Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday Head Clearer

Up in Kaiks for Jana's 40th.  I took my opportunity for a quick spin around a bit of The Kaikoura Trail on the fatty. Mostly road but some quite fun singletrack.  Headed out, without water or tools, no backpack, along Hawthorne Rd (which is bike/pedestrian bridge since quakes), to the end, then up Mt Fyffe Rd for a while.  Right onto Topline and across this to Waimangarara River, where a short section of twisty singletrack through dark exotic deciduous forest takes you through to the Koura 'Resort'.  There was an offshoot of singletrack near the end that I wished I'd explored, but didn't - save that for another day.

Back onto the roads again, through the golf 'resort' and then left onto Bay Paddock Rd, up to Grange which takes you across to the Hapuku River.  Down into a storage are of large rocks (so many rocks!) and the Hapuku is running very grey and milky (ever since the quake, apparently - draining all those slips and dams).  Bit messy here with big ponds semi-flooding the track, but once into the woods, it was cool.  Fun twisty, reasonably low speed singletrack ducking and weaving through mostly indigenous scrub.  Bands of manuka, followed by podocarp and all sorts.  Went on for much longer than I'd have expected too, tho all up only a couple of kms and I was out onto the SH1.  Crossed this and ducked into Lovers Lane expecting to just ride it, but nope, the singletrack continues, albeit not as well formed and rather bumpy, for about another km then back onto the road to take down to Hapuku village around and onto Old Beach Rd for the tailwind cruise back to town.

27 or so kms, with not much altitude - couple hundy metres.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Saturday to Monday on the Old Ghost Road

So...  Nelson and me drove up to Reefton on Friday night, staying in a cabin at the campground.  Headed off Saturday morning and rolled into Westport around 9 where we got breakfast at the PortSide (which was really good), and waited for Ken and Ross to turn up.  They were driving from Murchison and had gotten in there from the ferry really late, so had a late start.  They arrived quarter to eleven or so and ate, so we were off to a pretty late start.  Up to Seddonville to drop off Ken's truck, all piled into the Stagea and scraped the muffler along the gravel exit back to the sealed road.  Eventually got round to Lyell, and it was raining.

Doesn't look that wet, but here's the likely lads, clean before departure.

Hit the trail just after 3 and Nelson set a bloody stupid pace, which had us all huffing and chuffing, so I complained and got in front, and proceeded to set a pretty similar pace, concerned that I was holding them all up...  so, Ken got in front and slowed us riiiiight down, to granny + 1 kinda speed, and it was good.  Breathing eased, and we made slow but steady progress, with scope for more in the future.  Pretty wet, but not so bad, trail was firmer (more gravel applied) than I remembered from the previous time climbing this bit... The slips (about 10kms) were where we'd gotten to last time, and were a lot more rideable than they'd looked then.  Met a couple of guys riding down, not too much gear, who asked where we were staying, and when we told them, said, cryptically, "you're in for a treat."  My thoughts were, hut full of hot grrrls or hut full of drunken d!cks...  Kept the smooth pace from here up til about the 14km mark when it sort of leveled out and Ken picked up the pace til we were rocking along and those km markers just flew by.  All of a sudden, there's the sign for the hut!  Pushed up the little grunt to this and got settled in for the evening, rain steadily coming and going, not very much view to be had.  2 hours 40 mins from starting.

Our sleepout (the deep dark back one (Zala) was good, but noisy with the big drips slamming down from the trees above.  There were a young couple camping next to us, 2 older riders in the Gibbs hut, and the aforementioned 'treat'?  11 older (60's/70's) women walkers in the main hut, plus Rob the guy building steps for the toilets (sleeping in one of the dunnies cos there were no free beds!).

