Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A little Getaway

With all the house madness recently hubby and I were very happy to be heading north on Sunday to the lovely Hanmer Springs and some much needed riding together on lovely singletrack. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we got on the road by lunchtime, both happy to be leaving the city behind. It was scorching in the air-conditioningless car so windows were down and I drifted off to sleep, dreaming of downhill bikes. I was woken rudely by Pete’s exclamation of “Bloody hell” and soon saw what he was talking about. Ahead of us the hills were on fire and I made my first ever 111 call. Luckily the fire service already knew about the blaze and were on their way.

After dumping our stuff at our little cabin outside Hanmer we headed to the forest and decided to ride a lap of the proposed Hammerhead course. The whole first section is 4wd track climbing and I quickly discovered I wasn’t feeling very strong and the heat was making me grumpy. The fact that I hadn’t really eaten anything useful added to this and after heading the wrong way up Tank Track I had a wee rest in the shade and ate some muesli bar. Feeling greatly rejuvenated, we then headed over to Swoop which was fantastic and flowing, fast with some nice little technical-ish bits, then down Majuba, fantastic, and then back up to my most hated trail Timberlands. I managed to ride the whole thing without stopping once, but I still hated it. Then up to Red Rocks. I stuffed up the rocky pinch just before the top and flailed around like a fish out of water at the top over the rocks. The Anthem was very twitchy and I didn’t want to leak any blood on this ride. Down Red Rocks was fantastic, but the cool rock berm that I rode last time I was here completely psyched me out on the anthem as it looked a lot more cut up. Further down Red Rocks and a clay bog claimed Pete, which was amusing to watch, but I was glad I hadn’t ridden into it. After tip toeing through we continued on down to Dog Stream, then blasted down the road to Mach 1. I fluffed the first switchback, which annoyed me a lot, but decide to concentrate harder on the rest and they were sweet. Mach 1 flowed nicely and then we decided to quickly dash up the road, well Pete quickly dashed up the road, I slowly spun, to Black Dog for a fun but rut riddled blast down to the Forest Camp and Camp track.

The course seems really fun, with all of horrible climbing in the first half at the start of the lap and plenty of recovery before the singletrack climbs up Timberlands and Red Rocks. We called into Krank to find out about the new track that might be included and it sounds like it might be that old favourite Yankee Zypher. It was a great ride and the Anthem held its own, but was not as grin inducing as the Jamis. It was more nervous giggle inducing.

After a terrible night’s sleep we were up bright and early, Pete to fix his brake and gear cable issues, and me to lie about in the sun watching Pete fix his brake and gear cable issues and then getting him to fix mine. Once that was done Pete was showing off doing wheelies, which I’ve always struggle with. I thought I’d give it a go on my Anthem with its very different geometry. I was wearing very appropriate footwear, fluffy slippers that are a size to big, so it was rather amusing. Despite this slight handicap I found getting the front wheel of the Anthem off the ground was rather easy compared to my other bikes and with a bit more practise I think I could be wheelie-ing like a pro! Well maybe not, but I should be able to do them much better. This encouraged me to try riding up the wee rock wall outside the cabin and that went very well. Then it was time to head off on our ride of the day.

The Twin Passes! Up Jacks Pass, with just over 500m of climbing. It was very hot and still and very dusty with plenty of people heading back into Hanmer down the metalled road. Surprisingly my legs didn’t hate me too much and the climb wasn’t too horrific once we got past some of the nasty steep bits near the bottom. I did have to stop at one point to dunk my head under a little waterfall because I was overheating in the sun, but after that it was all good. I was very happy to make it to the top and enjoy the stunning views on all sides and a delicious bacon sandwich.

We also spotted that rare and elusive mountain creature, the wild lime green jandal. It was basking in the warm sun and taking in the beautiful view all around it. Then it was time to fly down the other side. The sun was starting to succumb to the clouds that were rolling in so we decided that loitering unnecessarily wouldn’t be a good idea. Down the other side and into Molesworth Station’s boundaries we flew, enjoying the stunning scenery. I know a lot of people who don’t like riding on metalled roads, they hunger for technical challenges and something more interesting to their riding. I like that too, but I do love riding along a deserted dirt road surrounded by mountains or plains or rivers or lakes or the sea or whatever. When you’re rolling along you can take in the grandeur of your surroundings and share conversation with your riding companion. I loved this ride, I was with my husband and the countryside rewarded us with a splendid show of light and nature.

Then we were at the intersection with Jollies Pass Rd and I was remembering how horrific I felt last time I was there. Luckily I didn’t feel quite so shocking on this ride, but I was pretty hammered from the big climb. The climb up Jollies was significantly shorter and easier than I remembered, which wasn’t too surprising, and then it was the fun blast down the gravel road. I focussed on keeping my weight going through my front wheel and really forcing it down into the road. It was tiring on my arms, but I had heaps of control and was able to blast as fast as I would have on my bigger bike. On the way down we found the entrance to Threshold and I decided I wasn’t interested in more climbing so continued down to find it’s exit while Pete went up to ride it. I’m very glad I didn’t bother as Pete found it a hard climb with a pretty tricky descent full of switchbacks with root drops, pinch climbs and not much flow. I found a strange trio of animal skulls to keep me entertained while I waited. Then it was down the road and off to the pub for a well earned drink. With all of the side trips and it was about 2hours 20 riding over about 28kms.

Once back at the camp I decided that I wanted to learn to huck off the step properly. It looked way too high to roll off and freaked me out when I rolled into it. So Pete showed me how he did it and then I practiced that on the wee low bit of wall I had been riding up. Round and round I went till I felt like I could land with both wheel simultaneously, rather than my usual trick of landing front wheel first. It was tricky getting the front to come up enough without then lifting the back, which I didn’t even know I could do until I didn’t want to do it. Then it was time for the “big” step. My first attempt showed me that landing front wheel first was fine, muppet. Then I got it. I’m really rather stoked with this achievement and need to find somewhere safe to try it with my big bike and then I’ll be ready to huck of bigger things!

Tune in tomorrow for an AMAZING vid of my mad core skillz*

*Note: this statement may contain traces of sarcasm.

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