Monday, October 31, 2011

The Annual Trip, Eastside - Hanmer

Drove through rain from our showers in Reefton and made Hanmer by 6.30pm, meeting up with Steve, Robin, Matt and Lance.

Next morning, Nelson arrived, and so we were a party of 14.

Tricky having freshness and staleness mixed together, but it worked out pretty well. Round we rode and up Jacks Pass Rd, to Flax Gully Track. nice wee blitz down and the legs sure felt the climb. Then i took a wrong turn and lead a bunch of the group up a garden path (of excessive steepness) to the Yankee Zephyr, while Steve led some of the rest of them the right way. Nelson and me jetted back round to them and then rode it with them meeting Pete and Andy on the way.

The new Yankee Zephyr is a blast. great blast down with swoopy back and forth corner after corner after corner down this halfpipey landform. then crosses over the road into a new Swamp track and that just went on and on and on, eventually spitting you out now at pretty much the bottom of Timberlands. Up this to Jolliffe Saddle, and out Red Rocks, a tree clipping me, then richocheting Nelson, then actually throwing Dallas miles down the bank into blackberry and gorse, but otherwise a sweet descent and now continuing right thru to Dog Stream, that we went up the Lower and rested in the shade at the end of Mach1 and opposite the start of Detox. Nelson and me blitzed there and back on the new section of Mach1 here, then Him, Pete, Matt, Lance and me headed up Detox while the rest just went down Mach1.

Detox was fun, tho nelson had some issues, and then new to me Mach1 bits were sweet as. Nelson dropped me on this, but we all regrouped at the end. then headed round behind the Forest Camp to Jollies Pass Rd. Up up up, losing Matt and Lance to the heat, spotted the rest of the crew bypassing the usual Threshold entrance, and so followed and caught them before the firebreak, cursing the person who invented granny gear and hills. a hot slog. big regroup in the shade half way up access road then final grunt of the trip to top.

Mark, Nelson, Me, Pete, Steve then not sure the rest of the order back to Robin into the forest down the glorious sidling then switching back round and sidling, repeat, indefinitely, til the bottom. How long will Threshold last? As with all the best Hanmer trails of yesteryear, the forest cant be far from harvesting and like Big Foot will go the way of memory.

Out the bottom, cross the road, sketchy steep, then flick back up and onto an interesting singletrack down to a ditchcreek crossing that got Pete to off. bit of a play on the jump for everyone, and off we went, 3 of us back behind the camp, the rest not, then we chased them down the singletrack just inside the forest on the left hand side of the road, final drop to creekcrossing and a pie and 2 raspberry buns and a coke for me thank you very much.

Final tally for the trip. no major injuries. Dallas's knee, and Andrew's buttocks probably the most injured regions.

The Annual Trip, Westside - Croesus

Saturday Morning dawned wet. We had to pack up and get going, headed for Blackball. Bit of rain around but nothing major, we took the gravel road to end of track, parked up, and got riding. Greeted with very finely gritted track to start with, and initially quite a long down hill section before crossing a (rideable except the steps (altho Mark rode them down)) swingbridge and the climbing began. Nice climbing mostly. Lots of technical features to really keep the concentration and balance on the absolute edge of reason. Sometimes i'd make it over a clusterfuck of riverbed-esque rocks and roots and just be astounded to still be upright and moving, but have to get over it very quickly because more was coming my way... sometimes tho you'd just stall and have to walk for a few metres.

Various showers of rain came down at various times. At one stage i spotted a bunch of goats further up the track, completely oblivious to our existence until the clatter of rocks under our treads alerted them. A few switchbacks and there also were a few creeks with big enough drops to make us dismount.

Higher and higher we got and the forest petered out into subalpine scrub, the trail more rocky. I was on my own out here, cos after the previous couple of re-groups the long waits were making me really really cold, and i'd be chugging up the whole time in 24:30, whereas all the others were in 22:32 (or 34), and so by the time the tailender arrived at the regroup i was starting to get cold. So, plodding along, and massive showers of heavy rain drenching me, i was very pleased to round a corner and see the hut ahead.

