Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kaiteri, 31st

Kaiteriteri trails... howling gales in Collingwood, and we were on our way home, so twas over to scorching heat in Kaiteriteri... and now i'm kicking myself for not looking at the maps better... stupidly, i hit up all the completely easy ones. into salivator, sidewinder, swampmonster, gladerunner, then new to me revelation. thought about heading up ziggy, but didnt, on account of needing to keep the ride short, so turned back on the rev. then hit up shady lady, thought, thats too good, so turned back down it, then headed back round gladerunner, one very scary moment where i totally overcooked an offcamber corner leaving a big skid on the trail (and nearly some in my pants). onto swampmonster and sidewinder (gasping for air on the umpteenth switchback) then down halfpipe to the end. nothing very interesting. lovely well built trails, but just not enough challenge for me. Shady Lady was really great, and was the riding i was keenest on. should have looked into some of the other stuff, but unfortunately thought they were all just connectors for the old network of firebreaks. anyway, out and back to T and the boys at the beach, and no swim cos the boys were at each other's throats. a car journey later i had a swim in the Buller at Murchison.

Totaranui dusty roads

Totaranui 21st. Headed out up the road and over to Awaroa inlet. All up only about an hour’s ride, 4km climb, 4km descent and flat ground, turn around 4km back up, 4km descent.

Aorere Goldfields, 28th Jan

Friday 28th Jan. Aorere Goldfields. After my past experience on this trail, i expected a hell of a lot worse. Steve et al’s description of the 4wd track down made me wonder whether i was making the right decision to climb on it, but i figured i needed to see what it was all about and give it a go. Instead of parking at the Devil’s Boots i continued over the bridge and along that road (if you could call it that – meet someone else along here, and be prepared to reverse for a fair way, or hope they do the same), also observing that it had been the riverbed during the recent floods – massive piles of tree trunks and debris piling up the sides of the road.

Parked-up at the shearing sheds/yards, even tho the car would have happily made it to the next place to park (where there was another Subie). Rode up to here instead for the warm-up. Hung a right onto the 4WD track it starts off dropping to a creek, easily crossed without emersing hubs, then straight into the climb, pretty steep pretty much straight away, zig and zag to the first gate that i opened and shut for a ‘Mud Slut’ Surf, receiving a “Thanks, Maaate” in return.

Steepy steepy bodybaggish but not-so-bad, up, up, up through all that scrubby short and tall manuka, lots of sunshine beating down, heat, and the constant deafening soundtrack of cicadas (i reckon needing a warning if they were a chainsaw, 80-odd decibels at least). I think, one downhill section, and i could see a steep looking trail off in the distance to the left. not long later there was a left hander that i decided to skip, for some reason figuring there’d be a left further up i could take.

The trail took me into another steep climb, all rideable, up over more scrubbiness, peaking out, and from my reading of the landscape i could just tell that Druggans Dam was further to the left. I glanced at spectacular views and hit the wideopen smooth-as downhill, taking a left-hand option at the bottom that led me to a far more wicked downhill section, washed-out scrubfilled ruts and drainage-crossings requiring the popping of nice air or perfectly timed bunnyhops. Flying down, tho with the caution of not crashing whilst on my own.

Made a short vid at the dodgy campsite (bbq inclusive)that had even more deafening cicadas, and followed the signpost uptrail. Obviously hardly ever used, tho some tire tracks in evidence, lots of gorse overgrowing leaving track marks on my arms. After much climbing, albeit barely ten minutes, i met the previous trail i’d decided against earlier, and made a right, commencing on more climbing. Steep here, i think getting off and walking even, but eventually finding myself on the receiving end of tracks i’d seen before (last time, in fog and drizzle and a group parting ways with Pete, Nelson and me going the way i was about to go, and the others heading down the way i’d just come up).

Glorious wee descent down to Druggans – railing bermy corners and skipping over any roughness – no nasty grinding paste this time, dry as a bone. Got to the dam and headed along it, riding and then walking all the way to where the sounds of water gushing eminates through the regen below the outlet. Turned back and off down again, this time over the waterrace tunnel and the steep descent that bailed me up last time. Cleaned it this time and had a good look at the tunnel – scary! On now round the waterrace, water leaving it and it weaving in and out of the landscape on its wending way round to the caves.

