Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rest days: the degrees..............

Thursday started very slowly for the Daisy Hill crew. After smashing our legs and frazzling our minds with too much singletrack all week we needed a rest. A rest day on this trip though consisted of a lazy brunch,a chat and a siesta followed up with putting a MTB under our butts and going for a ride!

The plan was to warm up on some of the lower trails then meet the shuttle for some runs on the upper trails. We arrived at the shuttle pick up about half an hour early, so some fool (d'oh) suggested riding up to get another run in before the shuttle arrived. This was done and we arrived back at the pickup point a few minutes before the already full shuttle pulled up! Bugger! So we waited another twenty minutes before our very first "shuttle run". After riding this climb several times over the last few days I can appreciate how hard the old bus had to work, which made the ride up all the more sweet!

After we grabbed our bikes off the trailer we cranked it up to the start of Billy T, passing a ten year old boy and his dad about to do the same. Awesome! Future world champ.
Through Billy T, down G-rock, Clarence link, Rollercoaster and back to the shuttle pick up. Lap one! Up the hill again and it was starting to drizzle which also made it quite dark under the forest roof. Dark, but not gloomy as we whipped it down the three point seven kilometres of Corners trail. That is one sweet trail even in the rain! A consensus decision was made to high tail it home from here as it was getting dark and we had no lights.

Totals for our "rest" day were forty five kilometres with 1200m climbing! About ten km and 600m were enjoyed from the comfort of a 1950s bus, but the rest was via our trusty pins.

Friday was for drying out and contemplating another ride. How wet would the trails be? We had a lot of rain the night before and using our south east Queensland judgement the trails would be unrideable. Another lazy start assisted with the drying process. By the time we hit the trails at about 2pm they were unbelievably dry and grippy!
The pumice soil with the pine needle overlay seems to leave the trails very rideable. Just look out for the roots, eh Rich?!

We split up today at the start of Dragon's Tail. Rich wanted to do the Green/Blue lake ride while I tagged along with Dave and Nick until the upper shuttle point. They went up for a large day, while I went down to look at Old Chevy and Yellow Brick Road then via Exit track.

We had promised ourselves to Exit the park via Exit Track every day and this I achieved every day, even in the wet! Yeah!!

I then went for a roll around town, with a stop at Zippy's cafe. A definite must for when you are in town. Good food, free wifi and "views". Zippy's also sponsor the trails, so two coffees were the order of the day.

Hell yeah!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Morning Ride, NZ style

Today we decided to leave the groomed singletrack behind and headed over to Taupo to catch up with Jody and Graeme again. Our cunning plan today was a gentle destination ride from Whakaipo Bay to Kinlock, the W2K track. It is 14 kilometres of dual use trail for walkers and MTBers and we were told it was a must do by several bike shop staff over here. Who were we to argue?

An early rise and breakfast, well 8am is early for us, and we jumped in the cars for a eighty kilometre drive to Taupo. On arrival we found Graeme trying to eliminate some noises that his bike was starting to make. This was done with much heckling and generally unhelpful hints from the peanut gallery, then it was out to Wh(F)akaipo Bay to the trail head.

The obligatory photo opportunity was not missed and we all hope it causes much jealousy in rain drenched Brisbane! Sorry guys!!

This being day six on our MTB odyssey our legs are perhaps not as fresh as they might have been, so the intial climb up the W2K was not without a grimace or three. Those first few kilometres of warm up are always the hardest. We did notice through squinted eyes that this trail was amazing. Winding singletrack carved into the headland had us flowing across exposed hillside, then under a cool, dark canopy then back out again to take in the vistas over Lake Taupo. This is definitely a must do trail.

We paused at the lookout to take in the views and to see if Rich would cause hilarity when he fell of a massive old pine. Fortunately (or unfortunately) this didn't happen.

We then enjoyed the four kilometre descent into Kinloch, with only a small thought given to the climb that this would become on the way home. Yes, this is an out and back trail!
Kinloch proved to be a delightful little village on the shoes of Lake Taupo. We rested a while, had some slightly dodgy latte's and let Jody talk us into continuing with him and Graeme on the Kawakawa trail.

 This proved to be a challenge for our legs but the technical nature of the trail put a smile on our faces none the less. We stopped at a lookout for photos and calories, then bade the Taupo two farewell as they were continuing down to the waters edge. This added an estimate 150m more climbing to the ride and as this twenty eight kilometre roll was turning into a fourty eight kilometre mini epic discretion was definitely the better part of valour!

The ride back over the headland proved to be much better than anticipated, with Dave and I whooping it up, riding nose to tail on the final few kilometres of snaking track. Our gentle roll had turned into 45 kilometres and 900m climbing!

A quick wash down in the cool waters of Lake Taupo and in was into town for burgers and beer. How would I rate the day? Absolute ***** star. If you are in the area you HAVE to check out the W2K.

