Monday, August 10, 2009

Snake charming is the perfect end

Before I get into this blog post I just want to briefly acknowledge how sad I was to read Fat Cyclist’s blog post of the 5th of August, letting us know his courageous and amazing wife had finally succumbed to the cancer she had been fighting so long. His blog has been an inspiration to me for a long time and now. WIN Fatty!

Anyway onto happier things, such as the stunning weekend we just had in Christchurch, in fact I believe most of this glorious country experienced fantastic sunny weather this weekend. For me this meant a weekend of boundary pushing. It started well on Friday evening with a quick jaunt up Kennedy’s Bush. It was a bit nippy out and I stupidly was only wearing shorts and a short sleeved top with a woolie singlet under it. The icy wind was whipping off Lake Ellesmere, so I had to work extra hard to just stay warm. We hammered up pretty quickly and I revelled in the 1 minute singletrack descent at the halfway point as usual. Further up I was distracted by the cute hairy cows again and almost feel off my bike laughing as one stumbled down a bank in front of me. It looked completely drunk! We got to the last steep climb and the sun was setting behind the Alps and the wind was really picking up. I pushed my freezing body as hard as I could, but I was just so cold. I stopped and put my extra warm Ice Queen on, but the damage was done, I was just too cold now. Didn’t quite make it to the top, but enjoyed the breath-taking sunset and then headed down out of the biting wind. It was getting quite dark now and I found it an interesting battle between the part of my brain that was saying “Oi! Slow down, it’s dark, you can’t really see the ruts” and the part of my brain that was saying “Faster, faster, faster, it’s cold, get out of the wind”. It turns out the go faster part won, it often does, and I flew down the hill, till I got back to the hairy cows. They were arrayed across the track and in the dying light the seemed much more receptive to patting. I couldn’t resist stopping and patting the cute baby cow with the floppy fringe while it’s gorgeous mum licked the salt off my leg. Of course this delay meant it was even darker by the time we got to the singletrack on the front of the hill. I was adamant I would be sensible and ride the 4wd track down but as my lovely husband zoomed down the singletrack I just had to follow him. I know this track well and really wanted to try riding it in the gloomy fading light. It was fun. I was grinning at the bottom. At fantastic ride, if only there had been more hot water when we got home.

Saturday was a stunner, if a bit blusterous. I’d checked if it was ok to ride at Living Springs and been given the go ahead so hubby and I went and picked up Rita and headed over. The track was in excellent condition, with only one really wet patch right at the very bottom of Zanes. Unfortunately I didn’t see it till too late of my first lap and end up sliding along the bank at high speed and being completely coated in mud on one side! Ooops. I daintily walked this section the next lap. My legs weren’t very happy on the climbs, apparently the previous night’s hammering at Kennedy’s had left them slightly tired so riding up the steep tractor-chewed 4wd track wasn’t super good, or to be honest, good at all. Once into the singletrack things were much better and it was beautiful climbing up the switchbacks through the trees.

The descent was completely fantastic. Lots of tight corners, flowy sections and challenging pinches. And all in the beautiful yellow glowing light. One section of track was completely covered in leaves and riding through there was magical. I really loved riding the track, in fact so much so that I was willing to take on the horrible climb a second time. The second time hurt bad going up, even the climb through the forest wasn’t fun for me this time. But it was worth it and I was grinning madly at the end. A stop at the Governor’s Bay pub on the way home for beer, wedges and cake capped off at great ride.

Ahhh, SUNday. Even better weather than Saturday, no nasty wind. Really, what I should have been doing was some sifty, flat riding to recover from the two previous high intensity days. But the hills were bathed in warm sunlight and I was aching (well I am today) to ride the tracks I’d so recently walked, Greenwood Park, Godley Head (argh!) and the beautiful Anaconda. Cunningly I planned to drive up to the top and Mt Pleasant Rd so I could ride Greenwood with my legs as fresh as possible, not very fresh it turns out. More like a bit of one day old bread that’s been left on the bench in the sun. Uh, oh. It was just me and scatter, and as we wound our way around the hill and through the rocks we were very happy. I rode better than expected and finally mastered the art of floating up rocky bits while still pedalling. There were only a few sections on Greenwood that I walked and only one pedal-into-rock-stopping-bike-suddenly incident (which was just amusing rather than painful). I loved Greenwood Park and can’t wait to ride it again. Lots of challenges, but soooo much fun.

Then we were onto the dreaded Godley Head track with its initial rocky death wall (as I call it). I was pretty tired already and knew that there would be a lot of pushing my bike up rocks. And there was, but there was also more riding my bike up rocks than expected which made me very happy. Then we were through that really tough section and out onto the flowy, and recently well armoured, sections, hooning over the boardwalks and generally having a great time. The descent back down the other side of the hill was so flowy and fast I was grinning and laughing. And then suddenly I was laughing even harder when I hit a rut at the bottom and gracefully crashed in slow motion, coming to rest on my side, fully stretched out up on my elbow as if I was reclining on a chaise longue and one foot still attached to my bike. It was hilarious, and luckily a rider coming the other way got to enjoy the spectacle I’d made of myself because a crash like that needs to be seen and enjoyed by others. He congratulated me on my grace and amusingness, which I thought was nice of him.

Then finally we were at the top of the Anaconda. This serpentine track winds down to Taylor’s Mistake and has become truly brilliant in the last couple of years. Oh, I’ve been wanting to ride this for a long time now. It was so good, the big bermed corners encouraging speed, the little groms pushing their bikes up – stunned to see two chicks riding down it at top speed, the sun and sea sparkling and then, too soon, it was over. And the ride was over and our ride was there to pick us up and take me back up to my car. Thanks Slim!

It was a fantastic weekend of pushing my skills and fitness to the limit in great company and I loved it all, even when it hurt, even when I had to lie down and eat a banana cause I couldn’t move any further and even when I stuffed up bits of track and had to walk them. I’m very glad I have yoga tonight because I’ve got aches and pains in new and exciting places and need a damn good stretching. Bring on more sunny weather!

1 comment:

CrazyChris said...

It was a truly spectacular weekend alright. Had I been in town, the Summit tracks would have been my destination (I did Hanmer instead – woot!) and I think the Greenwood track is my favourite on the hills, and the start of the Godley track is the hardest (uphill, narrow, rocky, wet). Fingers crossed for a long, warm, dry spring and summer!