Three weeks off the mtnbike due to Fiordland field trip and then illness, leaving November's tally of rides pretty sad...
Got to Steve's at 9am and Wazza, Wayne and Andrew turned up. No sign of Pete so we headed off across to and up Ramahana Aotea and Huntsbury, Steve getting word from an unknown number that they'd meet us up top. Steve set a worthy pace up here and we all rolled in to the top. Unknown number let him know that he was behind so we Vernon'd like rocketships down, letting uphill riders through at various points, but still rocketshipped our way to the Rapaki-top. Then we saw Mark rolling down the road.
Into Witch Hill, cleaning it all nicely and enjoying the wee climb before the pin-balled descent. Onto the road and a pleasant cruise round, first time for Wazza (ever, on this bike), the others having done it a week or so ago. Into Castlerock, no stopping, I flew down here, it being a very familiar trail to me, enjoying it's dryness and lack of muck. Still one or two wet spots, but nothing like winter's. The last place Nelson and me worked could still do with a couple more large boulders, and it'd be set. Finally, out to Bridle Path and a shady rest before tackling the climb none of us had ever done before.
Rideable in quite a few sections, only one or two rocks lower down that stumble you and further up, the steps kick in disabling the rideability. But, not long after them you're popping out of the bushes (next to the No Bikes sign) and there was a bunch of people looking out a window of the Gondola building smiling and waving. Hung a right, round the back of the building then into the ziggy zaggy trail down to Cavendish Saddle, riding very differently than at night.
Steve wasn't stopping so we hit straight into the climb, grovelling a bit in the steepest bits but getting the hang of it as it mellowed out and finally reaching out for the top, to find a heap of old walkers and vehicles and bikes and trail maintenance crew. Off down the trail, with them grubbing or placing rock armour as we rode through. Then over the stile and down round to Nick Singletrack and a quick chat before having to move before a small group of walkers got ahead of us again. Swoopy swoopy, flow, stall, flow then some rapid descending ensued and flew down to the bottom. Cruised down to the ruins and we stopped for a quick snack.
Off down Greenwood, initially i was all out of whack, but after a couple of smooth runs I got my groove on and started to bomb it. Faster and faster I went, Warren not too far back, but then I'd gap him for a bit, then slow up on a flatter bit, and he'd close, then down and i'd gap him and then into the gulch I slowed up to rest a tad and I heard him closing as I headed into the downwardness again. Again, faster and faster I went and flowed and grooved down through and around to where we saw Dave last time, and looking back I'd put a good gap in again. Kept up the speed and fanged on down, back and forth and through and then screamed down through the two rocky ups and on out the bottom, allllll good. Back, killing me, having to wait at the stile for a minute or two to regain the ability to lift the bike.
Into Capt Thomas, this time, Mark tight on my tail, and could I shake him? Nup. He kept the pressure on but I kept my end of the bargain, and even cleaned the bit I never used to clean, nooo worries - the cutting out of the steps has infinitely improved it. A bit further down down, around through the next wee gully, I decided I was slowing him down so pulled up and let him through. We rolled good from here down, through the next to tricky bits and then both just lost momentum in the wee climb, but the rest of it was smooth. Fast down into the new switchies, nearly lost it on one outside corner, but man it was betterer lower down now that it's dry - dust even getting lifted by our speed.
The others all rolled in and we headed for DotCom for well earned liquids and solids before grunting round via the causeway, strange cross wind, bit of slipstreaming required. Into the back of Ferrymead trails and round where we went our separate ways at the roundabout. Weird side then tail-ish winds home, and utter utter exhaustion awaiting me upon my arrival. pretty much only able to lie around most of the afternoon. Too much too soon after the illness?, perhaps. But, good to get out.