After calling the Vatican to confirm the Pope was still a Catholic, I hot-footed down to the bike hire store at Hanmer Springs and hired an “executive” MTB. For my extra $10, disc brakes accesorised a suspension fork that excelled at holding the front end up. It didn’t appear to offer any other damping functions other than emitting a howling click on encountering even the smallest bump.
On the upside, it was attached to a mountain bike and a morning of virgin, dustry trails – baked hard under a perfect blue sky – awaited my desperate-to-ride persona. For the next four hours, I was essentially lost – signage in NZ is generally fantastic due mainly to the fact there are only about 10 roads but the $1 map lacked a certain accuracy when measured against scale and terrain.
But the trails were mine alone and after some false starts, mappage faffage and a blatent “sorry, I’m a tourist” approach to some walking only routes, improvement was rapid. A couple of sketchy descents on commuter pedals only lightly gripped by knackered VANs, it became clear that stacking here would result in a slow lingering death by hungry sandfly.
So proceeding carefully in the manner of a man lacking both riding skills and spacial awareness, I was amazed to divine a dusty trail that smelt of woody singletrack. And for the next 7 kilometres it rolled out a bonaza of sculptered corners, rooty drops, a smattering of ohfuckme North Shore and limitless hand crafted berms.
The local MTB group has clearly put a huge amount of work in, so it seemed a bit mean to only ride it once. I pushed half way back up, scared myself a couple more times before having to choose between another attempt at full speed or a beer.
Well, OBVIOUSLY, I went for beer.
Some people may brand my posting an MTB blog while on holiday a bit obsessive. So for the purposes of balance, here are some pictures of lakes and glaciers encountered on a moist walk to the Franz Joseph Glacier.
Anyway I’m off to take the local spring waters follwed closely by taking rather more of the local hop waters. Tomorrow we’re off to swim with seals although Random insists we’ll be in the water with eels. She is not – as I sort of remember from what feels like far away corporate speak – with the programme 😉
PS. Sorry for piss poor spelling. Running out of internet time and $10 buys two beers!