Next morning took our time cos it looked like it was clearing, but then it kept raining, getting away about 10.15, or was that 11.15?  Anyway, the couple on bikes had left about 40 minutes before us and we caught them after about 15, so they must have been going pretty slow.  They were struggling with the 'technicality' of the terrain, and they weren't used to riding full suss bikes (on rentals).  Anyway, we trundled on and overtook the odd one or two of the walking old ladies too.  Met 4 other riders coming the other way around when we hit the open country.  And the going got more interesting, and more downwards through the top section.  Lots of exposure, lots of wetness, cloud and howling wind.  I recall some rapid sections, ragged edge corners, and a LOT of water pouring out of moss or in creekbeds.  Overtook 3 of the walking ladies in here, with very little view to be had. On the descent through the bush before the hut we passed one of the Ghost Road Gurus, 'Stacky', walking the other way.  On down to the hut and we found a couple of touring bikes parked here.  Made some lunch, got warm, even saw some sunshine, before rain returned and backed off a bit too. The frenchies with the touring bikes set off ahead of us and we watched them walk them up the steep bit after the lake.

Re-donned wet clothes and got riding again.  Technical terrain starts immediately after the funky boardwalk through the little bit of forest before the lake, then steep climb briefly and over to the steep corners descents.  Good blast down these, me dabbing an inside foot on most of them, not quite game to let my weighted bike get the better of me.  This is us on the way down, somewhere, below Old Ghost Hut.
Somehow I got out in front, the boys were faffing with Ken's bag on his rack, and had the twisty techy rooty rocky descent through the scrobbleforest to myself.  This was the most techy and fun part of the whole trail so far.  I waited for the others on the chopperpad (the Anvil) and they rolled in.  It was here we spotted the cliff below the corners.  wow!  Then Ken led the way down to the start of the climb for Skyline.  I dropped back a bit and tail-end-Charlie'd it on the climb, getting a bit knackered, and struggling, but nearly cleaned it all.  Nelson fell on his elbow ahead of me, and was in a lot of pain from there on down.  We caught the others and blazed on down the Skyline Ridge to the top of the steps, loving the twists and turns and the view was starting to improve too, with bits of sunshine gaining traction on the hills beyond. Various techniques down the steps - i did a little on it's back wheel, some carrying, but mostly just walking it beside me, it held back quite well on the brakes.  Sore arms by the time we got to the bottom, where we found the frenchies on the touring bikes.

Best flow section award goes to this next section.  From the bottom of the steps to Stern hut was fantastic.  So much fun, swooping back and forth, amazing landscapes, from slips to big scarpy crazy lifted sedimentary mixed rock to mossy goblin forest to tall beech and roaring creekside flow.  Wonderful.  Arrived at the hut and the sun came out so we hung stuff out to dry.  It rained again, but it was no bother, we then started using the hut heat for drying.  Another totally full hut, with older walkers again, and the frenchies (young guy who'd ridden overland to NZ from France... and his mate).  From Lyell, to Lyell Saddle Hut, then on to Stern Hut, 39.7 kms, 1972 m of climbing, and somewhere just over 4 hours 30 mins riding (it failed to autopause, which is why I stupidly paused it at Stern, assuming it would restart the next day.  But then  neglected to 'Resume' it the next morning, thinking it would just pick it up our moving... which i think is what it did, but not the gps bit...  the 7 hours total on it must be the whole shabang).

Next day, woke up after terrible sleep, and it was fine weather, tho low cloud that proceeded to burn off a bit as we rode.  8.30 start, cos the two Wellington boys had to make the ferry that night.  So, off out, steady but easy pace, passing the walkers, and climbing up the Boneyard I was gasping (from the lack of sleep), but once above this was good going.  We met a goat.  Young black billy, he was cute, but weren't really sure what his intentions were and he wouldn't let us pass.  Then the other 3 got past and he bailed me for a minute, putting them out of reach.  I chased but barely ever saw Ross's red arms.  We hauled arse all the way.  Stopped for sugar when we made the Mokihinui.  A chopper was flying over with a bundle of timber underneath when we crossed the big swingbridge, and we heard it several more times later.  Long section down the river, a few ups and downs, and then the Forks Hut, and into the gorge, spectacular country all around.  Specimen Hut we stopped for snacks and helmets off, then I set off ahead on my own, Ross not far behind, and we proceeded to clean up many kms down the gorge.  Met a couple of workers on motorbikes coming up the gorge, tight passing them, flowy descents and grunty climbs.  Finally, maybe 6 kms from the end we stopped for a rest the top of a rise with a nice view and within a few minutes the other two boys turned up.  Not far now, we blasted on me getting more lagged and slow, til the out the gate and along the 4wd section, I could barely climb that last climb before the turn onto the last km of singletrack...  But, in here I caught Ken up, he was starting to lag too.  Ross Strava'd this day's ride - it was 42.1kms, over 720m climbing and we did it in 3 hrs 45 mins (3.03 hours riding time).