Ballroom Cave first,

alas, forgot my headtorch so was a shallow cellphone lit explore. Fun we descent down to it, and not such a bad push back up. Then Stafford’s Cave with its chill breeze pushing out.

Then, what i thought of as the final descent.
Expecting a long downhill, the single track is tidy and contained and well drained and fast. Almost dangerously fast. One new out and back fall-line-remover but otherwise just fast and smooth. Couldn’t even tell where pete had his wee off last time. Just rapidly got to Druggan’s Flat and then it was a brief descent to the gate and over to the other parked Subaru before the final roll out to my car.

Sweeeeet. Basically, a 30 minute climb followed by 10 minute downs and ups and downs to the dam, another 10 to the caves and another 15 to the end - except with all the faffing about looking at views and taking the odd pic, you’re looking a couple hours tops. fantastic on a nice day, tho ear plugs could almost be recommended due to the cicadas, i'm seriously thinking longterm hearing damage... :)

Rameka, Jan 16th

16th Jan, 2011. Installed new rear pads at Riwaka Resurgence prior to ascent of the hill, and with sleeping boys in back, T dropped me on Takaka Hill Canaan turn-off, figuring with those few ups and downs on the road i’d bed the new pads in nicely before hitting any serious singletrack.

Reasonably uneventful ride in, passing a worn out cycletourist woman and a little further up her partner before the saddle, and being plagued with a clunk on every pedal rotation in certain conditions, ie, not all the time. Snapped a shot of the bike and the road where i lost a maglite next to our brokendown audi on the way into our campsite G2000.

At Harwoods, figured i’d try out the new Gold Creek circuit, surprised to see it was classed as an Easy... hitting it, first wee climb, realised why. Still, should never let simplicity dampen a ride. Some cool country to see.

Seemed up and up and up across various paddocks, through various gates, a not particularly pleasant surface, kinda energy sapping grass scattergunned with plenty sheep shit too (which i think cant be great, dissolving down into the karst and on down through the cave networks beneath...), also stinking up a tire now and then.

It all finally started getting interesting, riding wise, once you got to a creek. Some sort of juncture with the outer circuit – twice you cross the creek, nice clear fresh looking water, tidily crossed, rideable or not, then this zany ascent begins, with beautifully constructed, near-wheelchair grade
build trail,

with a zigzag up a hill into almost alpine dracophyllum assemblage rocky wee top and on along for a bit through lovely bush. Bit of a descent across a paddock with some whoopdedoos and back into another clump of forest with more lovingly constructed singletrack, with velocity controlling off(or weird)-cambering, finally spitting you out for a last blat down to the Harwood’s Carpark.

Here, quick chat with the cycletourists who were gonna stay at canaan for a few days, so would explore the trails (i highly recommended they hit down the Rameka), i signed the book and headed up the short climb to the Rameka turnoff.

Scoffed a OneSquare and found i had cell reception so shot out a few txts to the world and treadled in at 16:10 according to one, with very slightly lowered seat. Blissful. Sublime benched native forest singletrack -- my favourite thing. Kept a nice pace, thinking the singlespeed wouldn’t have been so bad, 'cept for its rigidity, riding or not riding the creek crossings, depending – certainly cleaning a lot more of them than any time in the past (reminiscing on the one i crashed at), the track was so dry, tho still had a few surprising wet bits. One photo stop,
cool big fractured rocks the track rides through. Recognised the the area where pete got lynched by the lawyer too. At what turned out to be right near the Abel Tasman National Park boundary i was jetting along, flying over everything, roots, dips, rocks, and rounded a bend and spotted another cyclist, a guy it turned out was riding from Takaka to Mot.

From here the ride is not for much longer. In Dozer’s bit, instead of dozering, i took all the little jungletrack bits off the sides, then into the gorse for some super fast mad loose descending to the cool cut marble techy rock climb out to the ending speedy section to the roadend. Finally onto the road ((not really-) admiring the mad castle), more chip than last time and somewhat scary (but still fast) as a result.

