Camp Mountain via Bunyaville, Australia

Great ideas come from somewhere. There are three ‘movements’ in the having-fun-on-a-bike space that I think are pretty cool, and of course I’m all about adapting these ideas to suit me.

Here are the big ideas:

*S24Os (sub 24-hour overnights) is what Grant Petersen (of Rivendell Bicycles) and his friends do, from their base at Walnut Creek, California. From the pictures it seems that all their rides go up into the hills; they camp somewhere with a view, and then come down the next night. (Ed. note: Petersen's S240s were one of the inspirations for the creation of BikeOvernights.org.)

*Micro-adventures. The ever-adventurous Alastair Humphreys.

*Bikepacking. This seems a bit more hard core to me. The zenith of this concept are the massive long-distance off-road events, such as the Tour Divide. But the basics are: a hardtail mountain bike set up for riding off-road with a minimum of gear, carrying only enough food to get you from place to place.

It’s my plan this year to try to get to Western Australia and ride along the Munda Biddi Trail. A few things will have to fall into place for that to happen, but I’m still hopeful.

And that’s where the Black Hornet comes in. Over Christmas and January I built up (with the help of Bike Bestie and RLC Sport/Cyclinic/Aiden Lefmann) a very nice aluminium-framed 29er hardtail. It’s got a Cannondale Lefty, the frame is a Specialized Carve, the bits are mostly Shimano SLX.

So, if I really am going to ride for a week along a trail in September, I better get started with a few overnighters.

"But my life is pretty full," he said in a whiney kind of voice. February came and went, and even though I had enough gear to get started, I didn’t go anywhere. And a couple of times Emma and I tried to align our schedules for a weekend trip, but so far we’ve put that off until later.

Eventually I found a night, and off I went. I rode out from work soon after 5 p.m., heading toward Bunyaville, where there would be a meeting at which Queensland Parks and Wildlife staff would explain the current state of mountain biking in areas the agency administers. I was going to go to that meeting, and then head into D’Aguilar National Park afterwards.

But as I struggled/cruised out through the northern suburbs, along bike path and back street, it became increasingly obvious that I would be late for the meeting, and that I couldn’t really afford both the meeting and the overnighter. One would have to give, and it was always going to be the meeting. (My legs and the showery weather were the two deciding factors.)

So from Bunya Road it was along Linkwood Road and into Ironbark Gully, across to the Lanita Road rail-trail leaving Ferny Grove towards Samford, and then up the steep bitumen climb of McLean Road, to the entrance of the forest closest to Camp Mountain and Bellbird Grove.

I’d been on this trail quite a few times before. When I train for the Flight Centre Epic, this is part of a big loop I like to do a couple of weeks out from the event to find if I am ready.

With the touring gear on board, and light rain on a summery evening, McLean Road seemed even steeper than before. And longer. Eventually I was into the forest, along Link Road firetrail. Past the three dippers, and I got to a decision point. There was no way I had the legs to go with Plan A, which was through Bellbird Grove and up to Centre Road, and then South Boundary Road up to the Scrub Road shelter.

But my Plan B I wasn’t a great idea: stop at Bellbird Grove. I looked at my phone, and realized that there was no way I would have good reception down in the Bellbird Grove hollow.

So Camp Mountain became Plan C. I'd climbed Camp Mountain once before, with Emma about four years ago. Maybe five years ago. That was on a pleasant winter’s afternoon, and I had ridden my old Gary Fisher all the way to the top. Emma had ridden all the way up that day as well. I remember us being at the picnic area at the top, debating which way we would go back down.

But with the touring load on the Black Hornet, the constant showers, and my current relative lack of fitness, I managed only about the first third of the Camp Mountain climb this time.

So, it was one foot after the other, trudging to the top, dodging cane toads.

The picnic area was a welcome sight. And a nice site, too. I set myself up in the concrete shelter, phoned and texted my whereabouts to folks who wanted to know, and settled in for the night.

At about 2 a.m. I woke up, shivering. The combination of the Reactor sleeping bag liner and the Escape Bivvy were not quite enough for the cool breeze blowing through the shelter. But I had a softshell rain jacket, and putting that on was enough to get comfortable again.

The only other incident was around 4 a.m., when bright lights disturbed my (light) sleep, as another mountain biker rode through the picnic area. He didn’t stop, so I can only assume he was just out for a very early ride.

I was up and gone from Camp Mountain by about 6:15, and had a lovely coffee at The Lodge in The Gap shopping centre on the way to work.

I have no idea why I am fighting sleep at 9:10 p.m. Oh, yes I do. But it was worth it.

Let’s do it again soon!

Map links: From work to Bunyaville and thence on into D’Aguilar National Park.

Get more information about bike overnights.

2 responses so far ↓

wayne - May 2, 2014 at 12:22 AM

Andrew, read your s24 trip to camp mountain. This is also part of my local ride area. if I'd known you were out doing an over nighter I may have joined you. I do the odd s24 trip where possible and may also link together longer 2/3 day rides when the planets aline of course. If you are doing others please spread the word for others may follow.

Andrew Demack - May 2, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Cheers Wayne!

Quite often the rides I'm planning to do are posted on MTB Dirt (www.mtbdirt.com.au) ... my forum name there is AndrewBQ.

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