Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday arvo cRapaki Shorty

O, for a Pride in Achievement award at school, had decided he was gonna make the top of Rapaki, so, took him across there today, and we toodled on up.  Was very good for him, nice and cruisy for me, in a nice low gear just plodding up, admiring the views all the way.  Incredibly busy, hoards of people all over it.  Quite surprising.  Hell of an easterly blasting away the whole way, but that kept us cool.  Probably took an hour, he stopped for wee rests a lot, but, got the top, and off down we went, him skidding and drifting-out the whole way down, loving it.  Well done that boy.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday Night Wharfdale clearing

Left work early and managed to get to Nelson's close to 4.20-30pm.  We loaded his car and hooned around through Oxford and Woodstock Rd and then up through the fords and gates to an empty carpark (no surprise there).  No idea what time we got there, maybe 5ish?  Off up the track, Spot climbing well, and Jet running off ahead and waiting and running ahead, veeerryy happy.  Trail quite wet in places but I was feeling good, but Nelson's heart rate was all up the wazoo on account of having imbibed a RedBull on the way to the trailhead.  Got to the gate and the first descent, bomb bomb bomb, yikes, skiiiid, stopping as my handlebar hit Nelson's ass.  A big tree across the track.  Out with the Pocket Chainsaw, manning a handle each, cut through the quite rotten log, wearing out our arms in the meantime, jumped on it a bit and got through it, and moved it off.  One down, how many to go??  Got riding again, and just around the corner the climbing began again.

Climby climby climb, in and out and round and round over the bridges, feeling pretty good.  Nelson's heart rate still out of whack.  Jet loving every sniff.  On a windthrown ridge we got to our next project.  A bit of a mess of branches and trunks, many snapped off and in-your-eye spiky.  Out with the saw and many branches cut and moved and a clear way through except for one large log, easily stepped over.  Jet was wondering what the hell we were up to, "come ON, guys!"  Onwards again, and lots of nice swoopy descending, trail in perfect nick, light starting to get low, especially in the gloomier spots of forest.  Another tree across, more work with the saw and cleared, and now it was time for lights.  Another smaller (but wedged) tree, another one cleared.

Up the rocky outcrop, largely unrideable down to the creek that follows, and the slog up out of that, skirting the slips and back on the bikes, onwards ever onwards.  Another tree cleared, arms and shoulders starting to ache from the sawing. All the creek crossings are a lot more rideable now, there's been a fair bit of work put in in recent times, since all the slips and tree-throw of the last year or two.  Rode on, loving the downhill bits and enjoying the climbs.  Approaching the the switchbacks towards the end, the mudpugs were unavoidable.  I think there was maybe one or two more trees moved before the end.  We were at the saddle about 7pm, moreporks calling.  Pitch dark without the lights.  Surprisingly, I discovered I had cellphone reception, so flicked off a couple texts to home.

Then it was time to head back.  After the mud and the first creek crossing, we picked up speed down towards the first corner, assuming Jet was just behind, but got round that corner and looked back.  No Jet.  Waited, no sign.  Walked back up round the corner, calling, no sign!  Started to freak a bit, called and whistled, and no show!  Oh noes, I thought, I've lost the dog :(.  Then, in the distance, his wee glowing eyes, trotting along down the track.  Dunno what had kept him.  But he trotted onwards.

Rest of the ride out was good, I kept him in sight a bit more carefully, which slowed me down at times I'd have liked to go faster.  Somewhere, there was a tree across the track at about waist height we'd left on the way in, thinking it too hard, but we got sawing and cut nearly all the way through it but then couldnt move it.  Eventually, we pushed over a dead-standing widder-maker nearby and managed to use it to smash through our cut trunk.  Then we levered and bruteforced it off the trail.  Brilliant.  Continued on up to the high windblown point before the swoopy best fun descent began.  Once more I got a bit ahead of Jet and worried we'd lost him again, but he showed and just steadily trotted past and on not waiting for me - I think his wee paws were getting sore from all the sharp rocks. Awesome flow through this section now down to the low.  Final climb to the gate I was slooow and tired, legs spent, and lack of dinner taking it's toll.  Good pace down from the gate, waiting a few times for Jet, before finally getting back to the car, low cloud skudding through that saddle.  Was after 9.30 or so by the time we got to Nelson's place again.  A beer and a feed there, then I wasn't home til after 11.  Drove through some really heavy drizzle at Swannanoa.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grey Mt Grey Sunday

