Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crossmarks – Not the Ideal Wet Riding Tyre

In our shed at home we have a stock of tyres, bought when they were on sale. They are all Maxxis Crossmarks. That’s because we live in Christchurch and in Christchurch when it rains the tracks close. This means that I don’t do a lot of riding on wet tracks, maybe a splash about Bottlelake or McLeans Island, but nothing technical and certainly nothing rooty and rutty in the wet (ew eeeerr!).

Yesterday, after an evening of heavy rain, I ventured back into Redwoods to see if my legs were feeling any better after their run the previous day. I knew the tracks would be wet, but I felt hopeful that it wouldn’t be too bad after a sunny morning. Being the lazy beast I am I caught the shuttle up to the drop off point on Tawa Rd and headed straight into Huckleberry Hound. It was pretty dry and I had fun hucking my way down. Then I made the Best Decision Eva and decided to go down Corners rather than Little Red Riding Huck. Cornering is one of my favourite things so I felt I couldn’t go wrong with a track called Corners. It was absolutely fantastic. For Canterbury locals think Yankee Zephyr to the power of 10, without that horrid climb to get there (if you’re shuttling). Corner after perfectly formed corner caught my skittish tyres and guided them safely onto the next one. The track was a little wet (as it was my first run I actually thought it was pretty wet, but was proved wrong by my later explorations of the forest). All I could think on the way down was how great this track is and how I want to ride it in the dry. If it is the only thing I ride today when I drag myself out of bed I’ll be happy.

Corners conveniently drops you back at the shuttle pick up and I caught the last shuttle of the day back up to the top. I asked some Aussies who’d ridden the top tracks earlier what they were like and they assured me I’d “be fine” on them. Which was a nice compliment considering they’d never seen me ride. Spinning up to the start of Billy T my legs and lungs actually felt pretty damn good, and soon I was into the track and sliding all over the place. It was wet. I had zero traction. But it was still super fun. Sure I was going a lot slower than the previous day, but because control was tentative at best it was still thrilling. There were a few dabs and unplanned stops, but no crashes so all in all it was a success. I quickly decided that riding the tracks in the wet on Crossmarks adds 1 to the grading of the tracks.

Now I was off into unfamiliar territory and into G Rock. It was plenty wet, with large soak holes and deep wet chutes. It was in one of these chutes that I had a very minor crash where my front wheel clipped one wall of the chute and then wedged itself firmly in the opposite wall, forming a wheel dam in the chute. I gracefully tumbled onto the bank and thought I had just applied an extra layer of mud to my leg. I had forgotten about the cheese-grater nature of the Rotorua’s volcanic dirt and soon the mud was leaking red. ALWAYS wear your knee high socks when riding in the wet.

Soon after this little mishap I was out of G Rock and taking the relatively straightforward Chesnut Link into Rollercoaster, riding an upper section I hadn’t ridden before. All started well and then I came to a wide section that was a deadly looking rut fest to the left and what appeared to be a smooth line to the right. I rolled slowly into the right and saw that my smooth line dropped straight down before levelling out a bit. It dropped away so quickly that I couldn’t bail and ended up riding down it, sure I was going to die at any second. When I safely reached the bottom I was shouting and giggling like a mad person amazed I’d escaped serious injury and stoked to have ridden something so full on in the wet.

The rest of Rollercoast was a slippy slidey mess, but I found the little pinches way easier, which pleased me greatly.

Then it was onto Old Chevy. This is a great track, lots of climbing, rewarded with fun fast descents (well they would be in the dry), choices between challenging and less challenging lines in places, and long. Very very long. Everythime I thought I was getting close to the end I’d find myself climbing back over a ridge and heading deeper into the forest again. I began to wonder if I was lost. On I pedalled, loving how well my legs were responding to this challenge and then came my second crash of the day. Down a steep and unusually rocky section into a tight wet right hander. Unfortunately there was a bloody great stone in the middle of the track and I chose the wrong side of the stone to head down, straight into a wet patch and slidey slide slide. A tiny amount more gravel rash and I was kicking myself for not taking the rocky high line, after all, I know how to ride rocks. Finally Old Chevy popped me out at the entrance to Yellow Brick Road and I couldn’t resist heading into it. Mellow and windy, it had gentle climbs and descents and a back ground soundtrack from the Wizard of Oz provided by my slightly energy starved brain. Good times.

It was a great ride and restored my severely dented faith in my fitness and then to top off a great day’s riding, and an awesome 7 years since my wonderful husband and I got together, we found a fantastic Mexican restaurant and I got to quench my hunger on an epic burrito, and drink delicious cocktails. The burrito was so huge that I had to share it much to my hubby’s delight. And now today it is sunny. Oh yeah.

And here is the view of my monster getting a little snuggly on our return.

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