This time of year the entries for the Calamity Cup are usually pretty thin on the ground. We're all thinking about spring, the runners have got the 10k / marathons on their minds, the Morzine boys are praying they remain injury free and the triathletes are pretending the Deben isn't quite warm enough yet. However, a surprise entry came in from one of our newest members on Sunday night. Joining his son & The King on 'stage', non other than JL, sporting a new Lycra skin-suit that's not expected to be making it big this year:
It's a little known fact that the only person who reads this page is DP's Dad. He's a lovely chap who has brought DP up to be the inveterate liar we all know and love him for. He'll be thrilled to have a mention here - and it's all down to DP that he is. Whilst there were a number of entrants for the cup this year, RA's facial braking technique, AS's shirt-melting-into-back fixie riding, GiantP's numerous gentle falls to mention just a few, it was DP's 'Badger Dismount' which was the runaway winner. As well as the dismount DH's comment about 'it was the longest flight I've seen' really sums up the effort DP put into winning the cup just so that his father could get a mention. As the photo below shows DP was over the moon about winning. Nothing left to say except 'What a mug'.
Congratulations DP, I don't think any of us expected you to be a winner of this.
The badger was unavailable for comment. Many thanks to IC's wife for the mug too.
Wellington – Feb 2014 Windy Welly is known for its Wather Wild
Wet ‘n’ Windy Weather, it is also very, very hilly. The many hills that are not
covered in Urban sprawl are instead covered in thick, dense, near impenetrable
forest bush and hiding throughout this dense bush many amazing cycle tracks
have been developed, but like most places in NZ, to get to the top, you first
have to climb.
Wellington from Christchurch
is a 5 hour drive and a 3 hour ferry crossing. With a long holiday weekend
ahead of us, we finished work on the Thursday, loaded the Ute with 4 bods and 5
bikes and roared off to backpackers lodge near the ferry terminal for a quick
nap before the notoriously rough crossing early next morning.
Day 1. An awesome crossing, the gods had
blessed us, off the ferry and a drive by the airport to collect the Boss whom
preferred to sleep in his own bed and avoid 5 hours in the Ute. (Works for
AirNZ so cheap flights for him)
It’s lunchtime now so with the typical Kiwi
Kai in our pukus (traditional NZ food in our tummy’s i.e a meat pie from the
bakers) we set straight off to ride the Wainuiomata (Why-Newie-O-Marter) bike
park for a few hours before driving off to the motorlodge park where the 5 of
us were to stay in a 3m x 5m shed with bunkbeds, cramped, but cheap and our
token female was a little unimpressed with the lack of privacy for her.
Day 2. Makara Peak
So, with the free parking at the start of
the bike park, complete with toilets, bike wash down, big track maps, sheltered
seating areas, water taps and basic bike tools including track pump on chains. We
saddled up Bro and set off for a ‘Mean As’ climb up the hill and get access to
over 35km of hillside single track.
Nearly all the height was gained on the relative
straight sections, with the hair pin switchbacks pretty much levelled out complete
with high banked berms for the rather speedy descents. If you are ever to cycle uphill, on single
track, this just had to be the way to do it.
The track building was so well thought-out
and built that it made climbing the 400m peak, three times a, dare I say it,
rather pleasant experience :-/ The trees and the bush were just so
interesting, dense but interesting, with occasional breaks in the canopy to let
you glance out over the ranges offering a well earned vantage point and
appreciation of just how much height we were gaining so rapidly. Cruising along in granny gear with the seat
post extended to the point where it felt like you were on tip toes to turn a
full pedal stroke, the uphills suddenly became enjoyable. With knees pumping
hard, the occasion ‘layby’ would appear on the single track, usually with a
bench, a log or stump to rest on. Hold on! I was taken aback; Has the Major been
to these parts? I questioned myself in a split second of surprise! I was
horrified! There, amongst all this fabulous beauty, on the side of a dense bush
covered hill, a hill that has seen over 4,500 track building volunteer hours
invested upon it, there, within all this Flora and Fauna, some disrespectful dirty
hoon has discarded their old tube and left it swinging in the breeze. Then, a
tyre, a rusty ole chain, a buckled wheel, WTF is this Bro? Who would do this?
Then came my realisation, this is ‘Bike Art’! Sweet As Bro! Suddenly it was
cool to dump your used parts in the bush or adorn a dead tree stump with a
buckled wheel, a chainring or 20 nailed into a form of bike themed collage…..
