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jethro's picture

Mt Joyce MTB Winter Adventure

I took a day off and went over to Mt Joyce for a day of Mountain Biking. Ok so there was 4 hours of driving and only 2 of riding but that was an excellent 2 hours!

Situated at the beautiful Wyaralong dam the Mt Joyce MTB tracks are a world class facility with graded trails from beginner to Extreme Downhill.

An easy roll down and up the bottom of the dam leads to the trail head on the western side of the dam wall where there is a map.


I took the advice of some other riders and rode up the fire trail. Ok I said rode, but there was a lot of walking involved as it is stupidly steep in places – more like a stair master than a fire trail.


This is a view from the steepest part looking back over the dam – you can just see the track below the handlebars.

Once at the top of the fire trail you get to this map.


I chose to ride Big Bertha, then Tuna Chunks dropping into Bovine Groove.

Big Bertha is a lot of tight bermed switchbacks with massive drops down the side of a cliff – that was a lot of fun!. Tuna Chunks was a bit more easy – there’s a bit of a video here – very wobbly as i did it with my phone while riding one handed though occasionally needing the front brakes!

This is a very fun descent – its not too hard and there was only one spot I had to dab. Its mostly gentle rolling and nice berms. pretty cruisy really. I finished up at the Tunnel vision pipe back onto the fire trail about half way down where I dropped into a nice down hill called escape that drops down to the lake side and secret valley. Once again lots of bermed corners and a gentle rolling ride. It finishes with a big banked wooden bermed wall – but i saw it too late and didn’t have enough speed up to ride it.


From Secret Valley where i saw this sign i decided to ride up the Grass Tree Trail and then do the Black Rock Downhill and finish with Pork Chops. Those trails are more visible on the lower scale map above.


Grass tree trail was steep but only in patches – i managed to ride a fair bit of it. there were lots of grass trees or black boys as they are known here.


I did take a rest part way up and look back over the track.


These three photos attempt to show the steepness of the last section. Here the Downhill Track is running alongside the fireroad so you can get some idea of what to expect. It is a black diamond track so advanced riders only should be attempting this.


At the top there are two signs. the first identifies a rim track that circles around to the other spur i rode up first. effectively the Mt Joyce summit is above us her and the two trail heads are on the spurs of parallel ridges with a big valley in between. the ridgeline track circles around between the two spurs. a trip for another day!


Today i was only interested in the downhill so black rock got hammered – i loved this downhill. There were only two sections I stopped and checked before just nailing it down them – next time I’ll know the ideal line to take.

After Black Rock I dropped left onto Pork chops and then right out into the secret valley and back to the picnic area there.

From there I rode the shoreline and back out to the dam wall and back to the car. Small video here of the shoreline heading to grasstree and then heading back to the dam.


The eastern side of the dam is a lovely spot with viewing platforms and picnic areas and a large carpark.


A nice day’s ride and only about a 4 on Neils tough-o-meter – but a 8.5 on the downhill fun factor!

Here is my Garmin data.



jethro's picture


Over at The High Calling website next week we will be discussing Work-Life-Balance in a series of articles.

It would be great for you to join the conversation there as we discuss this important topic.


jethro's picture

Running the Israel National Trail

Sometimes you get to meet the most amazing ordinary blokes. Richard Bowles is one of those quiet types, doesn't push himself forward, not brash or loud, yet there’s a quiet air of forcefulness and purpose about him. I guess running 84km a day for 12 days straight as he’s planning to do needs that.

I first met Richard last year as he was 2,500km into his running of the 5,330km Australian Bicentennial National Trail, or the BNT. He completed that in an amazing 5.5 months. First to do it. Raised awareness for SANE Australia charity.

2013-03-01 Rich Bowles 002I went out to the closest point on the trail to where I lived at Blackbutt and met Rich and Vicky, spent a lovely morning with them photographing them and sharing in their adventures for half a day. You can read that story here.

He backed up from the BNT with the Te Araroa national trail of NZ 3,054km of ruggedness that made the BNT look like a walk in the park – crocodiles not included. Record setting 64 days again.

And now he's off to do the Israel National Trail – with yet another record to be achieved. And this time its going to be an average of 84km a day for 12 days straight.

