Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday Blowhard push

Tom and Matt picked me up at 9 and we cruised out through Rangoon and on up through a mighty hard frost through the Slowburn to Maori Reserve Rd, expecting to meet Nelson there.  We waited.  Waited a bit more then I rode a little way up the trail to get reception and rang him.  "Where are you?" "Waiting for you."  "Where, Wharfdale?" "At home." Oh...  Whoops.  We got the ill communication.  So.  Tom and Matt headed on up and I milled about waiting for Nels to turn up.  All told, they got about a 35 minute head start.  Making time on this track is nigh on impossible.

Started off too damned steep for too damned long.  Granny-chuff, til it settled down a bit and it was greasy.  Icey or greasy.  Couple of kereru spotted on the more settled bit - good to see!  From the big pool the up gets steeper than steep and walk is all we could do.  Walk walk walk, ride a bit, walk a bit, ride a bunch, walk a bit, ride more, then finally descend, wicked descent on crunchy snow.  What a spectacular day it was, sun shining, bugger all wind, not cold.  Fantastic.  Climbing again, up and ever up.  Met a couple of runner women, climbed some more.  Met an old woman walking.  Climbed some more. And more, legs getting pretty tired by now.  More and more snow encountered as we climbed higher, the other two's tire treads ever present.  Nearly at the top we encountered a group of hunters with a small piggy on one of their packs.  Then finally we were on the last stretch to the summit of Richardson, finding the other two guys awaiting, and having had been there for 35 or 40 minutes...  all up 2 hours, steady going to the top.

Ate some, changed layers, admired the insanely perfect day and incredible view, then it was time for the descent.  And what a descent.  Landmarks just came back to us soooo quickly.  In no time flat you're 'there', then 'there', then that place where it seemed like ages from the top.  So fast.  Awesome sketchiness in places, brilliant.  I had one close call on a wee rut, no biggie.  The final couple climbs killed our legs, then it was the final descent.  On the way up, Nelson had moved a big hanging hunk of lawyer out of the way.  On my way down i rode straight into it.  Thankfully I was going fast enough that it didn't get a hold of me.  What a blast.  So fast, and down so quick, it seemed.  At the muddy pool, practically at the bottom, when I stopped I thought I could smell a fire somewhere nearby, like a campfire.  Then we realised it was the hotness of our brakes. but finally out the bottom, after taking it pretty easy on the final lower stretches, it was an hour since we'd left the top, pretty much.

All up, an excellent ride.  Perfectly finished, post shower and feed, with a couple of O for Awesomes and a Hopwired with my lovely lady at Pomeroys.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Easterned, out of, into, and out of the fog

Got the early txt from Pete saying he wasn't riding so organised me a lift with Steve and Andy.  Jumped on the singlespeed and spun my way through the mist to Steve's to squeeze into the van for the bumpy ride to the Slum -ner.  We rolled out of the fog across the causeway.  Met up with the two W's outside the 'Com and headed around to and up Richmond Hill Rd.

The grind begun, I pulled ahead in my only gear, managing to stay on top of it til around the second main bend and a wee ways up the steeper straight, from whence I began my walk of shame.  Climbed aboard a couple times but couldn't sustain momentum without exploding a lung and so walked some more.  At Sanscrit Place I managed to ride again, stopping at the next intersection to wait, Steve being the first to arrive, the others losing layers lower down.  Cold wind blowing down the hill, once on the grass the grade got heinous again and so back into 'low' i went, shanks-pony for the next little while.  An easy gradient zig zag singletrack wouldn't go amiss on this hill, and the sheep have done a pretty good job of starting it.  Exploration time soon to suss something out, methinks.

Out the top of the farm park, onto the summit, into the cold misty fog and on up to a slightly skittery greasy-ish Greenwood.  I managed to maintain a lead, skittering my way down through the mist, the trail pretty dry most of the way, just the slightly damp rocks allowing tires to pick up slightly damp dirt and messing with traction.  A few dabs, then a regroup under the worst rockfall danger before jetting off down again, through the cleaned up stuff, excellent berms in places, smooth sailing for my rigid bike.  Down out of the fog, then out the bottom, and watched the others, followed by another guy crashing up on that corner in the wee valley.  He said once he got to us he'd 'just stepped off'.

Next up it was Godley, all of us blowing the initial 'gunbarrel', me walking right from its start.  Cleaned surprising amounts of the next section, then had a great run round, a brief section of more fog which didn't last too long.  Whilst in the fog, we heard the Tsunami warning sirens being tested, sounded loud enough from up on the hills... Cold stops, so we continued down, peeling left down the farmtrack we came up last time.  Onto the road briefly, then I saw a track taking us directly to where we wanted to go rather than down the gravelled road.  (A left turn here would lead down to a singletrack that heads down to the hairpin on Scarborough Rd, will explore next time...)  Over the fence, stile, then down the singletrack heading for the Taylor's Rd.  Excellent downhill track, good traction, fun (and longer than expected) track.

