Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Whakarewarewa explorations, Vegas Vol. 3

After a week of field work, climbing up through steep bush hills in the Coromandel, Kaimais, and Ikawhenua Range, I found myself with most of the day to kill in Rotorua, so Friday night I got on Vorb and asked who was best to rent from and 2 came back to say Outdoorsman, so, this morning, rang, and then went there and rolled out at 10am on a Scott Genius.  Fox Talas fork was a bit stiff, and Shimaingo shifters are just plain weird after running Sram for so long, and over time the sag on when on full squish seemed to get lower, having me clipping pedals on stuff over roots and stuff...  but anyway.

Rode in Nursery Rd, and up this through to Katore Rd, round and up to top of Gunna Gotta, the top logged since last I rode it, the whole way down thinking "rear brake left", "rear brake left", "rear brake left", "rear brake left", into the native and way more fun, not as tech as I'd remembered it, which, considering it's only grade 3 is no surprise.  Back to Katore Rd, and up to the A-Trail, cruising me round through to The Tickler, down through the open and across and up and down and up and down and up and finally to the big junction at the start of B Rude Not To.  First half of this wide open, all the trees gone, and quite floaty and fun and fast, then into the forest again and it got much rougher and like how it was in the past.  Blasted away in here and down to the end, across the road and straight into Mad If You Dont, which was better still, wafty and blazin'.  Towards the end, weirdly, there was sprinklers going in the forest.

An hour since I headed in, and onto the 'Easy' Ball and Chain and up to another map board which I perused deciding where to go next, with the main option being riding up Hill Rd.  Chatted to some guys here (two of them on nice steel hardtails) and they offered me to join them, but I really wanted to hit up a trail above Billy T that I'd not done yet, so, they went their way and I went mine and caught up to a guy (from South Canty, working for NZFireService training staff up there regularly) on another steel hardtail (a Singular) and we cruised up Hill Rd chatting til he peeled off onto Spring Roll and I rolled up just as the bus and trailer did, and there were absolute fuckloads of bikers all waiting for it.  I joined the end of the queue and got the 2nd to last spot on the trailer and paids my $10 for uplift and sat down in nearly the last seat on the bus.  Got chatting to the guy here, down from Auckers for the day, trailbuilds at 440 (some articles, here, here and here).  Looking at the topo, the bus saves you the climb from about 380m to 700m.  Pretty good!

At the top, I cruised up the road, past the entrance to Billy T, and on up to the top of Tuhoto Ariki.  Caught up to a guy with a black trail dog, and chatted with him all the way.  Local, and when we got to the top his riding buddies, a couple other guys and a girl, caught up to us.  One of the guys had just done a heli drop on Mt Royal, in the Richmond Range, that leads down into the Wakamarina, with some Chch locals (Monsieur Sutcliffe couldnt make it, apparently) - said it was the best down hill he'd ever done.  Anyway, while we were yarning, a couple headed off into the trail ahead of us (and another group waited til we'd all gone - never saw them again).  I followed these locals into the dark, and not having a pocket to put my sunnies in I was committed to riding in the near dark...  The local guy with the dog I lost in no time, but eventually overtook the woman of the earlier couple, then caught up with the group as they took a left line into the new trail down to Blue Lake (which is meant to be pretty cool), while I continued on my own down T.A., blazing.  All native, it's rooty and interesting all the way.  Loved it.  Bit of a climb in the middle then this weird clearing and not long after, the turn off for Hatu Patu, a black line.  I took this and I can see why.  Not anything so techy we cant ride, but I'd have preferred my own bike.  I didn't trust the rental.  I had one OTB, where I landed on my feet, and the pedals kept slamming shit - otherwise it was a sweet wee trail with heaps of features to keep you keen.  Eventually it ended (last few hundred metres) down in forestry (the Rotorua kind, biiiiig trees, all understoreyed by ferns).

