Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Goodbye wonderful track – Parting is such sweet sorrow

Dear Bigfoot

I haven’t known you long, not even a year, but you were my favourite from the first time we meet. Getting to know you wasn’t really that easy. Your many many tight switchbacks with their rocks and roots tested my legs, and lungs and commitment, but that first ride last year did not daunt me. Your sweet, flowing, thrilling descent hooked me and fixed you firmly in my heart. So it was with great sadness that I wrote to Neil at Krank to confirm a rumour I didn’t want to believe. Your lovely trees are to be logged this month and no longer will I, or anyone, be able to swoop down amongst them.

I couldn’t just let you go without saying goodbye in person, it would be wrong. So to Hanmer I went on Monday, to ride you one last time. Upon arrival it seemed to me you are steeling yourself for what is to come. You were icy cold and gloomy, sucking the warmth out of me. The climb up the road from your exit to your entrance was dark in the afternoon, damp, frigid. But then your entrance was bathed in warm sun, welcoming us, and my husband was winding up upon you as I took you in. You are unforgiving though. Your wet switchbacks, with their roots and rocks, more than a match for me and my currently weak legs. You showed no charity to my broken elbow and taught me that I can no longer turn right tight enough for you. In gloom, with my heart racing, you were not the friend I remembered, but on I pushed to the top and the thin rays of sunlight.

You taught me the importance of tyre choice and that my chosen tyres weren’t for you. But the descent was there before me and I hoped you would be kind and show that side of you that made me come back to say goodbye. You did, and I flowed along you, through your trees, smiling and whooping, yet melancholy that this would soon be nothing but a scarred chaos of stumps and destruction. And then you reminded me that you were in no mood for such sentimentality with one steep wet rutted corner that took my breath away as my wheels squirmed and my bike bucked under me. I held it together as you tested me, and regrouped for a final descent. Again you picked my spirits up and had me laughing as I jumped over tree roots and swept down corners and floated down drop offs. Then ahead of me I heard the warning thump of a bike hitting the dirt as your final corner stole my husband’s bike and left him standing on the track. You are a trickster in the wet Bigfoot, it’s a side of you I haven’t seen before and I didn’t really like it much. It was disappointing to have to creep down this last difficult corner on sliding feet, but I was in no mood to injure myself.

We said our goodbyes and decided to pay a visited to your older bother Detox, who is much more forgiving and fun in the cold autumn sunlight. While Detox was still quite wet and rutted in places it was all slidey fun and I rode it fast(ish) and laughing. Detox reminded me not to take you too seriously Bigfoot. Your dark tree lined corners are more testing in the wet, your climb more difficult for those struggling to regain lost fitness and confidence. But you aren’t to be blamed for my frustration and with the joy of Detox in my veins I forgave you for treating me badly.

Sometime in the next two weeks the loggers will come and they will bury you. It is a great loss, and I will miss you. I know the wonderful trail pixies of Hanmer will bring you back to life as soon as they can, but without your mature forest some of your magic will be lost forever. Rest in peace, my dear Bigfoot, you will be missed by many.

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