Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday Mt Herbert snow and wind.

Couldn't make the ride to Orton Bradley TFC planting with the boys, but managed to get out later on, driving round to Diamond Harbour for an attempt at some snow riding after a nice dusting was deposited over the Peninsula tops overnight.  Caught up with the boys (Pete, Steve, Tony & Wayno) as they were just getting into Diamond Harbour, making them miss the 12.30 ferry sailing by stopping to talk to me...  (sorry guys).

Headed off up the walking track, bailing all the techy bits cos they were slippery as, but the rest of it was nice, and it was in here that I only just remembered to start MapMyRide.  Across Bayview Rd and onto the trail proper, steeeeeeep to start with, and steep and long a lot of the rest of the way.  Steady climbing, riding most of it, meeting a couple of walkers here and there, all bundled up against the wind.

The worst climb was from a gate just below a couple of water tanks, and it's waaay too steep to ride, so walked for some time up this bit.  This was where the snow started to become more common, tho mainly the trail was clear til the top of this section, when the drifts started taking up half the track.  On all the exposed ridges, the wind was ferocious, cold and strong, but the lee-side slopes were mild and sunny.  Drifts of snow and snow on the track were steadily increasing from about 600m altitude.  This made riding more interesting, and the fatty handled the drifts nicely.  The last section of track I rode was up to the gate below the summit.  829m according the MMR, so less than 100m shy of the 919 top.  Snow was pretty solid here, nice squeaky stuff, and drifted in nice windridges.

Here's the view...
And a nice view of the bike... (weird fat-butt camera distortion...)
Let some air out here.
 Descending, the snow was awesome to ride in, cushioning the bumpiness of the track.  The steep section to the water tanks was horrible, really hard work, rigid bike on rough track, working the brakes, made for some sore hands and arm pumpedness.  Lower down the long rolly flows were sweet as, and one section much lower down I was humming along with my hands utterly loose on the bars. 

Left the car at 12.30ish, and made the highpoint about 2.10, and was back at the car before 2.45.

All up, over 700m climbed, and less than 14km travelled... 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Random Redzone Ramblings

Jet and me were at a loose end and I was too tired to head for the hills, so jumped on the newly upgraded fatty (it's now a Ritchey Commando, - Charge Cooker Maxi 2 no longer!), and we wandered the redzone.  Mostly using gaps in the fences, but plenty of lift over, climb over, and wire stretch let-unders for jetty.  Explored my usual Horseshoe Lake trail, and had a look around the north side too.  Nice.  When in the large expanses of redzone, we just ride randomly, wandering from one patch of trees to the next.

Back towards home along Mundys and Archilles, then around the Banks Ave singletrack.  Rain was juuussstt starting to spit when we got home.  Good timing.

12 kms, and wow, 23 metres of altitude...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Thursday Steep crew again

Met up with the makings of the same crew as last week, more accuracy in name gathering this time, Mark, Phil, Tones, Rob being stalwarts of last week, and another Rob and another guy who's name I didn't catch, plus Nelson and me.  Met them at The Takahe, and set off at 6.30pm.  Headed up Vic Park Rd, hanging a right a little way up, down some steps and through a nice wee forest trail down to the Harry Ell track, climbing this up all the way to the top, only pissing off about 4 runners on their ways down.  I gronked my knee trying to step up the rocky step up just above the road, and failed to clean the steps half way up.  Good run the rest of the way.  At the top we could hear some dumbarse boy racers yelling on the road below, sounded like they'd dropped a wheel off the road or something and were having trouble.  haha. 

Everybody attempted the steeeep loose climb into the macracarpas of the lower Thompson, some with some success, others (like me), not so much.  Up from here then up the road to the top Vic Park carpark, then above the road, climbing up towards Sugarloaf to the carpark.  Some steep in here, and a fence. Next it was off down towards the Kiwi.  Some techy rock steps and drops and right at the bottom some fucking horrible steps that I baulked and walked.  From the Kiwi we rode up the road to the first saddle and headed off down the Governor's Bay track (lower entrance), and within 50 m Nelson had OTB'd; happily with no injuries.  Onwards again and we headed all the way down the switchbacks, ducked through the (VERY) tight shrubbery at the bottom and out onto the driveway. 