Down the road a little, past the exit of Billy T, and then hung a left into G-Rock.  Swoopy funtimes ensued and at the end of it and start of Chesnut Link there was a group of guys who I gave a good headstart.  Bombed on into this and caught them all at the end.  Then followed them into Rollercoaster and was having to curb my speed for their tailender, then passed him and then they'd all pulled up so I fanged through and did the rest of Rollercoaster with the thought of them on my tail.  Eventually they all pulled off onto Moonshine (which now I think I should have done) and I continued down and had the struggle of the climb on Chop Suey, then across to the Spring Roll, and then the Sweet, and mostly the Sour of Sweet and Sour, up up and down and up and up and down over and again, wearing the shit out of me.  Getting on for 12.30 by now, with only water for sustenance I was lagging.

Finally I got out to the road where B Rude starts, and decided on the Dragon's Tail, other side of the road.  Sweet trail here blasting down, all this time switching to Locked Out for climbing, 'Trail' for flat bits, and 'DH' for all the downhill, I got quite adept at changing as the trail changed.  Most of the way down Dragon's Tail there was an exit line which I grabbed which took me across the road and back into the bottom of B Rude, and from there I took a right hander that chucked me down in perfect positioning for accessing the Lions Tail trail, which I followed some faster guys into, for the climb, which I was starting to really hurt on.  Some amazing big gums near the top of this.

Then along an offshoot of and then Katore Rd for a bit and I (kinda stupidly) pulled right into Turkish Delight (and bits of Soakhole) which climbed again, but then kinda swooped all over the joint and eventually threw me down and out by big intersection in Easyville.  I rolled through this, spotting a big dude on a fatbike, onto Exit Trail, which had a small climb to start then a blast.  Hehe, this was cool.  A few neat jumps and drops, and my switching of suspension setting was exactly what was needed, with the final shutey out all on the DH setting blasting down and then out, and along the road, sore and worn out, and down to the shop to return the bike almost exactly 3 hours since renting it...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thursday post work Worsley, Nun, The Guv'nor, Tommy Too, Debby and a newby

Nelson picked me up for an eventful ride.  We parked at the busy top of Worsleys Rd, and proceeded to get puffed riding up the hill.  The ruts up here are deeper than ever, getting to be quite little canyons, and what was a techy rocky section half way up is now a REALLY techy rocky dry streambed section that we both walked.  Some of the tight little ridges between canyons are getting pretty narrow now too.  For a change, we continued up the Body Bag, which I got off and walked the lowest down I think I've ever gotten off.  I just had no 'climb' in me.  Knackers yard for me, methinks...

Into the top of Nun and a well earned rest, and little bit of a snack before heading off down.  Felt pretty good, everything familiar even tho it was  a couple months since last tackling it.  Bombed all the way to the bottom then back into the annoying climb.  At the half way mark, we headed over to the left and down the Governors Bay trail.  A good year since last down here.  Neat wee blast down, singletrack in great nick, tho a few bushes over growing it in places.  We'd both forgotten how long the flat bit round the bay side was, then it was into the techy climb up the Kiwi side, above the Dyers Pass Rd.  Cleaned a good percentage of it, walked once or twice, and Nelson cleaned heaps. 

Back on the road and Nelson took off chasing and baiting roadies while I just plodded away.  Top of Worsley, bodybag speed rush down, then into the access track up, sunnies off, and on up to top of Hangloose and Tommy's 2.  We chose the latter, cos it'd been a while, and I led the way.  Things have sure changed down here since the first few times, with stupid arse jumps been dug into the middle of the track in places which are just inappropriate.  fucking groms.  dug out on the backsides of them too.  stoopid.  Nelson had a wee brush with a bank in a tight channel part way down, then we picked up our old line which is the bottom of Hang Loose and rolled that out.  Nice. 