Into the Rameka Project, kinda stupidly F A S T to the pines, spotted a guy grubbing a new track. “I’d like to shake your hand! Congratulations on being part of building such awesome trails!” I prattled. quick yarn and off on down through Great Expectations, loving every metre of this handcrafted goodness.

Onto the road, down, barely in control, into the ford and straight into 2 Clicks.
F a n t a s t i c.
This and 1 Click are damned fine examples of the kinds of trails that need to be thrown into similar areas (alongside roads, alongside rivers) all over the country where there’s connections between other trails (or road-ends etc). Its inspiration for getting something similar in a few places i can think of at home.

Then off down the road a little and into OneClick, taking in the low line first, then walking back to ride the high line (rockgarden said closed) and lower down, the riverbed section (cool!). When the singletrack ended, back onto the gravel road, blatting it down to the seal. From here, a hard 15 minutes into the wind to Pohara where the family was bunked up in a cabin. Lovely swim in the sea to replace one salt on the skin with another.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday night, chasing sunset Mt Grey switchbackage

Awesome ride last night. (pics never did come)...

i guess you could say my ride began with spinning the townie across town to GG's to pick up her jeep, which i had to use cos T had the car in Hanmer, and i had to pick up a lawnmower from some friends in Loburn. I figured, "i'll be in loburn, and i was gonna ride tonight, so why not do Mt Grey?". So, back home, got ready and Chris turned up, and off we set. Got the lawnmower and cruised round through Ashley, Sefton and Balcairn, then on up the heinously corrugated Campton's Bush Rd to Lake Janet.

Roughly 7.30 when we set off up the forestry road for the top. Chris soon leaving me behind, but both of us maintaining big (36t) rings up front all the way. relishing the smells of the sections of beech forest on the way up, the sharp honey dew coupled with the dampish mossy must, between sections of pine. couple stops with Chris getting photos of the spectacular views, sun getting low in the sky and the shadow-play on the landscape highlighting features not normally seen. once above the lookout the road levels off a bit and the vegetation becomes sub-alpine, and the views to the west are all layered shades of grey and blue ranges of hills towards the Puketerakis. approaching the massive telecomms tower i spotted a hare the size of a sheepdog. it was huge, loping off into the tussock-spaniard-celmisia shrubland. also, watched a bellbird flitting from solitary flax flowers, stalk to stalk, all bathed in a lowering yellow-orange sunlit glow.

peaked the trig-peak, after a nice little steepish singletrack descent from the telecomms-towers-peak and loose climb, about 8.20 or so and, figuring we had time for the Mt Grey, but not the Red Beech, track. Seats down a bit, we skedaddled down round the traversing singletrack. funtimes begun. couple of boggy sections, a few switchbacks later and then rounding over a small col, we entered the bush, embraced by the bittersweet smell of the black-fungus/scale-insect symbiosis tapping the inner juices of the Nothofagus, and the drone of wasps and bees collecting the stuff.

a series of short switchbacks followed, some rideable, some not, and then near the start of the first nice longish section of trail there is a wee rock stepdrop, followed by a corner with a rock wall next to it. i popped the step, felt the wheels sketchiness on landing but made it round nicely and jetted on down the flowing sweetness of the trail to the next switchback, where i stopped and waited for Chris. sign. waited some more. still no sign. so, put the bike on the trail above the corner, changed down and ground my way back up, to find Chris sitting next to the rockface following the stepdrop, rubbing his knee and elbow, his bike off down the bank below the track. he'd overcooked and lost it on landing the step and smacked into the rockface and tumbled, garking the forks and his knee and . i got his bike up from below and he straightened the bars, and off we set again.

from here the trail varied from switchback closely followed by switchback, or switchback followed by sweet flowing section of trail on down and down and down. one section it was easier to just walk the quick sequence of multiple switchbacks as altitude was scrubbed off quickly. there were some beautiful big trees the lower we got, birdsong, that honeydew smell, and at one point even a morepork starting up. the depths of the forest were getting a bit darker now, but as we traversed up to the Lake Janet track turn off the sun was shining horizontally through the forest in a spectacular light.

the track surface is of superlative quality, chipped greywacke, well drained. the width is much tighter than most benched native trails we're used to, and so the sensation of speed is greatly enhanced. Numerous long sections of sublime flowing fast singletrack ensued as we dropped lower into the valley at a similar rate to the sun dropping towards the horizon. Sunset was at 9.12pm, and we made the end of the trail in the bottom of the valley about 9.15.

