Sunday, October 23, 2016

Vegas 4: Back into the Forest

Not such a terrible night's sleep, thanks to cough mixture and Otrivin nose clearer made me slightly healthier in the morning, but still potentially not the best for riding. 

We chose a different path into the forest, this time riding up Tarawera Rd, and up a little singletrack on the side of the road around to the big water tank.  I collapsed into a coughing-nearly-puking mess at the top of this, managing to extricate a couple of small lung cookies from myself and feeling a little better afterwards.  We moseyed up Tokoaarangi Pa Rd, or something.  Anyway, climbed horribly for a bit, making me walk, and eventually leveled out on the ridge, undulating up and down a couple of times - much nicer.  We made our way surprisingly quickly across til we could see the top of K2.  Explored briefly an apparent trail (unmarked) up top here, but to no avail.  (Tho, I spotted one diving off into the bush up here and thought that would be interesting some time.  I'd love to explore a bit more...).

Around to and parked up top of K2, ready for this grade 5 descent.  Headed off down, Pete and Nelson first.  The very first filter, a rooty drop caught me out and I dabbed through it, but from here on down I managed nicely, cleaning everything else.  Mostly all very fun and rideable, but there were one or two good challenges, with big drops below holding roots.  Nothing a little commitment and roll-through couldn't handle tho.  We sorta regrouped once or twice, and various members of the party struggled on some of the tech, but we all got down safely and regrouped at the bottom, rapt with our performances.  A climb out up to Red Tank Rd (or Pipeline/Windy Rd according to Trailforks (which I think is wrong)), and around to the BRudeNot2 intersection. 

From here we dropped into Bunny Juggs 1, which was a ripper of a wee trail, rooty and tight, swerving down through tight forest (immediately next to the end of Sweet'n'Sour).  Back up onto the Direct Rd for a bit then short climb into Bunny Juggs 2.  This climbed in native then was out into cleared chaff, open, new trail.  Fun little thing, some loose edges and jumpies to pump.  Around and back to the road, for the roll up to the shuttle stop. 

It was about 12.40 or so here, so we decided to hang out, considering several of us were under the weather by now.  Chatted to the other shuttle driver (who'd visited our house the day before) for a bit here while he waited for his private shuttlers to return.  1pm rolled around and at about 1.15 the Shuttle rolled up, pretty much full.  We gave the few remaining seats to the few singles that had turned up, and we awaited it's return.  20 odd minutes later, we got our uplift. Corners first, or Upper Corners, wafted and bombed this down, all very nicely groomed, tho rutted and soft in places from all the weather and riding of previous weeks, with rideable tabletop type jumps, rolling or launching, all the way down.  Got to a road, and crossed back into the singletrack, taking us around to Corners proper.  This, again, back and forth, jumpy pumpy down, everybody enjoying it profusely, through the forest and out to a big clearing.  Crossed over Little Red Riding Huck a couple times in here too, I think.  Not sure where to go for a start, I pointed Nelson into a (secred unmarked) trail which was called Eddie the Crow, which he said started with a massively rooty gnarly looking drop.  We didn't pursue this.  Back into the clearing and there's our trail in that corner, so, back on it, a couple of quite steep wee corners and then Riding Huck went left and we went straight ahead, and this section, tho it looked on the map like it was quite close to the bottom, went on for ages.  I was wondering when it was gonna finish it took so long.  Poor old Wazza pulled out here, and headed back to base.