Up the logging road, following some other guys, then it was up the guts, internal steep little muthahfuckah me grinding away at it and surprisingly surviving it.  Just before the pylon clearing we spotted a new looking track off to the left and noted it for later.  At the clifftop we caught up with another dude, Justin, and led him to the entrance to Debbie Does Dallas, which rode bloody well, and was heaps of fun.  Nelson and me continued across the slope, while Justin scoped out the rest of it.  Pretty cruisy across the face, then into a little of Nick's track, then cruisy across the face again, til finally dropping down into Fight Club and we finished this off nicely. 

Back up the road and the sun was pretty much below the horizon, so contemplated bailing but decided to go back up the guts to check out the new trail.  I ended up walking a bunch of the steep up.  Still, I do need to exercise my walkingness.  Nelson led into the new track and it was quite cool.  Pretty loose, but a good gradient and it blitzes down through the forest just below the pylon clearing then drops down and meets the logging road about where the old Fight Club shortcut used to come in.  Back up to the central junction and off down the finishing trails.  Nelson was well ahead of me here, and I cruised, getting a flow on, and jumping the wee jump between the trees, then there's this big tree fallen across the trail, with a good lead in ramp on it, and I was like, do I? dont I?  and at the last second decided not to, but too late.  Slammed on my brakes, just about threw myself off the back of the bike, but not before it went over the jump and I followed it over landing badly, tumbling, bike falling on me, rolling, tweaking a muscle in my calf and impacting my shoulder.  Owch.  Straight back on, and rolling again, rode all the rest out, testing the shoulder and stretching the calf... 

Voltaren for a day or two, maybe...  gonna hurt in the morning, I reckon.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sunday nearly reverse of last week on damptracks.

Small posse met at Steve's - Wayne, Andy & Steve were awaiting us when I turned up and then Pete arrived minutes after.  We surveyed what was left of Wednesday's flooding, dirt and debris lying about the place as we tootled around Hansen's Park to the Ramahana climb.  Good pace all the way up the hill, with Steve showing no signs of slowing.  Into the dirt, again with the pace, all the way up to the top.  Into Vernon, several times moving off the track to allow climbers past, killing the buzz a bit, but still having a good blast down here, no damage showing from the storm. 

Straight through Rapaki top and into Witch Hill, gravel all washed off it, starting to rut, and throwing me off form a couple times.  Out the end and across the road onto what will eventually be the line.  First section okay, but second section got sucked down and too steep in the long unformed grass track left me walking above the road with no way down for a bit.  Caught the others up and we cruised up under the Tors and straight into Castle Rock.  Great blast down here, with the drainage work of last week obviously having done a good job.  The rock feature we carted rocks for is good, tho the water runs a bit further along the trail after it.

Re-group at top of Bridle Path and then it was off up the clamber to the Gondola building.  Most of us cleaned lots of it, and walked the bits we didn't.  Then, off down the ziggy zaggy to the saddle and into the last climb of the day.  Over the stile and in the steep part of the climb, the gravel has all washed out, rutted something wicked and was generally not very pleasant (pun intended) or easy to ride.  Once it leveled off a bit it was okay tho.  Andy and me were out the front up here, chatting about where i crashed last week.  I couldn't work out exactly which spaniard it was that lead to my crash.  At the top of Mt Pleasant there was a pleasant young lady who we chatted with for a while. 

Off down we went, trail all in good nick and not squirrelly or greasy at all.  Hard to find as usual, with the odd tussocky corner catching me out.  Once at top of Greenwood we continued on an old skool blast down the 4wd trail to the trees of Richmond Hill, then down our usual climb, which was splecky in places, and i must say, my little mudguard left my face and eyes spleck free where the others were complaining of eyes getting splecked.  Finally, the road, a very fast blast down the seal, i'd say close to 80kph if not faster.  Would be ridiculous to crash at that speed...  Through the street fest of Sumner, and into DotCom for a well earned coffee before a haul home, Pete and me parting ways with the others at Ferrymead.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Sunday morning scramble loop

