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.

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