Out to the shuttle stop and another wee wait.  Uplift, and this time into Huckleberry Hound.  Nice trail, better groomed than Upper Corners, and had once big drop feature that all but Nelson baulked on.  I rode up to it thinking oh yeah, no worries, saw Nelson drop straight over it, and then I stopped dead at the top when I saw the under cut vertical top...  Bugger.  Not sick, I might have considered it.  Not needing to to nurse my shoulder, likely so too.  Around it and onwards, a few gap jumps appearing on the side of the trail, was still fun to cruise beside these and not hurt ourselves.  Across the road again, and Corners continued directly from here, so down the road a few metres and into Little Red Riding Huck, for more jumpy goodness.  Excellent descending with a mite more challenge than Corners.  Near the bottom of this section before the big clearing there was a roll over jump that nearly had me over the bars.  I think I spoke out loud, "someone's gonna crash on that", thankfully no one did, but I bet they were close.  Out the edge of the clearing and into another steep rutted soft section of trail, with a couple of rooty sections thrown in, that I think caught one or two out, and we regrouped where Corners went ahead and we peeled left, for the final blast to the shuttle.  This section had some cool features in it too, near the bottom a couple of really big swoopy corners, one of which with a nasty soft edged rut which I rolled through and said out loud "somebody's gonna lose it in here..."  And so I rolled out, arms fully pumped, to meet Nelson, and no sign of Pete behind.  Then Steve turned up, and eventually one or two others then Pete, his knee all bloodied up good, from that sweepy corner.  Jinxed.

Uplift number 3.  This time from the top, we decided we were finishing off.  There were 5 uplifts left on the ticket, and Nelson was gonna ride more, so he took these.  Off down Eagle vs Shark we blazed.  Me with the camera on, chasing (read, attempting to keep up with) Nelson.  Both of us on the ragged edge.  Was fantastic.  What a trail.  Extremely well made, predictable, good features, jumpies, corners, roots, fun.  He slowed now and then to let me reel him in, but mostly I stayed on him.  Was probably the best riding I'd done up there this year.  I took my shades off at some point, then we blasted out into the sunshine where it was open for a few corners.  In here a bug flew straight into my mouth.  Rolled it with my tongue out and spat, then spat a few more times for good measure (it felt like a blow-fly, bleugh) - hopefully that'll be on camera.  Kept chasing, the corners kept coming and the speed and flow kept doing it.  It flattened off and there was an exit out to a trail down to the road.  We regrouped here and in ones and twos the rest of the crew rolled in.  Set off again, along the flat section of this trail to an eventual log collection point and forestry roads to follow around for a while.  Red Tank Rd, I believe, tho, called Pipeline/Windy on the 'Forks App.

Where Lynmore Link peeled off, Nelson parted his way from us, and we headed down across a bridge and down into a valley, then up a gnarly rooty pipelined track climb, all off and pushing, up to eventually the watertank.  From here, instead of heading down the road the way we'd come in, we rode and pushed up for some more lung burning efforts to connect onto the Tank To Town trail.  Shared, walk and bike trail, I led off down the downhill bits with gusto and speed, all the while keeping my eyes peeled for any pedestrians - thankfully, we met none on the descents.  Fun we trail this too, easy, but flowy and quick, eventually out to near the road and through open grassland forest, then back into the forest's edge where As You Do dives in.  A couple of false exits later and we found our street, across, and back to base for a well earned rest, and then bike breakdown, box up and packing ready for the morning, while we waited for Nelson to come back. 

His adventures became quite epic, and he ended up doing twice as much altitude and distance than any of our efforts.  He rode round from where he left us, the short distance to where K2 came out, Juggs, uplifted to Te Rua, rode around again, uplifted and did the Taniwha DH track, then uplifted with the 'elite' of Rotorua's post work crowd, hooked up with a few of them, and did Billy T, Split Enz, and by the sound of it, No Brains, and Taura, or something new over there, and out to Waipa, then finally back to us (who were all getting fucking hungry by this time...), just on dark.

So, all up, 32 kms ridden (a few of which on the bus) and nearly 1400 descended, with 960 or so of that climbed by bus...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Vegas 3: Rainbows Monday 17th

Terrible night's sleep, with a cough that was killing me, the blocked nose from hell, and fevers and chills all night, leaving me feeling bloody horrible when morning came round.  I really didn't think I'd be able to ride.  Wazza was in a similar boat, also waking from a horrendous night's non-sleep.  Plan was Rainbow Mountain and after saying definitely "no" I then figured I'd totally regret not doing it, so I pushed myself into doing it.  Wazza stayed behind and we headed the 25kms down there and parked up down at Kerosene Creek.   