Now for something we'd never done...  Down.  Down down down, steep(ish in places), greasy (southern facing slopes), and thankfully (considering the circumstances) not too tech.  But, good blaze down, a regroup half way, and it wends and winds it's way down all over the place.  One super wet greasy section that had one of the Robs (in front of me) off the side of the trail, and caked our tires up something wicked.  A short climb within, then back and forth down a bunch of switchbacks to the end (the last(?) driveway up from Governors Bay on Dyers Pass Rd?).  Regroup here and it was off up again.  Nelson and Rob raced off ahead, by all accounts cleaning heaps, but dabbing and walking a few bits.  I got in there and flailed my way into the first couple corners and spun out and lost balance and dabbed and walked an awful lot of the way up, being overtaken by all except the guy who's name I didn't catch, who was dragging behind worse than me.  Caught Phil and Tones up a couple of times, but they were cleaning heaps more than me.  29er grip????  or just my ineptitude?  (the latter, methinks).

Back at the driveway and regruppo'd and then off up through the shrubs which just ruined me.  The switchbacks above here I've never had much luck on, and I had the power in some but not the balance, or I had the balance but ran out of power in others.  The main track across the face above the road I had more luck on, except for my balance constantly pulling me over to the left, leaving me walking a whole bunch of the top section to the waiting guys. 

Across the road here and into the lower reaches of the Nun, me taking very carefully after last week's shoulder damage.  Across Dyer's Pass and up the road to the top of Vic, dropping into Coffee Break across and back then down into Brake Free for a few yumpies, then around and back into the rabbit paddock and down through the rocks and into the gums, blasting left into my favourite, I had Mark tight on my tail, yelling out instructions "LEFT" to those guys behind him, and Nelson in the lead.  Popped, dropped and wove our way down to the skidder site for another regroup. 

Across towards 19th memorial, like last week, cruising across the top again and down the trails we'd taken last week, but once in the walking trails instead of heading down we continued across and up a bit, past the slide (tho not visible), and down to the Dog Park.  Through this and down to the lower exit into those pines we've ridden up and down a few times.  In the pines, Phil led us on a wild goose chase across looking for a 'cool trail' they'd found years ago.  No luck, but we ended up back near the top of the forest (lower end of the dog park) and worked our way down a not-bad track to come out at the top of Harry Ell Drive, bombing down this around into Longhurst and back to the cars...

over 600m climbed, in 14.5kms

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thursday Upways never before travelled, and downways the same...

Nelsie picked me up from home and we headed over to meet some dudes he's ridden with before.  A bunch of names I'll never remember, but including at least one Nigel, and a Mark, and a Darren and a Paul?, and a few others...  Must have been at least 9 or 10 of us.  Met outside the empty lot that was Kaizuka (bugger).  I found I'd left my handlebar light at home, so was headlamp only.  Also, started mymapmyride here, but stopped paused it til further up the hill.  Headed up Bowenvale Ave, then up Old Skool, climbing away, a racer dude and Nelson out front, followed by me (surprisingly), and then the rest trailing out behind.  Regrouped a couple times on the way up (first one at the stile, where I resumed mymapmyride), then around into Hidden Valley, peeling left on the walk-track that was near where the old trail used to go across in what was once pine trees, across the face towards the bottom of the Lavaflow.  Down some steep steps rutsville next to them to a bridge in the valley, then up the valley track, many cleaning or re-trying to clean sections, most of the tricky ones of which I walked.  Got eventually to the top corner, and headed on the easy grade track back towards where Bridges flows out of the forest below Brents.

Up into the Park, under the trees, and UP BRENTS...  wtf!?  oh, kay...  Nelson and the XCer cleaned it, I didn't, Nigel didn't. (oh, should mention here, Nelson, Nigel and me were the only reprezentatives of the 26er), and several others didn't clean it that I saw.  On up the trails in here, all taking slightly different meandering lines.  Nelson blew himself up and had to sit down to rest before the exit below Rad^sick.  Here it was decided we'd go UP SHAZZAS...  huh!?  okay then...  Cleaned way more than I'd have expected, and it was a good chuff.  A group went around the usual way, zigging out to the left then back across on the big tracks.  Another regroup at the skidder site.

Here it was decided to head for Harry Ell and climb to the top, which was a relief, a nice cruisey cruise, til the top under the trees that the lower of the Thompsons is in, and we climbed up through these to Thompsons, then up this and up the upper one and another regroup at the top, some of the dudes had ridden the road section here too, to catch up.  I said that I like my wee favourite in the Gums, so they said "Lead the way!", so off down to the right, then back across, bypassing the see-saw, and down the rabbit paddock and into the rocks, and around and then quick left into my gummy favourite, zipping down here and then out to the skidder site, where we found a group of guys standing around a guy on the floor, putting a space blanket on him, awaiting the ambo...  busted up ankle, apparently.