Got in, jacket off, shirt off to wring it out, then every layer i had with me on. filled out the book. contemplated lighting the fire, but didnt bother, cos i figured we'd be off in no time. the others turned up one by one. we all ate a little something, Mark tried to light the fire with no luck. then we headed out.

First section pretty good, but once in the forest it was a blast. Pete filming and chasing Mark chasing me. a few regroups higher up, but little gap between us and the next guys (and gal). Faster and faster, til a gnarley rock garden would ping us all over the place, Mark astounded at some of my lines, and Pete not having time to react to the settling boulders left behind by Mark. Seemed to take no time to get much much lower (but at one point it appeared as if we'd been at it for 45mins (time flies when you're having fun)). What a blast.

But, all good things must come to an end, and eventually we made the swingbridge. Little climb from here, then a lovely blast round to the next bridge that you can hop onto and ride across and jump off the end of. then another short climb followed by a wickedly good blast round to the last swingbridge (that Mark rode the steps of), and the final grunty wee climb back up 80m or so to the very last fast drop to the cars.

The Annual Trip, Westside - Kirwans and Waiuta

Warren and Dallas arrived Thursday Night, and the weather was looking good for Friday, so Warren made contact with the Chopper pilot and arranged for a 9 am pick up.

Friday morning opened foggy, but it was a shortlived fog and lifted by 8.30, and chopper confirmed we headed round to Boatmans Rd and up to the end. All the bikes stacked up ready for the strop,

Chopper came in, and promptly blew them all over as he almost landed on them. Ropes through all the front triangles, and Mark and me got in the back, Marie in the front - her first time in a chopper, and off we flew. Awesome flight, and so quick. bikes swinging back and forth under us. Then he set them down nice and gently, releasing the ropes then setting us down.

Hope those blades arent really that curved!

Back in twice more, we paids our moneys and off he went home, leaving us in the peace and tranquility next to the cool hut. Techy steep wee track down to the main track, and we peeled left to go look at the proper tops. nice views all round, interesting low forest with lots of moss to ride through. back along this track and onto the downhill proper...

Helluva blast, with Mark leading me, then Pete then the rest of them. fast, rooty, rocky, occasionally muddy, descent. sometimes stopped by biiig fallen trees, zigging and zagging now and then, down and down and down. Dallas had a bit of a crash, garking his knee, and getting a flat, whereupon this photo was taken.
Roots, and the crew, Dallas fixing a flat

On down and down, then a wee up, and we stopped for a snack.
My view down the trail on this rest.

Then on down, and the trail got more and more technical, and eventually started following the river a bit more closely, with more ups and downs, the occasional massive slip or washout, the odd carry, more roots, etc. Definitely an 'advanced' or 'expert' track, and not to be taken lightly. Injuries in here would be bad, with a mission to get out back into cellphone coverage.

crossed the river a couple of times on smaller bridges, then eventually got to a swingbridge, which proved quite a challenge to get a bike over, with each of us having our own techniques. at the end of the swingbridge, a short tunnel, and this little creek...
Picturesque little waterfall pool just past the tunnel.

Then a bit of a climb and suddenly there's a nice wide (similar to lower sections of Lyell) benched track which we proceeded to fly down, and out to another, this time rideable (bar the steps at each end) swingbridge, down across farmland back to the cars. rougly 2-3 hours of descending.

Back to base, lunch and a bit of a rest and bike maintenance, and all but Marie tootled round to Waiuta. Headed up the Big River track up the wide 4wd start, then the gravelled quadbike bit into the forest and finally onto the nice benched singletrack that is so rife in this part of the country. Quite a wee climb for a while, with interesting roots to keep you keen, and that sapping sucky mud in spots, but mostly good riding. Track levels off after maybe half an hour, and we continued for a while longer wondering if we'd get much more height. eventually at 5.55 we decided we'd had enough and turned back. Warren and Dallas had turned back a bit earlier.

Not far down, i decided my front tire was getting low, and stopped to pump it up. the others all got miles ahead and i began the chase. finally caught Tony, overtook him and caught Wayne, overtook him and caught Andrew, then raced on ahead, now on the steeper down, hauling ass, thinking Mark and Pete must be doing a similar clip to me so there'd be no way i'd catch them, but finally i spotted Dallas ahead, and just ahead of him was Pete and Mark, and them Warren. Awesome. and just around the corner, the 'gate' (motorbike discourager), and a nice open clip i chased Mark down to the end, then the cruisy 4wd section to the cars.