And we rolled out to the car and celebrated with a cold swim in the river.  Great for the legs. Then, into the car, googling to see how much time they had to make the ferry, allowing us to have lunch in Westport, then up to Lyell to split the gear and go our separate ways.  Nelson and me made it back to Amberly about 6.15pm, where I had the Fiat waiting, and was home around 7.  perfect.

My tallies then.  2700m of climb, 83 or so kms, all done in around 7 and a half hours total of riding.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tuesday Night Short Loner

Steve had called a PFMTBC meeting at 7 and it being my last chance before the weekend's Ghostings, I grabbed the time to ride. Nelson was had already organised to DH, but also said he was crook, so from work I trafficked to Mt Pleasant and parked up on Stoneyridge at 5.30.  Messed about with MMR (which wasn't playing ball for a bit), and headed up into Britten Reserve under the pylons.  Steep bastard grunt, walked the steepest bit, then MMR got rolling as I headed across the easy stuff at a good pace.   Back and forth, then up to the top and around the front and around to the cutting.  Across the road and over the fence and up onto the Mt Pleasant track climbing well to the top, right up to the trig (where the MMR photo was took), for a bit of a snack.

Time for the descent.  Hopped over the fence and got rolling, seat down, flying down the rocks and around to the stile.  Nice flowy run down through the tech then swoopy swoopy down through the tussocklands, down to the 4wd, then into what was the new extension below this (above the ruins) around and back across towards the start of Greenwood.  Hardly ridden recently, so lots of sheep poo as they scattered in front of me.  I stopped here and it was only 6.10, so figured I had time to hit Greenwood.  Bombed down this, flowing through the flowy bits, and not stalling up too much on any of the techy boney rocks.  Very brief rest after Gloomy, then into the gnar again, plummeting well.  Totally bollocksed the rocky ups but flew down to the end after for 6.19. 

Then, onto the road, climbing fast up to Jollies Bush, where I headed in and tried out the tracks we didn't go last time, out and back further to the right, and more rideable, back up and climbed over the stile, pushing the few metres up to the singletrack above. Onto this and swooped down towards the Richmond Hill pines, then around and up the singletrack to the original Greenwood Entrance.  Last bit of road, and into Britten for a bombing, having to sidestep several times into the grass and over tussocks (at speed) to avoid some rookie climbers.  Arrived at the car dead on 6.50 - perfect timing.

13.6kms with at least 430 m climbed (more like 460 m on account of MMR starting late)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday Night Hunting Victorian Dusty Gringo Vales

Rode with Paul for a change tonight. Nelson was out, having crooked his neck over night and also had the wrong bike (his DH in the car from previous night in the park). Rode from Paul's place, with him on my old Turner, which he's purchasing from me...

Meandered across town and headed up Huntsbury.  As we came over Kenmure Drive we found from here on up a million people all parking and walking up with us to the start of the gravel where Torpedo7 was holding Rogaine.  Navigated through them and continued on up the gravel, me grovelling a bit but keeping a good pace.  Up onto the single track and the wind was ferocious pushing us off a couple of times.  Finally up the top grovel and easy to the start of the Traverse.

