Friday, July 6, 2012

Yesterday I cried into a manky.

Faithful steed for the day.  Merida TFS.  Not Team Foundation Server.
Beth posted about the Redwoods over in Rotorua, but I will tell more of the tale of how I got destroyed by a 756m hill and a 3+ hour ride.  The day started off with me tossing some gear in my back pack and then filling up my 2L water bladder.  Tim stopped by just after 10 am to pick me up for the quick hour drive to Rotorua.  We talked about my staying longer in New Zealand.  I accepted the 6 month contract with NZ Avocado to be their data analyst.  We also talked about what other adventures we can have now that I'm staying until mid-January (contract ended 1/15/2013).  Talked about climbing, trail running, tramping, and biking. 

Once we got to Rotorua, we stopped in a pretty impressive outdoor store for a few minutes and I gawked at the sweet mountain bike gear.  I kept looking around the corner to see if they had a Surly Pugsley, but alas they did not.  I did get to see the legendary "Manky".  Not to be confused with South Park's Mr. Hankey.  The manky is a map of the mountain bike course printed on a micro fiber towel to be used to wipe snot, sweat, grime, and other stuff you rather not have on your hands or face.  For more info check here under maps.  We stopped next door at a bakery for a quick tea and sausage roll.  I also picked up 2 caramel slices thinking this is where Beth got hers the other day.  She said that I should bring some back for her if we stopped.  Beth went to the cafe on the other side of the outdoor store and these slices were like brownie, caramel, brownie, and topped with chocolate.  Not what I was expecting, but still tasty.

We headed over to the start of the tracks, which all are one way so you'll "never" encounter someone coming head-on.  I hired a bike here for $35 (2 hrs) and said I might keep it for the half day price ($45 for 4 hours).  They had helmets and back packs if you needed one, but I don't like wearing others helmets and I had my own pack.  I was given an 18" Merida hard tail.  This was definitely a step up from my Trek 830 Antelope from 1992.  This is not my bike as mine is green and purple, but the write up is just the same except my shows a lot more wear!

Tim and I start easy at a Grade 3 trail and start to let loose.  I should explain to the casual reader that I'm typically a road rider that loves to fly up and down the asphalt as fast as possible.  I do enjoy doing single track from time to time, but I only do it a handful of times a year and these is very little elevation change in MN where I typically ride, Theodore Wirth.  My Trek needs a lot of love or more likely just replaced with a more modern bike with components that work and true wheels.  We pop up and down and hit several switch backs before we find a log bridge over a little stream.  Tim and I pause here and both have the crazy idea of trying to test our resolve and balance.  I pull out the camera and Tim prepares to ride the log.  I almost didn't take a photo as I was more concerned that he got hurt.  That is right, Tim fell off the log and into the cold stream.  He was ok and just a little cold.  I didn't attempt it after seeing what just happened.  We proceed to ride a little further until we get to the fire road that will take us up to the summit of 756m. 
Post splash.  I have a photo of before, during, and after, but some are blurry.
The fire road starts off a a brutal angle and I soon find myself dripping in sweat and breathing hard.  I quickly drop out of the big ring and quickly into the granny gear.  I'm thankful that this thing has a triple and I worked the gears like a busker works the crowd.  We get up to the first little flat and take a break for some water and to calm the heart.  I so should have worn my heart rate monitor as it was beating really hard.  I'm not used to the bike pedals and my Sambas keep slipping off my muddy pedals.  I'm covered in mud and sweat.  I'm loving it.  I wonder what Beth will say when I come home with yet another bike!  I could totally ride here every chance I get not to mention there is a mtb park about 10 minutes from where we live.  The road biking is ok, but could be better if the roads were not covered in rim denting rubble.  Just invest in asphalt and commuting by bike would blow up.  We finally get to the summit after having to pull off to the side of the road to allow the losers, ahem the shuttle, to pass.  I tell Tim my philosophy that you have to earn the downhill and that I would not take the shuttle to the top.  Rather I will grunt, sweat, swear, and summit under my own power.  We enjoy some crazy technical tracks on the descent.  The only issue is that some of these have not been ridden in a while and we have had a lot of rain in the past week.  The pine needles were really slick and our back tires would slide out from under us.  I may have treated my bike like a red headed step child and beat the tar out of hit.  I know I dumped my bike a handful of times and I got tossed around a couple as well.  My right leg has a couple pedal gouges, but my legs are already scarred so it just blends in.  I start to feel more confident as the day goes on and my picking lines starts to come back, but my body is shot and I feel that if I ride any harder that I will most likely get injured.  We decide to head back to the car and drop off the rental. 

I drop my rental off and pay the extra for the half day rental.  I over hear the mechanics talking about how the US and Germany do it differently.  I chime in, "You must be talking about the brakes."  I got it on the first guess.  They joked that today must have been a sharp learning curve.  I replied, I rode a bike in Japan last year that had them flipped and that I have been riding a kiwi bike for the last 3 months.  So braking their way is second nature.  I do plan on keeping the brakes this way, even after I return.  I will have bikes with different set-ups!  So if you borrow one of my ride, be warned.

Tim and I are fairly well spent and pack up the car in record time and start to head back to the Mount.  We get back shortly after 5, but not before we talk about plans for the next couple of weeks.  I'll be getting some needed tutelage in climbing.  I want to be more comfortable at belaying and learn how to lead climb.  There is talk of going out on the weekends once the weather warms up and doing multi-pitch climbs and other gnarly stuff.

I didn't cry today, but the streams of sweat coming off my face could be compared to that of a tweens seeing Titanic for the nth time or maybe even the band One Direction in person.  The manky is a useful tool and I could see them catching on all over the world.  I show talk to their supplier and see if I can't get one for the Grand Rounds and other trails in the metro area.

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