Friday, 29 March 2013

Nierinna Creek Track

The sun was just poking it's head above the hills as I pushed off, turned left onto Sandfly road, and got ready for the first little climb of the day which I was sure would get my heart and lungs working.


I had had great plans for this Easter weekend (I mean five days in a row - that has to be used well), but then I found out at the last minute that my dad's health had taken a turn for the worse, and suddenly my plans seemed a lot less important.  In fact they seemed irrelevant.

But I still needed time to clear my head, so I'd decided to go and ride the Nierinna Creek Trail, which is now legally open to cyclists.

But needing a proper ride, I decided to do it the long way, so instead of just heading straight up Nierinna creek, I parked near the church at the bottom of Nierinna Road and headed off along Sandfly Road for about 4kms before turning left onto Allens Rivulet Road and heading off towards Kaoota, or more specifically the top end of the Kaoota Tramway Track with the plan of circling back and just riding down the Nierinna Creek Track.

I needed to ride because I needed to think and I needed to sort out my head.  I didn't know how I felt - I was a bit numb, lost, disbelieving, sad and regretful, but I hoped that through riding I might find some calm.

So I rode.


It was a beautiful morning to start with, though as I worked my way into Allens Rivulet the temperature dropped noticeably because the suns rays were yet to move the cold air-mass that had settled over the valley.  I love cycling through Allens Rivulet which is one of the reasons why I think I chose to ride down here this morning.  This is also one of the places that Dad and I would roam when I was younger and he'd take me riding on my motorbike. this was part of my extended home.

I passed a guy out shoveling manure into a wheel barrow.  We exchanged greetings as we briefly entered and then exited each other's lives.  It felt good to interact with another human being on this beautiful morning.

Just before the end of Allen's Rivulet you cross Platypus Creek Bridge and start to climb.  I needed this climb.  I needed to find the rhythm, the balance where I could just turn the wheels and drift.  Not too fast, not too slow.  Not at a pace where my legs tired too quickly, but hard enough that I was working.  I was looking for the zone where my brain could switch off and my mind could wander.  It's a feeling I only really get when I'm cycling alone by myself like this, not having to worry about anything or anyone else around me.  It's a kind of peace I don't usually experience.  A calm.

But maybe the mornings climb was too perfect, or maybe it wasn't long enough, but I found myself distracted and absorbed by everything around me and before I knew it, I was at the top of the climb and riding off onto the Kaoota Tramway.



At the start of the track I turned on my GoPro thinking I'd get some good footage, but 30 seconds down the track it simply fell off, and rather than try and fix it, I just chuckled to myself, threw it into my backpack and that was the end of that.  This mornings ride was really for me anyway, not to show or share with anyone else.

I love the Kaoota Tramway ride, particularly in this direction where it is mostly downhill, and I started to think of the possibilities of putting a second route up on tassietrails.org for the shorter loop I was doing today.  I knew it had a lot of overlap with an existing route, but it was such a different ride in this direction.  Just so long as the Nierinna Creek Track lived up to its promise I decided I'd add it to the site.

However, sometimes riding is just so much fun I forget the reason why I've chosen to ride, and that's what happened as I cruised down the old railway line just enjoying the challenge of the terrain and the crispness of the morning around me and before I knew it I was at the end of the track and plunging down the road, past the chicken farm and I was at the top of the Nierinna Track.

Here comes the new, here comes the fun  ...


Or not ...


I've seen comments on pedalbite.com raving about this track, and I was fully expecting it to be pretty technical riding (because the track notes said it was) but I didn't expect it to be this technical.  This was a walking track.  Sure some of it was fun (and quite scenic) but there were too many stall points for me and there's nothing more frustrating when expecting a fun, technical downhill descent to instead find yourself cycling 30 metres, stopping, cycling 10 metres, stopping ... you get the idea ...

The good (OK, great) bits
The sucky bits ...
I cycled down several sections of steps, but you could already see quite a few places where cyclists have ridden around the steps beginning an erosional process that will only get worse over time.  As much as I wanted to ride these drops, I couldn't contribute to those lines so had to suffer the ignominity of pushing my bike down several sections of steps.  It broke my heart.


Down towards the bottom (after crossing a road) the riding gets a bit easier, and once down past the second bridge the last section is really easy, but even with that said I'd be nervous about sending a beginner or even intermediate rider down this route as it would take quite a bit of skill to ride and enjoy at the same time ...



The bottom section is all grass
I pulled back up to the car about two hours after leaving (a lot of that spent on the Nierinna track) and then I remembered ... I'd come here to clear my head and sort through my emotions before going to see my dad, but somewhere along the way I'd just started to ride and enjoy the moment I was in.  I hadn't even noticed when it had happened, or in fact that it had happened.

Maybe that was a good thing, maybe it wasn't.  Ultimately it didn't really matter ... my ride was over and I had somewhere else I wanted to be ... deep breath ... time to go.

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