At the peak for the first time of 3 visits
today, just 18700km from Coed-Y-Brenin, with a magnificent 360 degree view of
Wellington and its surrounding hills and a sky full of warm sun, it was time
for one of our riding party (Our very own DJP of the Canterbury MTB Club) to
fulfil his social media educed ‘Necknomination’ obligation, and skull a cold
Corona. Whilst the rest of sat slowly sipping and enjoying the reward of
reaching the top. The peak complete with decking platform, picnic benches and
bike racks, all just on top of a hill, nothing else but the deck, a bench, a
bike rack and the endless view. So much to look at, ferries in the harbour,
wind turbines on the peaks, tracks snaking down every hillside.
Would we invest in this sort of thing in
….. Only if it was privately owned, an entrance fee was paid and a grotty old
café was printing money, you’d be battling the crowds to sit down, the air
would be filled with ringtones, dodgy rap music screeching out some hoons
iPhone and you’d no doubt be hogging in second-hand cigarette smoke from some
greasy chap in a shellsuit that had just driven up in his Granada.
Instead, we sat, we ate, we drank, we
rested and we watched the tranquillity in silence……Mmmm! Then reminded
ourselves, “Hey Bro, we gonna smash these trails Hard As Bro”, saddle up
bitches, time to eat dirt, we’re in for a Sick As Day Bro.
Day 3. The weather was a little more Wellington like, Wet and
Windy. With the morning back up the hills, tracks a little too soft, but heaps
of fun. Spotted a few advisory notices suggesting track damage is caused by
over use in the wet so just half a day spent there. Thinking we would just sack
the day early and grab a scoop in a bar instead, the city was heaving with
crazy costumes as the Rugby 7’s were in full
swing. After a beer and a feed we decided we would ride again, an old rail
road, the 22km Rimutaka Incline railway line made slightly famous by it’s long
dark tunnels and rail disaster back in 1880 when strong winds blew the train
off the tracks as it traversed a bridge over a deep gorge killing 3 children.
The tunnels were odd, one of them so long
and curved that there was no light at the end of the tunnel and thus pitch
black. Advice is for cyclist to walk, Yeah Right, for 600m? Get real! So in we
rode, single file, nice and slow with the light fading with every extra metre
until it was close to pitch black! The odd sound of someone’s bars scrapping the
tunnel walls. Of course, I was lead scout, those behind could vaguely work out
a silhouette of the one in front! Nice, but me, I didn’t have that! With no
lights, all we could do was keeping going, really slowly, with elbows poking
right out so they touched the wall before the bars caught. For some crazy
moment, I thought I’d see if I could ride no handed with both arms out
stretched ready to feel the walls. It worked for what may have been 4-5m before
I chickened out thinking the floor may have a divot that would have me off. I
went to grab my bars again and in the total darkness, I fell short and
completely missed the bars altogether, instead, in slow motion, thumped onto
the damp floor. Oh how we laughed, grown men in the dark tunnel, all twisted
together in a heap.
Day 4. Journey home. On the ferry, off the
ferry and a short detour from the port to spend 2 hours riding the tail end of
the very Famous Queen Charlotte Track. It’s a 70+km track and we basically rode
for 1 hour then turned around. One word, Glorious. I’ll say nothing about it
now as I will return to complete the whole track.
(to be read with your best Kiwi accent, Aye Bro? Yeah,
Those Thursday nights in Renders were a real taster and
provided great training for what was to come. The Port hills tracks, night
riding. Far out, Yes, Gnarly downhill tracks in the dark, initially on that
vintage 2000 Marin MV with those Orange Manitou (not so) Shocks. Even I started
to use phrases like “JeeezBro, that was
a sick decent” because at that time, I was of the mis-belief that ‘sick’ meant
bad and risky. But really, I was on my limit with some of these Bro’s! Minimal
shocks, rim brakes, clipped in, skinny 1.95 tyres, a helmet purchased in 2000
and looking like something that I’d found in the recycle bin. I was thinking I
needed to change my kit Bro, I needed to get me some ‘Sweet Wheels’. One more
tumble straight over the bars saw the end to my bargain basement helmet, it
split open like the husk of a horse chestnut while I, on the other hand was
completely unscathed, but it was a wake up call. It wasn’t until I got home and
realised the helmet had split open by what seemed like an impact on a sharp
pointed rock, right at the base of my skull leaving a perfect pyramid shaped
impact indentation, Mmmmm could have been 20mm lower and I may not have got up
unassisted. So, down to the hat shop I went and purchased a nice new Urge All
Mountain bonnet to
protect my noggin. I was keen on the Urge lids as they seemed to give better
coverage around the base of the skull. Whilst hat shopping, I was surrounded by
some ‘Sweet As Wheels’.
