Ride a good bike path, flat and fast gravel, climb a hill or singletrack, and combine it as you wish. There are advanced downhill routes, too, but that is for another day. These rides centre around the Long Gully Pine Plantation at Isaacs Ridge.
The photos of the ride to Isaacs Ridge peak are found here.
“Isaacs Ridge was established as an ACT Government commercial pine plantation forest in 1955. With its ease of access to local suburbs, the varying terrain and stunning views west to the Brindabella Range, it is a popular place for recreation for a range of users.”
Isaacs Ridge recreation area, ACT Government, accessed 21/6/2020
Long Gully Pine Plantation
Long Gully Pine Plantation is not part of Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve but rather one of the last pine plantations left intact after the 2003 bushfires that destroyed the rest including the area of Stromlo Forest and the area of the National Arboretum.
A good bike path
For those who like a good bike path, there is a great run from the Hindmarsh Drive at Woden to the tip of the Isaacs Ridge just before Long Gully Road with a nice steady 90m climb that does not exceed 5% over 4km before turning around and racing back down the hill again. Unfortunately, the asphalt ends at Yamba Drive. From there the dirt continues along Farrer Ridge Woodland Reserve.
Flat and fast
If you like gravel riding you should consider the flat and fast gravel and dirt management trail extending from Long Gully Road in the south, through Long Gully Pine Plantation, Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve and Mount Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve, before ending at the traffic lights on Hindmarsh Drive opposite Narrabundah on Mugga Lane in the north. I would start from the Narrabundah end as a great return afternoon ride. It is about 9km in one direction and undulates up and down with gradients of a maximum of 10%. The track quality in the Mount Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve can be a little shoddy but the gravel along Isaacs Ridge makes up for this. The route essentially follows the Canberra Centenary Trail. There are management trails left and right of the main trail for a little variation.
Climbing the hill
The Isaacs Ridge has great views in most directions, and particularly out to the east. The photos of the Isaacs Ridge hill climb will be included in the next post.
The way up
The Isaacs Ridge is not a big hill climb and manageable from the south end. The gradient of 15% may sound a lot but it is on a 3m wide, smooth asphalt road. You will not be riding all that fast but keeping your balance is not too hard with no nasty rocks or washouts to negotiate. The steeps section is only about 200m before it flattens out to 12% and dirt. The entrance to The Spine singletrack is on the right as you ride up.
The OpenStreetMap was missing the smooth and even, asphalt road at the bottom which is the steepest section of the ascent with a gradient of 15%.
The way down
The way down is on the north end and rather steep with a maximum gradient of around 20%. The gravel road has a few slow turns but is wide, and while there is a bit of loose stuff on the top, the base is very hard. In other words, it is nothing that good brakes and grippy tyres cannot deal with.
The Spine 1.4km singletrack was built after 2016. At that time there was a study into the mountain bike facilities on the ridge. ACT Environment decided to maintain the existing trails but did not want any new ones added, although this was considered. The mountain bike single track is mostly advanced downhill. Perhaps, for this reason, The Spine was built as a flat and easy ride with gradients of no more than 6% along the ridge contour.
“A multi-user trail has been built mid slope, following the contour, for walkers, runners and bike riders. The Isaacs Pine Trails Group will work with ACT Government to manage and maintain the upgraded trails.”Upgrade project update (1 September 2016), Isaacs Ridge recreation area, ACT Government, accessed 21/6/2020