My first mountain biking holiday, the story continued :-
April 5th,2009. Two Passes Ride.
"Okay. Up early today and jump into the car and drive my steed and myself up to Hanmer Springs(about 1.5 hours north). There was a 12 hour race on last night so I am passed by dozens of cars mounted with numerous mountain bikes. I wonder, slightly nervously, how alert they are and edge the little rental car toward the left of the road each time one passes! I pick up a trail map at the Info centre in Hanmer Springs. I then drive half a km out of town to gear up and attack some of the trails. The plan is to ride some of the singletrack around Hanmer then ride the two passes loop. I decided to go up Jack's Pass, around the back of MT Isobel, then back over Jollies Pass. A total of about 30km or so depending on how much singletrack I add in.The singletrack here is picture perfect. I decided to nip along Dog Stream Track, then up the Jollifee Saddle track and onto the dirt road up to Jacks Pass.
All good until I look up the road while climbing Jacks Pass. It just keeps climbing and climbing! The headwind is about 20 knots too! Once I reach the top, after a 'photographic' stop(nothing to do with the legs being tired) I see that it was a 500m climb. My heart rate during the climb is an indication of how much the previous day took out of me. My max heartrate on the climb is 20 bpm less than my normal range. I just can't push hard. That said I just grind away at a steady rate and get to the top with two stops(one to check a phone message. Thanks to my wife for the call!).
It has become quite cool at the top and I am glad I have donned my undershirt and armwarmers at the start of the climb, despite the heat I knew I would generate during the climb. So, on to the intersection at the Clarence river. A quick photo and I turn right for the 10km ride to the Jollies pass turn. At the next turn I meet a guy and girl on MTBs wearing just shorts and t-shirts. I decide they are either locals or europeans. The english accent gives them away on this balmy 13 degree day!
The grind up Jollies pass is an easy one. We seem to be on a plateau this side of Mt Isobel. All the climbing is on the Hanmer Springs side of the hill, which means there will be a high pucker factor on the descent! At the top of Jollies pass I veer off to the right as suggested in the Kennett Brothers book to enjoy a brake searing descent, as advertised. Around here I think I took a trail less travelled and found myself at the bottom of a very steep track with an electric fence blocking my progress! No probs. I saw a road on the other side of the paddock and after carrying my bike across the boggy mess to a gate, I am underway again.
A gentle cruise into Hanmer via some more singletrack. Gentle, but not peaceful, as my chain is squealing in pain after 90km of dusty trails and no lube. I am too tight to buy some lube for the one or two times I will need it, just to leave it behind.(flammable and not compatible with travelling in an aircraft hold) So I cruise into Hamner to the bike shop in the main street, which is open at 2pm on a sunday! Here I meet Neil, who owns Krank cycle clothing and said bike shop. He very kindly lubed my chain and we had a chat about how good the trails are around here. He also comments on my bike as he is keen to upgrade from his Cannondale and this is the First Trek Fuel EX he has seen in the flesh. He has some pretty cool and practical looking MTB clothing which may be worth a look at. Huge thanks for the chain lube and the chat. A true gentleman. I pedal serenely back to the car for the drive back to Christchurch, slightly miffed that I forgot some appropriate clothing to try out the hot springs. I briefly flirt with the idea of wearing a set of bib nix, then decide that I do want to be able to travel to NZ again at some stage in the future!
Totals for the day are 36km travelled and 990m of climbing. Woo Hoo, I am living the dream now! Just don't go to sleep on the drive into Christchurch!"
I hope I haven't bored you with "blog filler". Looking back on these rides reminds me how green I was to mountain biking and all things cycling really. I have learnt so much since and without a shadow of a doubt I have volumes more to learn about this sport/lifestyle. I look forward to it!
Thank you for indulging my reminiscences.