The Marin Mount Vision XM range had been launched and the
girl was looking ‘Tidy As Bro’! A dabble on the keyboard, a bit of internet
bike porn and a store just 420 miles North agreed to spin me a ‘Hot As’ deal when
I explained the price tag just has to start with a 1. A few days later a fresh
cardboard box came knocking on the door. I wasn’t home at the time so she sat
and waited in the sun patiently for me all day on the doorstep…………. ( I love
Well, like a small child locked in the lolly shop, I put
her together and discovered I could cycle right around the house…. Inside…..
Yep, through the lounge, out the door, up the hall, into the kitchen, back into
the lounge, out the door, up the hall, into the kitchen, around the table, back
into the lounge, around the sofa, out the door, up the hall, into the kitchen,
back into the lounge…. Faster and faster and faster….until Oooohps, Mmmm, that
hole in the jib (plasterboard), mmmm! Looks strangely similar to the type of mark
that may be left by a brake lever should someone cycle around inside the
home….. Arrh, Yeah, Nah, She’ll be Sweet Bro Aye?...... The beauties of living
alone, in a rental property that bares all the scars of some recent, violent
Earthquake activity. But really, I ask you, cycling around indoors at your age,
tut! How foolish. Worked wonders for my bike skills though, if only I could
have my primary school days back now, I’m sure I’d beat Tania Buckle in the
sports day slow bicycle race now you know!
Saturday came, the weather was dry, I thumped up the Rapaki
Track, right across the peaks and down into the beach resort at Sumner. 25ks
done and my Sweet ride was ‘Sweet As’ Bro, Aye? Oooo to be on a 5” All Mountain,
with real shocks, real working fully functioning shocks…. Sweeeeeeet!
Now! Sunday, the fortnightly CMBC ride. It was an out of
town ride, some 50kms out of town. As usual, the club meets at wherever car
park and sorts a spot of car pooling. I’m in with 2 chaps, the driver has a new
car and has brought and fitted a gleaming new rack on the roof. Nice…. It’s a Thule, top class Aye Bro?
So, triples up, we set off down the main highway…… Tap, tap, tap, click, click,
click goes the roof! Driver stops to check his load…. “She’s Sweet Bro Aye?” (I
should have checked too). Tap, tap, tap, click, click, click goes the roof.
Mmmm! I’m sat in the back, in that akward position where you really want to
question someone’s processes but you just don’t know them well enough and your
worried that you may insult them.
I know! I’m going to tell the driver the story of the fun
my WBS pals just had on the M25 just 4 weeks ago…….. I didn’t get to the punch
line before we had an identical experience! Yeah, really, She’s 2 days old with
25kms on the clock and I’m picking bits of her up off the road and trying to
prevent her drowning in the stream. Longer story short….a few scars, but she’s
sweet! I didn’t get to ride her that day, instead I limped home, bottom lip
quivering, off to contact the Major and find out where I could get a new derailleur
Half Day rides within a 2 Hour drive of Christchurch City.
Venturing a little way out the ‘City’
envelope, within a few hours drive along typically empty roads, I’ve managed to
ride many of the popular Canterbury
The Wharfedale Track
Apparently, at around 10Km and rising
slowly to a saddle at 750m, it’s one of the best and longest stretches of
single track in Canterbury - curving through the beech forests, through streams,
drainage gullys and past waterfalls, the track is littered with tree roots and
brutal water bars - good fun in the dry but real knarly when wet, it also offers
some stunning scenery. The beach trees secrete a type of Honey through the
bark, so hugely popular with wasps in the Autumn, bizarrely, the honey is so
good, they tend to leave us folk well alone. Having said that, one of our crew
did get a sting on his Adams apple of all
places! I’ve ridden this track twice now, both in the wet and the dry. The
track had suffered, as many have recently, a lot of land slips and fallen trees
following a nasty ‘Weather Bomb’ (to make it sound dramatic as the Kiwis love
too), yet DOC were soon out clearly and rebuilding, within weeks the tracks
were clear and open again. It’s amazing the time, effort and money that is
invested on these tracks, yet there is virtually no financial gain by having
them open, there’s not even a parking fee charged in the car parks!!