I started out ahead of the others, very slowly, because when I breathed in deeply it was like someone was pushing a gorse-bush branch down my windpipe and into my lungs.  They caught me eventually, and we checked out a look out and I rode on ahead and then got to the intersection and we started climbing.  As soon as the trail got slightly steep I'd get off and walk, and just plod away.  In due time I think Nelson and Pete overtook.  There was a muddy section, and then a lookout at some fumeroles.  From here on up it was even steeper.  All rode or walked as necessary, me walking it all, very slowly.  Eventually the top was gained and I lay down and died.  I'm still up there now, my corpse anyway, dead.  This is my ghost writing this - didn't realise I'd died and kept riding...  Another biker and his very nice doggy and some walkers arrived at the top while we were there. The views were spectacular (hopefully some pics will show up some time).

Then we got going.  The top section was quite technical, rough and rocky.  It was great.  There were a couple of features my sensitive sick-bones were averse to, but I managed most stuff with little more than a dab.  There was one 2-optioned corner that we stopped at, Nelson taking the harder line.  Then a big droppy rooty bit that I walked - Nelson and Pete rode it, not sure about the others, cos I saw the trail went up after that so I went ahead to get the climbs over with.  Not far after that couple corners of climb tho it descended again for a bit and then finished at a corner in the road.  End of technical section.

Into the singletrack again, this time in bigger bush, and darker and beautiful swoopy curvy fantastic descent.  This section is the type of track that is the reason I ride.  It was mint.  Enough challenges in the way of tight corners, roots and the odd rut, some grease around making both tires lose traction at the same time, squirrelly, fantastic.  All too soon, tho, a reasonable distance, we rolled out through an open scrubland, lush grass either side of the skinny dirt trail, weaving back and forth down the lower flanks back to the start.  Nice.

Hot soak in the river down stream and then home.

A surprisingly short 7.2kms with only 325 m climbed (45minutes riding time)...  but steeep.

Vegas 2: Whakarewarewa Sunday 16th

Got going in the morning and headed across Tarawera Rd and straight into the forest, finding As You Do upon which to climb.  It shortly dove into the forest away from the road and started climbing.  It was pretty mucky from the previous day's Endurogeeks so was soft and messy making for quite difficult climbing.  Nelson cleaned a heap of it, whereas I spun out and most did too, so lots of walking was done.  Eventually we reached the top.  Checked out K2 for future reference, and then reassembled and headed down to Gunna Gotta.  Oh, and Bernie was with us, on a rental, visiting from Cambridge.  He was struggling with what we thought of as fun.  Thought we were a bunch of mad bastards.  Gunna Gotta was good, regrowing pines on the top (was all cleared last time I was in there), with the lower native section still in place, and still just as fun.  Everyone enjoyed this, muckfest withstanding.  Bernie still thought we were insane.

Regrouped, then up to A-Trail, now called Paddy's Run (Formerly A-Trail), and descending, smooth curvy fun through nice forest around and down to another road.  Bernie, I think, liked this better.  Along a bit and into Tickler, me baulking at the big droppy bit on at the bottom of the first descent, most of the crew opting for the right hand line.  Meander and then climbing and meandering around about the place, catching some other riders, and eventually out to the intersection so many trails start from.  We thought we'd be able get a shuttle from Waipa base at 1pm, so we were aiming for this, heading down BRude from here.  Nice blast, tho personally I liked it better before it was logged all those years ago.  Into the forest section and more interesting again, onwards down and out to take Pig Track across, somehow turning left and ending up at a road, catching a little Grinder, down and out, into the tail end of Creek, then we're back at the end of BRude again...  Huh.  Oh, kay.  Into Mad If You Dont and headed down towards the road where we rode down to the base.  No sign of any shuttles, we asked someone and they told us they only leave there once in the morning then loop up top.  Oh well.  Bernie bailed from here.

