Monday, May 19, 2008

Up the Crocodile, through the singing

Unfortunately I had to miss the night race on Wednesday due to “unforeseen circumstances” which was a bit disappointing. To add to that, not much riding was done during the remainder of the week (read none, very bad), so I really had to make the most of the weekend and the stunning weather that came with it. I’d got the skinny on the additions to the night racing circuit from a mate at work, so on Saturday morning I loaded up the niterider and headed out to the sandpit. I decided to do just one lap, but push as hard as I could the whole way, which is exactly what I did. I’m not sure if I got the new bits right (I hope I didn’t, but suspect I did), cause it took me just over an hour to do the 20kms and when I got home and checked the times from the last race I would have been last. Not good. It was a very fun ride though, not the bits on the 4wd track which were just bumpy hell on my fully rigid bike, but all the rest was great fun. I love the swoopy corners and am getting better at powering up the wee climbs throughout the course. I was feeling pretty destroyed after this ride (always a good sign of having pushed as hard as possible) so once more didn’t get to play in the skills area. Boo.
Sunday was another gorgeous day, sunny and clear. After an initial bout of apathy while cleaning the house, I sorted myself out and headed to the quarry to tackle the Crocodile. This is a lovely section of single-track that climbs up the valley to the start of Kennedy’s Bush. It’s full of steep switchbacks which are quite intimidating coming down, especially when you haven’t ridden this sort of thing before, and an absolute killer going up. I’ve only managed to ride up the Crocodile 3 times previously, but I was determined to do it today.
The track starts of with 5 steep and rutted switchbacks in quick succession. There’s no taking it easy, you have to go hard out to have enough momentum to keep your front wheel down and drive up through the ruts. I started well and made it up these 5 and onto the gentle incline through the trees with my vision still clear, but gasping somewhat. I took it easy along this section, for a minute anyway, and then I was at the downhill that drops you back into the bottom of the valley. Yep, all that torturous climbing at the start is wasted as you plunge down a steep, rutted and in winter, extremely muddy bit of track. At the bottom you cross over a bridge and then it’s up the 3 tightest and hairiest switchbacks in quick succession. I made it up these with relatively little fuss, but much panting, and continued upwards.
It should be noted that the Crocodile is predominantly a downhill track (not downhill in the full body-armour, full face helmet, 25kg bike sense) so I was expecting (hoping for) a fair amount of traffic coming towards me. Having got through this section of switchbacks and onto a fairly gentle upwards slope I could see a few riders and a runner (grrrrrr) coming towards me. So I was more than happy to get off my bike, lift it and myself off the track and have a breather while they all passed. That way I wasn’t stopping because I was tired, I was just being considerate (polishes halo).
Onwards I continued, up a few more switchbacks and then straight onto the one rocky section, which I completely fluffed and had to walk half of. Then there’s a steep straight section that crosses the farmtrack. Once I’d made it up this I had the blurry vision so I decided to have a wee rest and take in the loveliness of the day. The valley was full of birdsong, predominantly gold finches, which are my favourite common bird. With all the thistles releasing their seeds the air was alive with tinkling notes. Even though I felt like vomiting from my exertions I had a big smile on my face from the bliss of being in the sun and surrounded by the sounds of nature.
Once my vision cleared and my heart stopped trying to escape my chest I was back on and up. More switchbacks and my recovery from each one was getting worse. More up and then a nice big bridge where I could stop again and enjoy the birdsong while getting my breath back. Now for the final push, 5 (I think) more switchbacks, although much less steep ones, and I was at the top. And also at the bottom. Of Kennedy’s Bush. Unfortunately it wasn’t very relaxing up here. The lovely view across the plains to the Alps was there while I recovered, but so was a digger excavating just down the road. Also I almost had my head taken off by a fluro pink Frisbee thrown by an inept German tourist. I managed to recover enough to continue up the single-track (more switchbacks) and then the 4wd track to get up to my favourite wee piece of downhill single-track. I absolutely flew down it. Sooooo much fun and such big grins. I even managed to pull off a fairly good huck (unstyley jump) at the bottom. Then back up the 4wd track and down the single-track beside where I’d just come up. Then back down the Crocodile. Such twisty-turny fun. Still can’t ride the rock section, I’m just too much of a wuss to carry enough speed into it to make it up the first bit. Scares the bejesus out of me. I also managed to fall off in the nastiest corner (I blame the vast quantities of very slippy cow poo), but I was quite happy about this because the track has gotten very narrow on the exit of the corner, probably due to the application of many cow hooves and some emergency braking. After a little giggle in the broom bush (yay, not gorse) I was back on my way. I didn’t manage to get up the track very far on the other side of the valley, too slippy, but after a wee push I was back through the trees and doing a good wee jump on the path out. Such a fun ride in the sun and such tired legs afterward. I see many more rides up the Croc in my future (weather permitting of course).
One final note. I finally got my mitts on a Spoke magazine which had an article on the race I did in Welly in April, and a photo. Technically speaking, I’m in the photo, you can see most of my bike, my hand and my leg. Yay! I’m in a mountain biking magazine!! Wahoo.

1 comment:

Muddy Water Jack said...

Famous in Fireenze!!!!!!