Now With More Huck

Today I’m creating the “MTB” tag for the blog. Holy flying spaghetti monster, it finally happened. It’s everything I feared.

In hindsight, I love going downhill too much to have held out on mountain biking forever. If kayaking is like powder skiing – all float, bounce, and slow-motion commitment, then mountain biking is like piste skiing – bone-shaking, rail-precise and terrifyingly fast.

A couple of months ago, I noticed that one of the unused bikes in the garage had fancy name-brands like Giant and Shimano on it, and, get this, disc brakes.  I thought it must be a pretty sweet mountain bike to have this advanced stuff. I was so bloody ignorant I thought Giant must be a French brand (because that’s where cycling and stuff comes from) and pronounced it with a soft G in a euro accent for like two weeks, until I got corrected.

I'm pretty sure there's a wanky hashtag I'm supposed to use here.
I’m pretty sure there’s a wanky hashtag I’m supposed to use here.

So for most of my adult life, I’ve been a firm cycling agnostic. I definitely supported bike lanes, less cars, blood doping, and all that in principle, but I ended up with a  motorcycle license so I could ride with my dad, and a succession of cheap motorscooters kept all my two-wheeled needs fulfilled.

But after I gave the Honda PCX back to my dad, there was a two-wheeled hole in my life that ached every time I wasted 20 minutes looking for a car park, or waited for an overdue bus. Plus I figured I should keep up the leg fitness between winters. And, last but definitely not least, there is a huge attraction to be able to park right out the front of the pub, get my drink on without worrying about an RBT, get home in a timely manner with personal transport, and have it totally count as training.

So I took my totally sweet find down to UNSW Bikeology and the volunteers helped me replace the gear cables and get it a bit more rideable. Then it was down to the Shire to get on the trails with Other Sam (Sam Bladwell) and Aidan.

Sam Bladwell riding on the trail
Loftus Sniggle Track

As many mountain bike trails are of questionable provenance, good beta is very rare. However, I quickly discovered that everything is catalogued in immaculate detail on Strava. Much the The Crag for climbing, people just can’t help themselves from outing secret spots in their pursuit of online progress.

Aidan riding on the trail
Trail names are a little unimaginative compared to climb names. This one is called “Blair Witch”.

I’ve also done two rides at Manly Dam, a Sydney “classic”, and now  100% legitimate, like a Mafia boss’s new business career. The first time was a bit of a crash and burn:

Sam going over the bars
Yoooouuuu, must take the A-line…

After watching a few youtube technique videos, the second ride was a vast improvement. Turns out, MTB is the only downhill sport in existence where leaning back is goodAlso, I had some bad motorcycling habits to modify. With a lowered seat and an understanding of the manual, I only walked one drop at the very start.

The other cool thing to discover, was that the park on Botany street with rocks too small to boulder on, has rocks just big enough to be fun to ride down.


Now I’m just waiting for my tax return so I can sink more money into yet another sport, sigh. At least I’m riding regularly, which is more than I can say about the damn playboat. I’ll leave you with Aidan’s video of my first Manly Dam trip;



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