These weekends away are like an addictive drug. Formula known. Patents, nonexistent. Just throw in a potent mix of adrenalin and adventure, a dash of daring and a sprinkling of camaraderie (after all, happiness only real when shared – Christopher McCandless). End product – endorphins and experience. Long lasting. Real. And nothing better.
The Main Event
Our eight strong crew – Turfy, Angus, Hans, Henry, Jimmy, George, Bos and Tom – head south to Canberra in pursuit of some mountain biking madness. Stromlo’s the name of the park where the trails snake and crisscross the mountain offering a rush for all – beginners through to pros.
We finally arrive at Stromlo, semi-rested after staying at the YHA hostel on Friday night and the mountain beckons. We introduce ourselves to her at the Playground and test our technical skills. Riding on narrow logs, hitting small jumps and attempting the seesaws which leaves us scurrying away with tails between our legs. And then, finally, after some flat-tyre false starts we tackle the mountain proper. We climb and weave, up, up and up some more, knowing full well that the downhill is the dividend for our ascent.
Summit. Regroup. Admire the beautiful views and the white hemispherical observatory. The weather is pristine. Blue skies and a warm radiating sun pierces the cool Canberra air. We follow the Skyline Trail and shortly after, the downhill commences. It’s all single track and it’s as fast and explosive as you desire; the only limit being one’s ability and nerve.
At first, nothing surrounds the track besides small rocks and scrub so a false move here would be forgiven. But as we progress downwards, we reach the tree line and find ourselves careering past thick trunks and boulders. There’s no room for error now and the exhilaration is heightened. The mind becomes singularly focused, impervious to everything but the task at hand. It’s akin to meditation – it’s the Stromlo Effect, enabling eagle-eyed perception, hypersensitive fingers feathering brakes and fluidity in body to absorb the bumps and jumps and accelerate out of spiralling corners.
The descent is almost over but she has one last trick up her sleeve – a small launchpad. With speed we approach and then… lift off; propelled into the air, weightless flight, if only for a short moment. A state of natural intoxication ensues.
The After Party
After a day that broadcasts a few replays of the Main Event, a revitalising mountain-top lunch and more jumps in the Playground, we are well and truly knackered. We bid Stromlo farewell and after a time regroup at King O’Malley’s Irish Pub where we clink glasses and welcome another form of intoxication.
Thank you all for an excellent weekend and Turfy – thank you for organising.
Stromlo Forest – MTBing Trail