Rode from here across towards the 19th Battalion, and then over the top of it and down some trails I didn't know existed, then briefly up the track the Parker-Hulme girls killed the mother, then hung a tight right and down a bunch of stone steps, trail getting steeper around and down and down and down...  MINT.  Then, apparently the trail used to go 'thru there' (big fallen tree), so around this and onto a sweeeet techy steep flowy fun trail that just kept going down and down, (still!), til eventually a steeper corner and steep down to a fallen log and regroup while some got saws out and cut through it.  The old track was impassable from here, so we found our way up to the right and around, then onto another short steep sweet section down to a walk track, that then spat us out onto the main valley track just above where that guy died one time.

Blasted down the valley from here, feeling more and more cold, and sketchy gravel, and I watched as Nelson flew off his bike at the top of that jump up to the right.  Good blast.  Regroup then down the road and a quick beer and chat at the Brickworx...  Good bunch of guys.

only 13 or so kms, and 455ms gained

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

2ewsdaie Night Flaying None (but Matt and me...)

For once, a group ride posse...  Nelson and me arrived at the Kiwi at 6.10 or so, followed by Wayne in van with Wazza, then Pete flew past up the road, txtd him "Kiwi", and he came back, then Matt flew off up the road, also txtd him "Kiwi", and he turned up.  We got riding, up the road, Wazza, Wayne, Nelson and me for a start, then Nelson realised he needed his flashy red, so turned back, and followed with the other two.  Nelson passed us on the way up Worsleys Road, and we all assembled eventually at the top of the Nun.  I followed Nelson in, and kept him in sight, but I certainly didn't have his rapidity.  He slowly left me behind, tho, the gap didn't seem to get too big.  I felt like Pete was right on my tail the whole time, until not long before the carpark exit, and from there on down I felt like I was just chasing Nelson.  Until the last of the jumps in that lower section.  Popped it, landed, and immediately my front wheel slid left, slamming me down onto the trail, arm out in front, sliding along.  So hard, that the impact pushed the sleeve of my right arm right up past the elbow.  I picked myself up, groaned a lot, unwound the handlebars (the wrong way at first, couldn't tell which direction it was meant to go), and got right back on the horse that threw me.  Alas, I could only coast because my chain was off.  Groaning some more as Pete arrived on the scene, I reassembled my drivetrain and pedalled on up to groan some more.  Went down to the car with Nelson and dropped off my bag, pulled my sleeve down, and generally decided I would soldier on.

Off back up the road.  At the carpark half way up, we headed up onto the walking track above the road.  Much more interesting, albeit slower, than the road, and rode and climbed the various steps and features of this under-utilised trail.  Back onto Worsley Rd, and my shoulder was getting sore, but onwards and upwards.  About here, it started to rain quite a lot.  Up over the top, and none of the boys to be seen, into the trail and fuck it was greasy and wet and nasty.  Nelson had a good turn of speed, but I muppetted my way down, taking it so easy and getting more and more sore as I rolled.  The smooth rock assemblages on the corners were like slick ice, and the wet dirt was greasy as a greasy thing, making my progress very cautious, but having to rely on instinct more than sense, rolling it down without too much of a bother.  Apparently Matt had crashed soemwhere on the way down too, and sported an awesome spot of leakage on his knee.

Riding too slick for all of us, and still early, so we headed our various ways to the Twisted Hop for to drink some Funkenstein (amongst others), and Nelson and me had some kai.

Bugger all altitude (225m), and bugger all mileage (8.2km)...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Saturday Wharfdale afternoon

Out to Nelson's with Jet in the car yesterday, collecting some wood on the way to cut on Sunday, and chucked some garlic in his ground, then after some lunch we headed around to View Hill Rd in the Subie.

Got riding at 2.10.  Was quite wet in places, water running down the trail, and there was evidence of a few bikes having been through.  Heaps of cars at the car park, way more than people we saw...  Met three riders coming out, and then overtook a walking couple going in, and then at one of the river crossings we met two other guys on bikes heading in as well.  We left them behind, and it took us an hour to get to the saddle where we stopped for a wee break.  Headed on over for the hut, enjoying the recently worked up trail.  On the way down we spotted one of the other bikers on a section of trail behind, so we figured they mustn't have stopped at the saddle - didn't see them again til at the hut tho.