Finally, onto the road for the grunting climb out and over blasting down Scarborough (seeing Miranda at the bottom!), then round the waterfront to coffeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tuesday Night Travails

Good, tho tiring, jaunt last night.  Nelson and me got over to Pete's just on time and we Falc-hooned up to the Kiwi where to find Steve, Robin, Warren and Wayne awaiting our growly presence.

First up, we headed up to top of Vic Park, Nelson and me being the only two to dally on Thompson's part 2 to finish, while the others took the road.  Next, it was into the blast round the Traverse.  Not so much fun this direction, with it's predominant climbing, and I was getting hungrier by the metre.  Nelson led the first half but blew himself out and allowed me the front for the second half round to the end.  More puddles than anybody was expecting, too.

Then it was onto an incredibly dumbed down Vernon, smooth sailing all the first half, tho, Nelson and me took the old line above the switchbacks and Pete managed to under cut us, getting a wee ways ahead of me and giving me someone to chase.  Several riders on their ways up the trail, who all politely, surprisingly, parked aside for us to pass.  I had a good chase after Pete, gaining on him very slightly all the way down and ending up right on his tail right at the end.  Had some pretty sketchy moments in my pursuit, i must say.  Looking back, we watched all the other lights parsing the hillside through their courses as the others rolled in for the regroup. Thankfully Nelson had a whole OneSquare and shared one with me.  Very helpful.

Up the road, Nelson, Pete and me all rolled 3 abreast the whole way keeping a good pace on up to the Traverse again, other (keener) riders all up on the trail above.  Another regroup at the trail head and I led off with Nelson in hot pursuit.  I lost him on a few bits but he always gained me on the climby bits with his mad cadence power.  Multiple party members commented on the puddle just before the jumpy rock before the pond and how wet tires landing on rock played skittery games with their control.  A regroup at the old sign spot and some dude muscled past us "on ya right".  We let him get a wee ways ahead but the next posse were encroaching so we set chase and i just managed to catch him before we hit the pines.  From here it was through Thomson and Thompson back to the Kiwi.

Here, Steve and Robin went their merry way and the rest of us headed up the road for the Nun.  Clamber clamber we went to the top, my legs screaming for mercy.  I led off down and had a pretty damned good go, popping lots of the new air, and rolling over some of the new tabletops, nosing it up bigtime on the usual then slowing accordingly through the rocky bits that always hang me up.  A few puddles along the way.  The lower section, I paused to await the next light then hit it and flew, railing everything, popping the yumps and cruising up the last little grunt out, legs just about dying.  Nelson turning up straight after Pete, telling tales of a wicked crash.

Back at the Kiwi Nelson and me said 'cheers for the lift up' to Pete and headed back up to top of Vic Park, on the road this time, struggling with the climb.  Back then forth in the pines, over the see-saw, couple of brakefree jumps then across and down into the gums, hurtling through my favourite section, back and forth, very little trace of anyone else having ridden it for ages.  Eventually, back out onto the skidder site and straight into a refurbished Spazza's, off down and straight into Brents taking a right hand line and joining into the bottom of Sad to the Rick, into sloppy Bridges, then into the pines and a dry(ish) nuFlow expecting grease at every turn but not getting it, then into the valley bottom and pulling up for the stream crossing.

The HiddenValleyLink track got me.  I ended up walking the 2nd hairpin, then walking the steepest bit in the pines.  Once we were on Old Skool my light started cutting out, making me glad of my handlebar mounted one, which I ended up relying on most of the way down.  Out the bottom, shattered.  We knuckled in for the long haul down Bowenvale, Eastern, Wilsons, Nursery and Stanmore home.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sunday three pronged east end

Got to Pete's for a lift with him and Bernie(visiting from Waikato) to Slumner, where we met a good sized posse of Wayne, Warren, Andrew, Steve, Dallas and Marie (and Mark who was not riding having only had new-artificial-disc-in-the-neck surgery on Tuesday).  Off along the waterfront, Pete and me stopping for him to oil his squeaky jockey wheels and pump his tire, then we headed on to chase the rest up Scarred-borough, not catching them til the very top at the intersection of Godley Drive. 

Regrouped, we treadled together up this surprisingly steep street to the very top of it and a rather large locked gate, to which Steve had a key.  Gravel road, climbed to the next gate-requiring-key, off the private land strip onto Council owned and on up to the road, passing where we came out a few weeks back.  Around the road a little then up the wee grunt of an access track to the mtnbike track.  Here, a rider turned up and said "there's about 7 more to come", so our posse waited while their posse accumulated, then it was into the singletrack bliss zone.  Pete, Andy and myself all blitzed it nearly all the way to Evans, stopping just shy of the GunBarrel, damp dirt covered tires skittering damp dirt covered rocks all the way there.  Here we turned back and had an excellent climb back to meet the others who'd stopped midway down (so's to avoid all the nasty climbing back).  Good cruise back to where we'd begun our singletrack thereby completing the first of the three prongs.