Lunch was had and we headed off up the road again, Ball and Chain, then up the road to the pick-up point.  Cant remember waiting long and the big bus arrived and off up we went.  Some faffing at the top and then up the steep to Billy's entrance.  This trail was a blast.  I ended up on my own.  I held onto the sight of Nelson and Pete for a while, but then they went and no-one was close behind me, so I just kept my own company and pace, a reasonably fast one, nothing too scary.  Got to where Tihi o Tawa comes in and a girl was waiting for me to ride past, she followed me down to the big drop.  Nelson just disappearing over the lip.  I though, oh yeah, no worries, then looked closer and talked myself out of it.  As did Pete, and the girl (who's boy dropped it too).  Hung out here, all the rest turned up and we all assembled at the bottom where there's a big double gap jump, which Nelson bombed the drop and gapped the gap nicely on.  Then off again, and out to the bottom.

Into G Rock.  Great blast down through this, typical Whakarewarewa style trail.  Hauled some ass, chasing Pete and Nelson, down to Chesnut Link, then into Rollercoaster with it being a bit soft therefore making the climbs annoying.  Next up was the chinese takeaways and they got worse and worse and worse, the climbs ever more painful, til finally we were just below the BRude start intersection again.  Jumped into Dragon's Tail, which was a blast, and then across to finish off BRude again, this time turning right to head for the Lion's Trail climber which took us back up to the bottom of Gunna Gotta and from here we went down Katore Rd and into Exit Track, a final ballsy blast down this, Nelson cutting me up near the bottom in order to slay the final jumps.  Rode along Nursery past the Redwoods and back up to the house.

42 kms, with a 913 gain (of which 300 or so was in the bus - so still not much climbed, really - compared to our usual style of riding)

Vegas 1: Cratered Moons Saturday 15th

The crew: Phatboy, 'Jaws, Tinks, Nelsie, Buggs, Dozer, Foxy, Cookie and me; flew to Auckland first thing Friday morning and got a van with 3 spare seats and a big furniture trailer, drove through to Rotovegas, all the while watching the rain clouds approaching from the west.  Arrived in the afternoon and grocery shopped etc and weather pretty much packed in as predicted, raining all night.  Just over 10 years since the last time a smaller crew had played up there and watched the world cup.

2W Enduro event was being held in the Whakarewarewa forest on Saturday, and a few rainshowers still around we decided to head down to Taupo and explore the Craters of the Moon mtb park.  Rolled into town and eventually found a bikeshop that'd sell us a pass (everyone had run out), a map, and off we headed.  Parked up, people faffed, and we got riding.

Cant even begin to name all the trails, but they included Hammer it?  Ground Effect Grinder, Deb's Track, Mr and Missus, Young Pines, OutBack, Retro, Luge, and Coaster.  There were a couple others in there too.  Was fun; sort of Bottle Lake on the hill.  Our only criticisms were that perfectly good climbs were ruined by short brief down hills, and perfectly good downhills were ruined by annoying little climbs.  You never quite new what to expect and so the flow got wrecked.  The 'Outback' bit was way shorter than I'd expected it to be, considering the first series of trails we'd ridden hardly covered any ground, and on the map the Outback area looked like twice the size, but suddenly we were heading back and I wondered what'd happened.  We left the whole area between the carpark and the river alone, pretty much, with most of us just hopping over there to play on a jumpy bit.  Rating out of 10, a generous 6 maybe?  Good effort, and would be great place to exercise if you lived there, but as a destination, it just wasnt quite enough for us.

22kms ridden, and we only gained 468m.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Last Chance Wednesday Fatty & Skinny Bottle Ache

Last chance to expand the lungumes and stretch the legumes before the Grand Annual Voyage upon which we're departing on Friday morning...  Nelson picked me up and we got out round the forest tonight.  Him on his singlespeed and me on the Commando.  He spun hard, and I chased hard and got puffed and needed to delayer on the top of the gazebo rise.  Then we bombed our way around out to the beach and along the front and then in and up to SpencerTown for a short rest, then onwards back through the usual low-ways and by-ways back to the carpark.  That last reasonably new-ish section has got shitty bumps on it for a good couple of kms...

