Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Ashley Snow Gorge

Hill tracks were all closed, so the crew were just gonna head through Sumner and ride the Summit Rd back towards Cashmere down Rapaki, and as Nelson and me had discussed potential snow riding out his way, I decided to go with that.   So, Jet and me bundled into the car and headed out to his, got him and we headed out German Rd and then up the start of Lees Valley Rd.  Parked up on the first corner, spectacular views all around and down onto the Ashley Gorge, and got riding.  Pretty chilly, but sun shining so quite good.  As we climbed there came more and more snow on the road, slowly building to a couple of inches, frozen spots everywhere, and evidence of only 2 vehicles having travelled it.  Noisy it was, riding on this frozen snow.  Fat bike performed well and Jet had, as usual, a lovely time cruising alongside or along ahead.  First descent, nice and long, weaving in and out of little valleys, lots of beech forest around, sometimes riding in the tire treads, but finding better purchase out of them on the virgin snow.  Down into the valley, everything frozen solid, and across the bridge and into a frozen solid climb.  Hairpin hairpin hairpin and then around and onwards up climbing a couple hundred metres before starting down again.  Hillsides above us were being blown something fierce, whipping up big rooster tails of powder snow from the treetops.  But down around us not too mcuh wind at all.
Some of the valleys we went into and out of here were really deep in lovely powder snow.

Finally a descent for ages and around to a view point overlooking all of Lees Valley.  Great view:
and then looked at my watch; "Oh Shit!" It was 11.40, and I was meant to be home by 1!  We turned around and started climbing again.  After this climb the descent to the bridge was so long and feet were freeeeezing, build up of ice on bottom bracket of the fatty.  Freezing across the bridge then a lonnng climb back to the high point before a gentle, and surprisingly long section, much snow turning to slush in the sunnier spots, and much milder and wetter than when we'd ridden in.  Back to the car at 1, all up 32 kms (16 each way), and maybe 600m altitude total?

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