Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hanmer delivers a new love affair

Four days in Hanmer riding bikes and talking bollocks over good wine, what a way to start the week. Hubby and I and a couple of mates headed up to Hanmer Springs on Sunday afternoon and met up with insane winds. We all settled into our lovely wee house and watched the wind tear the gorgeous autumn foliage off the trees and send the leaves spiralling round the garden. We all agree that riding in a forest in that wind would not be the best plan so we headed to the pub. The rest of the day was spent eating, drinking and telling ridiculous stories.

We woke the next day feeling slightly fuzzy in the head with a combination of over indulgence the previous evening and a night of sleep interrupted by various bangs and thumps caused by the wind. Luckily the wind had blown itself out and it was a pleasant if overcast day. The day started well initially with some practice hucking off the deck. I was very happy with my progress on this front and later in the day my new found confidence came in handy. We all agreed to a gentle start zooming around the flat Forest Cruiser tracks and taking it from there. Unfortunately these plans came to an abrupt halt after a nasty head vs. post incident which meant hubby and I had to go into town and get a new helmet. Luckily, the lovely Neil at Krank came to our rescue and hubby’s brain was once more fully protected from harm. Neil also filled us in on the new track and how the forest was riding. We headed back to our little house and I left hubby to nurse his headache while I went for a blast through the forest, retracing some of the fantastic 4hr course. Through the forest, and I was flying at race pace. It was gorgeous in the trees with all the foliage in yellows, oranges and reds. The track was often obscured by the fresh leaf fall from the previous day’s strong winds, which made some of the corners even more exciting fun. Soon I was crossing the road and heading up the twists and turns of Mack 1. I think I actually enjoy this track more going up than down now! It really is a lovely wee climb. From there it was up the road to Larches Picnic area and down Dog Stream. I was humming along, zig- zagging between the rocks when I heard a nasty tearing noise. I slowed slightly in preparation for all the air to evacuate my back wheel, but nothing happened so I continued on and forgot about it. Onto Jolliffe Rd and up I headed, gently spinning and enjoying the lovely day. Soon I was at the skidder site and heading into Red Rocks. As usual the Anthem climbed like a dream up the steeper sections of the climb and I was feeling great at the top. I started heading down the dry track and noticed I was bouncing around a fair bit over the little drops and realised I hadn’t unlocked my front or rear suspension. D’oh! Quickly flicking the two switches on a flattish piece of track and I was soon zooming down the hill, loving every second of the descent, which has become a wee bit rutty. This just makes it all the more fun though. All too soon I was at the bottom and hopping my bike round 180° when I over balanced and took a nice big chunk of skin off my knee. Typical behaviour from me. Get through all the technical, potentially dangerous stuff and then fall off when I’m barely moving.

After lunch back at the house and cleaning up my knee, hubby and I headed out again. This time I took my Jamis as we were going to explore the new track Yankee Zephyr, plus hit Tank Track and a C-Line which have a bit more gnarl than I’m comfortable handling on my Anthem. We headed through town and up Clarence River Rd to Flax Gully and I was quickly reminded that the Jamis doesn’t like to go up hill. She’s such a fatty, and it was such hard work heading up the gravel road that I almost regretted bringing her. As we entered Flax Gully this was soon whipped away as we hit two lovely jumps and the Jamis soared through the air. Fun times. I ground my way up the rest of the track and soon we were at the skidder site, looking out across the barren, logged hillside. We could see Yankee Zephyr winding down and it looked great. Unfortunately it also looked like a nasty steep climb to get up to it, and it was. Also, we took the less scenic, more horrid climbing route to get to it and at one point I even had to push my fat girl for a bit. I haven’t had to do that in aaaaages!

It was oh so worth it! A little bit of singletrack climbing and we were standing on the edge of a steep bank, looking down at a narrow track that dropped away sharply and then started flowing through a seemingly endless series of berms which made perfect use of the gully below us. Down we went and soon there were little jumps off old stumps and drainage ditches to be hucked. The corners were all beautifully formed and once in the gully the fun really began with the need for pedalling and brakes removed by the track layout where you’d drop off one corner into the gully, and swoop up the other side to enter the next corner. This went on for at least 7 or 8 sets of corners until you are spat out on the road grinning from ear to ear and ready to head up the hill and try it again. Unfortunately for me my legs weren’t ready for that so we headed up another hill to Tank Track. On the way up the most ghastly steep bit of 4wd track we found the true entrance to Yankee Zephyr which cuts through some gorgeous old growth forest making the climb much more fun.

I made it to the start of Tank Track wheezing like an old woman in a poorly heated house in Southland. I had a quick look down the track and was glad to have my beloved fatty with me. Soon I was bouncing down big roots and over drops without a care in the world, whooping and laughing. Tank Track was good, but over way too quickly. It’s narrow and twisting through old growth forest and the track is criss-crossed by plenty of slippy roots which make for fun drops in many places. It was the first time I’ve ridden that track and I’m keen for more. Unfortunately on that day I wasn’t keen for more climbing so I watched as hubby powered up the hill for another lap of Yankee Zephyr, before we headed down Swoop, and Majuba and I headed home. A great day’s riding.

The next day threatened showers and I woke feeling very tired and unrested. It was a struggle to pull myself out of the warm bed and my upper body had that familiar aching in the shoulders and chest. Too many hucks the previous day maybe? All four of us decided to head out on the Jack’s Pass – Jollies’ Pass loop. As we climbed Clarence River Rd again I felt flat and uninspired to ride and then it started drizzling. Blah. The boys waited for us slower girls where the road meets the forestry road a short way up. The drizzle was fairly persistent now and hubby decided he wanted to ride the singletrack while it was still dry. Our friends continued on up the Pass and hubby and I headed to the correct entrance to Yankee Zephyr and I discovered I had a flat tyre. While searching for the source of my puncture I also discovered I had very neatly sliced my sidewall the previous day when rock hopping down Dog Stream. Luckily my tyre was about due for replacement so it wasn’t the end of the world. Both hubby and I were a bit grumpy after the tyre fixing and I realised I needed more sleep. Luckily the fantasticness of Yankee Zephyr took the edge off. We headed back to the wee house after that and I had a nap.

That night we rewarded ourselves with a trip to the hot pools, which despite the 60 primary school children who invaded the place just after we went in, was lovely. It was a chilly night, with almost a full moon and plenty of puffy clouds skudding across the sky. The warm, healing waters soaked into my aching shoulders, chest and elbow and all was right in the world. After a long long soak we returned to the wee house for night caps of delicious Black Ridge pinot noir.
The next morning we cleaned up the house and packed away our mountain of provisions. We’d all bought enough stuff with us to be staying a month so it took a couple of hours to get ready. Hubby decided he wanted to tackle Jacks-Jollies before we left and I decided I wanted to tackle mini golf. That worked out well so I headed off with our friends while hubby blasted up the pass. The mini golf was hilarious, and I was glad to improve on my shocking 96 from the last time I’d played this course. My putting prowess was much improved this round and I finished with a respectable 54. I bade goodbye to our friends and headed off to the forest to get a quick blast in before hubby returned from his ride. Unfortunately I’d only been going for 5 minutes when he called to say he was in town, speedy bugger!

It was a great trip and although I didn’t get as much riding in as I would have liked I was really happy with how my injuries held up to the fun singletrack. In complete contradiction to what my physio said, my osteo has said I should keep riding. I’m going to see how I feel after this weekend’s Singletrack Fiesta!

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