Saturday, March 12, 2011

The end?

Once again I'm sat listening to Dire Straits, watching clouds scud past the Wellington skyline, sat in thee sun on my balcony.  This time however I'm quite ill (or rather I'm a little ill, but being a massive wuss), and having taken all the painkillers I reasonably can to dispel the aches in (what feels like) every joint in my body, I have reverted to red wine.  I stopped drinking this week, but will have to start that off again tomorrow.

So, onto the (hopefully) end of my story telling. 

The rest of our second day on the St. James saw us ride a lot of stunning trail.  Although not overly technical most of the time, being fully loaded definitely meant you had to keep your wits about you.  I will do the same thing as I did last time and just comment on some photos (not out of laziness, but more because I have said everything I reasonably can).

The widest the trail got until the end of St. James.  Photo: Owen Hughes
There were some pretty cool bridges, this one had been rebuilt pretty recently.  Bit of a pointless crossing mind, but the descent down to it (and the hut preceding it) was the best bit of riding out there; you could really let it rip and get some real speed up! Photo: Owen Hughes
Just a cool view.  Most of the trails this day looked like this, thin and little used. Photo: Owen Hughes
More of that buff singletrack.  I hope not too many people ride it and it stay like this. Photo: Andy King
Sitting down for lunch on the 'trail'.  Not many places you can do that! Photo: Andy King
The only other large creatures we saw were these wild ponies whilst we straight-lined some frustrating climbing zig-zags leading over the bluff behind.  The climb was largely unridable without taking large risks, so we didn't!  For once, it's one of my photos.
The view back from the top of that bluff. 
The descent off Jack's Pass into Hanmer.  If you can spot Owen you're doing well.  We got up to the top and had a little KOM sprint, I went early, but was blown early only to have Andy and Owen smash past me.  Thankfully, I had something left and spun past them before the top.  The racer in me couldn't let go.
So with that, we made it all the way to Hanmer.  Another long but enjoyable day in the saddle.  We were all gagging for a pint by this point, but went and found our accommodation first, a holiday home Owen had booked for us.  This turned out to be pretty perfect, our own rooms again, cooking and washing facilities, and downhill all the way to the pub; which is where we went as soon as we had got some fresh clothes on (and probably had a nap knowing us).  First pint necked, second pint sipped, half an hour later I realised that I had made a mistake, chatting rubbish for quite a while.

We planned to ride some of Hanmer's trails the next day and got up in a leisurely fashion anticipating another day of stunning weather and some good fun riding.  Eventually we got out on the bikes and up the hill.  However on riding the first trail as a 3 we managed to exit it without Owen.  He had carried on the trail whilst me, riding blindly up the front, had exited early.  Lots of shouting, and behaving rather like ships in fog ensued, but to no avail, Owen was lost.  In the end we all went our separate ways, Owen did his own thing for the rest of the day, Andy went home to wait for him and I went out riding on the pretense of searching for him.  Andy got out later in the day once Owen had come back and gone again, but all riding was done solo today which led to some nice stories of our different takes on the same trails.  Hanmer is definitely worth having a bike for, there are some great trails there that have taken a lot of work.

More pubage that night in preparation for our monster road day the day after.  The 134km ride to Chrsitchurch saw us on the road the whole way, but there were some cool rocks on the way to amuse me, and a nice cafe on SH1 for some coffee, lunch and a place to sit and decide how long we wanted to spend on SH1.  We managed to get lucky and had a tailwind the whole way, so where spinning out our single rings quite often on the flat/slight descents on the long dull straights.  When we did make it to Christchurch (sooner than we had expected thanks to be aforementioned tail wind) we went straight to R and R and met up with Mikheal (sp) who is the mechanic there and friends with Owen and Andy from his time in Wellington.  We ditched our bikes there and found a pub for chips (salt and carbs) and beer (general fluids).  This was Friday, my national race was the next day at 2pm.  Perfect prep.

I then said my goodbyes to the boys and went off to find my (cheeky) accommodation that I had managed to blag last minute with Gav McCarthy and Emma Johnston (Gav is a very good racer from Upper Hutt, and Emma is also a very handy racer from Dunedin who was working in Wellington over the Summer, Emma's blog can be found here:  Gav gave me and Em a run down of the courses main features and hot lines (Em hadn't had a chance to ride the course as she had flown in that evening), which would have proved to be very useful had I not changed my mind about racing the next day.

The nest morning we went to the race course early in the morning to make sure there was time for Emma to do what she needed to do before her morning race.  The race was taking place in Living Springs over the Port Hills near Lyttleton.  I did a sifty lap of the course whilst Emma warmed up.  The course started up a grassy climb which led into more climbing on wooded singletrack followed by a few fun rolling sections and nice fast descents.  I couldn't get out of my granny gear on the first climb which pretty much sealed my decision not to race.  My knees and left (broken) elbow where feeling the 711km from the week before which didn't help. 

Emma however did race, but crashed on the first lap after leading off the line.  It turns out it was a pretty bad one, managing to rip her shifter off and damage her wrist.  She carried on bravely though, holding her front shifter in her hand and stopping on the third lap to tape her wrist up.  She realised though that she might be doing more damage than was good and as such couldn't finish.  Her report would be much better to read.

Gav also raced and rode really strongly with his usual consistent pace.  Gav was largely pleased to see that Rosara Joseph didn't lap faster than him!  Gav pulled out a podium place in 5th earning him some tidy prize money and a lot of respect.

I'm going to leave it there, that's all the riding road tripping done, just the final drive to Dunedin and national champs to go!  I also have to update on Karapoti, but I will get to it soon enough I'm sure.


  1. Seriously man, looks like the best way to do it. Might only have been two weeks, but I'm so jealous! Might actually have to take up biking so I can do something like this in the future...

  2. You really ought to buddy, seems like a good way to see a place like this.