Mark and I decided we'd ride the road out, and so we did. The gravel road is just about ALL down hill, and fast, and grippy, and scenic, and was super fun. Got to the seal and just coasted cruised slowly down the road til eventually we saw Warren's car, then Andy's van, who stopped and loaded Mark, and then Pete and Wayne showed and grabbed me. Home for dinner around 7.

The Annual Trip, Westside - Denniston and Blacks Point

Woke up Thursday to drizzle and thought it'd be a crappy day up on Denniston, but figured we'd give it a go anyway. so. packed up and headed out of Westport and out of the cloud about 10 kms north. Pulled into Waimangaroa and followed an empty coal truck hauling ass up the road. Quite chilly breeze at the top, but a mix of blue skies and cloud around the place.

Headed off onto the same trails i'd ridden last time i was up here, ie, the Miners Track and the Drill Track. Vastly different conditions to then tho. Everyone enjoyed the blasts down, especially the tight single bit before the first Drill track climb. Got back round to Burnetts Face and headed up the road, with a bit of a play around the old School site. Then we headed out and did the Pig Route. this had some fun downhills but it all being semi-4wd track does not a singletrack make. at the road we started heading up, then realised only the two drivers needed to go up, so the rest of us coasted, at some awesome speeds, down til we got to the turn off for the walking track. imagine our disappointment when we saw on the mapboard how much of the old bridle track we'd missed... but, we can save that for next time, and we enjoyed the crap out of the fantastic, at times technical, downhill blast this trail is.

Back in the cars (after one of the best pies EVER (highly recommended, pies from the Waimangaroa Dairy)), and on the road for Reefton. Checked in to The Camp (run by The Old Nurses Hostel - highly recommended for our sized or bigger groups), then headed up the road to...

Steep little start up Murray's Creek track, on a nice wide good surfaced track, steeps interspersed with easier grades, up to Energetic Junction and on up to Waitahu Saddle. then on round and on up up and up to a fast downhill to Inglewood Junction.

Here we turned left on Ajax Track or Machine Track, and up a more rugged track which went up and up and up, then peeled round into a narrow wee singletrack that kept going up and up with some wet bits and we wondered where the hell we were going. at a top (where they used to use horses walking in circles to haul stuff up the hill) there was what looked like a ridge track, but there were no tire marks on it, and it looked like it petered out, so we headed down towards the Ajax Mine and Stamper Battery. some wickedly tight techy forest downhill, followed by swampy boggy crappy bits round and up, to another small saddle (where the previous ridge track would have probably gotten us).

This is where the true downhill began, finally, and we hit the what is one of the most fantastic sections of singletrack i've ever ridden. it was absolutely incredible. bits where you could just let go the brakes and fly, rooster tail of leaves out behind, followed by tight steeps with your arse being buffed by your back tire. awesome. eventually it steeped down into pines, and then switchback city for a bit, before eventually coming across the slope, a couple more switchies and you're at the car. a damned good work out for the brakepads, hands and arms...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Annual Trip, Westside - Britannia and Charming

Woke to dreary conditions after a rainy night in Westport and took our time getting going for the Britannia Road. Just north of Waimangaroa (where you go for Denniston) we parked up and chatted to a old golddigger before riding into the mist. no views to be had except for low cloud and damp rainforest, the latter being particularly nice. across a soggy paddock, through an electric fence gate, and into the woods. deep in the woods... quite dark in the forest, and very drippy. up we climbed. across a bridge, very pretty creek rushing under, and on up. cleaning most stuff, occasionally not, sucky muck, slippy rocks and sloppy roots, which are all features of west coast riding. Not sure how long it took us to get to the top, there were a few trees across in places, and old slips the track detoured around, but mostly it is a benched into the hillside well formed old bullock track. a challenging and fun ride up.

At the top the cloud began to lift and for the first time we could see across the valley to the bush on the other side.

Turned around at the top (without dropping down to the Britannia Battery), and the extra fun began. what a blast. what had seemed tricky on the way up we now just flew over, and the end came really quickly with the sun starting to shine on us as we cruised back across the final paddock.

