Well, that was an interesting weekend…
As even the casual reader would know, I’ve had some trials finding the trails at Kowen Forest. My Navi takes me to a forest area off Sutton Road that has been constructed for logging truck access. There is two small parking areas, but not much cycling action.
So… I thought that I had made a plan to meet Trevor at Pushy’s ‘car park sale’ so that I could follow him to Kowen Forest. (Bought long gloves with cuffs for Winter for $15 reduced from $80 and two $3 cable outers.) After spending some time and little money and not finding Trevor, I drove aimlessly towards Kowen Forest.
At my third attempt I found “East Kowen Forest, Canberra” on [the old] Kings Highway. This link to Google Maps shows the location of the car park. I found Trevor’s car, so I was at least in the right place. I missed the reference to “Sparrow Hill” and instead rode Northwest to some trails. Marked with blue arrows and fairly good signs it was easy to navigate.
My first impressions of “The Kow” were just how the tracks flowed so well without requiring much climbing or superior technical skills. It was fairly easy to maintain pace through twists and turns and really have fun. The narrow and unfamiliar tracks did catch me out a few times; partly from the dappled light from the mid-autumn mid-morning sunlight through the pines, partly from the pine needles on the track making the edges unclear and the surface slippery and partly from being a bit absorbed in the ambience and not concentrating.
After the 4km loop I returned to the car park and then across to the Sparrow Hill trails to the South of Kings Hwy. Again the tracks were well-marked and I must say, well-decorated. Big thanks and respect is due to Self-Propelled Enterprises at http://selfpropelled.com.au/ for excellence in trail-building, trail-naming and trail-decorative arts. The decoration ranged from the practical (a dual-flush toilet on Dunnies) to the abstract (cow bones tastefully arranged on another) and back to the practical (yellow reflectors hanging from a tree like a mobile or 1970’s bead curtains).
Once again I was so memorised by the beauty of the trails that I ran off on an uphill corner! Someone had hidden the curve behind a tree and hadn’t told me.
This footage taken at the Mont 24 Hour race in 2012 gives some impression of the trails and the setting.
There was only one section that I walked: a jump that was well-marked, but I came upon it before I had worked out my line.
As for times… Strava was quite generous. I rode the 4km loop in 17:01 for 25 place from 128 riders. I was pushing fairly hard, so that’s a good result first time. I finished the 11km loop in 59:00 for 189th out of 355. I had a few off-piste excursions here, so I was a bit more careful as I progressed. There were some sections that I seemed to take at blinding speed, though this was probably more to do with taking a wide line right to the edge and holding my nerve on the curve. If I knew the track better I could probably go faster on the right line.
Kowen is much easier to ride than Mt Stromlo. The physical challenge is not as great so the ride is more fun if you’re not entirely fit or you want to take it easy.
Oh, and I returned via Pushy’s to buy the cables to match the outers, some arm warmers and a pair of 3/4 length knicks. More to come.