Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Golden Bay Trip... PFMTBC Inc, annual pilgrimage

Well. Weather-wise, this was the worst of our trips yet. Couldn’t have picked a worse weekend to ride in Golden bay. but cant do much about it.

Started off with torrential rain as Nelson and me drove into blenheim around 11.30-midnight Thursday in the Bongo. Rain didn’t let up all night, and we woke up to it too. Figured, lets go look at Rarangi and see (grabbing some Renaissance beers on the way). It ‘appeared’ to be lightening-up out at sea, so we headed off up the track anyway. An hour later, we’re drenched, pushing our bikes up through the clouds and the bush was saturating us further drip drip dripping down. I'd conveniently forgotten how much uphill there was on this ride. However, the sketchy-as downhill made up for it all - steep slick(ish) rooty rocky technical (made doubly so by the wet) trail down down down through the bush. FANTASTIC. That is what mtnbiking is all about. Pushing your limits, challenging your skills.

Changed into dry clothes and hit the road. Drove over and through towards Marahau to meet up with the boys. Ending up connecting with them in Kaiteriteri to ride the new trails there. Taking in halfpipe up, sidewinder, swampmonster, gladerunner, then up Shady lady (losing tony, steve and wayne somehow), to gladerunner and back through swampmonster and sidewinder, chainsuck starting to bite us all, then round Salivater back down. That was fun. Hosed down bikes at boatwash, and headed through to Marahau beach camp to our cabins. Weather held off a bit over beers and bbq.

Next morning, drove over the hill into rain rain rain. Decided we wouldn’t ride anywhere that day (tho, had we known what was instore for us, we *should* have done Canaan Downs then...). Checked into the Nook, and then drove through torrential rain (the westcoast kind where you nearly have to pull over cos the wipers cant keep up (tho, the Bongo wipers can handle anything!)) to the Mussel Inn for some beers and kai, then back to the Nook for dinner and lots more beer, and maybe some bourbons.

Sunday, joined by Norm from Nelson (who'd ridden with us in Nelson a few years ago), we drove up to Wharariki / Puponga (Farewellspit). Lovely day up there, barely a breath of wind, best I’ve ever seen it at Wharariki. Parked at Pillar Pt Lighthouse track start, sort of the top of the road. cruised down road to farm track along behind the beach, popped out to rock bridge and then GreenHill beach, and back up road and up track up to the Pillar Point Lighthouse and along the ridge a bit, chatting up some horses on the way. Then bombed it back down, track like a river bed - fast flowing, steep, rocky as hell, babyhead rocks abounding, and fun fun fun.

Drove down to Collingwood, had lunch as the rain started, then up to the Devils Boots, from whence we rode into the Aorere goldfields. Rode up grindy slurpy steep and rutty singletrack to Druggans Dam, a bit further, then 3 of us (Nelson Pete and me) back down the way we'd come up, while the rest 'piked' choosing to ride out via the 4wd track instead (this proved, by all accounts, to be everybit as challenging and enjoyable as our way (and longer too)).

Norm stayed over night, it rained all night, and Monday morning was still wet, so taking it easy getting started, we all took our 3 vehicles (leaving his behind) up Takaka hill, and half way out the Canaan Downs Rd where it was clearing a bit. Parked at the saddle. Rode down to Harwoods Hole carpark, and then out the Rameka track. Jungle riding at its best in these conditions... Very mucky, but VERY fun. I had a nasty crash, misnegotiating a rock entry to a streamcrossing, over the bars, into the creekbed, landing on a rock with my chest. Pounded the wind out of me, hurt like hell for a bit. But kept riding. Rex went over the bars at various times too, and Pete got stung good by a Lawyer of the bush variety on the cheek. Fun descent in the lower sections, the one bit i thought would be the worst. then a wicked struggle up the marbley cliff-ledge final climb. finally a fun bomb down the gravel access road to the Rameka Project that has extended markedly since i rode it back in March, and was a joy to behold. sidling singletrack through pine forest and hacked, nay, carved lovingly, through gorse and scrub. eminently turnable switchbacks throughout and even a kea screeching overhead in the pines. followed by a bomb down to the ford, and onwards down the rameka road. Once we finally got out to the road, rode back down towards the Nook, via a small detour into The Grove. sweet smooth walkingsingletrack up to a look out and back through spectacular limestone formations with rata trees and jungle bush. Three drivers and Norm went up to get the vehicles, with Norm continuing on home. (they were gone nearly an hour and a half, bloody long drive). Big celebratory night that night with three of us staying up til waaaay past our bedtimes.