Next up it was Charming Creek. We stopped in full muddy regalia at The Drifter's Cafe, and most of us scoffed down excellent cheeseburgers, then back in the cars and up the road to the Ngakawau River. the river was up a bit, quite dirty and raging to the overnight rain.

The trail was an old railway (for logs first then i think coal), and still had its tracks most of the way up. these proved an interesting feature whenever you needed to change lines, often grabbing the rear wheel and sliding you round if you got it wrong. Also, associated with tracks, are sleepers... rough, old, sleepers. continuously, budump budump budump all the way. most of the time they were eminently rideable, but occasionally there was a hole between them that would eat a wheel. the track was scenic as all hell, with the raging torrent of a river on your left, and cliffs either side, and waterfalls raining down on you. eventually we got to the swingbridge and from half way across the most spectacular waterfall comes into view. incredible, especially with all the extra water pouring over it. then its through a tunnel, and on up the gorge to the actual Charming Creek. from here the track got pretty boring, flat, monotonous, through an open scrubby (completely logged over) country. a sulphur spring next to the track was interesting, and another (rideable) swingbridge met.

probably about half a km from the end, we decided we'd had enough, so turned round and headed back down. the challenges of the climb were easier with gravity on our sides, and everybody had a good spin, enjoying the scenery, back. small detour near the end, then it was back to Westport for 3 lbs of Whitebait courtesy Bruce. Cheers Bruce!

The Annual Trip, Westside - The Lyell

So... i'll do these in bites, rather than all in one big post...

Pete and Wayne picked me up on Tuesday morning at 8.30am and we Falconned out of town northwards, meeting up with Andy, Tony and Mark and Marie in Andy's van in Woodend then driving in convoy from there.

First stop, the Lyell, for what I thought would be a nice leg stretcher, after the howmany hours in the cars. Wrong carpark for a start, but got there in the end, then wrong trail for a start too, taking the track to the Lyell Cemetery, which was cool as, I've never seen anything like it, a bunch of headstones completely surrounded by big native beech forest. anyway, it had some grunty wee ups and a couple of steep downs to a cool bridge then a heap of steps and lo and behold we arrive, after a big climb, at the track proper, which is as i'd imagined it should have been, a reasonably wide, benched, singletrack (an old Dray road to be precise).

The track surface is good, most of the time, or soft and sucky leafmatter muddy stuff, which takes away your power like nothing else. we were to encounter this type of stuff numerous times in the days ahead. This climb just plods its way away up and up and up, and there's never really any reasons for stops except for the sake of stopping for a rest. occasionally you run into a wee stream crossing that might prove a challenge, but the guys that have worked on it have done a really great job tidying this track up.

I guess we rode up for about 2 hours. We went through a few smallish slips, but decided we'd had enough when we reached a massive slip that was obviously one of the "massive slips" that i'd read about on Vorb and elsewhere. A track has been carved into this slip, and it looks pretty scary. It was certainly a lot further on from the 8 Mile site that Mountain Biking South book said was the end of the riding. i'd say we were pretty close to the saddle, but we'd all had enough, and were looking forward to getting back down that track.

Marie headed off ahead while everybody sorted themselves out, then the fun began. what a w00t inspiring descent. what was a grind up, became a magic carpet ride. with various roots and rocks you thought were going to be dodgy on the way down just flew past under your tread. one or two sketchy bits, but mostly just fine. some of the softer mud almost-ruts we'd created or were already visible became traction-mongering berms. sweeeeeeet. caught up Marie reasonably quickly, and then mud in my eye let Wayne get by me and he was flying.

