Sunday, April 22, 2007

Kathmandu Crazyman

Yesterday Helen and I joined Josh and Mike (a couple of Helen’s work mates) for a bit of a mountain bike ride. Josh is riding the mountain bike leg of the Kathmandu Crazyman – a kayak, run, mountain bike multi-sport race next month. We went along to help him pre-ride the course. We had a pretty late start and didn’t begin riding until about 12:30PM. This gave the day time to warm up and it was almost 18 degrees when we started.

We started from beside the river in Lower Hutt and headed for Wainuiomatta. Unfortunately, between Wainui and us was pretty nasty climb up a five-lane tar seal road. Helen and I had been up it once before on another ride, and this time it didn’t seem as bad even though we started a bit lower. It took us probably 15-20 minutes to reach the top. We then crossed the road and headed into the bush. We followed a four-wheel drive track for a while that undulated along a ridgeline before diving into Wainui on a pretty gnarly jungle track. It had some pretty severe switchbacks that I struggled to ride. Josh and Mike didn’t seem to have much trouble – I am going to have to them to show me how they do it!

We finally made it down to Wainuiomatta. We took some tar seal roads through the town until we reached another four-wheel drive track. This began another climb, actually taking us back onto the ridge we had to ride up to on the tar seal road. It was a pretty full on climb with some pretty steep pinches. Once we were back on the main ridge we followed it for ways north. This was pretty good the track rolled along for several kms and you could keep pretty good pace along it. Then the track dropped down into Moore’s Valley. This was a very chilly descent, but the road was good and again you could really let it go in places.

From Moore’s Valley, we had another climb of about 200 meters up “Everest” the highest point on the course (about 422 meters). This climb was pretty similar to the others with a few really nasty steep pitches that hurt. We had a longish rest at a clearing before the finally pitch to the summit.

At the top we all donned an extra layer as it was mostly downhill from here, it was getting past 3:00PM and the sun wasn’t quite as warm as when we started. The descent was really nice. It started with four-wheel drive track. Soon we dropped into a pine forest and things started to close in on us – it was more like wide singletrack at that point. It was also pretty slippery and I had one pretty nasty near miss. The track emerged back onto a four-wheel drive track before finally ending at the Hutt River. From here it was about 12 mostly downhill kms back to the car on a gravel singletrack that follows the river. On most days the wind comes from the north, but unfortunately yesterday we had a slight southerly, so we had to pedal back into a headwind.

Luckily those last few km went pretty fast and we got back to the cars around 5:00PM. It turned out to be a pretty big ride, for Helen and I at least. Luckily the weather was awesome and we all had a really great time!

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