I think we've come to the general conclusion now that my blogs will be a week late! Last weekend was an absolutely stellar weekend for riding. Saturday saw me head up Pahiatua Track from Palmerston North and onto North Range Road through the wind farm. The day was spectacular and the views complemented it well. I rode the full distance of the farm and down the other side onto Ballance Gorge Road, then back up and over the way I came... All in all 82km and just shy of 1500m worth of climbing, with a 550m climb straight up either side of the wind farm. It was quite chilly up in the ranges and the fact that there was patches of snow strewn along the side of the road indicated it had maybe been quite cold up there for a while now (I purposely rode through any snow I could... Love the crunch crunch sound it makes!). The ride home saw me trying to (and succeeding in) outrun a menacing storm that was making it's way over the ranges behind me... I hung my bike up in the garage just as it started raining for the evening. Phew!
Sunday was quite an exciting day for me as I threw the bike in the van and headed out past Levin to meet with Simon Kennett and Sasha to ride Mt Thompson. I was secretly quite chuffed to head out on an exploratory ride with Simon and maybe hoping that one of the many photos we took on the day may make me a superstar in print in the next NZ Mountain Bike Rides! Haha! It didn't take long for the bussle of the highway to die behind us as we headed out towards Mt Thompson, and after having to sprint to outrun a ferocious jack russell, we arrived at the start of the climb. Simon commented on how it wasn't too bad a climb as long as you had a granny ring, at which point Sasha and I both looked down at my dual-ring XX set-up. My response to this was to proceed to tell Sasha how soft she was for even needing a granny ring... I then distinctly remember grovelling up one of the steeper pitches, well off the pace and apologising for "dissing her granny ring". The climb wasn't too bad... The views were stunning and on such a clear day, we could even see across to Mt Ruapehu, covered in snow. I must admit that my legs felt pretty heavy after yesterday's ride and I struggled to keep up with Simon and Sasha (especially with no granny ring! I may as well have been riding a single speed!). We finally arrived at the top of the 700m climb and made our way across to the summit to check out the well-earned views across to Kapiti Island and the tip of the South Island... Then it was all down hill! The descent was this wicked, gnarly mix of slippery slick rock and soccer-ball sized rocks... A bit like riding down a river bed... Super fun riding, and whilst I pinned it as hard as I could, I was no match to the technical prowess of Simon and Sasha. This was real old skool mountain biking... Something that made you feel like a T-Rex might bound up next to you at any given moment. After stopping for some photos opportunities (for the record, I'm not the best model and have a tendency to stack it on a section of track that I have just ridden five times with no problem... Thank God Simon didn't catch that on camera!). The downhill seemed to last forever (like all good downhills should) and we were sorely disappointed when we realised we had run out of elevation. A bloody fun day out on the bike and made me very keen to get out and do new rides more often!