Sunday, 26 October 2014

Silvan Reservoir - A series on trail love

     Today I thought I might get back to my roots and write about where I love to run.
     Running out in the bush is what makes me tick. Yes, there are other things that I love and they keep me rolling along, but getting out there in the bush is my release and my time.
     I am fortunate to live close to Mt Dandenong and her many fire trails and walking tracks with their ups and downs and twists and turns and I love running there. But Silvan Reservoir is even closer. And I’m making the call, it’s even better. Where Mt Dandenong has it’s vertical challenges and wide sweeping tracks, Silvan is a criss-cross network of trails. Each of these trails is connected by the most amazing sections of single trail. Some are long forgotten and a few hundred meters of pain can bring no rewards, others you can burst through the trees and onto an epic tale of twists and turns.
     This is my first write up of my Silvan runs. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
     When I arrive at Silvan I always park at the overflow car park, as the main gates are not often opened until later in the morning. I’d always started on the circuit track. This is an easy 3-4k loop, depending on which tracks you take. Recently I headed straight down the Silvan Road, for something different.
About 500m down the road it forks. My recent exploring had taken me to the right, down Olinda Creek road and off to a sweet little track on the right. 
I decided to continue left along Silvan Rd just for a touch and found a little trail to the right (the purple track). This just over grown track is a delightful single trail. It has just the slightest of rises and gently bends this way that that to keep it from being straight. It’s just wide enough for two, and has a number of thin trees that have fallen to add an obstacle or two. I guess it goes for 1500m or so before opening out on the road again where you simple turn around and come back. The return trip offers an excellent section for speed training.
I took the left road first, then came back to the right.
     Returning to the junction, take the gravel Olinda Creek road to the left and then there is a clearing, leading to a track to the right. Take this little gem (The orange section) keeping left, then head over the bridge over the creek.
Take the path to the left - go right to get to track 13
At the junction take the track that will via left for a more undulating track. Now that you’re warmed up, this access track, all grassed rises a little more and has a few natural obstacles. It’s only 400m long or so but it’s good fun.It looks like it may have continued around, following the road once upon a time, but now it is painfully overgrown.

When you hit the road turn right and come down the main road towards track 13, turning right at the gates. A few hundred metres in keep an eye out for the track off to the right. There’s a sign that says ‘no through road’. 
     This is another single trail, all grassed with a slightly worn trail where is has been used. This section offers some brilliant, slightly downhill trail work and would make for a very fast Strava section.
There are a few natural challenges: fallen trees (only small), overgrown bushes that close you in and wombat and wallaby reminders, but nothing too twisty rutted.
     At the end of it, you can turn right to follow the creek trail back towards the gravel road and the car park, or, turn left to come back towards track 13. This is a wider, access track for vehicles and again rises gently. There are also three massive trees that have fallen – hurdle them if you dare or simply go around the end where they have been cut. Turn right over the bridge and head up and up on track 13 (this is the main track). 
Track 18 to the right, Track 13 goes up...

For a short run, Track 18 to the right can be taken (The purple section)for a nice cruise by the creek as you head back towards the main car park. Turn right at the junction, you’ll see the gate, turn left on the road.
     If you continued all the way up 13 (Follow the yellow brick road) be prepared for a brutal climb. This track just seems to go up and up. To help keep you going, there are plenty of huge gums along the way, I used them as key markers on the way – just keep aiming to get to the next one! If you want to bail, or are short on time, take the blue track 24 for another exit point.
     Take the left onto Wallaby track and look for the single trail near the big trees on the right. It’s about 200m along the track and seems to be the peak of the climb you have just done. 

     This is single trail heaven! Is it named, no yet.  It’s a fast flowing, very technical 1.2km single track that starts you off gently, sweeping gently through the bush, asking you to leap over a few fallen trees before it steadily drops down into a series of sweeping bends, sharp switchbacks of nearly 180 degrees. The track is a dirt/clay trail and is well worn by bikes. You really have to be on your toes as there are ruts and gully’s, roots and rocks and the odd log. Just when you think its getting too steep or tight to be safe, it rises again and sweeps you up and around the corners more gently. You know you are near the end when you hit a little mountain bike jump (yes, it actually is!) and you have to then burst through some very closed off track that is covered over by native grass and shrubs before you finally hit another road.

     At this point you can turn left and run back to the main fire break/access road and take a right to head home. I prefer to turn left towards the road, then stumble on a sweet little track about 50 meters off to the right that is the best 12 minute loop I know.

     Why is it so good, well, you’ll have to read the next installment.