Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday East End Meanderings, plus bonus Bottle Ache

Lots of riding yesterday, i spent nearly 6 hours on the bike, and got a chaffed ass as a result.

Round to Pete's Sunday morning and we Linwood Aved to Ferrymead bridge where we found Steve, Wazza, Wayno, Tony, Andy and Marie.  Off round to McCormacks and up, cleaning first hairpin, but not the second, then blowing it on the little steep between the flaxes above the bridge, then on the top hairpins, Andy got them all, I missed one, and everyone else followed with varying degrees of less success...

Out onto Mt Pleasant Rd, and we slogged on up round to Upper Major Hornbrook, where we had a rest before hitting up the nice sidling singletrack to the top.  Everybody made a good effort to collect lots of poos on their tires for the relishing of later.  Hung a right on the road at the top and headed off up Broadleaf Lane, at the end of the tarseal i was pleased to see a "Please Keep Gate Shut" (as opposed to the usual Tresspassers will be Shot sign that could have resided there).  We ground up the gravel section into some cloud to the radio and cellphone antennae and masts.

Over the fence, past the mast, over the next fence and everyone's faces were a little perplexed cos there's no trail visible, just tussocks...  I led them off down onto the trail and away we flowed.  Nice wee blaze down the ridge and before we knew it we were on top of Greenwood.  Off down here we blasted.  I had an excellent jaunt down this, as I think most did.  A few others around; when we stopped just after the Gulch of Gloom, we could see a big posse just finishing off down at Evans.  They headed back up the road as we descended.  Near the bottom, at speed on the big sweeper around to that macracarpa tree my front tire got into some freshly exposed loose stuff on the inside of the turn and started to go - i envisaged myself going down hard, nearly did, got a foot out and catapulted myself back up to the vertical, finishing off the last bend down to the stile getting a little shakey...  phew!

Onto Godley, I cleaned the first section of the rocky start, but lost it part way through the solid rock exit, then cleaned up the rest of it.  Some good work done further along this track, with the pinch point half way along tidied now into something rideable.  Andy had received a call from Hubbster that they were working on Anaconda and did we want to ride it.  Most of us had other stuff on so didnt want so spare the time, but Marie was keen so she continued on her merry way onwards out Godley to assist.  The rest of us headed down the fenceline to the road and over down the sweet trail, at high speed, down to the Taylors Mistake Rd.  Then shunted our way up the seal and Pete and me decided to explore Nicholson to see what lay beyond the barriers...

Past the first barrier (at the Flowers Track turn off), and down to the next one...  hmmm.  no getting through there, so down the hill and our exit was in sight, but barriers abounded, so followed the fenceline behind an abandoned house for a bit, contemplating climbing down through its yard, but no, onwards along the fenceline and then carried up the hill back to the track and then on down Flowers, but riding out the Private Right Of Way out to the old driveway/road and bombed down the rest of Scarborough and round to Dot Com.  Coffee and bagel, and a tailwind home.

Bottle Ache
In the afternoon, with my sis visiting from Melbs, little H was keen to go for a ride at Bottle Lake, so the three(+dog) of us headed out there, me with the singlespeed, Sis on the old Schwinn/Extreme, and H on his blue singlespeed, and Jet the dog on 4 paws.  He had the best time, running the whole way round.  It's opened up through the middle again, with a nice new section through tight trees bypassing a mountain of rubble from the city.   H was amazing too.  Going hard the whole way.  Sometimes I'd watch him bombing down a hill, getting sketchy and saving it with absolute confidence.  He's an awesome wee rider.  Sis really enjoyed it too, and Jet was the star.  Flat-out, the whole way.  Drank from the stream of water from my backpack no worries too, and met lots of friendly dogs.  Good boy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday night further explorations

Great ride last night.  Nelson came to mine after work and we navigated the rush hour traffic in the 'rona across to Worsley's, parking up top.