Descent began in soft dirt ruts, not sloppy, just soft, over the boardwalkythings then onto the Teddington Chip which was living up to its Shit name, the top layer just sticky, caution required.  The U shaped channel of the rest of the way down to Livingston was railed and I had one of my best runs down here in a long time.  Another regroup at Livingston and we got going again, me noticing a bit too much sponginess in my rear tire so stopped to re-tube.  Pete stopped with me while the rest continued on.  Quick change and off we went again, blazing up the hill and down again to meet the rest at Breeze.

Off round the sweet dry trail below the road to Godley end, prong number 2, out and back, thinking to myself on this section how much I've enjoyed it lately, and harking back to riding it when it was the first or second purpose built trail ever.  Back to the start of Anaconda and confronted with a big DOC fence, which we duly bypassed and bombed on down, popping some sweet air then desperately trying to avoid the sloppy mess in those lower ruts between the big berms...  Out the bottom, climbing round another DOC sign and into the valley, ready for the nasty climb up the road. 

I powered on ahead, needing to work the legs and lungs after so long off the bike, and keen to get a message out to T before too late.  Managed to get it sent in time for the others to catch up and we rocketted down the Scarborough Rd (thereby completing Prong #3) and along the waterfront back to DotCom. 

I snarfed a well earned feed and T came picked me up with the boys and we droved back over to Taylor's for a spa...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Raro, so here's a solution to writer's Block

gratuitous and non bike, but faaark...

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Mt Grey Sundae.

Just about a year since my last time up there; a great ride today.  Early start, leaving mine at 8ish to meet Nelson in Geisha Rd in a hard frost, outside temp reading -2 as I passed through Woodend and Waikuku.  Parked up; he turned up; we left the 'rona in situ as we headed north over the Salt Water -up Broad to Balcairn for the blat through to the fast-packed gravel approach Rds to Grey...  Passed by a couple cars parked up at Janet, down the solid frozen road, seeing some hunters en route, to the bottom end of our singletrack, parking near a Skins car, flash roof-rack bikers, obviously waaay ahead of us seeing as we hadn't seen sign of them on our road down from Janet (seeing their 'sign' later on the climb - along with some nice fresh deer prints in the frost-on-ice beside the Tower).

15 minutes basically got us the 3.5km / couple hundred metres altitude back up to Janet, then it was the usual 500m odd climb the rest of the way up Mt Grey.  We just clambered on up, ice an ever constant presence, it being pretty darned cold up there.  At about 700m there was remnants of snow about and a much much harder frost coating every blade of tussock and dusting the ground.  Puddles and seeps on the road were slick as.

Some spec views to be had on the way up.  We detoured briefly to the old fire lookout and this is what we saw. 
Nelson fiddling with his phone

Christchurch looking dirty out there. 

And Alps looking very ski-able (Thomas in the fore, Torlesse and the rest way the hell off in the distance). (- the Puketerakis looked pretty damned good today too)

The higher we got the colder it got, with a wicked wind kicking in up round 900m, a hoare frost sitting on everything in sight: tussocks, rocks, shrubs, the works.  SOOO cold.  

Just before we set off for our descent i grabbed this shot.  brrrrrrrrrr.

Descent began as a crunchy singletrack between the two peaks.  Lovely grippy greywacke chips and frost.  Evidence of the previous bikers through in their line choices left in evidence in the frost.  We left our own and hit the sidling singletrack below the peak.  Maybe 2 patches of snow and it was cool runnings.  All the usual seeps and soaks that're usually muddy little mutha's were frozen solid and not a problem in the least.

Here's a shot from not too far down, looking back up, Nelson just visible(?) there, and pylon ever present.

Tucked down the switchbacks and into the forest for more.  Cleaned a bunch more than previous efforts, even if occasionally dab-assisted; still much faster than earlier visits.

Met several walkers on their ways up, including a woman from work who had mentioned she was planning on walking it this weekend and i'd said to her "you wont see me" and lo she did...  Friendly hellos to each and every walker on account of our dubious entitlement of travel. What a fantastic descent tho, possibly one of my best set of conditions.  Even with the switchbacks, there is so much sublimely perfect singletrack in there it is just all worth it.  Total buzz, flying through gorgeous beech forest on the most perfect trail materials, it doesn't get any better, not within that drive from Chch at this time of year. 

Before the middle multi-switchbacked section I smacked a branch with my hand, grazing through the glove and giving quite the bruise, right on my left ring finger.  Yowch!

The lower sections were longer than my memory served, but any previously sloppy bits in the open were frozen solid enough to be nothing but sweet sweet traction, and fast!  Much lower down, back into the forest, things were a little sloppier, and as a result our bikes got quite mucky.  Approximately 2 hours after we set out, we got back to our start point, mid-day-ish, stuff still frozen solid in the shade, or not even.

Weird thing about Mt Grey.  Altho there's only evidence of it a few times on this blog, I feel like it's always a 'presence' in my mtnbike life.  I've ridden it a few times since very early on, (probably, similarly, only once every year or two), but it has always had a place in my riding and it always feels like i've ridden it more often than i actually have.  Every time too, my switchbacks get quicker.