Knowing what the rest of us did not, Phil, the ride leader, ensured all 10 riders signed the ride sheet abrogating him of any responsibility for the forthcoming torture course over the inundated fire trails west of the Raleigh Raceway.
With half the ever gullible contingent on mountain bikes and the remainder on hybrids we ventured over Herb’s mountain bike course for 11km at the start of the 55km ride.
This required two hours of trying to remain upright on slippery, muddy trails beset by steep climbs, deeply eroded gullies in the road surface, loose gravel, opaque creek crossings, treacherous down hills and rogue sticks just waiting to enter spokes and send riders over the handlebars. Mercifully only one rider was catapulted forwards in the middle of a muddy puddle but no harm was done.
Never before has it been known for DUBBUG riders to dismount to ascend a steep hill. However, on this occasion, every rider walked at least five steep hills due to the slippery trail beneath them understanding only too well that pride comes before a fall.
Many in the group are travelling to New Zealand for two weeks of riding around the North Island, so broken collarbones and other possible damage kept everyone alert and careful in negotiating the multiple hazards that confronted us. However all agreed later that it was quite exhilarating to be subjected to such a high level skills test and that it made a welcome change from pedaling for long periods along sealed roads.
Mercifully, North Bank Road emerged before riders became too fatigued and the relief was palpable. What an initiation for our two new participants, Andrew and Fiona.
The remainder of the ride to Bellingen and the return to Urunga all seemed to proceed uneventfully until one rider slipped on wet leaves on the last downhill section, sustained some abrasions, but bravely recovered to ride on.
Next Sunday’s ride is an easy, but hilly, 45km from Urunga to Bellingen and return commencing at 0800 hours from the BP in Urunga.