After what must have been 45 minutes of continuous descending, cramps starting to niggle calf muscles, hands worn out from gripping and braking, faces sore from the grinning, eyes watery from the wind and mud, we passed the track we'd come up and enjoyed the final throes of the trail down, then briefly up, and down again to the end. Back across the 'dam' road bridge (massive ship's prow log catcher in steel girders above the water tunnel), and meandered round to a track i'd checked out earlier, but didnt think was the bike track cos of the steps, we had to climb up steeply to get to the campground. quickchange cover of seats and away from the sandflies for Westport (and a great meal at The Pines pub, owned by a friend of Pete's)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday Pearcing the clouds, paper roading

Mark and Marie came to visit at the bach. So, on Sunday, we headed out on our bikes. Mark Heckling, Marie 140ing and me the Soul brother. We headed up Little Akaloa Rd. It starts out nice and gentle, but about 10 minutes up it starts to bite. From here, its roughly 30 minutes of granny. I was always sure it was 1 hour to the top, with 45 of granny from Misty Hills, but today proved that a mis-memory. We ground away, me peering into the undergrowth on both sides above and below the road dreaming of Living Springs styled, but rougher, trails therein. Passed by one or two cars coming down, but none heading up. At one stage a farmer on a quad came down the road, giving us that smile with a trace of "what are you, crazy?" look in his eyes.

Near the summit we got into the clouds, enshrouding us for a good portion of the ride. Top of the road, we headed up the access track up Mt Pearce to the radio tower. Nice climb, only one or two really steep bits. At the summit road it was quite chilly, with the cloud and easterly conspiring against warmth, but as we climbed, it got brighter and warmer, and by the top we were blessed with patches of sunshine and it was very lovely and warm. Mark was partially zapped by the gate at the top which was either electrified, or it was picking up on ambient radiation from the microwave/radio tower??? So, munched on muesli bars on the downhill side of the gate, then hit the trail down. Periods of speed, chatting and rolling. Through the couple of gates and down. At the DOC Mt Pearce Reserve sign we were greeted with an amazing clear view of Akaroa Harbour bathed in sunshine. Spectacular. Nice flight down from here, back into the cooler cloud, getting thicker as we got back down to the Summit Rd.

From here we felt our way around the Summit Rd towards Okains. At the cross over between Little Ak and Okains catchments we hit the ridgeline. Officially there's a paper road across here, where exactly you'd need a gps for. We felt our way across the paddock, riding farmtrack and sheeptrails up rocky interesting sections to a fence, over this and up a bit where we were greeted by a half and half landscape

Sunshine bathing Okains valley, and a wall of fog/cloud over Little Ak. Fun singletrack-ish trails around here towards the View Hill Rd which we flew down to being sprayed by the wet grass undertread.

Through the gate and the down the track to where i rode to last week and into sunshine. Mad. Views out to Long Lookout and a beautiful day out there. We bombed down here, much damper, and in a couple of places, greasy, compared to the dryness of Monday prior.

Blatted on down, and then I pulled up a little way above the twin concrete bit, wicked view down into Raupo where the family was unseen on the beach. Then, there's a guy on a bike grunting his way up to us. Had a chat and continued on our mutually exclusive ways. From here, we picked the off-piste play lines, to the right of the road mostly, firstly on grass and rocks, and some clay, then onto clay and roots under the big macracarpas, quite fun. Then the final gravel burst down, Mark taking in some off-road off-piste bits before our speedy gravity powered blast down the sealed road back into the bay.

All up, roughly 3 and a half hours, of good honest grunt. 737m to start with, then a few extras before the 650m odd descent off the flanks of View Hill. Nicely nicely.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday quick View Hill blast

Mid School holidays 4 day weekend at the bach, bike in tow, so on Monday afternoon i headed out for a quick ride. headed up past the church and on up to Chorlton, then onto the gravel and up View Hill Rd. Spectacular day, blue skies all round. was scorching hot riding up the steep double concrete strip section, and i very nearly thought i wasnt gonna make it up. Also around were a few magpies i needed to keep a good eye on. made it past the steep and on up i treadled, a bit of a breeze picking up up here. no trouble from the magpies and i was on up past the big pines,

Here's nice view just past said pines.

on the way up the valley overlooking the old house. i kept on climbing, track surface an interesting ex-mud-hoof-trodden spikiness. proved really good once i'd turned around. at about 1 hour total climb, i was only at around 600m, and as high as i wanted to go,

This here being the view down the track just before my descent.

Bombed it down. excellent flow. one hairy moment not far from this photo, when i had let go the brakes for too long and nearly overcooked it into a corner. Much further down the bike behaved weirdly on the gravel sections, with the back wheel sort of feeling like it squirrelling around a bunch.