Missed any rides earlier in the week due to being in Hamilton for work, so was pleased when Miranda was organising something out of town, to which I suggested Mt Grey and got a few takers.  Jet in the car, rack on the back, round the corner and picked her up, and two others, Jon and Andrew were in attendance, travelling in Andrew's car.  We convoyed north through drizzle and nearly rain, then up into cloud shrouded Lake Janet, finding Nelson having just arrived.  A cold southerly blew through here.  On the bikes and climbing, climbing climbing.  I stuck back with Miranda who was cruising nice and easy all the way up.  Eventually we caught Andrew above the Lookout Tower, and then rode together up round to the radio towers, where we found Nelson and Jon taking shelter from the bitterly cold wind, entirely engulfed in, maybe, 50m visibility fog/cloud.

Time for the descent:  I led the way, with Jet, mainly just to get the hell out of the cold wind.  Down the first wee techy descent and onto the singletrack proper where we waited and watched the others appear through the mist.  Now, on down.  Nicely groomed as per my last time, tho very slightly soggy-er, rolling round and in and out round the ridges and through the ruts and over the rocks, realising perhaps this is actually quite tricky for a rooky like M.  But, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, right?  She was smiling the whole way down, whether through fear or joy, who can tell.  Kinda rode down out of the cloud as we were heading into the forest.  Used all of the new 'shortcuts' through the higher corners, and I made it round some of the corners, or just did the usual dab-plant-flick-roll through others.  We regrouped several times, letting everyone reassemble, but blazed the longer stretches happily, with either me, Nelson, or Jet out front.  Great run through all the good bits.  Jon ended up hangin' forward with Nelson and me, enjoying his new found passion (having only got a proper bike recently), and Andrew and Miranda took up the tail-end charlie role.  Again, regrouping many times to make sure everyone was still alive.

The order of the different sections all seemed different to memory, amazing how that happens.  The muddy section, must be about 2/3rds to 3/4ths down, was muddy as hell, tho maybe a tad drier than my last.  But the lead in to that muddy bit, and the bit after it both were entirely different to what memory held.  Lovely lovely riding tho, all the way through to the end.  We regrouped for a while on the big wooden bridge, before fanging out the bottom section.  Awesome.

Washed off some of the mud in the river then hit the slow climb back to the cars.  Again, I stuck back with Miranda while the other three powered off ahead.  Jet stuck with us.  All the way up, my front wheel was making a weird 'gloop, gloop, gloop' sound - water in the rim...  Hit the road and we were home about 1.30.

Gave the bike a jolly good wash when I got home, and lubed the chain good.

Huntsbury with O.

Then, in the afternoon, O said, "can we go for a ride??"  Not one to pass up my 10 year old son asking to go riding, we hit the road and parked up top of Huntsbury.  Rode up, him climbed well really well, and rolled up to the top of the landing strip, then headed down this, over the fence and onto the singletrack.  Blasting down, through the next gate, and he followed me right over the first jump (impressed!), and then followed me down all the singletrack, popping and bypassing each of the jumps depending.  On the lower couple, the drop leading to the wee double, he bypassed the drop then rolled over the double and went straight over the bars.  We rode back up and did it again, this time he cleared it but didnt quite have enough speed, and the back wheel hit the landing, but he made it...  sweeeet!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Saturday, Two Rides, Planting and Jet

Saturday morning, on the Spot, met the boys at Pete's - Steve, Wayne, Warren, Tony and Pete.  I led them down Patten St, and then into the red zone, cutting through to Halley Pl, then through to Keller St, then across Morris through to Robson, then across to Maling and eventually across to Avonside Drive just upstream of where the twisted bridge was.  From here we followed the river down stream, all the way.  Remained on this south bank all the way to Bridge St Bridge, then over and through what used to be forest along the Estuary edge and then eventually onto Rockinghorse Rd to the end, for to plant a shitload of trees, for Canterbury.  Good sossies and we rolled back round to Bridge St and slowly began to unravel, me departing the remaining three on Maces Rd, following that round and then Humphrey's to Joy's place to pick up the beemer.  Left the Spot in her house.

