The Brahams Incident
I’ve had the maps out again, and there has been a few loops I’ve been meaning to put together starting from Warburton. The idea came to me, instead of just knocking out one of these loops, I could spend some time exploring in and around to find the way that suited my purposes best. To some, this may seem like a whole lot of faffing about, but to me, it is the best excuse to head into an area and ride all the roads and byways around. The idea was to explore dirt options between Noojee and Warburton. I borrowed JG’s etrex to see if GPS technology and I could get along and headed out. On the way home, one of the wildest and craziest things I have ever experienced happened to me out there. I’m calling it The Brahams Incident.
I cobbled a loop together out of the many and various ways to get from Warburton to Noojee. Broadly speaking, the plan was to head Warburton to Noojee, turn around and head back via a different way. I found it surprisingly easy to download my GPX file on to the etrex device and checked that I could find it when scrolling through the different rides that were already on the device. JM is always keen on an adventure and took no convincing to come along. Strong rider, good company, top shelf riding companion. Heading out to these parts in the middle of winter you have to be prepared for the possibility of some challenging times and it’s handy to have a partner in crime that can keep a level head.
We rolled out of Warby along a bitumen section. I figured there had to be a better way, but for my purposes the road I wanted to check out was about 15km out of town. Nice little warm up and then we hit the dirt and into the hills. We climbed steadily up through the trees and along some pretty decent road, I was busy taking mental notes of my surrounds and a few of the side trails. It took a little while to get the scale on the etrex right for me, but once I did, it was kind of handy. I could keep an eye on the route we were intending and not be too distracted.
As we climbed it started to turn a little cooler, and then a little damp as well. Jackets out. With a few minor turns, it took a little time to figure out how to translate the etrex to the real world, but I was getting the hang of it. We had a bombing decent into Noojee, a real grin worthy blast. The pub had only just opened, alas no hot chips this time around. We had a quick snack anyway and got ready to roll. I walked past the roaring fire and paused. JM was not far from walking out the door and spotted me warming my arse by the fire. 20min later we were back on our way with warm hands and dry shorts.
Our path took us towards Powelltown before heading back into the hills for the trip back over the range. We bumped into a couple of young lairs hooning around on motos having a ball. I was getting the hang of the etrex so I switched off following it for a while. We hit a mean mother of a climb that was very boggy and hard going. It went on for a lot longer than I figured it should have, but I was just thinking of keeping the legs turning and trying to stay on JM’s wheel. I rechecked it and realised I’d wandered us off course. Dang. It didn’t matter too much because we hit a road I’d also been thinking of checking out, but it was a good lesson to keep an eye on it. It reminded me of when I was a soignie and the first time I used a Tom Tom I was thinking I knew a better way. The mechanic let fly when I suggested a different way. “You either use it or don’t. Never second guess it, just use it”. I paraphrase here, because it was delivered in pretty colourful language.
Onwards we went, and the road got better and that feeling that civilisation wasn’t far away started to loom. And the rain got heavier and the air colder. That chill was starting to get into my bones. I’d grabbed some booties out of the box we keep our riding shoes in, which is pretty unusual for a mountain biker. Booties aren’t really looked on favourably, but after my previous ride, I thought that little extra comfort may come in handy. As it turned out, I’d grabbed my beotter half’s which are far to small for me anyway. Right now, I was wishing I’d got that choice right.
We started to descend on a lovely piece of road, we were getting down off this mountain. I started to take note of some of the tracks heading off to the sides wondering which ones were rideable and which were sketchy little tracks loved by the motos. All of a sudden my helmet was knocked a little sideways. I moved my head to the side a little and then I felt a bit of a scratch on my head and my whole helmet started lifting off my head. My helmet straps were pulling under my ears and lifting my chin up, I started to stand on my pedals trying to figure out what the hell was happening.
The force backed off and I looked up. I saw the black shadow of a full grown eagle looming over me. WTF?! An eagle had just tried to take me for lunch. JM rolled down the road past me, and I saw the bird swoop him. Sheesh. If you haven’t seen one of these majestic birds, they are large. They would have a wing span of at least 3 metres and probably stand a good 3 feet high. We got back on our bikes again eyeing off the big bird sitting in a tree. We figured he had had enough and we could roll on home. Nope, he came back for another shot. We jumped off our bikes and held them as a barrier. I’ve been swooped by a few magpies in my day, but what the hell do you do to save yourself from an eagle?
I was in shock. what the f@#k was that all about? I suddenly also got pretty cold, I was having a hard time keeping warm. Luckily, it seemed the big bird was leaving us alone. We got to the bottom of the hill and headed back to warm, dry clothes at the car. It was still pretty hard to digest what had just happened, why, how, what. Here I am, over 6ft and an eagle had decided I looked like a handy meal. I’ll never fear a magpie swoop again.
That was the Brahams Incident. There’s every chance I’ll be back there before the winter is out. I keep poking the spot where the talon dug into the side of my head, at least it’s not bleeding anymore. Could have been worse I guess.