I gasped for breath all the way up, on account of a bit of a cold i'm suffering with right now, tho, keeping Nelson in sight all the way, we eventually made the bottom of the Bodybag, having been passed on the way by a young fella'me'lad hauling ass up the hill on his full susser and ridiculously wide bars.  His mate followed up behind us, saying the first dude was an energiser bunny.

Off up the grunt track and into the single, looking for new beginnings i'd heard tell of...  Firstly, we spotted an old section of trail, followed it and found it to lead to the bottom of a super techy downhill coming from somewhere on high.  Followed it up a bit, but didnt go to the end cos we'd barely be able to ride it anyway, big drops over logs into more drops over logs on silly steepness...  back down and on down, spotting a trail off to the left that i'd noticed before but was definitely looking more cut up than the past.  It was going the wrong direction to what i was expecting so we continued on down to the big cliff, not finding anything else, so we headed back up to give it a try.  Below one of the steeper rocky sections, in front of a couple (the woman of which walked the rocks), my chain blew out, major slippage, and i garked my knee on the stem or crown, but didnt think much of it at the time.

Hit up the new trail, and it was fun, a few jumpies doable, and one or two not quite, but rollable.  It joined in with the usual trail lower down, above the pylons.  There was a group of riders heading up the 4wd track in there next to us.  We continued on down our usual route, blitzing left after the pylon gap and keeping right to take in the nice droppy section down and over down to the 4wd climb back out.  Where it meets the gate there were some dudes playing on the jump there, two did it as we approached. 

We then headed into the trail we'd walked back out of last time - this time committing ourselves to the end.  Wow.  what a wee trail.  Steeper.  Then steeper still.  All rideable, til the very last chute.  When my caked up front wheel started to slide i knew it'd beaten me.  The same as prior, or another, group of riders were negotiating the bottom chute as we approached, and rode off up valley ahead of us.  Never saw them again.  Chute ended up in a spectacular wee gully we'd never seen before, amazing cliffs above (that we'd just ridden down the side of), and a granny climb sort of sidling track up valley, all hidden in the trees.  Grannied uphill for a bit.

Here's Nelson taking time out to lounge around on the way up.

Got to an unrideable stream crossing halfway up, after the rock, and so we stopped and made it rideable by placing rocks strategically.
Nelson riding it (really, he wasn't travelling that quick...).

Continued on up - i walked a little - then a zig to the left and another clamber and we were on a 4wd track.

At some stage in here I looked down to notice blood on my bashguard, and when I looked at my knee I was surprised to see a nice trickle of blood running down my shin, from the gark previous.  Anyway...

At the 4wd, we thought, "wonder what's up here?" and headed left, for a look, up to the farmland, thought about potential trails just back to where we'd come, in the trees.  Bumpy ride back down, and on up the 4wd for a while til we found the bottom of a track, which turned out to be a couple of tracks.  Hmmmm... certainly looked interesting...  Up the 'least' steep looking one (which actually turned out to be the steepest) - carrying and pushing for fricking ages, the daylight diminishing rapidly, just to find out where it started; discovering a very sneaky entrance.  We decided bad light no good for a first try - it is fucking steep, and there were a few unrelenting rockgarden sections with not babyheads, but troll- or ogre- or giant-head sized rocks. 

Donned lights and headed on down the usual track, looking all the time out for the other trail (of the two), stopping on a couple of false leads, and eventually trying a line that looked right and finding it.  Sweeeet!  Excellently tracked newby which did everything we wanted it to, not too steep, curving back and forth, round and about, and eventually saw split for a low and a high line.  We decided to take the high line which I suspected would take us further, and we found some awesome sketchy off camber slope crossing trail with droppy corners and some cool challenges.  Rode out to the bottom - of the entrance we'd walked up prior.

Meandered back on up and round, passing the bottom of the previous 'low line' which has a sign Fight Club on it, and we all know what the first rule of Fight Club is...

Eventually on down the rest of the usuals and out to the car, feeling like we'd ridden a fair bit even tho we'd covered fuck all distance.  Some mint new trails that hopefully will stay mint.

Meanwhile, now i want one of these

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Trip, Overall Reflections

Been a couple of days now, and I noticed Steve had put a low ranking on his experience so I figured I'd chuck my oar in. 