Trail was greasy in places, roots were sketchy, eyes were spleckedy. General softness of the trail made it a lot more work than usual, so I got pretty tired.  Also, the stream crossings, especially the river before the hut, made for wet feet and on the way back our feet were blocks of ice, absolutely frozen solid.  Also, with the sun shining sideways through the trees, the flickering was like a strobe.  Nelson said it was like looking at camo on camo with a strobe in your face.  He wasn't wrong.

Jetty was awesome, running ahead, running with, and dropping behind on the descents.  He was so good, and loved every minute of it, but man he got filthy.

Spent a little time down at the river below the hut (where there were a couple of bikes locked to a tree), cleaning our chains and re-lubing before the climb back out.  Chatted briefly with the other bikers at the hut, they were gonna head down river for a ways then come back and stay at the hut.  On the climb back out we met the walker couple again, on their way down the hill.  It was a long hard climb up that hill.  Making the saddle was a relief, and my feet were SO cold.  Got riding again and the downhill was much appreciated.  Stopped half way and wrung out our socks.  This helped the feet iceblocks for a little while, but once we were in the final descents the wind chill turned them back to ice.  40 minutes from Saddle back to car.  Took a while for the heater to warm up...

Total time riding was 2 and a half hours, over all time 3 hours 20, so we must have spent nearly an hour standing or sitting around...  We made it back to the car at around 5.30, and there was only just enough light to have finished in.

29ish kms, and only 883 m climbed.  Less climb than Thursday's ride... Felt like a lot more.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thursday, somewhat long...

Big ride for a weeknight tonight.  Nelson picked me up from home after work, and we cruised to McCormacks Bay.  Parked up and headed off up the road, then the singletrack.  He forgot his wee red flashy so went back for it, which was good, meant I could ride at my pace and not get too knackered too quickly.  I plodded away, and he said he could see me going through that first wee pinch at the end of the straight when he got onto the bottom end.  I moseyed on up, cleaning everything except the second hairpin, and he caught me when I stopped for air on the bridge. From here we headed up and hung a right, taking the trail around to Drayton, so's to show him where Joy's new house is.  Up Mt Pleasant Rd, then up Clearview etc, and then over the fence by the bath, and up the trails to the regular climb.  Nelson slowly but steadily increasing the gap.  At the top we headed around and out round below the rock out crop then back around onto the regular Britten Track.  Helluva wind on that west face.  Then up across the road and climbing up Mt Pleasant to the top for a snack out of the wind.

Into the descent, mildly sketchy, but kinda not too.  Rocks were all dry anyway, but the tires certainly pinged around a bit.  I had some good bits some not so good.  Bombed it down through the tussocks, a few wet spots, then onto Greenwood.  Nelson gapping me slowly for a start, then majorly lower down.  I had a couple of stops, one for the chain and one for my handlebar light plug, but otherwise a pretty good run down.  Not my fastest, whereas I reckon it might have been one of Nelson's fastest...

Onto Godley, my, haven't they cleaned that start up.  Not so much some of the later rock sections, which is fine.  Good run up here, tho my tiredness was showing and I seemed to lose balance a lot.  Not much wind this low.  Caught up with Nelson at the usual spot, and more break again then off down towards Livingston, fanging it.  Really smooth fast run down here, chopping and weaving all the way through to the bottom.  Good speed, good balance.  On the climb from Livingston I got way left behind and by the time I was coming around to where I could see Breeze Col, Nelson was already bombing out the bottom.  Otherwise I had a sweet run down here - it's so much wider and faster than it's been for years.  Sketchy as with the damp tires on the final cattlestop

Anda the Anaconda.  Good blast, nothing sketchy, just speed and balance.  Awesome jumps in places, and good railing of berms.  Tho, bottom few corners my handlebar light was out again.  Stopped to replug and Nelson was goneburger round the tail.  I took this a bit slower than usual, not sure why.  No bollocking, which was good, and a fast final blast down to the paddock. 

Then the greebly climb.  Ugh.  Did good for a while, but up around the tight corners (above where the walk track peels off left), I had to drop it down a couple gears and crawl...  Made the top in due time and we headed into Nicholson (where my MapMyRide gave up the ghost...).  Took a steep track down that joined the steep stuff we'd ridden last time, and it were certainly steep.  Down onto the path, a couple of steppy hairpins then onto the blasty wee alleyway between the houses out onto Whitewash Head and down onto the road and around the waterfront.  At Cave Rock there were tonnes and tonnes of people around, and cars parked randomly and people all looking at their phones...  POKEMON...  One person, referring to us, said "There's some real people doing real stuff..."  Haha.  Must have been 20 or 30 cars, and more arriving, and a hundred people?  Nuts...  Around the road and hauling ass back to the car, thankfully not along the Causeway. 

