Monday, October 20, 2008

Journey to the Northern Isle – Part the One

Our journey did not start in the most auspicious fashion as having almost finished packing, my companion and I found ourselves out of doors with no key and an inopportunely snibbed lock. In fear of missing our booked passage to the north, a locksmith was hastily summoned forthwith and with wallets slightly lighter we were happily indoors and completing the preparations for the journey. Carriage to the airport was booked, though this too was more troublesome than I would have liked, as the operator seemed not to understand that my baggage necessitated the procurement of a van, not a hatchback. When the taxi did arrive it was touch and go as to whether our vast boxes would fit within its narrow confines. Fortunately they did and our journey was begun.

Our travels were incident free, although we did manage to escape the need to pay an additional fee for our luggage as the electronic payment system went down. Hurrah! Upon arriving in the sulphur scented city we secured portage to our dwelling in a shuttle and were soon lugging our luggage up the gravel driveway to a lovely cottage. Later in the evening we journeyed back into the city with the aid of the proprietor’s vehicle to provision ourselves for our week long adventure. Exhausted but happy my lovely companion and I tumbled into a deep slumber, excited by the prospects of exploring the forest on the morrow.

The new day dawned slightly overcast and my companion set about building our lovely bicycles and I set about lazing in bed reading trashy magazines. As the morning wore on I eventually dragged myself from the warmth of the bed to the deck chairs and commenced a session of intensive sitting and watching my companion riding on the structures provided by our hosts. Eventually the lure of the structures became too much and appropriately attired I mounted my cycle and had great fun playing on them myself. After an early, but substantial, lunch we set off down the hill to acquire a map of the notorious Whakarewarewa Forest (or the Redwoods as the locals call it). Map successfully acquired and anticipation running high, we planned a route which I hoped I would be able to tackle, not being sure of the difficulty of the various grades. Also it has been quite a long period since I rode anything particularly technical so I was slightly nervous of how I would find the grade 3 tracks and thought that grade 4 would probably be beyond my skills on this first ride.

Our ride began with a short climb up a forestry road and then we entered the forest proper on Genesis, a Grade 3 track. My concerns were not allayed by the necessity to push a short distance up this entry track. However soon after I was sweeping through the prehistoric forest and grinning with joy as I rode past the boughs of the mighty redwood trees. This first track was fantastic and flowed beautifully. I found that everything was within my abilities to ride, and even managed a couple of rather good hucks along the way. Once we exited Genesis we found the entry to another Grade 3 track, Challenge, which was also great fun. My confidence was slowly rising as I rode over wet roots and down drop offs. Soon we came across the entrance to an easier Grade 2 track, The Dipper, which was basically flat and flowing with some very nice berms. We agreed that while this track was most enjoyable it did not bring quite the same level of pleasure as previous tracks.

Next we came to the Rockdrop track. The entrance sign said Grade 5 (!!), but the map said Grade 4 so we sallied forth and were soon enjoying some lovely switch back climbs, rooty descents, drop offs that were larger than any previously encountered and lovely flowing corners. I loved this track. I almost rode it clean and for me it really showed how far my riding has progressed over the past six months. My climbing skills have improved immensely, as have my descending skills and confidence. I rode things on this track that in the past I would have got off and walked round and I was controlled and comfortable on all of them.

Unfortunately we managed to get slightly lost on this track and missed the last section by ending up on a road so we shall have to return. Finally we exited via Exit Trail, another good test of my new found confidence as I rode down the fast flowing trail and through deep ruts and bumpy wee drop offs with the greatest of ease (well a lot of grinning anyway). Happy and impressed with our first foray into the forest my companion and I headed into the city for some much need sustenance before tackling the hill climb back to our dwelling.

So our first ride in Rotorua was a 3 hour ride and I felt really good, and pretty tired at the end. I am most intrigued to see how my body copes with another such ride today. And today we will endeavour to ensure our photographic device is in working order to capture the glory of the forest.


Celia said...

Great stuff! :) Quite a few of those trails were in the North Island XC Cup round in Rotorua earlier this year. Mmmmmm Rock Drop and Old Exit! Gosh I love Rotorua trails! I wonder if I can convince Scotty that we should head up this weekend? :)

Anonymous said...

I so read that in a David Attenborough accent :-D

YAY for Vegas!