Nice tail-wind around the Summit, both of us getting pretty puffed even on the downhill stretches, but going well.  Then into top of Vic and down past the seesaw, past people working on Brake Free and down into the Gums.  The Rocky just ploughed on through the rock garden, fantastic.  Then down into my favourite twisty lefty and through to the skidder site.  Next, into Spazza's, so many options in there now, and across down to Sneaky Ridge, flying down the first rocky section.  Paul baulked, but knew he could do it, so went back and did it.  Then down the rest and back and forth in the oaks and wheee over the jump onto Bridges,  and back and forth down to the bottom of the valley.

Through the creek and up the zigs and zags of Hidden Valley Link, climbing nicely and cleaning all the corners, then up, really puffing into Old Skool.  Awesome blast down this, catching up some old codgers and picking them off one by one, til in the lower zigs and zags Paul got a flat (what is it about that bike and pinch flats!?).  We stopped just above the valley floor and swapped out my (no-longer-needed) 26 inch tube. 

7.20 us as we rolled down Bowenvale Ave, and we proceeded back the way we'd come and stopped into Moon Under Water for a nice point of, aptly, Dusty Gringo.  Justy biked down to join us, and it was well and truly dusk, 8pm-ish, when we rode back up to their place.

20kms with 500 metres of climbing.  

Monday, March 12, 2018


No real riding this weekend, but we camped with family at Scargill Domain.  Took all the bikes, me with my fatty.  So, rode the 2 kms into Greta Valley twice, once with all of us and once with just O - a climb there, and reasonably rapid return.  And there's a couple of loops 'walk' around the domain, and across a creek and up through an oak plantation, some switchbacks and steep climb, nice views down to Mt Grey, and around.  Nearly 4 kms in all.  Fun descent.  Fun wee loop, without the gates to open and shut, would be a great race track or time trial exercise.  Took almost half an hour with all of us together and quite a few stops thrown in.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Saturday McBritten CavenTors Duncan

Nelson worked til 3, and I had some errands, dropping O off at a party and his wheel off to Josh.  Also stopped into Josh's shop to get some MarshGuardness and have a yarn.  Met Nelson at Ferrymead Park, and we treadled around to McCormack's bay, heading up the valley in the heat.  Thought I was gonna suffer the dreaded heat stroke again at that rate.  But, managed to stay on top of it, drinking heaps of water throughout the climb.  Walked a couple of the stretches in the upper switchbacks, heat just taking it all out of me.  Up the road, and up the walking track in the gully, spitting us out up to climb over the fence by the bath water trough.  Up onto the main Britten track and climbing, into fog.  Rushing fog.  This cooled a bit, but also because it was so damned humid it kinda didn't too...

Finally I made it to the top, and we headed around the front, all the way in the fog.  Then around to the end of the original and across the road over the fence into Mt Pleasant reserve, breaking out into the sun, climbing then dropping down to Cavendish Saddle, for to climb up the sketchy switchbacks up the back of the Gondola.  These are obviously not seeing a lot of tires over them.  Nice long rest taking in the views at the top, with quite a few people around from the Gondola.  Then, back on the bikes and down the steps towards the Bridle Path.  Bomb bomb bomb and for the first time I found a good line into one of the bits near the fence we've always struggled with getting into.  Across the ridge and finally to the Bridle.

Into the climbing walking track up the ridge from here, me cleaning more than I've ever cleaned before.  Pushing a bit up through the broom then riding heaps, and around the top and fun descent down to the saddle, then the push up and then ride around towards the Castle Rock ridge for a quick rest before the best descent down below the Tors.  Love that descent, especially the super tech towards the bottom. 

Onto the singletrack above the road, cruising through this around to the end, then a new way, over the fence and up the farm track to the top, quite steep, and over the fence and finding out line through the tussocks to the rocky top, then into the descent.  Fun trail, descendy and descendier, steeper and steeperer, techy and techier, all the way down to the pylon, then around into the forest and dropping down through the massive jumps then out past the horsies and onto the road, heading around under the motorway and up Heathcote Valley around and down towards Ferrymead and across the park back to the cars.

On to Twisted hop for some chips and a well earned beer.  Yum

Similar size and distance to other recent rides...  18.5kms, with 716m climbed.