Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Trig or treat

For the second time in a week, we ventured out into the unknown to forge new frontiers and discover new (to us) trails for the betterment of our biking souls. This time it was to Belmont Regional Park, some of which I'd ridden, but the majority remaining untouched by my tyres. Mike, Josh and I loaded up the Laser and the Subie and made a short drive to Petone, parked the cars that no-one would ever want to steal, and armed with a map I'd downloaded this morning headed into the hills.
The first part of the ride was along nice, smooth, flat singletrack to Korokoro Dam, bypassing the turn-off to Baked Beans Bend on my advice, at first met with consternation but later applauded by the masses.

This was a common sight for most of the ride, checking and re-checking the map and then on a wing and a prayer we'd proceed. Once I had control of the map again things were looking up.

We thought about our comrade Aidan (Nuts) up in Rotorua, and although he wasn't with us in body, somehow we felt he was there in spirit...

Arriving at a junction at the bottom of Old Coach Road, we took the left option, which resulted in a granny-gear/achilles-stretching-push up the bridleway, with some good views near the top, but not much else going for it. All part of the adventure though... (you can see the climb up to the Trig in the background)

The sky turned a bit nasty as we neared the airstrip (I wouldn't want to be on a plane landing up there) and only Josh had extra clothing... me and Mike hatched a plot to steal his jacket and eat him if things got desperate.

After about an hour of climbing grassy paddocks, then descending gravel road, then more grassy climbs, we were pointing back downhill when we happened upon what may or may not have been a trail called Danzig, which was one of the catalysts for our journey.

Whatever it was called, it was good, and it's amazing how some flowing, twisting singletrack can wash away the pain of climbing so quickly and completely.

At the end of the singletrack, we were back on familiar ground, where earlier we had decided to go left instead of right, and now another decision was to be made... do we go back along the road, or climb up to Belmont Trig? We could see the trail up to the top, and flashbacks of the Tip Track were foremost in our minds. We toughened up and bit the bullet and it was time to abuse our grannys.

The climb wasn't anywhere as bad as the Tip Track though, but still a nasty grunt, and I walked a couple of steep sections while the other two rode the whole thing... good on them!

Once again the pain of the climb was well worth the effort, as my map-reading skills pointed us along the Horokiwi Bridleway, and down, down, down a slippery, technical in places fenceline singletrack. Next thing we knew we were on the Baked Beans trail, with lots of stream crossing, roots, little pinches and some good fun all round... then it was back onto the Korokoro Strean track for some high-speed fun back to the car just as the storm was starting to get into full swing. As we drove off, we wondered what happened to the guy and his elderly mother we saw up the trail a bit, with a decent walk out ahead of them.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tipped off

For some strange reason I had the idea that it would be good to ride the Tip Track today, and now I know why I hadn't ridden it since the first time; it sucks.
Look at that bastard... it's straight into granny gear at the bottom gate, and some sections I decided that it was just as fast to walk as it was to try and keep the front wheel on the ground and maintain traction with the rear. As I was timing myself I kept slogging away, and from gate to tar at the top it took a hair over 30 minutes. Not too bad, not too good, but I'm in no hurry to try and bring the time down.

At the summit I met Andy from Nottingham, UK, and after a chat while he fixed his puncture, we headed over to Deliverance, using the alternative entrance which is pretty techy and tricky.

Andy rides this sweet Cove Hummer, TI hardtail decked out in Hope bits (brakes, headset, hubs) and a Pace carbon fork.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wet wet wet

What a shite 'band' they were.... anyway, I digress. U.S.-D.4, the finale, was run (swum?) on Wainui's Spoon Hill yesterday. Conditions were sloppy at best, and because I don't like cleaning my bike and with the prospect of carnage in the offing, I took the soft option and snapped a few pics. But seeing the way the guys handled the soap-like steeps made me wish I was racing with them.

Shiny, crappy people.

