out-and-back with a 274m climb. A Long-ride kind of day.

From the trailhead we rolled down hill into the valley floor and passed through grassland and dry forest, then through some beautiful towering ferns before coming across Valley Pond. 

“We should come back with our sketchbooks one day” I said looking at the picnic table by the lake. It was a beautiful spot. 

“The rest of the trail is pretty much uphill from here…” But what goes up must come down. It’s the perfect motivation to keep climbing when it gets tough. Reminding myself: ‘this will be fun coming down!’

The track was smooth and flowing, undulating through dry forest and crossing streams then into wet forest with lush ferns. 

We climbed up through moguls and switch-backs, and I’m gaining confident on the tight berms (corners with a sort of lip). 

“This is my favourite trail we’ve ridden yet!” I called out to Dave as we passed on a switchback.

“It’s great, isn’t it!” He agreed. 

It was a tough workout going up. I found that I’m busy thinking about technique, watching for on coming traffic and generally trying not to come off, that I forget to notice I need to breath. Until I can’t anymore! 

This will be fun coming down…

“Wait- I have to breath” I called up to Dave. He was on a switchback ahead of me. I could see him waiting on the rocks for me. 

Mounting up and pushing on, I knuckled down and concentrated on breathing and peddling.  I caught up to David and we pushed on through a few more switchbacks and then suddenly arrived onto an oval at the edge of the next village. 

“Looks like this is it?” He said sounding a little disappointed.

“I’ll check the app,” pulling my phone out of its pocket on the backpack. “Yep, we’re at the end. Let’s find a spot for a snack.” 

We debated riding into the village for a coffee but I was keen to get back to a painting I’m working on. So after a musli bar and an apple, it was time for the fun part. Downhill! 

“I’ll be good to you; you be good to me” I said to my bike as I mounted up. Dave was already at the trail head and ready to go. 

Down hill was so much fun. We were fairly familiar with the trail now so we knew where the more tricky bits were.  The smooth flowing gravel was a joy to ride grippy and fast but not terrifying. 

I concentrated on my balance (heavy feet, light hands) and looking as far ahead on the trail as I could. And it was a blast. 

All too soon, we were rinding back along the valley floor. Tired legs, happy heart. 

“Let’s ride it again!” I said enthusiastically. Dave looked a bit startled. 

“Not now!” I chuckled “Before we leave.” We were really lucky with the weather.

“Now for the hill of dooooom” Dave reminded me that we still have to ride up to our cottage on the side of the mountain. 

Oh how my legs screamed as I ground up that damn hill.  Dropping to the lowest gear possible and loudly verbalising my determination “AAARRHHH!!!!”. 

Nope. Time to hike-a-bike. No one was watching so it doesn’t count, does it. Further up the hill, I could hear someone mowing the lawn so I sucked it up, mounted up, and rode like it was no big deal, until I passed. By then the hill flattened out into our driveway and I rolled up to the cottage. Home. 

“That was fun! Great ride Carol” enthused Dave.

22 Apr 2021

“We’ve got no food.” Dave announced from behind the pantry doors. He started describing a forlorn list of available ingredients, starting with “We’ve got two soft turnips…”

“If we ride 18km again today, then we’ll have earned beer and pizza at The Hub” I said wiggling my eyebrows. 

“Yes!” Exclaimed Dave with a big grin, slamming the pantry doors. “Let’s go!”  Action stations. I was ready in record time. Beating David out the door. 

Tackling that same ride the next day was fun because we knew what to expect. It was also a challenge because, well, we new what to expect! Hills! 

I took it slow at the start to give my legs time to warm up and get the oxygen flowing. But even at the first hill I could feel it, and knew I had to dig deep, and find the grit and determination to get to the top of the trail and back. 

It wasn’t so bad, actually. I had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath, but no more than yesterday. 

And then it was time for downhill! 

It was nice this time to just ride and not bother taking photos or stopping for the view. To concentrate on the trail and my form, and not coming off. 

We stopped for a minute at the lake on the way back. Wondering if there’d be time to come and sketch here, but we only have one more day in Derby. So probably not. 

Mounting up for the last leg of the ride through the pretty forest and valley floor, before facing the Hill of Doom- the ride up our street to get home. 

Okay hill-of-doom, you won’t beat me today. ….aaaarrrhhhhhhh….aaaarrrrrhhhhh…aaarrrhhhh… 

Dave over took me like he was out on a Sunday stroll, but I dug deep and pressed on and bloody made it up that damn hill! Whoohooooo! 

“Great job Carol!” My cheer squad welcomed me home. 

The great thing about this AirBnB is that it’s set up for riding the trails. There’s a bike wash, tools, and a bike lock-up room. It’s Perfect.  We hosed the mud off the bikes before stowing them in the bike room. 

Driving to The Hub seemed like the best hill management strategy. Derby is a tiny village, once a tin mining town, now it’s has one of Australia’s best mountain bike trail networks, and the village is all about MTB visitors. 

The Hub is a hipster wood fired pizza bar. Perfect fuel after a day on the trails. The Little Rivers Pale Ale was delicious and really hit the spot! 


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