All up a couple hours riding, just about 26 kms, and nearly 900m climbed.  Big for a weeknight.. (Nelson's full course).

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday afternoon Farside Jetting

Short ride for me today after a big night prior.  Jet and me headed across to Worsley's Rd and parked just on the bottom corner.  Didn't bring tools or bag cos figured I was only ever gonna be 5 minutes from the car.  Headed up and rode the trail next to the road that used to be overgrown but is now clear.  Jet had a lovely time running ahead and pissing on everything.  First lap I went down Farside, the middle trail.  Some muppet had left a bunch of manuka branches just down from the entrance, but the rest was good.  Really enjoyed this trail, lots of swoopy ups and downs and good fun.

Back into the climb, going a little better this time, climbing in 2nd gear all the way.  This lap I headed down 1 Trick Lucy (2nd left) and it was good, a couple of interesting and tight features to start, then twisty turny in the trees.

Up again, climbing well, and into Utopia this time.  Sweet run down here.  A couple of the wee ups a little tighter than Farside.

Climbing again, and this time into Valhalla, 1st on the left.  Takes you quite low into the valley with some cool droppy bits, before climbing back out to the exit.

Once more, up again, and this time it into Fluffy Sheep.  Fastest of the trails, and most direct route down too.  A couple of the corners were a bit weird and a nice jump at the end.

Finally, one last climb, and back into Farside, which today I think was my favourite...  It's got everything in it.  It swoops up and down, isn't overgrown or too tight, but keeps it really interesting.  Final blast out the bottom, through the fence and back down to the car - total riding time 47minutes.

Grand total of 6kms, less than 1 km per lap, and only a bit over 300m climbed...  negligible but needed.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Wendnesday's Loving Sprungs

Nelson and me had a second go at Living Springs last night, after bailing on it the other week.  It was COLD in the valley bottom, so we layered up to get rolling, up the entry trail, across a creek and up under some gums then nice singletrack in a patch of scrub, onga-onga at face level carefully avoided.  Across the creek again and across the paddock and into the nasty steep climb up to the Pines.  Wheezing like crazy I was left behind by Nelson who jetted on up ahead.  Passed a farmery-type couple walking here, then into the trees and climbing, Nelson's light visible zigging and zagging ahead of me.  I was getting hot by the time we got to Rhymes With Orange, and was thankful to find Nelson stopped at the usual resting spot.  So, jacket off and stowed, and off around and up to the gates.  We planned on a bit of exploration, and boy were we in for a treat.

Examining a map of the area we headed up into the gums and found our way onto a reasonably recently built singletrack into first some douglas fir forest (which I'd explored once before), and then into a steep gully of bush, switchbacking back and forth, so tight you're almost looking backwards over your shoulder to see where to go next.  Sweet we area of trails, tight, twisty and steep, with a couple of nicer sidling bits thrown in too.  Then a fence on a slope so steep that you couldn't climb it easily, bikes over, backpack off, and squeeze through.  Onwards a ways, and out onto the grass and tussock hillside, ever climbing on new(ish) singletrack.  Switchback onto the older trail (quadbike size), and up towards the left, little walking, steep for a bit then mellowing off, and through a gate and more bush around, but not immediately on the track, climbing still, up into a valley and across the next slope then steeeeeep bits, walking, and more switchbacks and there's the top!  Mint.  Fence has a sign facing the summit road area saying "No Admittance, Extreme Rockfall Risk"...  Sat on the 'Memorial' seat for a bit, for a bit of a munch, and then off we went down.

Slow and steady to start, not letting speed get the better of us on the steepest stuff, tho not going that slow.  Sweet run down down down, hanging a right at the cabbage tree, and taking the now narrower trail across towards the manuka scrub.  Into this and weaving up and down for a bit to the tight fence.  Then into the best part.  What was walking on the way up was now techy, low speed enjoyment, blanched with bouts of handlebar scuffing speed.  A lot of fun, winding down the corners, back and forth, across, then all too soon to the next fence, then douglas fir to the badly hinged gate.  Gums, poppy jumpy down across above the outdoor centre, and back to the gates to climb and head for Mississippi.  Thinking about it now, the way to do it, if you weren't keen on climbing all the way to the top, would be to ride up the older trails up the paddocks, and come into the top of the manuka forest for the singletrack descent...  hmmmm - definitely next time.  Makes riding over there more than just a couple of laps...