16.75kms, and a whole 96m gained within all those little ups and downs

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Sunday Hog's Muck

Semi-organised by workmate Paul, I picked him up and we careened out of town at about 11am, in pouring rain, to Sheffield where we met Nelson, who followed us to Springfield where we met up with Derek and Babs in the Yello Shack Cafe (very nice service, and good coffee and according to Paul, better pie than Sheffield).  Rain was sort of easing out here, but was still in evidence as we ploughed our ways over Porter's, where the sun shone on Lake Lyndon and most of the valley.  Wasn't looking so good up towards Helicopter Hill tho, so we pulled into Castle Hill Village as planned and discussed our options.  Figured best option would be to head into the Hogs Back from here to see what we would see.  Gave us the option to turn around at any time, and it sure looked wet further up the valley.

So, off up the road then into the trail, carefully ignoring the 'Closed for winter' sign, "It's spring now, anyway, so the sign's out of date" remarked Nelson...  Rather greasy and roots slippery, but not that bad, we rode up, all of us feeling the pinches.  Babs did incredibly well considering her slick rear tire, and Paul struggled having never ridden mtnbikes up hills.  Some adjustments and tips by Nelson and he was better further up, but still walked a fair bit of that climb near the top of the trees.  Once out on the top the view up valley suggested we'd made the right decision, with our planned route in view and out of the weather, vs Helicopter Hill and Lyndon Saddle being completely obscured by what looked like snow falling.  On up the ridge, the strugglers finding this easier, then into the first downhill, where they were exposed to Nelson and my concept of not actually using brakes... Awesome wee blast down this track then across the big flattish valley crossing the stream beds, and back climbing to the forest edge.  Regroup and off down across the stream crossing, and climbing again, small scrapple / graupel falling (wanna-be hail, but too light, falling more like snow) bouncing off our jackets (not wetting).  Clamber clamber clamber then across and some mucky bits and climbing up to the bridge.  Here, Paul was concerned about his knee, took this photo and then turned back while the rest of us continued the climb with the rain starting to get through a bit, and less of the haily-snow. 
You can see the rain in this pic...

Finally into the last forest section and climbing around and out to the bottom of the moonscape section, Nelson hit the first of the corners and here we decided it was too mucky to continue.

Turned around and the fun began.  Bloody glad I was wearing my jacket and GE leggings...  Roots were slick, but manageable, and was lots of fun.  Met Derek and Babs in the forest here, where they turned around to follow us.  Nelson and me bombed it away and down and through and back over the bridge and then down the open section and into another rooty forest where we pulled up and waited a while for the other two.  They were almost clean, vs Nelson and me head to toe splatter - difference a bit of speed makes.  Rolled on around and through and then stream crossing and grindy climb out and up.  Could see Paul now, across the valley on the final climb so we chased.  Eventually finding him at the big dead tree where we regrouped again and awaited the others.  They came into sight and we watched as they crossed the landscape.

Here's us sitting there, me hanging my head in shame at the state of my clothing...

Final little climb from the tree, and off down the ridge, floaty flow and a final regroup before entering the forest.  Then off.  Careful speed into the woods, sketchy mud and slippery roots, both of us kept our speed down from the usual rocketship ride, but was still pretty good.  Seemed like no time and we were at the bottom, cruising down that paddock singletrack and into the houses, a lap of the pump track and to the cars.

Only 12 kms, and a meagre 361 gained and lost... but muck and the altitude and the lack of recent riding made it seem a bit bigger.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Monday School Hols Fog Pearcing Views

At the bach for some of the school holidays, with the fatbike, so headed out this morning, low cloud cover filling the valley.  Headed up the road, making (aptly named) Misty Hills gate in just over 15 minutes, and the top of the road 40 minutes later...  Headed through the gate, and through the fog up the gravel track towards the top of Mt Pearce.  Rather steeper in bits than I remembered, for it has been a long while, but I grovelled onwards up and after a couple of gates made it to the top, 720-something metres climbed.  View up here was spectacular, overlooking the cloud below, and the tops of all the peninsula peaks.  Brief rest and then off I headed down, heaps of speed from gate to gate, then through the last one back onto the road.

