Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The first area to explore - Brindabellas

I've not hit anywhere near as much dirt trail in Canberra as I should have. I mostly did long rides on firetrail preparing for the Triple Tri last year and left it at that. I rode a lot of dirt road near my Mum's place in Seymour, Vic a few years ago and more recently searched out a heap of great, single lane, extremely steep dirt roads in the mountains surrounding Chuncheon, Korea.

There are a few reasons why I am keen to get back into it, and one of them is the road network that I see most days through the Brindabellas. A few mates have ridden in there a lot and their stories have me frothing.

This Sunday, a group of friends and I are planning to ride out to Wee Jasper and back. It'll include 10km or so of dirt... not a whole lot considering the ride is around 160km, but enough to hopefully get some pics and add fuel to the fire.

So here is the PDF that I was shown today. It's one of the catalysts for me starting this blog. Thanks to Dunc! I'm liking the look of a roll down to Mt. Ginini and back, trying to loop somehow.

Welcome to CGG or CSC

Welcome to Canberra Gravel Grinders or Canberra Softroad Cycling, a blog that will document some of the riding that can be had on soft-roads around Canberra, Australia.

Riding gravel (or dirt) roads probably isn't as much of a necessity in Canberra as it is in a lot of other cities. We're spoiled for choice when it comes to singletrack mountainbiking, with dedicated areas such as Mt. Stromlo - the site of last year's MTB World Championships- and Mt. Majura within 5km of the city centre. We also have some of quietest and best maintained sealed roads that I've ever ridden.

So, sure, there might not be a pressing NEED to ride the firetrail and dirt road network in the area, but it does afford the opportunity to ride without much/any traffic and to do so while talking with mates... a combo that riding on the road or riding single track can struggle to serve up.

It also combines two of my favourite things about riding road and mountain; covering a lot of ground a la a road ride, and using skill to maintain control, albeit a little less taxing than hammering singletrack.

Finally, it means that I can build a bike that is perfect for it! I've done most of my gravel grinding thus far on 4 bikes. And they are as follows....
1. Kenevans roadbike with 25mm tires. 42t little ring, 7sp friction shifting. It was great fun and of course very fast, but I was sort of worried I'd snap it, especially to fork on rutted descents.
2. Ritchey Timbercomp, 1 x 8, 36t ring. Rigid and light, it was brilliant, though maybe not as quick as the Ken up climbs. Super comfy for a few hours but single hand position might be an issue for longer jaunts.
3. Voodoo Wanga 1 x 9, 32t ring.suspension fork and discs. Super comfy and quite fast but I couldn't help but think I should be on singletrack. It also didn't feel or look much like "FUN!", more like "FAST!", ifyou know what I mean.
4. Bob Jackson touring bike with Rohloff hub, cantilevers and 35mm rando tires. Comfy, and quick on the flats but HEAVY... almost perfect but could be kind of a drag.

So, now I am waiting for what I hope will be a happy medium. A Ritchey MountCross, 700 x 40c clearance and a road groupset and King hubbed wheelset. Stay tuned if that sort of thing floats your boat.