Monday, October 31, 2011

18 months is too long to be away from Hanmer

Luckily there is a silver lining to being away for so long and that is being blown away by the awesomeness of the trail development that has gone on in that time. Hubby and I were lucky enough to spend a couple of days there before Labour Weekend. Unfortunately when we arrived it was pouring with rain and trying very hard to snow. This meant I was slightly apprehensive about the state of the tracks the next morning when I headed out for a "quick ride".

Snowing hilltops from Red Rocks
I had all the intentions of just sifting along a couple of the easy tracks and then meeting up with my hubby in the afternoon to do some more. It turns out that my lack of self-control extends to not being able to stop riding when faced with such a brilliant array of singletrack goodness. The first thing I noticed as I zipped along Easy Rider was the profusion of excellent signage. And although this track was a little puddly in places, overall it was pretty dry considering the previous day's deluge.
Ahhh, the view from the top of the road is lovely

Soon I was crossing the road and heading up Mach 1. Last time I rode this track it was a nice little climb with some nice corners and lots of wee stumps in the ground. My how it has changed. The deadly little stumps are almost completely gone and the track has been extended massively. No longer do you pop out on the forestry road and have to slog up to dog stream. Now you cross over the road and continue on lovely forested singletrack right into the Larches Picnic area. Then you're on either Dog Stream (as I was) or for those who like a climb, heading up Joliffe Track.
Swamp Track has some lovely corners...

Having enjoyed Mach 1 so much I decided I wanted to ride Red Rocks and being a little on the unfit side (cough, cough, very unfit) I decide a gentle cruise up the forestry road was in order. Once a Red Rocks I had a gorgeous view of the snow blanketing the hills around me. The climb up Red Rocks knocked my lungs about a bit, as usual, but was so worth it for the fun, slightly slippery and a bit technical descent. I was grinning like a loon at the bottom and hungering for more single track.

.... and some amazing drainage. Seen in full action here.
Back on the road I saw a sign pointing to a track I'd never seen before, Western Link. Yay! Exploring new track for the first time is fun. This was a fairly fast, flowy, straight forward track through the trees which cut out the road and deposited me at the base of Timberlands (now a walking track, yay), Swamp Track and Swoop. I investigated Swoop for a bit, but as I suspected it would be better going the other way. Onto Swamp track and it was a fun, gentle climb with so great corners and amazing drainage. In fact water was pouring off the side of the hill and the track was perfectly dry. I stopped a couple of times to clear the drains and help some little puddles drain. I just want to say to the Hanmer Trail Pixies -- you guys rock!

My favourite Hanmer track
Swamp Track dumped me out near the top of Swoop and within sight of Yankee Zephyr. Ahh, Yankee Zephyr, too good to resist. Tank track has been logged so a nasty road climb followed and then I was on the wet forested part of YZ. It was gorgeous and then I was out on the hill side and speeding down the gully. Such sweet perfect corners, such fun, so much smiling.

A little bit of water in this stream on YZ
So I ended up riding almost everything instead of a little pootle. Luckily the amazing new hydrotherapy pool at the hot pools pummeled the pain out of my legs. A great trip to Hanmer and I cannot wait to go back.

Back in Christchurch I decided last week to attempt Worsley's for the first time. But that is a story for later, like tomorrow.

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