Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kaoota - Margate tramway

Having the right bike for the job is an overrated obsession. I've recently sold my mountain bike, so my venerable Surly Long Haul Trucker is filling in the the gaps. It's supposedly an on-road tourer but plenty tough so I thought I'd give it a blast on the Kaoota tramway.

This ride is a favourite of my mate Benny, who is sporting an unstoppable new 29er. We met at Margate and spun up the hill to Allens Rivulet, where the climbing began in earnest, up a long gravel road I've long wanted to follow on a bike. Despite my fairly ordinary fitness we were up at the start of the track in less than an hour having greatly enjoyed the climb up past the shacks  perched improbably high on Kaoota Road. What came next was even better.

The tramway itself winds down from around 400m to sea level over 12km. You seldom get back what you put in on the climb, but the gentle gradient prolonged the pleasure. It has has been raining a bit lately so the first three kilometres or so was an interesting experience on the wide slicks, the front wheel jagging left and right on the greasy trail as I tried to pick a line though the worst of it. I let a little air out of both tyres, which seemed to help. 

The track dried out from there on in and we were treated to a thrilling gradual descent through the forest. Ben, familiar with the track and daring on his new bike, disappeared from view as I picked my way down the trail. Some knobbies might be  handy if I'm doing this sort of thing more often, though the bike handled the conditions surprisingly well. The return to Margate took in some of the local horse trails between grassy paddocks.

I love it when a ride I've wanted to do for a while lives up to my expectations, and this ride delivers in spades. Hopefully I'll be back for another go soon. 

2165km so far this year.

3 comments:

Jan Heine said...

I expect your bike would have 'planed' better on the mixed dirt surfaces had you equipped it with a 650b wheel-set. I enjoyed the read.

Surly Dave said...

(Keep this quiet - it was a secret 650b test bike. Benny was on his new blade and I didn't want him getting jealous. I even had to ride like an squealing old woman through the mud so he wouldn't see how well the was planing. And it was planing like the Nullabor.)

Benny said...

^^^Haha! Gold, it like it. Let's do it again next month.