Tuesday, still wet, so figured we’d head back up hill and do Canaan Downs trails. So, UP the hill once again, out to the saddle, and rode down the road again, and then into the start of the Rameka, only instead of turning left to go down, we continued up to Wainui Saddle. From here, locals (and DOC (see Mtbiking on this page) ) have made a trail that meanders across almost all of the Canaan Downs farm. Its really great. Awesome terrain, scenery, landscape. Lambs everywhere. Weather came and went, sometimes we could see the whole valley, other times we could only see about 10 feet. And one stage it hosed down for a good half hour. Luckily, biking keeps you warm. Plodded back up to the vehicles with sunshine trying to get through, and hail piled up around the sides of the road!!!!! Nelson rode down the road and I drove the rally-Bongo. I picked him up at the main road, then as we headed into the rain at the top, dropped him off again, and followed him all the way down the main hill retrieving him in Upper Takaka. Out to dinner at the Penguin in Pohara (just round the corner), then we all had like one drink each and crashed very early.

Awesome trail surfaces ridden, all drain well, none seemed particularly bothered by having 9 or 10 sets of tires over them at all. good times had by all. no major injuries nor major bike mechanicals. lots of chainsuck tho. and all our brake pads will have worn heaps more than usual.

Bring on next year. as well as trips to Hanmer, Kirwans, Croesus, Marlborough in between... not to mention Craigieburn and Wharfdale...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday arvo, post pox exhaustion...

Finally, exactly 2 weeks since the pox struck i get out on the bike. planting in the morning, so while H slept i picked up Chris and we parked up on Hillsborough Tce. headed up Farm Track, which was a bit of a mistake, as i found my lungs just couldnt seem to get enough air. anyway, with a bit of walking in the lower reaches, but surprisingly cleaning the top bit, we turned right on the road and headed round to top of Vernon Singletrack. headed up onto it and down round to rapaki, having a damned good flight down, track in mint condition, showing no signs of issues from previous weeks' rain (not even in the usual spots)

round witch hill, not bad, tho struggling- me on the ups, then up road to top of Castle where there was a Hangglider careening around above. Excellent blat down there, chris leading, we flew. was good. at bridle summit we decided to ride up back up the way we came, so clamber clamber, me struggling away. ugh, the climbs were so hard. then back down road, back round witch hill, much much better this time, its soo much more fun in that direction, blasting down to top of rapaki. back up vernon, chris blasting off ahead to blitz some other guys (who i surprisingly caught up to as well).

then we blatted the first bit of summit and down Old Skool... briefly think i had an apparition of a "Track Closed" sign, but it was so fleeting and i was travelling fast and committed so we carried on. in hindsight, only reason we can see for it being closed is cos of all the lambs and their mums all over the hill from that top gate to the new stile part way into the singletrack (annoying place for a stile, we reckon). we were cautious, and dont think we upset too many small family units (tho, sheep being sheep, ie, fucking stupid, there was one mum who kinda left one of her offspring behind due to us... hopefully she'll wander back and find it)

annyways, excellent run down the rest of the singletrack, all in mint condition too. no harm done, even if we accidentally ignored a sign. then round road back to car.

This was my last chance to ride before heading away Thursday night for the PFMTBC annual trip... much looking forward to it. few things to do on the bike before that...

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Pox

Last sunday, a whole week ago, i woke up ready to go for a ride, and found that my body ached like someone had taken to me with a baseball bat, and my head ached like hell and i generally just felt bloody awful... i still considered riding, thinking it was just the flu starting and i might burn it out, but, nope, got sensible and hopped back into bed... where i remained for the following 7 days pretty much. monday afternoon i noticed the first few spots, and a visit to the doctor on tuesday confirmed our suspicions, Chicken Pox.

so, a pox riddled sickboy for a week, with wednesday being the lowest point and have been on the up somewhat since then, with this weekend having been finally up and about. i'm still off work today, probably tomorrow too just to be safe. i think thursday might be my first chance back out for a ride. dont think i should push it with a ride tomorrow night, altho i am feeling heaps better, i reckon its probably best to rest these bones just a little longer, get allll the virus out of me.

that'll make it more than 2 weeks off the bike. s'been a while since i've had that long off.
(i've also turned off my RSS feed to vorb, and will just post up the rides from now on in a single thread...)