Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dirty Ditty

All is right with the world. Yep, I'm finally back on the dirt at last. My first off-road ride in four months was up Transient and Highbury Fling, then back down again. Of course I love my road riding, but I've really been hanging out to go bush so once under the canopy I stopped to breathe in the atmosphere of the damp air and the moist trees.

The last time I rode up these cool trails the bridge was still under construction, so it was grouse to ride the completed span.

Once over the bridge I was riding on Terra Incognito, at least as far as I was concerned. The hard-working trailbuilders who have put their heart and souls into crafting this great track must know every inch of it...

Every now and then the trees open up to frame a view of the City.

With only a limited time for a ride I had planned to only go as far as the end of Highbury Fling, but truth be told I was so fragged at this point I was glad to turn around anyway - I'd forgotten how much more physically draining riding the MTB is compared to bumbling around the Bays of a sunny day!

As the rain clears another view opens up, looking towards Northland and past Te Ahumairangi to Skyline.

In my fervent desire to hit the dirt I hadn't considered that the newer parts of the trail might not be up for riding after several days of sustained rain...

...but the builders have been doing their best to protect the trails against the vagaries of weather and wheels. On the whole the trail was well drained and coping well, with just a few boggy bits to be sorted.

Not much fauna today, but some interesting flora including copious amounts of these odd fungi.

The downhill run was a massive hoot, but before long I was back on Aro St and heading home.

The week continued with all the usual demands of daily life and no more time to ride, but Sunday afternoon Bodhi and I saddled up and headed around Red Rocks via Pariwhero to the distant Devil's Gate.

We did cheat a bit by driving to Owhiro Bay, but with this being Bodhi's first proper off-road ride on a solo bike - we've ridden around here a couple of times on the trailer bike - I figured it was going to be plenty of distance as it was without adding the ride from and to home to the deal. By the time I'd unloaded the bikes Bo was certainly keen to ride!

It was busy day on the South Coast. We only saw a couple of cyclists but there were sure plenty of walkers out.

The first stream crossing was a bit of a hurdle to contend with. I rode through ok, but had to carry Bo's bike across while he searched for a place to jump across.

The next obstacle was the sandier sections of the road. Bodhi rode really well, although he did have to walk a couple of the deeper drifts...

...and eventually one caught him out, resulting in his first crash of the day. Luckily he took it with great good humour, as there would be more before the day was out.

Looking back along the way we came towards Island Bay and Taputeranga itself, then over to Baring Head, the Rimutakas and as far as the Aorangi Range.

Bodhi was really digging having carte blanche to get muddy - I'm fairly sure he hit up every single puddle, despite my dire prognostications about him possibly disappearing into a man-sized hole.

When we set out there was no wind to speak of, but I became aware that the clouds that had been sitting still atop the cliffs were now on the move. This would mean a headwind ride back to the car, but we decided to press on regardless.

Ah, a ride with my boy. Life just doesn't get any better than this.

After the initial reluctance to ride the creeks, Bodhi's puddle experience now meant he had conquered his fears. He watched the line I took then followed with admirable commitment to the task...

...although his little legs didn't quite give him enough power to push through.

Despite now having freezing wet feet his good spirits were to the fore again, and he again laughed off this minor stumble.

Another spectacular view looking back east, as the Manly ferry cuts its way to Circular Quay.

The Devil's Gate looms up out of the cold shadows. Bodhi was determined to clean this tricky liitle pinch climb, and the tough little blighter very nearly did!

What a cool cat.

Great to be on the CX rig again. It's ideally suited to a ride like this, although it can handle much gnarlier trails too. Several walkers commented on me riding a "road bike" on such unsuited terrain and, enjoying the hardman mystique I imagined I was creating, I didn't disabuse any of them of the notion.

Beautiful views of the South Island are framed by the jagged teeth of the South Coast's shipwrecking rocks, as the itinerant seal population sun themselves in the fading light.

A closer shot of one of the many chilled out seals.

With the sun rapidly going down we decided it was time to head back.

One more gutsy attempt at crossing the creek sadly ended in wet feet again.

I love ships... Bodhi loves puddles.

He was getting tired now. The headwind was strong now, the crashes were wearing him down, his wet shoes kept slipping off his pedals and the fact that this was by far the furthest he'd ever ridden meant life was getting pretty tough. But even though the smile was fading there was no way he'd let me push him or his bike.

And anyway, there were still puddles to be owned.

As the sun set behind clouds luridly lit by volcanic ash from the eruption of Chile's Puyehue-Cordón Caulle we came to the end of what was for Bodhi an epic ride, and for me one of those ones that I'll always cherish. The only thing I like better than riding is riding with my sons. I was very proud of Bodhi for handling a tough eight kilometre ride as his first proper MTB ride, and the way he coped with the adversities of crashes, dunkings and headwinds made me very proud indeed. Great effort, boy.

Late one afternoon this week I temporarily ditched my familial obligations and head out for another MTB ride. Having not ridden at Makara Peak for longer than I care to remember I chucked the Commencal on the Subie and zipped up to K-Town, parked up and headed up Koru and Sally Alley as far as the entrance to Missing Link.

My original plan was to ride to the Summit, but the demands of the trails so far had put me firmly in the box - even though these trails are theoretically only easy and intermediate respectively, they are still challenging enough when unfit and I was being found out majorly. When you can't go fast you have no momentum, and every little pinch or rocky outcrop saps your strength, plus I have been finding the more dynamic physical demands of mountainbiking over road riding quite wearing on my still repairing core. I decided to err on the side of softness and head back down...after a lengthy breather to admire the stunning views, that is.

My advice, gentle readers, is to not attempt self pics while riding down mildly technical trails such as Ridgeline Extension lest one nearly axes oneself. The similar shot taken on Transient I had stopped and carefully posed, but stupidly I tried this one while still awheel - luckily I somehow managed to steer the bike back on trail, not drop my camera and not die horribly.

The volcanic dust in the atmosphere was lingering and creating some beautiful colours in the sky that my $90 camera can't possibly convey.

I cast the occasional forlorn glance up at the Peak. So near yet still so far away. Soon though, soon.

Even though I had to abandon my lovely bike for months on end to the dank depths of the Brooke-White basement, my love for her remained undimmed. Nice to be straddling her once more.

Rather than the more techy aspects of Swigg and Starfish I opted instead for the straight speed of a run down Lazy Fern. This is a trail that I know very well and always relish opening up the throttle on.

Near the bottom after a fast and clean run I stopped for one more chance to absorb the feel of the bush - the evening birdsong chorus was in full effect too.

Just enough light to load the bike onto the car by, then it was off to imbibe of a well-earned ale or two.

It's so good to be riding the trails again I can't believe it. The only problem now is that every time I have a chance to ride I am back to wasting 20 minutes vacillating between road, MTB and CX bikes before I can make a choice!

Until next time, thanks for reading.


sifter said...

What a wonderful dilemma to have bro!

Well done to Bodhi - I was starting to feel the bite of that headwind sitting here at my computer.

PS: taking photos while MTBing is almost as dumb as changing gears with the wrong hand while talking on a cell phone during a race... Actually, strike that - it's way less dumb...!!!

Oli Brooke-White said...

It's only less dumb because I didn't crash, otherwise it's about equal I reckon.

Thanks as always for the kind words, bro.

Anonymous said...

Love the write up.. and the Paul Kelly reference!

Oli Brooke-White said...

Cheers! But it's Aussie Crawl not Paul Kelly. The quote is a link to the video - check it out, it's a fantastic song...

Anonymous said...

It is bad!! but PK also does an outstanding version..