KING OF THE HILL AT KOWEN
The annual Kowen Forest Ride at Canberra is a regular stop for the TZ team and last weekend's 2010 event was yet another ripper that all the guys and gals from the DSMRA ACT branch should be extremely proud of.
A total field of almost 350 riders lined up for two days of pine forest action this year, with the DSMRA mapping out two 60 to 70km loops that certainly gave everyone plenty of value for money by mixing a sweet blend of open fire-trails and gnarly fresh-cut single-track in the pine plantations of the Kowen forests.
And yes, the infamous Russian Blackberry Tunnel of Death section was back again, along with the famed Lamb Chop Hill, which was joined this time around by Bel-Ray Breaker, another ugly rock-infested hillclimb as a Hard split on the North loop that soon surpassed Lamb Chop in the take-no-prisoners stakes.
There were also sperate Beginner loops and a special Demo loop where riders could sample an extensive range of new model dirt bikes courtesy of the crews from Picton Motorcycles, Gecko Motorcycles and the Canberra Motorcycle Centre, amongst others.
Now, it's not every day you get to swing a leg over new bikes, so the demo rides did a roaring trade!
And speaking of roaring trade, the Vietnam Vets once again kept the troops fed and watered all weekend long, with the majority of riders making a weekend of it and camping out and getting into the spirit of a great weekend away with your mates and a great ride, which is what the Kowen Forest Ride is all about.
I had to fly solo at Kowen this year, as Dr Phil was away on vacation with his family during school hols, while cinematographer to the two-wheel stars, Lance 'Russ' Turnley was in the midst of a major corporate DVD shoot, which had to take priority given he was getting paid real bucks in the real world rather than the free-stickers-and-all-you-can-drink-voucher-from-Grind that we bribe him with to do TRAIL ZONE DVD shoots.
I rolled into Kowen at dusk on Saturday night, grabbed a steak sanga from the Vets and pulled a few brews from the esky and started shooting the breeze and before I knew it was 11pm and time for shut-eye ... which I enjoyed in copious quantities, save for the dulcet nasal tones of Wazza Nose emanating from the tent next-door to me ... and the occasional bunger belting into the night-sky from the other side of the camp ground.
Come Sunday morning it was time to get up and get into: on the advice of Peter 'El Presidente' Daley from the DSMRA, my first port of call was Bel-Ray Breaker: the first Hard split hill on the North loop. It was carnage I was after and it was carnage it delivered!
It was an ugly rocky mother of a hill and it got the better of many a rider, with only very few victims scaling it cleanly. Wazza Nose was atop the hill with me and had his classic Sony 8 home movie camera running, so to get a gander at the visual treats the Bel-Ray Breaker provided, go to this Youtube post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KF5wZVVDpw
After almost an hour of mountain goat mayhem, we hightailed it to the Russian Blackberry Tunnel of Death, which this year was bathed in a foot of swamp water -- you beauty!
Truth be told the RBTD looked worse than it was, but only a few victims took the plunge, much to the delight of myself and Wazza and our cameras.
Thanks to everyone who hit the RBTD in typical Dr Phil gusto: "Second gear, full revs!"
With a feast of pixels in the can, I finally got a chance to put a few miles under the wheels of our Yamaha WR450F Project Bike and cut across to the South loop and made my way to the top of the Widowmaker, which provides a panoramic view over the pines and all the way south to the southern suburbs of the ACT.
Stopped atop the hill for a while, I was joined by more than a few riders short of breath and feeling the pace after completing the full loop.
The DSMRA boys sure know how to link pine forest single-track together and both loops contained huge slabs of it. With rain overnight on Saturday, there were plenty of greasy sections laced with slippery roots and rocks, which kept you on your toes the whole way. Perfect.
By the time I got out of the South loop and back to the Parc Ferme the Sunday lunchtime prize give-aways were in full swing and I got there just in time to witness Ben Morass score the biggest win of all -- by being plucked from the barrel to win the major prize: a brand spanking new Yamaha WR450F courtesy of Yamaha and the Canberra Motorcycle Centre and the event organisers.
On ya, Ben! But get this, Ben got his entry in the event after it was given to him by a mate whose bike had busted the week before and he couldn't ride! Hmm, wonder if this WR450F is gonna have to be split down the middle?
After that, well, it was time for more BS and benchracing and then loading the vans and trailers for the drive home.
Top job DSMRA, and take a tip from TRAIL ZONE: check out the www.dsmra.asn.au web site pencil in the 2011 Kowen Forest Ride in your schedule right now!
-- Clubby, www.trailzone.com.au (Want to comment? Email firstname.lastname@example.org)