Reckon this trip had me with the sorest legs I've had off a trip.  I blame 7 mile for that on our first Q.Town riding day, with all those steep little pinches. 

Partying definitely took a backseat this year, due to the tiredness everybody was experiencing, and also perhaps the larger group, the different levels of 'party-ability'.   But that's been sliding for the last few years.

Overall, I enjoyed most of the riding.  I would not agree with the 'consensus' that the Gondola and Zoots were the best.  To me, the Gondola was the least exciting riding of the whole trip.  It is a product.  A totally artificial form of mountainbiking.  Its not even 'downhill' because the trails are all so easy, lowest common denominator, which, it pretty much has to be.  Its potentially a good introduction to a form of mountainbiking.  But really, its just 'Entertainment' in the way Bungy Jumping or Jetboat rides are, which is what you'd expect from Queenstown.  Zoots, however, was fun, and definitely i'd say more interesting than Hammy's or Vertigo. 

But for me, the 'natural' tracks were the best.  The Skippers Packtrack, and the Moonlight - definitely highlights of my trip.  And of course, Sticky Forest - similar in concept to 7mile, but just done so much better and with so much more variety (and area).

Steve asks, will there be a next year?  Why not?  Is the organisation of it all just getting too much?  As a large group, are we now too disparate in our abilities/speeds/interests?  Do we need to break up?  Go our separate ways?  Or can we travel and stay as one group, but splinter off to do different rides?  We pretty much did that this year.  It's the only way it can stay interesting for all involved.  Will there be a next year?  Cant see why not.

I vote for Marlborough.  Wakamarina, Whites Bay, Waikakaho-Cullens, some of Queen Charlotte, Nydia, Wither Hills (if there's nothing better to do).  Thats several days riding right there, all of which I'd like to experience (or indeed, re-experience).  How 'bout it, guys???

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Trip, Part 5, Homeward Bound

Drove through to Wanaka and parked up at Sticky Forest.  Rode: In HoeDown, Easy St, Sesame St into Venus, Crankin Fine up, Bilantus to Crankin Fine again.  4G down back up Sickboy, Lower Peroxide into something Turns, back up Chairlift, Peroxides, CarrotCake, back up Chairlift, Peroxide and Hoe Down upper into Twin Towers out.  Awesomest trails of the whole trip, maybe.

The Trip, Part 4, Tuesday

Steve crookguts.  Left Warren's car at bottom of Zoots and drove to top of Skippers in rest of vehicles.  Way less snow than Sunday.  Headed down, Mark then Nelson then me then Pete, excellent trail, rutty up top section requiring 'skinnies' skills to avoide catching the edge of your tire and losing balance.  Lower down, splashy in places, with a few wee stream crossings and seeps and one big slump.  These lower stretches had a nice gradient.  Quite the spectacular landscape around and above us, a great bit of country.  Out the bottom down a 4wd bit, across a stream, with a wooden bridge provided, tho several negotiated the river crossing, all making it, albeit with wet feet.  Then ensued the massive ride back up the road to the top.  Taking Nelson, Pete and me 35mins, and the rest all straggling in in good times for the next 10-15 minutes or so.  We then blasted down Zoots, Pete leading, me chasing and unable to shake Andrew off my tail - all the way I could feel him breathing down my neck I felt like I was holding him up!  Back to Warren's car for drivers to return and all drive home.

Afternoon, lots of procrastination coupled with a bit of rainfall, allowing most to pike, but Pete, Nelson, Matt and me drove round to Arthur's Point and up McChesney to end of Moonlight Track (part of Moke Circuit).  This ended up being one of the best sections of awesome singletrack of the whole trip.  Scarily massive exposures in places, and a fair few bits of chuffing pushing up up.  Up and down, around.  Just before a big push, we stopped and Matt stopped to rest, while the other three of us carried on along the trail.  Eventually, after one or two more reasonable climbs and a sidle or descent or two, we could see a big descent we knew we didnt want to push back up, so we turned back and rode everything back to Matt (who'd had a wee wander on foot).  The ride back from here we rode all we'd previously pushed.  The last section after the creek crossing was blissful. 

