Start at St. Albans village and cross over the lovely truss bridge, where you’ll turn right onto dirt road. At about 2km ride round a hairpin bend, and it is here that you will see the sign and turn left onto Jack’s Track. Right from the start you have the first of many steep, technical pinch climbs to ride up. (No problem if you have an e-bike on ‘Boost’ setting!) Pushing your bike up gives you time to appreciate the magical gulley features of this 1.7km uphill. You know you are near the crest when the incline becomes so steep it is concreted. Take a breather, then get ready to ride the rollercoaster!
Jack’s Track bucks and weaves along the contours of the ridgeline for about 7km. At 7.5km, the Womerah Range Trail (originating at Putty Road, about 38km away) joins Jacks Track. Turn left at this junction. The fun really begins here as the bike rapidly picks up speed and the rider is just too focused on ‘eyes ahead, head up’ to notice much scenery as it speeds by. Keep some energy in reserve because after every downhill there’s an uphill and this trail will throw a couple more wicked vertical metre peaks in your way to ride up. When you see the powerlines at around 17km, the final descent is near.
What an awesome descent it is! There are some rocky, eroded hairpin bends, but a good dual sus. bike will eat all of them for breakfast. Lots of long straight sections too, where your bike takes off like a rocket- don’t let gravity take control over you… At the trail gate, descend the last few technical, rocky meters of firetrail to Webbs Creek Mountain Road. Turn left again here and reign in your speed as the surface of this 1.5km hard pack dirt road down off the ridge is sketchy… and it is also shared with motor vehicles.
Turn left again onto St. Albans Road and enjoy a cruisy 15km ride* on the road next to the beautiful Mc Donald River. Back at St. Albans, enjoy a well-earned brew at the Settler’s Arms Hotel; as have other weary travellers since 1836!
*Lengthen this 35km loop by an extra 23km! Turn right onto St. Albans Road to go across the Hawkesbury River on Webbs Creek Ferry and then Wisemans Ferry. Turn left onto Settlers Road for 600m then ride 2km up Convict Trail (aka Devines Hill) At the top gate study the National Parks map and choose one of the two trail options for your quick ride down Shepherd’s Gulley to rejoin Settler’s Road back to St. Albans.
WHAT BIKES? Hardtail, Dual Sus, e-bike or a CX bike for the brave.
SKILL LEVEL: Novice, Intermediate, Expert. If you have an e-bike you will love this ride. Those riding ‘old school’ will need to pace themselves because of all the intense pinch climbs en route.
NAVIGATION: There are National parks signs at some junctions. Just keep turning left and you’ll get back to St. Albans Road. Circuit described is clearly mapped online: browse Google, Nobmob, Convict 100, or Strava activities.
CONVICT 100 MTB EVENT: https://convict100. com.au/ First weekend of May annually. Save the date! May2, 2020 enter the 44, 68 or 100km marathon mtb race courses. Camping available at the village for this classic offroad cycling event.
RISKS: Bushfires, seasonal flooding, extreme heat in summer- start cycling at sunrise. Patchy, or no mobile reception. Except for the Convict 100 weekend, firetrails are in remote conservation areas and are mostly unmarked for (cycle) navigation.