About the author

To place my comments on the rides in perspective, here is some info about me.

thefathippy himself is a fictional character. Although he was originally based on me, over the years he developed a life of his own as this site became popular. He's much hipper than I am, but not as good looking.

"If all the hippies cut off all their hair
Oh I don't care, oh I don't care." Jimi Hendrix, If Six was Nine

These days, I don't even look like thefathippy, although I was once a dead ringer. When my hair started to disappear the ponytail had to go - it was turning into a comb-over <shudder>. My beard with its strong white patches is neat and trim!

I look back on this next para and sob... it simply no longer applies. A road trip vacation across Canada and the US meant lots of servo style junk food, US size servings, and bugger all exercise, so my weight climbed.  Injury (carpal tunnel) took me out of riding completely, and although recovery from the first op is well underway, I need a few more. Retirement also happened, somewhat unexpectedly - but the offer to go away was too hard to refuse. Long story short, I fell off the wagon, got depressed, sat on the couch, and put on most of the weight I lost (all that effort!). Don't worry, I'm on the mend - at least I want to go for a ride now, and I'm off the couch.

By deity, who would have ever believed it? I'm 175 cm (5'9") tall and used to weigh around 90 kg, depending on how much riding vs eating I did. In 2015, I undertook the NSW Get Healthy Coaching Service program, going from 88 to 75 kg in six months. Now I just need to keep it off! Far less sugar and junk food, far more veges, and much more time on the bike or trainer, plus regular suppport and advice from health coach. I make an effort to exercise for at least 30 mins a day (walk and/or extra on the trainer), and over an hour if I'm on the mtb. In summer I was riding every day, but winter's dropped me back to two or three rides a week plus the trainer on the other days, although I've been getting in some longer, hillier rides. My regular rides are local fire trails and single tracks. I might be getting older (crikey, retirement is just on the horizon!), but I'm fitter than I've been in years.

I'd classify myself as an experienced trail rider - I ride all sorts of tracks, but when they get too tough, I'm not too proud to walk - to quote Clint Eastwood - "a man's got to know his limitations". I'm still pretty slow going uphills, but I love it when gravity becomes my friend. I enjoy technical riding, but enjoy being out in the bush looking at a view even more. I jump waterbars and tear down rocky hills but I'm no d00d!! My reviews are aimed at new to average riders rather than experts.

I prefer singletrack that isn't "flowed", overly groomed, smoothed, or raked. RAKED! Sure you can go faster on the groomed trails, but jeebers, they're so smooth you might as well be riding a road bike instead of a mountain bike. Give me overgrown, rocky, leaf littered tracks any day!

I grew up in the Blue Mountains, spending my childhood in the Lower Mountains, and adulthood in the Mid Mountains. Much of my childhood was spent exploring on trailbikes but almost all of those tracks are now closed to all motor vehicles. Mountain bikes were the obvious option - environmentally friendly as long as you don't skid, and great fun.

I have personally ridden every ride reviewed and all opinions and times taken are based on my own experiences - yours might be different!

As you may have guessed by now, I enjoy writing, and have been a regular contributor to mtb and computing magazines. More about my writing.

My bikes

It's 2015 now - and until very recently I had a sweet Ibis Mojo HD for almost four years. Nice bike, but I've stacked very hard a couple of times because I'm going faster than I used to! I broke my ribs going for a Strava record (and reckon I was on it). I was flying until I was flying... This year I cracked my helmet and blacked my eye after getting all out of shape jumping a waterbar. Oh well, I still loved it.

Now, the HD is gone - sort of - a pivot shaft on the swingarm partly debonded out of warranty, but not enough that the repairer could get the shaft out of the swingarm for repairs - not without doing expensive structural damage, anyway. Ibis had no swingarms, but did offer to sell me a HDR frame on their no fault crash replacement policy for a good price. Now I call it Grandad's Axe - because it's the same bike, I've just replaced the frame and shock. Of course, over the years, other parts have been replaced as they wore, and the only original HD parts are the bars, shifters, front derailleur, and front wheel! "I've had the same axe for years, I've just replaced the head three times, and the handle five times, it's a great axe".

My old bikes just sit there now, in varying states of disrepair, I've only ridden them while I was awaiting the replacement, and they were bloody horrible - I could see why I replaced them. Bikes have really come a long way, although a bit of money on new bits would get them back to just being heavy! As for the roadie, it's permanently attached to the trainer.

My first mtb was an 18 speed, 18" rigid Graecross - heavy steel frame and steel wheels, but it did have cantilever brakes and index gears (for the rear). Next came a 21 speed, rigid 20" Diamondback Topanga - a huge improvement, CroMo frame, alloy wheels, LX gears, but a bit big off road. After many kilometres, I sold the Topanga and bought a Giant ATX 760. Now this was brilliant - a full 1" of front suspension, CroMo frame. Now I had suspension, I could go faster, but had more control, and importantly, I didn't fall off nearly as much. This lasted 7 years of heavy use (and suspension upgrades) before I upgraded to the NRS - a good bike, but not sturdy enough for the abuse I dished out. after destroying the umpteenth derailleur and wheel, I stripped the NRS back to a singlespeed (the mighty NRSSS), before passing the frame onto my brother in law, who has placed it back into regular service.

2005 was a horrible year bikewise. I kept breaking derailleurs, hangers and wheels on my Giant NRS2, so pinched my son's old Mongoose VRS3 - until I snapped the swingarm. Then I pressed my venerable Giant ATX 760 back into service - for a while. Doing an out and back night run (solo) on the Oaks, I snapped the frame completely, the headset separating from the down and top tubes. 10 kms is a long way to walk when you're carrying your bike and are battered and bruised... Lucky for me I was only travelling relatively slowly with my lights off, not fast with them on like usual. My wife took pity on me, and I bought what's now an old Kona Coiler, which has proved very strong and capable, if heavy. I also have a hardtail built from a mixture of old parts from the Pit and a Diamondback Topanga frame (my second Topanga). I bought a second hand roadbike a couple of years ago - Giant OCR3, but it hardly ever gets used apart from an occasional turn on the trainer. I much prefer mtbs. Lucky it was cheap.

2005? Yeah, I've had a few bikes since then, all 6" travel duallies, but I haven't kept up with the Fatbike, 29er, or 27.5 fads - hell, I'm still running (and using) three chainrings! Hopefully the market will settle before my next purchase.

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