Finally Found Kowen Forest

The location of Canberra within the ACT. Canbe...
The bit on the right that looks like it’s waving at you.  That’s Kowen Forest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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 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.

5 stars

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.

“Ferrari Impounded after Speed and Noise Orgy”, aledgedly

Ferrari 430 Spider
Ferrari 430 Spider (Photo credit: KlausNahr)

The funny things you see when riding…

As I hurtled down the Federal Highway/Remembrance Drive, spinning in top gear at up to 63km/h in the 100km/h zone, I noticed a Police car flashing reds and blues just beyond the Antill Street roundabout.  There’s a very prominent 80km/h speed camera just before the roundabout and a lot of warning signs and thick bump lines that get your attention… if everything else has escaped your attention and you aren’t even going to bother slowing for the roundabout.

Federal Highway and Antill St, Watson, ACT – Google Maps

But the Police car had stopped less than 50 metres from the roundabout.  If the car had sped through the camera zone there was hardly enough distance to stop.

I couldn’t help myself but ride past on the road instead of the bike path.  I’m going to guess that the car pulled over was a Ferrari 430 Spider in Rosso.  I zoomed past too quickly to hear and in any case they were parked in the bike lane so I couldn’t dawdle out in traffic.

In the past month I’ve noticed this Ferrari 430 Spider in Rosso and another one in Grigio Titanio Metallizzato or Grigio Alloy driving in high gears for all the world to hear.  There’s no surprise that they enjoy knocking it back a gear or two; the sound is very unusual and raw.  Ferraris are not common in Canberra, but you know them when you hear them and I’ve heard them often along Horse Park Drive.

I continued on to Dickson via Watson Shops, past the construction site that once was Satis Cafe and a good place for a cycling coffee.  Had coffee at Good Brother, as is my habit of late.  Even though they close at 1400, they were happy to serve take away coffee and allow patrons to sit on their outside tables as they cleaned up inside.  Lovely.

About an hour later I was riding back up the Federal Highway near Old Wells Station Road when I saw a Ferrari 430 Spider in Rosso being taken away on the back of a table-top truck.  I started to wonder just what had happened (and what was about to happen):

  • He had been speeding and Plod had finally caught up as he waited patiently on the other side of the roundabout, or;
  • He had broken down and had just pulled over when a nice Policeman stopped to offer assistance, or;
  • The car was given a defect notice for being too loud.

But there’s no “Ferrari Impounded after Speed and Noise Orgy.  “Summernats is in January” says arresting officer” story in The Canberra Times, so maybe it wasn’t a big thing after all.  And any Schadenfreude is short-lived when you’re going back up Federal Highway and faced with the reality of a long uphill ride.