The Trip, Part 3, Monday

Gondola Pass for a.m.  10 til 2.  Heaps of laps, mostly with Hubby.  Ripping down Hammys to get a feel for it all.  Then Vertigo, and "Singletrack" Sandwich into lower Original.  Hammys again, Vertigo again, Shit Sandwich again, repeat, numerous times, getting faster and faster.  slowly getting a sorer and sorer neck too...
Then finished last ride to top by 1.45, figured may not make it back in time for last ride up at 2ish (but probably would have), and met all for lunch.  Then off up (mistakenly) Ben Lomond Track.  past the no bikes sign, and on upwards, til finally deciding it wasnt going to join onto the track we could see waaaay across the valley, back down and found Fernhill trail off a lower corner of Hammys, so off up that, lots of walking and pushing up up up up up, finally catching the rest just before the 'top', and the track we could see.  around that, and more ups to the real top, not to mention the fallen trees to clamber over.  then down down down zigging and zagging then ploughing down fire trails finally coming out at Wynyard's Jumps Dream Area Park thingy.  down through that, and out then Mark says "up here", so Pete, Nels, Hubb, Mark and me head up, carrying.  Mark gives up.  We carry on, eventually find the track again, steep up up up, back onto Hammys and on down back to base.

The Trip, Part 2. Sunday

Sunday October 14th.

Woke to fine weather, drove round to 7 Mile, the carpark before (just after the Moke Lake turn off, so a km or so short).  Tech-ish mucky track from carpark along above the lake and up into the bike park area.  Rode up and down for a few hours.  probably did close to 700m alt.  Up and down, up and down.  Took in: Kachoong, Cool Runnings, Grin and Holla 1 and 2, Gravitron, Loop 7, Metolius, Bliss, Kachoong, Fruit Loops, Grin and Holla, Gravitron.

Back to base for lunch, then droved to Skippers Saddle.  There was a fair amount of snow on the top of the Packtrack and a stream running down it, so we decided to just stop and play on Zoots track.  Did several shuttles, with various members taking turns to drive the cars down.  Everybody enjoyed dialling in the track, getting to know it betterer and betterer each run.  Eventually, we'd had enough and headed home.

Meanwhile, Nelson and Mark had decided the snow may not be too bad and tackled the Skippers Packtrack.  They had a great time, I'm sure.  Marie drove back to pick up Mark from Arthur's Point; Nelson rode all the way.

The Trip, Part 1. Friday

Friday 12th Oct. 
Picked up by Nelson, drove to Pete's to leave Nelson's car, picked up Matt and met everybody at Cookie Time nearly ontime around 7.30.

In attendance, Drivers:  Steve, Warren, Andrew, Alister, and Pete.
Passengers (respectively): Mark and Marie, Wayne and Robin, Tony and Hubby, Nico, Matt and Nelson and me.

Drove to Raincliff Forest, Middle Valley Rd (between Geraldine and Fairlie, turned off a km or so after the Opuha River Bridge).  Very newly made (Hoare) track on the lower (north east) reaches which was boggy, soft and muddy.  Once on the more 4wd type tracks it was better going, but after a bit of a climb the climb got moreso and mucky as all get up.  Then a final quite steep 4wd up to the road and on up to the top of the forest for the lead in to the Mackay Track down.  This is tight and twisty with lots of roots and because it was so wet reasonably dodgy in places, with 2 wheel squirrels abounding.  The potential of the place is very good, and in the dry would be very fun.  But, it's a bit of a detour off the main drag for less than an hour's riding.

Drove on to Wanaka, bought some beer supplies from Wanaka Beerworks, then off over the Crown Range (a first time for me) to Q.Town, where we found ourselves in some very good (cheep cheep) accommodation (graciously organised by Steve).