Single Track Minds

For the last two days we have been pedalling our way around Whakerewarewa Forest, sampling the amazing flow of trails like Billy T, Corners (yes there are!) and Split Enz. We have paid the price for our fun with 2000m climbing over 80 kilometres and the legs are definitely feeling it! We are all still rolling up for a start each morning, the grin factor overcoming the fatigue.

A Sapling.

Warming up.

There is a trail between those rocks.

Nick further along the trail on Rock Drop.

Dave smashing Challenge.

Rich Challenging.

Ball and Chain.

Washing away the dust of another day in MTB Paradise. (Yes there is dust in heaven!)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wooooooooooo Hoooooooooo!!!!!!!

Day three in New Zealand and what can I say? These trails are mind blowingly full on! We met up with Jody and Greame this morning and mapped out a strategy. As they had been here for a few days longer than us they had ridden some of the trails we were planning on hitting up, but that didn't stop us sharing some of the lower trails like Genesis and Challenge as well as the first big climb.
Daisy Hill Crew, Rotorua style.

From here we decided to climb it up to the very top of the park to take in Tuhoto Ariki and Split Enz. The route looked simple enough on a map but the reality put a bit of hurt on us. Luckily we were in no hurry, we had all day and no place to be. Frontal Lobotomy beat climbing fire road....just.

We stopped at the top of the National Downhill track for a rest and bite to eat, then it was on to the top of the climb at 765 metres, the start of the Tuhoto Ariki trail. This trail is a rough, rooty track through rainforest like bush. It is like parts of the Coffs Harbour Pleasure and Pain course and runs for just on five kilometres. It is tough, but rewarding. We took a break to let the heart rates settle and take on some calories at the Hatupatu intersection.

Nick taking it to Tuhoto Ariki

Once through this maze of forest we hit some more fire road before taking in Split Enz. I do not have the vocabulary to describe this trail!!! Think smooth clay, through rainforest, with sculptured berms that go on and on and on. Think unlimited grip. Think wooden bridges around blind corners. Then imagine all this when on the rivet. Flat. Stick.....

We managed to stop on Split Enz for this photo only because Nick had worded us up on the spectacular viewing point. Otherwise we would have blown by at 30-40 km/h. This trail is the new benchmark!! (and yes, my arms ARE locked into the riding position!!)

The next trail was Pondy, which proved to be an exposed(not much need for sunscreen here with all the tree cover) and fast downhill blast. We found ourselves at the bottom with our first mechanical of the trip. Not surprisingly it was a flat tyre.
Rich pulled out an obscenely large carrot to eat and a nice rest time was had by all (but Nick)!!

The fatigue was starting to set into the legs by this stage so we were taking it easy on the climbs and then bombing the descents to save energy. Rollercoaster, Spring Roll, Chop Suey and possibly some other trails were sampled before we hit the mandatory Exit trail on the way out.
It was a fairly subdued group that headed out for a bite to eat tonight. We were SMASHED! Totals for the day stand at 40km with just over 1000m climbing. Not huge numbers by themselves
, but as the third day of riding the toll on our legs was starting to build. Being resilient Aussies we will find a way to push through..........

Cheeeerrrzzzz..........from our honorary Aussie.

What a day!!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Whakarewarewa Forest

Today we loaded up the van and left Auckland behind for Rotorua. The anticipation was building and after a couple of hours on the road we rolled into Rotorua. We checked some of the many bike shops and scoped out some lunch. Next it was time to find our accomodation and saddle up for a poke in the forest. We met up with Rich ,who had flown in from Brisbane this morning, at the motel. After a short amount of time we were ready to roll.
Our digs are literally along the road from the forest entrance so it wasn't long before we were standing at the foot af a huge Redwood tree. Very impressive even at the young age of these trees.

We intially rode The Grinder and a couple of close in tracks to warm up and get a feel for the trails. The first thing I noticed was how rooty the trails were. We were lucky it was dry as it would be very interesting with some moisture on the ground. The bermed turns had us all whooping and even the pine needle surface was grippy.

From here we consulted the map and decided to swing past A-Trail and up to Tickler, which we knew was closed for logging.

A-Trail proved to be an awesome roll and pump through rainforest with berms galore. Unfortunately for Rich, one of these berms had a tree growing out of the end of it, which neatly clipped his bar end and sent him skittering into the leaf litter in a tangle of rider and bike! If only I had a video rolling! To my (and Rich's) relief, he jumped up totally unscathed due to the soft landing.
At the end of A-Trail we climbed up to the start of Tickler to plan out next trail attack.