Around here along the Summit Rd, bits and pieces of fog wafting across, no view below, fog as far as the eye could see, just the tops poking out.  Got to my turn off, and headed down to the gate, over this and onwards up the ridge towards the paper road and View Hill.  Bit of riding, bit of walking and eventually over the last fence, around a knoll and then around the side of the hill on what was once a track, til I veered right and headed up and over onto the farmtrack that zigged and zagged me to the top of View Hill.  Long climb here to the very top, 769m, nice rest, beautiful sunny day up here, while all around me was fog below.

Snack, then down again.  Speeeeeeeed.  Top gate, then bombed down View Hill Road into the fog at around 500m, lowering visibility to stuff all, massive speed down here even tho I could hardly see anything, having to lower my glasses and look through the gap between them and my visor.  Passed a dog tied to a fence, and then lower down, below the concreted section, met the first few sheep and lambs coming up the road.  I hauled up and pulled over to the fenceline and waited as they passed, and eventually the farmer with his two grand kids turned up moving the sheep along.  Quick chat with them, and bombed on down again, gathering even more speed down the final bits of gravel, through Chorlton rounding onto the seal and fanging down the road into the bay.

Peeled off onto Lukes Track and over down to the tennis courts, then up the road and up the drive...

983m climbed, 24.8kms...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Saturday Chasing Fog to Planting

Got going a little late so was 8.06 by time I got to Steve's.  He wasn't riding and the others had already headed off ahead, so I got chasing.  Steve thought they'd gone up Huntsbury, so I was chasing hard, and nearly dying as a result.  Never did catch them... cos they'd gone up Rapaki(!)

Anyway, up into the fog, total white out up top - 20 or 30m visibility, along Traverse, thinking the whole time I'll find them having a break here, or here, or here, or just up here...  nup.  Thompsons, Kiwi, ("surely they gotta be here!?"  nope).  Up the road and around the bend, thinking they musta really been haulin' ass.  Got wetter just past Worsleys so I stopped and chucked a jacket on, then rolled down to the top of Kennedys.  Asked a rider at the stile if he'd encountered a group heading down, nope.  Muddy as all get up along the top here, then slick as shit all the way down.  Stopped and scoped out the forests on the way down, man there's plenty of room in there now for secret trails...

Somewhere down here I texted Warren saying where are yas!?  only to receive that they were just at the top of Kennedys then.  Oh well...

 Bombed on down then onto the 'High Rd' and down, slippy slippy, and into the Crock, which was not so bad, and fun. 

Then into Murphs, the newby fun downhill, and then to the planting...

25kms, with 670 m gained.  My family attended the planting, so my ride finished here as I got a lift home with them.

Wednesday Quick Hanmer

Quick spin in Hanmer with a few guys from work - Pete, Miles and Dave.  Headed from the houses, around to Clarence Valley Rd, into Flax Track, up it, then seemed like Yankee Zephyr was shut, so we headed down Swoop.  Fun wee blast, nearly crashing overcooking one corner.  Along the flat, up Timberlands Trail, then into Red Rocks.  Fun blast down this, then out Eeny Meeny and back to the house to find ourselves locked out and our key at the pools...  Thanks a lot Ian.

Less than 10km, 41minutes ridden, just over 200m climbed... 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Saturday Travis Planting Fatty

Left home on the fatty just after 10, and rode along the river - McBratneys - and through the red zone, then river again, and up Bassett, into Travis Wetland, over the bridge to arrive the same time as Steve. Luckily I'd brought my Gummies, as it was a total quagmire. Chucked them on, and then proceeded into the planting area.  Planted loads, with around 150 other people, then rode with Steve to the rangerbase and ate a couple sossies.  I took off straight after the speeches, down towards Anzac Bridge then followed river and red zone home. A good spin.
15 kms or so all up...