On Saturday it rained, a fair amount, so we did no riding.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Sunday Wharfdale Adventurings

Bit of an epic today.  I'm certainly feeling like I've done something pretty huge.  Got out to Nelson's around 9a.m. and checked out his environs before we Grand Wagonned around through Oxford to View Hill and parked up.  Somehow it was like 10.30 as we were making our way up the start of the trail.

A perfect day, cool, with blue skies and sunshine.  As usual a bit of water around on the trail, and some really soggy sections.  Looks like there's been a lot of riders through it of late.  But the dry north facing stuff was nice and dry.

We were good trail pixies all the way through.  By the time we got to the saddle we'd cleared off 6 logs, with only a couple of major wind-throws we absolutely couldn't have budged. 

Seemed to make the saddle in no time, tho, I don't know how long it really too, maybe an hour?  possibly more, what with all the stopping.  Anyway, carried on over and headed down towards the Hut.  Fucking mucky along the top section, but then it got good, for a while.  Before the big historic slip, there was a big bunch of trees across the trail, requiring a bit of schlepping and scrabbling.  On down, I was getting more and more tired.  We stopped and cleared a few more logs before finally making the river, hoofed up the climb then negotiated a tricky descent (I rounded a corner to find Nelson's bike and him separated in a big pile on a corner) to the hut.  Checked out the river below the hut, wrote in the book and feasted on One Squares...

Then we hit the trail down towards where the Townshend Hut used to be.  What a fantastic wee section of trail.  Bit of a climb to start, but then it just flows wickedly.  And riding it back was surprisingly good too.  Tho, by this time I was feeling weaker and weaker.  From the Wharfdale hut we began our climb back.  Ugh.  Took as long as it took.  Most puddles, I'd pull a wee wheely over just in case they were deeper than expected.  Ever more tired, on the way up to the saddle I was crossing a puddle, and thought, "I'll just let it roll through."  Big mistake.  My front wheel stopped dead and I overbalanced and toppled straight over the bars into the muck.  D'oh!

From the saddle, the downs were spectacular.  So much fun, so much flow, so good.  The climbs seemed to get betterer too.  My legs were burned out, but what had been granny crawls became more and more middle ringed.  Second to last descent, with the bridges in it, was amazing.  I stuck right on Nelson's tail and we just flew.  Final descent was fast and loose.

Other users:  Met a guy on his way out, who told us the Hut had seen the Canty Uni Tramping Club's 'Bushball' overnight.  Met a guy on a bike with a climbing helmet and big pack, just come from the Bushball.  Then a girl walking, obviously the same.  There were a couple at the hut, who left while we were there, and later we passed them maybe 20mins from the end.  Met a guy and his son on bikes on their way down from the saddle negotiating the big wind-throw.  Rounding a corner I thought I was hallucinating, 4 or 5 sheep??  Nope, Huskies, and a guy, walking out.  They'd been to the snow up high.  Then one guy on a bike looking stunned as we flew past him, then a family of 4 near the end.  And a tonne of cars in the carpark when we got back, where their occupants were, who knows? 

New fork report, perhaps not as much small bump compliance as the Fox when it's tuned right, but it certainly felt good, and I think the 20mm axle really makes a difference.  Steering felt really precise.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Thursday Pleasant Green Explorations

Good ride tonight in the howlingly cold easterly with Nelson.  We droved to McCormacks Bay and parked up, Glenstrae up the trail.  Wheezing like nothing, I was, - thought i might perish for a while there.  Once up past the first of the switchbacks I got a little right but still struggled the rest.  We walked much of the top switchback section.  Then it was powering off up the road and up Clearview, through up to the new Britten trail. 

This puppy climbs nicely, tho steadily.  Nelson suggested it was steady like Salvation, but without the trees, and obviously a lot fewer corners.  Heaps of sheep and lambs were clearing out of our way near the top, stupid things, whaddayadoin' hanging out IN the wind!?  Where the original Britten track joined ours, just shy of the cattlestop we about-faced our directionality and proceeded on up that, 'round over the top and onwards along to its end.  Its pretty worn, obviously not seeing much rubber, lots of rocks and ruttiness.

