Monday, October 31, 2011

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.

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