Sunday 13 December 2015

Spit Bridge To Manly Walk

The Spit Bridge To Manly walk features on a lot of "best things to do in Sydney" lists, so I thought I'd do it given some free time in Sydney. It's a beautiful walk and well worth doing: 10.5km, 191m elevation, 2 hours walking time at a fairly quick pace, and 3 hours total including hanging out on the beach.

Getting to spit bridge from Glebe on public transport involved light rail and two buses, and should have taken about an hour, but I messed up the stops at one point so it took a bit longer. Doing the more complicated transport juggling at the start is better because you finish with the simple and spectacular Manly ferry ride back into town. The closest bus stop to the start of the walk requires a dash across a fairly busy highway to get onto the other side, there's probably a better way to do that.

You get a lot of great stuff on this walk, but on a weekend in good weather solitude isn't one of them. I found myself wishing I had brought my headphones to avoid listening to inane conversations being had by others. You'll do a lot of overtaking and/or getting trapped behind other groups.

There's a few amazingly pretty little beaches that were deserted except for a handful of rich people on their boats. Come prepared to swim, you'll want to.

Castle Rock beach, one of the best.

Great tree colours

One of the best views. There's a decent climb in the walk, more if you take the sidetrip to Arabanoo lookout as I did. Manly on the left.

As you get closer to Manly the walk is mostly a tour of rich-people houses, and one smelly boat-launch cove.

Quintessential Sydney view from the ferry on the way back.

Saturday 12 December 2015

Blue Mountains MTB: Woodford to Glenbrook on the Oaks Fire Trail

An adventure in the Blue Mountains: the very well-known Oaks Fire Trail. The weather was perfect for riding, not too hot.

But before the main event we took a quick spin on a cool little downhill course near Glenbrook, in Tunnel Gully Reserve. Someone has put an awful lot of work into building berms and bridges, it's pretty cool.

Yeah, I'm not riding across that one.
Then we put the bikes in the car, leaving one car in Glenbrook. You can normally do The Oaks without a car shuffle using the train, but they were doing trackwork, which is pretty common on the weekends apparently.

I hired a bike (Trek 29-er hard-tail) from Blue Mountain Bikes for $100. It was a pretty decent bike, although I really missed the rear suspension, dropper post, and cleats of my bike at home. It just has demo pedals, and I slipped off them a few times on some of the singletrack drop-offs. My only real complaint is that I paid for a puncture repair kit, but they gave me a 26-inch tube :(

The track starts very near the bike shop (we left the car there), you basically just cross over the highway.

The first 17km is fire trail, which alternates between climb and descend. Fun, but nothing challenging. Some nice views over the mountains through the trees.

After the gate at the end of the fire trail you start on the singletrack. It's really good. The first few km is fast and windy through fairly dense scrub on either side. Nothing particularly technical. The second half-ish is amazing with some more technical drop-offs and rock platforms. Many are marked with blue and black diamond options. Really fun singletrack.

You eventually pop out into a carpark and have the option of turning right to go up to a lookout. It's well worth the climb, there's a great view out over the Nepean river and the plains towards Sydney.

And this is the point one of our party realised they had a flat tyre and no tube. My tube would have come in handy at this point if it had been the right size...Anyway we patched it, and a ridiculously nice guy actually drove back to his house and came back with a 29-inch tube for us.

On the way down the bitumen I rode over a black snake. Eeek. It may have been dead already. Maybe.

It was a great day's ride, highly recommend.