At the road, we stopped and admired the views of the city and nearby rockfalls.  Then off we headed down the road past the climber's cars, and right past the dodgy looking van that'd just parked up at Cavendish Saddle, where we found a trail i'd heard tell of; a sidling climbing track leading to the top of Mt Pleasant and its wee antenna cluster.  It's reasonably well cut, kinda benched - making at least one of us wonder if it's merely the reinstatement of a much older trail; indeed, joke we did at the time that the Moriori or Picts had built it.  At times quite steep, too.  We rode it all til we basically lost it, mostly due to its barely developed state - picking our way where it should go to the gate for the aforementioned antennae.  Easy slug up to the trig, enjoying the view of Lyttelton and Harbour environs, and not the wind, then it was over a fence into another antenna's enclosure onto bit of a trail that chokes up a bit before another fence, over and off down the left a bit finding it and then following it very enjoyably, down down, icecream headache eating into my brain, i stopped and swapped do-rag for pfmtbc buff and back onto the trail, down, struggling to know where it's going next thanks to tussocks uncut, down, eventually coming out to a gate on the top end of the track that crosses Greenwood just before the 'ruins'.

Saw a 29r dude down there.  We headed down the 4wd track and into the single of Greenwood, passing the for some reason stalled dude, then on down, speed our companion over the bumps and cuttings.  It's even feeling worn since our last working bee up there.  Bit of a pause at the usual spot just after Gloomy Gulch and on down round, speedy speedy, down through all the new works, and there's Dave (b.a.s.i.c. mech) having a sandwich break from digging.  Nice one Dave!  He's currently responsible for the awesome carved berms all down that lower middle section.  Sweeeeeet!  Bit of a chat and onwards we rolled.  For the first time in ages i cleaned the first little rocky step up, and we roosted out the rest.  With relish!

At Evans we went and hit up the start of the Godley, just for a bit of practice.  First try for both of us? Fail.  Second try, both cleaned nicely, and went on to try out the newly cut line after the steep rocky section.  All good.  Turned around and bombed back through the saddle and got stuck into our relentless seemingly neverending climb back up to the top of Mt Pleasant Rd...

Eventually made the top, pulled up, hooked up and turned on our lights, and headed into Britten and the new trail down.  Very nice indeed.  Flowy, fun, ribbon of singletrack down.  All's needed is a couple of formed berms on the two switchbacks and it would flow even better.  At the fence we'd climbed on our way up we continued on past and when the 4wd track turned upwards, we started sidling off piste til eventually, under the pylon we hooked onto the usual down track and down through the gate and out to the road.

Fast blast down the road, into Craigieburn Pl and down to the steps.  Step, step, step, waaaay too dodgy to ride, what with a nice warratah at the bottom, straight on the bikes and zig and zag and down down down down down, swooping through bushes, avoiding the worst ruts, bailing up blind corners, over the bridge and on down, over and down, finally hurtling the long straight to the end.  Arriving at the car, kinda finally warmed up...

Thai, 8wired and a good chat to finish.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Tuesday roond toon bruined

Treadled over to Steve's on the Troll and there were Warren and Wayne and Steve and Robin, and Pete arrived after me on grandad.  Steve rode his cruiser with the fat tires.  Warren and Wayne were on their old mounties.  We backstreeted our way to Somerfield Park where we met up with Tony and Andy and Marie, Andy on his singlistic marin and Marie on her townie.  We backstreeted in pretty much a straight line up to Hagley Park and near the hospital found Hubbster (also on his singlistic marin).

Around Hagley Park all the way with a lot of speed gained on the river path to the Armagh Bridge.  From here, through town, Tuam, Madras then over vacant lot, wrong way on Barbadoes and Chester alley way to Pomeroy's where we drank some beer.  I enjoyed a Parrotdog IPA, a Hud a wah and a Her Majesty's...  All good.  Matt turned up there too.  Decisions were made about the trip and eventually people dribbed and drabbed away, with a stolid core of four venturing forth to my abode for a little more frivolity before turning into pumpkins at midnight.