From here, the climb back to the car at lake janet is disproportionately long and painful (for me anyway) with a couple of granny sections thrown in for good punishment. it was 9.40 as we drove off down the road, a pinky-red glowing sunset seeing us off down the hill.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sunday Thomas's God Snaking

lift with Pete out to Dotcom, meeting Andy, Wayne, Wazza and Dallas there. off up the Thomas we trundled. all going pretty good, i was feeling quite good, fresh legs recovered from Wednesday's semi-epic, tho the summer cold still pestering me a little. cleaned all the cleanables and didnt clean the usuals. topped out and into the shade of the embankment at Evans.

Then it was off out Godley. blew out the usual first bit, but got pretty much everything else quite nicely thanks. the others all did good. regrouped in the usual couple spots, interspersing these with great blasts down the great blasty bits. at Breeze we took the high(ish) line, ie, above the road, the two little grunts puzzling me cos they werent as bad as i remembered (been a while since i took that line). pete and me flew down to the end and took shade under the macracarpas by the loo block. the others followed in, and then we took off round the below-road track. awesome jaunt round here, best i've had in ages. all my control and balance and power just seemed to pull together perfectly.

then the Anaconda. again, everything came together and it was an awesome descent. railed all the berms and hoisted the yumpies and blazed on down. then into the tail, following another dude who looked to be struggling a little, but was keeping an okay pace. then the climb out of taylors was one of the best i've had in a while, i just seemed to have plenty of power to get up the hill.

down Nicholson, excellent blaze down here, then when i got to the bottom looked back and couldnt see any of the others... turned out Pete's derailleur had appeared to eat itself, tho once he got it untangled it was fine.

coffee at dot come and home round 12.30.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Fog Ridden, return to Chch.

So. New year and all that. today we packed up all our belongings out of the bach and into the car and squeezed it all in (one extra adult having arrived from Scotland to stay, making our little Fiat a bit of a squash. luckily it was only from Little Ak to Pettigrews Rd, where they dropped me off, and off into the fog i set at 11.30am. maximum of about 20-30 metres visibility the WHOLE ride. it was fucking wet too. madness. but good. tootled across the tops, managing to find my way by memory the whole way, and surprised at the speed i made Mt Fitzgerald and the Port Levy Saddle in. then from there towards Herbert, getting to a couple bits quicker than i'd expected but the plod with the bike on the shoulders was long and painful - still, rode lots i maybe wouldnt have expected to.

i've never been so happy to get to the top of somewhere, but i was very relieved when the summit of Herbert rolled under my tires. zero visibility still, i txtd T and let her know i was still alive. the whole ride i was in this world of cotton wool, with occasional dark shapes looming up, whether they were trees, hillsides, or cows...

2.30 and off down the front face of Herbert, with visibility slowly increasing and once i'd gotten to that bit where it veers right onto the singletrack i could even see down into Purau, but once i'd got a little lower (into where all that gorse used to be) the fog descended again and i was in my cotton wool world til the very bottom. a few minutes to 3pm as i clambered my weary bones over the bottom stile, with still the last section of track to get to the main Diamond Harbour Rd ahead of me. bombed that, up road and then down past the broken Godley House and minding out on the corners (wet road) bombing down to the ferry which was juuuust about to leave, but i made it... phew. 3.5 hours all up, Pettigrews to Diamond Harbour, in less than clement conditions. a worthy trip, methinks.

didnt see one single other person the whole trip until Diamond Harbour.

and mega bonus, got home to the new issue of Spoke Magazine! w00t!