Craigieburn Forest Park.
Up in the mountains the track offers miles of single
track giving a challenging half day ride. After
grunting up the Ski Field access road, and I mean up, you are rewarded with the stunning
scenery of the southern alps from above the tree line, you ride across narrow
tracks carved into scree and shail slopes where at times you just hope today is
not the day for the slopes to suffer a landslide. You ride through some
fantastic forest land and get a good 30minute brake cooking Down hill decent in
the forest back to the car park. You can be up there for half a day, and
perhaps see 2 or 3 other people!
Stepping outside the MTB topic for a moment, this
skifield has a ski ‘lift’ called the Nutcracker, when I first saw it, it was
one of those “Only in New Zealand” moments! The Nutcracker, well… it has the
potential to all end in tears and it’s a design that frankly would not be
approved for use anywhere near Europe. Using
it requires training and the hire of both leather gauntlets (….so you can grab
hold of the steel rope of course) and a waist harness with metal clamp, which
then hangs around your nether regions all day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO-CMk_LeWs
Mt Somers is part of the Canterbury
Highcountry and was used as a Lord of the Rings film location. It’s an outdoor
recreational paradise for hiking, horse riding, mountain biking, fishing and
windsurfing on the lakes. Twice now I have been out to witness the absolute
unspoilt beauty and scenery. Big distance and big elevations.
Well one of the favourites, as experienced by our fellow
WBSurfer, Downhill Dave, although on that occasion, the weather was attune to
Renders in April. Now, when the sun is warm and the tracks are dry, well, all
that is missing is the chair lift up. With Tracks named Detox, Tank Track, Dog
Stream and Yankee Zephyer there is a track for all moods. Gorgeous, narrow
single track zig-zaging through beech forest, short fun down hill runs with
good flow, steep challenging climbs and technical descents. Whilst a good 2
hour drive away, I have spent 4 hours in the hills on numerous occasions with
the cycle club and it doesn’t matter how hot and sweaty, how muddy or how cold
you get, because right at the bottom, in the village, are theThermal hot pools. A measly 20 bucks (£10)
gets you as long as you like in the steaming pools and hydro spas where you can
melt your burning MTB muscles. What a way to finish a ride.
For my regular Rendlesham/Tunstall fix, I
head out to Bottle Lake, just 10km North of Christchurch city and runs
adjacent to the East Coastal Beaches of New
Like <kiwi>Renders &
Tunny</kiwi>, Bottle Lake Forest is a production forest with trees logged
in a 30 year rotation. Like home nearly all are pinetrees and covers 800+
hectares of coastal sand dunes. The full MTB loop is around 12km and the best
description of this would be…......
Imagine your best 300m metres of Rendlesham
wibbly wobbly, add to it your best 300m of Tunstall ups and downs, throw in
200m of the Rendlesham family stunt loop and 100m of the least boring fire
track you can think of, remove nearly all the wet bits, dispose of all the
litter, prune back all the soft foliage that could hook your bars, add in a few
cheeky jumps, a lake with a nice board walk through it, a glimpse of the sand
dunes and breaking waves by the surf club, increase the track elevation
variations to about 20m, position the odd water tap and free to use electric
BBQ, multiply the length of all this to cover 12kms then place a nice Café at
the end of the ride and you’ve pictured my local Renders & Tunny Ride.
When feeling more like getting high....and I do mean gaining height.
The Port Hills are one of the best-loved
landscapes of Christchurch.
The rocky out-crops contrast the flatness of the Canterbury Plains and provide
100km views to the Southern Alps as well as
down into both the City and the shipping harbour.
It’s massively popular with walkers, runners, rock climbers, paragliders, mountain
bikers, road bikers and those out for a scenic sightseeing drive. The whole of
the ‘Port Hills’ are basically the crater rim of a super volcano, and it’s
gorgeous to explore and with over 55km of purpose made tracks, it’s a real
asset to have on your doorstep. It takes me just 4 minutes to cycle to the foot
of the most popular all weather track, the Rapaki Track, which climbs up to the
vast network, including Victoria
Park. Some of the tracks
remain closed however, due to rock fall and continued rock fall hazards following
the 2011 Earthquakes, although recently much work has been done to progress
reopening the forgotten tracks.
The tracks are constantly and magnificently
maintained by both the Dept of Conservation (DOC, a govt agency that basically
look after the natural/nature side of the whole country) and local volunteers.