Tryfan nailed it for the win, putting his home-ground advantage to good use.

Callum hits hyperdrive and gets 'pic of the day.'

Will looks like he's in trouble, but made it easily on his hardtail.

Wellington's fastest Pommy downhilling rigid singlespeeder, Jim.

Caleb floats like a stone doesn't.

This guy decides that tree doesn't belong there...

Evidence (albeit blurry) of Ricky re-mounting after WALKING a section....

Aidan introduces his face to the Wainui flora after being startled by the Grim Reaper at the side of the track.

Aaron thought the crowd was screaming his name, but it was just someone saying "awwright".

Eyes on the prize... better than anything you get at a 'real' race.

The podium was pure class...

Until these guys got on it!

Hadley uses his preferred double-handed grip.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wainui? Wainot!

For months I've been wanting to get out to Wainuiomata to check out the new trails which are being built and which I'd read lots about in mags and on the web. But as none of my riding cronies knew where the trails were, we'd been sticking around Makara, Mt. Vic and all points in between. While we were at work on Sunday, Josh got a call from Carl who claimed some prior (read years ago) knowledge of roughly where to go, and we were off.
Armed only with a map downloaded from the net and an unwavering confidence in Carl's ability to read it, Josh, Bryce and I trailed Carl into the wild, windy Wainui hills.

The first part was nice, smooth trails with rolling climbs, nothing too spectacular or challenging though.

But the views back over the harbour were great, there's always spectacular scenery to be had on any ride around Wellington.

By the time we got to this point the trails had become a lot more technical, with myriads of roots and leaf mulch covering the twisty, undulating singletrack. We were too busy grunting our bikes up, down and around the trail to get any pics, and we were working hard for our money (Carl's doing a story for NZMTB mag on the trails).

Carl snapped these couple of pics of Bryce and me pulling some roots manuva's.

After the awesome singletrack of the Rata Ridge trail (twisty, flowing, rooty, drops, the lot) we nailed some long downhill fireroad and then transitioned along the road to the bottom of Spoon Hill, site for this weeks underground super d (you didn't hear that from me). At the top we turned around and nailed it back down, a real blast. Then some climbing up the road to the entrance of the new trail network... Tryfan and his crew have done an amazing job of creating another gem of a system, with perfectly flowing gradual climbs and just right switchbacks. We climbed to the top of the Labyrinth trail, then pointed our bikes and now tired selves back down it towards the cars, all of us singing the praises of the trails and Carl's ability to not get us lost.

With the sun setting on a great ride, the only thing to do was get fish n chips, and we found a great little shop in Petone called Go Fish, check it out, they do great food. Driving back into Wellington the sunset was pretty cool, and I thought to myself that it doesn't get much better for a mountain biker anywhere in the world.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Race of the Dead

Underground Super D 3 was (yes, was, I can't do the clandestine thing anymore) a spirited affair, starting at the top of Johnson's Hill, and finishing in the cemetery at the bottom, in the dead centre of Wilton.

Drake, downhill dog extrordinaire. He put in a pretty good time too, beating most of the field (following Hadley will do that).

Downhillers love a climb....

Much worse carrying bikes up this than riding back down it.

Stairs not enough challenge? Chuck in a fence for good measure.

Who said these races were pointless?

Caleb had to get home before his wife put him in an early grave.

Hadley was cruising down the tar, saw the camera and deployed the 'attack position'.

Ghost on the machine. Aidan got spooked on the next corner and almost ended up eating tombstone.

Ricky imitating Hadley. Not quite well enough though, but still good for second.

Paul took the wrong line down this section, completely stuffing up my photo opportunity... thanks Paul.

I got a "cheers mate" from this guy, probably sarcastically after blinding him with flash.

Mike The Hippy buries it into a corner.

Stellaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh! The 'Mexican Tui' was mostly neglected in favour of the Belgian brew, not surprisingly.