I interviewed Richard today over lunch and was really struck by the mans intensity, his purpose and his unquenchable desire to live in the moment, fully experience the surroundings and cast off the dross of life. To run on trails that are thousands of years old, where Jesus walked, that are steeped in history and meet all sorts of interesting people.

But as the video below will show there is a lot more work that goes on in the months leading up to the short 12 days of running that is a lot harder than running 84km a day for 12 days. Even just typing that hurts! Thinking about it hurts! Richard doesn’t shy away from the fact that it hurts either. But he’s a man that’s driven to succeed, and quitting just isn’t in his vocabulary.

The Interview

2012-07-02 Rich BNT 197So i went to have lunch with Richard as he was on a flying trip to Brisbane. Once I had picked him up and had him in the car I told him I was planning on interviewing him!

I recorded the interview on my phone and camera but not all of it got onto the video. So some of the questions and answers below are not in the video.

I asked Richard a bunch of really hard hitting serious questions, and got some equally serious (bulls&*t) answers.

I also trialled a new video technique where the person who is being interviewed has their thumb in focus but their face is half missing off in the distance. Fascinating watching their thumb talk. In part 2 I swapped this style for a more traditional (boring) “video the persons face” technique.


I interviewed Rich with tough questions like:

Dealing with fatigue and mental states

Q When you are fatigued, what does the tree look like?

A The tree is way more beautiful when you are fatigued.


Seriously though, its more about how when fatigued he focuses on what he's doing so much more intently, little droplets of water, trees, things around him take focus and how the other stuff in life becomes less. Richard really enjoys running in the bush, and out in the open spaces.

Equipment and safety

Q Was your GPS tracker tied to your hydration bladder?

A Obviously not – i lost it 25 km into the first day in NZ – no one noticed I was standing still for a long time.

2012-07-02 Rich BNT 175White water river crossings and high altitude

Q How do you cope with the dangerous river crossings?

A Crossed the Daintree waist deep with crocodiles – hoping they ate someone the day before and weren’t hungry.

Food and nutrition

Q What do you eat when running?

A Best thing I scored was a packet of Tim Tams in a rubbish bin at a hut.


Q Who's supporting you in Israel?

A “My Partner Vicki – that has lots of complications” breaks into nervous laughter and says “Love you!” suck up.

Language and Culture

Q Do you speak the same language?

A No she speaks shoes.


Ok so there’s more to it than than. Watch the video below.


Richard running circles around the Interviewer–literally

Oh not that one – that’s just silly

Here’s the real interview. Part 1

Will the real Richard Bowles please stand up

Part 2

yay its in focus

And here's the shoe collection and Richard posing a lot for the camera.

2012-07-02 Rich BNT 1122012-07-02 Rich BNT 2192012-07-02 Rich BNT 0662012-07-02 Rich BNT 194

jethro's picture

Amazing Human Beings

The power of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me. But this last weekend I was treated to some pretty unusual displays of just how incredible humans can actually be.

I attended, photographed and even competed in an ultra running event, the 24 and 48 hour ultra event at I saw people run 280+km (175 miles). I saw records broken, i saw pain and suffering and individual determination and grit, and most importantly I saw the incredible power of encouragement. I saw friends and relatives camp over night in cold uncomfortable conditions in order to be able to get out on the track and walk a couple of laps with competitors and mentally assist them to over come the physical demands they were placing on their systems. i witnessed first hand the incredible power of transformation of a persons face from resigned grit and determination (or even pain) to sheer joy through a simple spoken word – a “you can do it”. I saw the camaraderie of those who shared the same trials, and for a brief 1.5 hours i was amongst it. As I churned out laps (more of a slow grind then a churn) I was guaranteed of numerous encouraging remarks from complete strangers on the sidelines, a “well done Tim” and “you are looking great” from other competitors who went flying past me, and the cheers from the crowd around the timing tent.

And at the end they were no longer strangers. Many of these runners I have seen and photographed (and run with) before, but as Tamyka put it – “you got to be friends with someone you shared the same physical space with for 48 hours!”

The ultra running community is a small tight knit friendly group of positive goal orientated cheerful people. I’m proud to be associated with such amazing human beings.

Here are some pics. More at

 2012-07-29 Cab 24-48 Event 5752012-07-29 Cab 24-48 Event 5772012-07-29 Cab 24-48 Event 578

Here are some videos I made also