Drove the beemer home and got the fiat and Jet and drove back to Joy's, got the Spot, and headed up the hill to the Upper Major carpark.  Jet and me headed up through John Britten.  The Westpac helicopter was hovering around and once we were at the top we saw it parked in Britten Reserve, preparing or waiting for something.  Rode the singletrack round the top and onto the road, talked to some roadies watching the spectacle, them saying it was apparently a paraglider crashed on the cliffs...  Several fire appliances and cop cars in attendance, we rode down the road to Cavendish Saddle, and began the climb.  Half way up the chopper got moving, so stopped to watch them hover above the newly destroyed cliffs and winch up the paraglider and one of their crew.  Once they'd flown off, got riding again, Jet behaving well around the sheep.  Up to top of Mt Pleasant, and down down down, finding the most flow I've had on this trail, down to Greenwood and around to the entrance, then up the road and back onto Britten, Jet rocketing down ahead of me back to the car.  Great wee ride, and a good run for Jet.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Thursday night Muckvicars Vol 4

Rode over to Nelson's work and we cruised to the top of Worsley's Rd and got riding up the dirt around 5.40.  More wet patches than we'd expected...  guess not a helluva lot of drying has gone on of late.  Anyway, climbing wasn't bad around the main track then into the forest and up the Guts steep little mother trail.  Managed to keep my lungs inside me all the way up here.  From the cliff top through had some pretty greasy bits, and it was just starting to get too dark in the forest here.  At the rocky pretty much unrideable bit we turned the lights on and continued on up to the top. 

We rested here a bit, then some irish dude turned up, and headed back down, and we headed up the access to Tommy's2 track.  Part way up we found a trail leading off to the left, so checked it out.  Headed down and rolled through the edge of the water tank clearing then back into the forest, past two old stone ruins (wtf?) and then into the douglas fir of Debbie Does Dallas, but instead of wending downwards, suddenly it switchbacked round and upwards, through some terrain we'd never seen and suddenly we're on the main original track, up hill from the clifftop, but below the tricky rock garden.  So, wondering where the hell Debbie had gone, we headed back down this new track, finding where Debbie crossed it, and walked down her a bit to see what she was like, but deciding not to risk the tree falls that might be further down riding, so walked back up to the bikes, and proceeded to ride back up it.  I walked lots, Nelson rode lots, on upwards all the way back up to the top Tommy's2/Hangloose access track.

Up to top of this, one or two greasy bits on the way, and found the lead in to Mr Sutcliffe's new steep track, probably best left til summer, and so we chose Tommy's2, and it was a hoot.  Traction was pretty good, not much slippage.  Steepness was awesome, and it was rideable pretty much the whole way down.  Only one or two wet slops.  Out the bottom, down a newer drier line, and onto the climbing exit track.  Good for a start, but sloppier as we climbed, til the last stretch which was horrendous.  Got to the top of it and decided we didn't wanna climb back out of there, which ruled out Fight Club, so we went back up the guts track all the way again, this time my legs were hurtin' bad all the way, even walked a bit before the cliff top.

At the top it was into Tommy's and down down down.  Some sections of flow, but lots of stopping and starting, and second guessing what was where and which to choose.  Rolled out the bottom on a cool new section to the pylon clearing and then into the forest on the left, swooping back and forth down here to the final section, ripping down it nicely, a couple of new lines in here, then past the tank and swooping through the bottom section, done, back to the car before 8.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Sunday Mornin, Snortin' Badly