Most of the others met at Steve's at 9.  I left home at 5-to and pushed hard down the length of Linwood and Humphreys, arriving in plenty of time, followed shortly thereafter by Warren and then up rolled the posse - Steve, Pete, Brandon, Andy, Tony and Wayno.  Off up St Andrew's hill we scattered, up Marama, up to and through the park, bumping into Robin just up the road from here, he was out for a quick ride, then up Major Hornbrook, through the reserve and up through to the Upper Major.  Next up was John Britten reserve, Steve took the lead to keep the pace down for the tail-enders, and we cruised nicely to the top, hung a right, along a bit then over the gate and up Broadleaf.  Brief regroup and I led in to the descent.  Brakes were slightly dodgy - having put a new set of pads on the front and switched in the two meatiest remaining (one from front, one from rear) in the back, the back ones weren't performing the best to start with.  First couple of corners I got round okay, but then came one, and I'm leaning into it, round it, and "Whooah!" there's a spiky spaniard seedhead right in my face!  I swerve my lean, then end up over compensating back, and front wheel drops into a tussock and whoomph, right over the bars, spin round and the bike clatters over on top of me while i'm fending it off with my arms.  No damage done, all good, roll on down, putting in good speed and swervy poppy goodness the rest of the way down.  Steve stopping to look for his ring in the grass at the saddle.

Into the ziggy climb up Cavendish, most of us cleaning all nicely.  Round the back of the Gondola building, ignoring the no bikes sign and down the steps.  First few baulked me, but no worries on the rest.  Great wee ride down this hill, mostly pretty clean.  Where the trail peels left to a wee steppy hairpin, i tried straight ahead, bit of a carry down a couple of rocky bits, but then no worries, onwards, ahead of the others, the Pete came rattling up behind me.  Meander meander and we were at the top of Bridle Path.  Steve stopping to look for his ring briefly here.  Then we were into Castle Rock, where Nick Singletrack was having a working bee.  They sure have put in lots of drainage.  Should be good for the winter.  Nick's gonna re open this section soon, and we got the low down on it's legality.  ie, it is legal to be riding it, but being on the road is CERA's lookout and is currently still not legal ($5000 fine anyone??? - not that anybody's enforcing it, much).  Chatted and rode for a bit, then the wetspot between the hairpins, we stopped and carted rocks from up the hill, providing a damned good pile of raw material for the armourers to use, which we left, and got rolling again, cleaning everything all the way up, for a nice change.  Steve had gone ahead earlier to search, in vain, for his ring, and him and Wazza were up top egging us all on.

Down the road under the Tors, and sighted the new trail Nick is building just above the road.  That'll be good.  Into Witch Hill, fanged it pretty good through here then round and into the clusterfuck that is the top of Rapaki.  Man, what a lot of people around, including a bit of honey, mmm mmmmmm.  Up Vernon, at a good pace, up up and round.  Start of the Traverse we had a bit of a break, small feed, then onwards again, around then down.  I took the tussock trails, twitchy dodging back and forth, seeking lines at the last second, flowing pretty well, but twitchily, til coming back onto the road just before the gate.  The others all piling down en masse.  Into the 4wd descent for Old Skool, fanging it.  Absolutely blazed down here, getting to the gate before the others were barely any ways down the track.  Then it was into the old skool ziggy zaggies and shortcuts, all pretty rough these days.  Brandon amazingly sticking to my tail down some of the worst stuff, the rut-hole at the bottom catching us both out.  Final 4wd under the pylon, then onto the Old Skool proper.  Final descent, good pace all the way.  After the stile, Pete was on my tail and we had an excellent run down the rest of it, pumpy pumpy flowy flow, w00t! worthy.

Out the bottom and down Bowenvale Ave, headed for the cafe opposite St Martins New World rather than any other options around there.  Meh.  Somewhere else next time.  Home at 1.10.