Usual fun in Mississippi, twisty turny down back and forth, tiring (for me) climb to Zanes and blast down this, me feeling weirdly off my game and taking it really easy.  Meeting Nelson at the bottom, I discovered my rear shock was on 'Climb'...  AH!  Switched it up to 'Trail' and we got on with it, heading up the new entry across to the pines for another loop.

Much more comfortable this time, rear wheel sticking to the ground, grinding up to a rest in the Orange Rhymes, and then across to Mississippi and blasting this much betterer, staying tighter on Nelson's tail, even on the climb and not far off down into Zanes until a stick went clickity click in my rear wheel.  Cleared that and chased, but never gained much.  Out to the bottom at a much more comfortable and rapid speed than earlier, and around again, this time checking out an as yet unbuilt trail from the new entry to the pines downwards (would be the way up to the pines in the future) onto the usual, then across to the paddock, across to where we'd climbed in at the start, and down through the creek, gums, creek and last blast down between the fences to the car.

... A steeeeep 600m climbed, all in 13kms. 

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Saturday Sunset Summit Scramble.

Nelson finished work around 3 and got over to my place, so we probably hit the road after 3.30.  Parked up top of Huntsbury and got riding, still plenty of sunshine but we had our lights.  Pretty good climb up here, main track for a start but just after the cattlestop above the pylons we headed along the fence to the singletrack, climbing this the rest of the way.  Onto the landing strip and up the gravel to the top.  Next up it was Vernon, getting some flow on down here, a couple squirrelly corners, and blazing down to Rapaki-top and straight through, onto Witch Hill, good climb up here, no dabs.  Nelson put the gap on me, I was starting to get tired for no real reason.  Onto the road, and Nelson rode the singletrack above, while I caught him up below then kept pace with him.  Final climb to Castle and sun was still in the sky, but not far off setting.

Into Castlerock, a little greasy at the top, but good to go below.  I kept good pace down here, either reeling Nelson in or not letting him get away.  Around the hairpin and across, both of us being very cautious on the angled rock through here, then around the next hairpin and Nelson's gapping me again away on the climb.  Clamber clamber and over, taking it easy through to the finish.  Stopped at top of Bridle overlooking Lyttelton for a bit - me realising that O was directly below us at his mate Tane's house.  Then we headed back up the road to about 2/3rds of the way up to the Castle, we clambered up off the road, onto the Crater Rim walkway back towards Lyttelton.  First time around here and it was really cool.  Good wee climb, a few easy steps, one rock outcrop that stalled both of us, and then around further onto the ridge.  Excellent view into Lyttelton from a slightly different angle.  Sun still up, but nearly down, and headed around towards Bridle-top, singletrack really good gradient, a few rollable steps, surprisingly a few patches of permafrost, and one quite techy section that I walked.  Nearly at the bottom I watched as, what I thought was a fly, flew up in slow-motion and splecked me in the eye.  It wasn't a fly, it was mud.  Stopped to clear that and got going again, then we treadled back up the road to Castle.  That was a good wee extra loop to make the ride more worthwhile.

Sun was just down, and the sky was spectacular reds and pinks.  Some asian dude was above the road, photographing the 'set, and we pushed our bikes up past him and got set up on the Tors Track.  Lights on, off we headed.  For some reason this is different every time I ride it.  More techy this time than last, I'm sure.  Easy most of the way then near the bottom there's a few features that are pretty tricky.  I dabbled through these today, just not feeling gungho enough - cautious Colin getting old...  Onto the road, then onto the singletrack above it, going super careful through the bit I crashed on last time.  Rest of the trail was fun, low speed and interesting, and a few patches of permafrost along here too.  Across the road, and onto Witch Hill, climbing well, brief pause at the top and off again down around cleaning all the fun bits and down to Rapaki.  Last climb, up Vernon, Nelson putting a massive gap on me, leaving me to climb alone.  No one else around now, whereas in the daylight there were heaps of peeps around.

Across the road and onto the Traverse, flowing around the hill then dropping down down down to the landing strip, over the fence, and a lot of wind here, whereas none anywhere else.  Around and down, Nelson popping the big jump, me bypassing, and over the gate and down, doing all the jumps all the way down, finishing up back at the car.

I'd left my phone at home, so Nelson mapmyrode it...  17.5 kms, and 720m climbed.