We decided to climb Katore link trail then up to Gunna Gotta trail. This proved to be quite a solid little climb with the kicker being that when we crested the hilltop at Gunna Gotta we were greeted by a scene of desolation. The area had been logged in the last few days and the trailhead was obliterated. We searched around for twenty minutes and finally spotted a fleeting glimpse of some riders in the treeline above us. There was only a small stand of trees on the hilltop after the logging (think bowl haircut here) and we needed to hike a bike up to the trail. The trail was steep,eroded and rooty with the odd section getting us whooping again until we popped out down on the fire road.

We rode a few more trails then after about three hours decided to head for home via the appropriately named Exit trail(we are going to love leaving via this trail each day!!) and home to clean up and eat.

So day one in the Redwoods saw us cover twenty five kilometres with 550 metres of climbing. Not bad for an introductory ride by a bunch of old blokes in Whakarewarewa Forest.


Cheeze from Un Zud Bro

Well, the much awaited date had come and three keen mountain bikers had assembled at Brisbane International Airport. The destination was Auckland, New Zealand with connections to MTB nirvana, Rotorua via road.

We arrived a little late at 12:30am and quickly retreived out kit, making our way to the Goldstar motel to hit the hay. After not enough sleep we made a quick juant across town to pick up our trusty Toyota Hiace van and then reassemble the bikes. How ironic it was that the bloke that works for the airline had his bike damaged while the other guys got away unscathed! The damage was totally cosmetic though and we were soon pointing the van toward Woodhill MTB park.

Nick had the idea of acclimatising to NZ conditions by turning some wheels in this dedicated MTB park. And what a great idea it was! The park is a pay for entry jobbie which caters for all levels of skill. They have a self rated trail system going from one X to  XXXXX hardcore features. Needless to say being day one in country we kept it to XXX or less!

A solid hit out saw about 30 kilometres of sandy trails under our wheels and 700 metres of climbing. All good fun and I would highly recommend the park as a day ride destination. The pro shop at the main entrance has a great selection of gear if you happen to break anything or need a gel or three to power on.

We finished up at 6:30pm with hours of daylight remaining and headed back to the motel to wash the dust off and then track down a steak or two. All very pleasant.

Early to bed tonight as Rotovegas is the first stop tomorrow. I can hardly wait to see the Redwoods.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

St Elmo's Fire

Try googling that title and you will get pages of references to a Brat Pack flick that my wife likes.

No, dear reader, I am not talking about a Sheen/Estevez et al blockbuster, but the phenomena that used to amaze and frighten sailors of yesteryear.

Wiki's definition of St Elmos Fire describes the violet fingers that were arcing across my windscreen last friday night while at 39 000 feet. Of course it doesn't look like much when captured on basic video equipment, but I can assure you it is VERY impressive as it dances around just two feet from your face while doing 850 kilometres an hour.

Check it out for yourself and hang in there as it grows as the camera rolls on.

You can probably also guess why I am half deaf. ;)


Monday, February 7, 2011

Thunder and Monkey Butt

Today started badly with a massive thunderstorm waking me up at 4:17am. The crash of thunder overhead was so loud that I went from fast asleep to hanging off the ceiling fan in 0.02 of a second! Driving rain accompanied the light and sound show making me fearful of more flash flooding so soon after the horrible floods we have just endured. I noted later in the day that this was the case, thankfully though only minor in extent.

An early ride was planned for Nerang. I had organised to meet Steve at the velodrome for a 6:30am kick off. Accompanying the rain was some cooler weather which was appreciated as it has been very sticky here in Brisbane over the last week or so.

We set off for the upper trails and I noted right away that my saddle seemed "slippery" this morning. More on this later!

I was riding like I had two left hands again. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly you lose skills when you don't practice them regularly. Too much road riding lately has seen my MTB skills go the way of the Dodo. Steve not only led the way on the trails, he showed me how to tackle the obstacles.

We took in many trails that I still can't remember the name of despite numerous visits to Nerang. We did do Baily's, crossed Wimps and came home via Never Ending, Explosions and Pete's.
Steve ate them all up while I struggled along behind, with my behind getting more uncomfortable by the kilometre.

The bridges in Nerang are a mix of "too easy" to "you have got to be kidding!". This one is of the former variety. I mean, we both have jobs to go to tomorrow and families to buy Vegemite for.

A good day out despite the lack of skill and the increasingly painful rear end. In fact, the rear end is so sore that it is uncomfortable to sit on now. In three years or so of MTBing I have never had such a red butt! Not even after eight hours in the saddle. I am not sure what caused it. I had on my usual trusty shorts and my wife assures me that the washing powder hasn't been changed to a different brand, so I am at a loss to explain the monkey butt, apart from noticing that the saddle felt slippery at the start of the ride. I guess it is nothing that a bit of soothing cream and a rest day or two can't fix. Maybe some trail building tomorrow instead of riding?

For those that are not too squeamish, here is a photo of the offending monkey butt. View it at your own peril...............................................................................................................

                                                        You couldn't help yourself, could you?!!!