Only Steve and me today.  A bit wet, I biked into town on the Troll to pick up the car from where T had left it last night, then got to his place and we took the Trees van to Lyttelton.  8.50 sailing of the ferry to Diamond Harbour, and from here we rode, in the drizzle, to Orton Bradley Park for a TFC planting.  Nice road around there, hardly any traffic and a good distribution of ups and downs.  The drizzle lifted precisely at 10 when the planting started.  At the planting we rode up a soggy paddock, my town tires not gripping so great.  Planting was very quick, not too many plants and quite a few people.  Rode up to have a look at where the new 'family' track is going to be, but couldn't really tell.  then back down to the cottage for a muffin.  All done, and back on the bikes and back round to DH, where we stopped for coffee, tea, and some grub, before heading down and arriving in perfect time for the 12.30 ferry back to the van and home.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Thursday Hunting Vernon's Witches in the Castle

Finally, after several days of no rain, and a lot of wind for maximum drying, the last of a month saw us hitting the hills again.  Rode from a massage to Nelson's work and we had a smooth run in light traffic to top of Huntsbury.  Got going, still nice daylight, musta been before 5.30, cos I'm pretty sure the sun was still up, if not, just gone...  Rode up the jumpy singletrack checking it all out for later's descent, then on up the single round the knoll and onto the airstrip, then gravel grind to the top.

Into Vernon, and lights on even tho they still weren't quite necessary, but by the time we were lower down they were.  Very gusty at the top there, making balance interesting.  Spot's cush seemed bottomless as I wafted down the trail behind Nelson.  Didn't feel that fast, but I think we were ripping.  As we got round to overlooking Rapaki the wind was behind us so we had that blissful silence, nothing but the tires scuffing over the trail surface and the occasional clatter of the chain.  Dusk truly fallen as we passed through the top of Rapaki, a few other lights about the place, and straight into Witch Hill.  All open and tidied up, the first entry ruts now a big mound, and then into the usual rocky goodness, maybe slightly tidied.  I cleaned it all, but I think Nelson muppeted along a bit, and I had a good run all the way round, suspension doing it's thing wickedly.

Onto the road and rolling, tail wind, and it was like 6.05.  Good pace around and up to the Castle where we stopped for a short snack, getting moving before some lights that were approaching arrived.  Turned out they were roadies, passing us above on the road as we approached the first hairpin bend.  Into Castle Rock, which had seen a working bee on Sunday, lots of drains cut, and not too many rocks moved, tho one or two newly armoured (previously) soggy bits.  Usual ping pong down here, I certainly got a good flow on, and the eyeopener for me was the climb, which I rocked on up, suspension assisting speed and flow, no stalls or stops as per hardtail stylez.  Bridle Path top, we turned around and rode back up it, cleaning lots, but losing balance before the top, as usual (and i was going so well too!).  At the top I suggested, how bout another run and back up the road, so, that was what we did.  Back down, Nelson's turn leading this time.  I'd left a bit of a gap and all the way to the first hairpin I barely made a dent in it.  Nelson thought his run was better than the first one, but I reckon mine wasn't quite as smooth.  He'd paused at the hairpin so I sat on his tail through the next sections til the climb where he dropped me again, but then on the upper rock armoured bog he lost it off the side, much to his chagrin.

Back onto the road, and climbing, ugh, then weeeeeeeeeeee down under the Tors and onwards, rolling for aaages.  From the short climb we popped onto a sketch of a track on the left hand side of the road, saving the tires from the seal.  This flowed nicely down to Witch Hill track which we bombed into.  Clamber climb, I found a new line to the left of the step up in there, then had an awesome flow round to Rapaki-top.  Nelson, not so much.  Into the final climb, up Vernon, around, making it hurt - Nelson pointed out that these climbs are where the fitness comes from.

Last leg, across the Traverse then down through the rocks and tussocks, the latter of which stalled me, making my left testicle have a rather close encounter with my seat, which left me writhing on the grass for a few minutes.  Yowch!  Groaned a little more, then we got going again, finding a really nice sheeptrack line that led out to the end of the airstrip, good coast, over the fence, into the singletrack, Nelson falling off it again at one point, then it was all down, Nelson taking the first drop jump up there, me bypassing, then through the gate and on down, over the jumpies, jumpy jumpy jumpy, wooah, ruts, phew, jumpy, final drop, then double and down to the car.  All good.  Not as wet as it sounded on the boy's Tuesday ride.  And it was like 7.26!  Early finish.