Once back on the tarmac it was smooth flying, hung a left at the church and grunted up the short climb, then even more speed down the back of all the baches and round past the big house and down the tiny singletrack to the tennis courts. 15 mins or so from leaving the top.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sunday no wind blowing on the Blowhard

Awesome ride this morning. Pete picked me up at 8.30 and we headed for Nelson's place. Grabbed him and headed 'round past Ashley Gorge and up to the end of Maori Reserve Rd. A bit of frost around, but sunshine and blue skies blazing.

Relentless start, no warm up, just granny geared grunt, nearly steeper than bearable, but eventually mellowing out a bit. nice to see some native clematis in full flower in places. Got to the big 4wd wallow and the real steep walking began. Rocky, gnarly, steep as, for a little while. Then a bit of riding ensued, couple more walky bits, more riding, more walking. all good. a real lung opener. Here's our first break.

On up for a bit, then a nice down, reminding Pete why he rides (he was beginning to wonder), then on up again. Eventually we got out to where Chris, Nelson and me got to on my first trip up there. From here there's quite a steep chute of a descent into the woods again then its climbing again, mostly out on an old burned cleared alpine tops type environment. some real good grunts. Back into forest for a while now and then. Somewhere in there we met the Bypass Track from Glentui. Not far up from there Pete snapped his chain

Fixed that and it was on up up up up up, into some open true alpine Dracophyllum scrub with a lot of muckiness and then through a cool forest with lots of moss and with snow on the ground and drips of melting falling on us. a few rooty holes and a couple of clearings and we were at the top, all 1048m of it (which, by my calculations, is roughly how much we'd climbed in all, even tho we'd started at 300m, there's roughly 300m of downs interspersed with the climbing on the way up). spectacular views up there, and, i kid you not, not a single breath of wind. fantastic. not living up to the name at all...
Towards Lees Valley

Towards the Wharfdale back end

Looking down on Oxford township

i led off and the fun began. blazing. absolute bliss. at times the softness of the ground acted like brakes, so you could stay off your own ones. had noticed a cool rock feature, moab stylez, on the way up, and both Nelson and me found a line onto it and down it. looking back, we watched Pete navigate the rocky drop to the side. he was trying out his new Gravity Dropper, and taking a bit to get used to it.

lower and lower we got, then we had to climb again. walking up the nasty chute below where Chris and us got to last time, and once more further up. rode the rest tho. sooooo much fun. the steep steep rocky bits were a total blast.

as usual, the bottom (4wd wallow) came too fast, but i think it was worth it, the downs really did last well, and legs were sore, and braking arms were sore (but not as sore as Involution last weekend). then bit of a climb out and then down the 4wd section, fast, til we rounded a corner and there was a couple of HUGE horses (with a couple of guys on them), who were pretty wary of bikes and were getting a bit freaked, so chucked our bikes up into the broom and stood up near them and the horse calmed and cruised by. (+1 for biker / horserider relations).

finally down avoiding the ruts and blasting out to the car, getting hella loose in the grease at the bottom. if my calculations are correct, a grand total of 1300m altitude traversed.

dropped Nelson off and returned via backroads to Cust to Tram Rd. got home before 2. all good.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Saturdaze volition to Involute

Stu picked me up from Flamedaisy and we rode up Waimea Rd and round the Ridgeway to Marsden Valley Rd... all the ups hurting me like nothing else. hit the Barnicoat, and clambered away in granny for nearly an hour. ugh, my tired from yesterday legs struggled and struggled, but we made it in the end, then its up and down a few times along the ridge before hitting up the native bush. the views are spectacular, but the climbing is damned hard work.

Involution. yowser. talk about fun. switchback city, reminded me a bit of Nichols switchbacks in Dunners, but rougher, bonier. some amazing long swoopy sections into a corner and back across the slope. met one walker on her way up, and overtook two girls on bikes on their way down. trail just seemed to go on and on, but eventually, crossed a 4wd track and then got nice and twisty down through a couple of stream crossings and then pops back up onto the 4wd, which you then scream down to the gate at bottom.

struggled back round all the ups over bishopdale and down back into town. sweeeeet.