Monday, October 1, 2012

The Art of Improvising When You are Underprepared

My feelgood story of the week was above and beyond a full stunning weekend in the forest (although I will talk about that, too... Just to make anyone who stayed inside with a hangover all weekend insanely jealous). Sorry for the lack of photos this week, but I was to busy riding, enjoying the sun and doing some much-needed work on my tan lines... An abundance of photos is promised for next week's blog!!!

I'd been a good little girl at the start of the week, heading out on my rides early in the morning before work to keep the evenings free for a couple of work functions and other stuff that was going on. Thursday had been carefully planned for a sleep-in (to 6am). Finishing work at 5pm and then having a massage booked for 7.15pm meant I could fit my 90minute time trial session in nice and snug between the two with time left over for a shower before my massage (I thought it would only be polite of me to clean up before hitting the table). Cutting such fine time also lent itself to the inevitability of riding mishaps... These always happen when you don't have time for them...

So I set off after work, along the lakeside and towards the Waipa entrance of the forest via the new creekside trail being built by Red and his crew. I didn't bother putting my lights on (although they were in my bag)... I knew I'd be done in the forest by the time it got dark. As I crossed the Te Puia carpark and descended the first switchback, I noticed an unusually loose sensation in the rear wheel of my bike... A flat... Brilliant... Of all the times I get a flat, it had to be tonight... Annoying, but at least I was prepared with spare tube and CO2 (I've never been a big fan of hand pumps... I'd rather spend the time back on the bike than pumping up a tire on the side of the trail). Then I realised I had no tyre levers. Luckily, the tyre/rim combo I had wasn't too tight and I was able to pull them on and off with my hands (and the help of a little cursing). The first CO2 canister I tried to screw into the pump nib was unthreaded (nice one). I always carry two canisters in case of emergency (or stupidity, in this case), and soon I was on my way to a fully inflated tyre. As I unscrewed the pump nib, keen to jump back on the bike and continue on my way, I heard the dreaded hissing sound that is symptomatic of screw-on pumps unthreading the core of the valve... I screwed it back on to avoid losing anymore air, but I knew it wouldn't last long... Hmmmm... What to do? I was about a km away from Waipa and from there, I could do a pretty easy fire trail ride home over the hill on a flat tyre if I had to. I unscrewed the canister, left the nib attached to the valve and cautiously continued along the trail.

The tyre was flat by Waipa. It was my own fault. I had taken a tube and CO2 and all the rest of my gear quite arrogantly with the intention that I would never use it, so didn't bother checking it was all the right stuff. I was lucky enough to happen across  a couple of good blokes just before the Waipa carpark. Phil (my knight in shining armour that day) offered a spare tube and a pump and I went from having to make my way home in limp mode to being able to set off and finish off my training session! YUSSS! It was such a poignant reminder of what a great community we live in here. I hope that some day, I get the opportunity to repay the favour somewhere out on the trails for Phil. I arrived at my massage muddy and tired, hit the hot pools, took a battering on the table and then rode home underneath a moonlit sky. Perfect! What a cool place we live in!

Fast forward to Saturday. After heading out early with Tony last week, I decided that early was the way to go. It meant I got the forest to myself for the larger part of the morning, and then had the afternoon spare to do bits and pieces around the house. First stop on my ride was straight up Katore to see if the new trails that adjoins Corridor was finished yet. It was, and I was super impressed with it... It's going to be such a huge asset to the forest to have a lovely, flowing grade 3 descent from the top of Katore. It makes it more accessible and more enjoyable for a larger portion of the mountain biking community (although the climb is still there... Sorry...). I then took in a nice wide loop that encompassed A Trail, Tickler, Sidewinder, Frontal Lobotomy, Tuhoto Ariki, Split Enz, Pondy, Chinese Menu, Be Rude Not To, Lions Head, then climbed Katore again to finish off on Tank to Town trail.

This was followed by a relaxing spin into town to pick up my week's vege shopping from the local markets, and I was rather excited to be sporting an awesome new Camelbak pack which quite comfortably fitted all my shopping and bits and pieces. The Octane 18X actually has a bunch of room in it, but can be zipped up to make the pack smaller, and is super super lightweight, perfect for carrying my stuff into town for my daily commute then hitting up the trails after work. It's the big brother of the pack I used when I was in South Africa and Europe and the same as the one that John used for our Cape Epic assault (although I got the blue one because it was prettier). Having a good pack makes all the difference when you have to carry stuff on the trails... And I reckon this will also be very useful when I start heading out on big exploratory missions over Summer (looking forward to that!!!).
Sunday morning I coerced my partner back onto her bike with the sole intention of taking her up Katore and down the new trail. To my delight, she thoroughly enjoyed it. We took the dogs out, too, and the intention was to head out for an hour with her and the dogs, ride home with them, then head out for another 3 hours to finish off my training for the day. On our way up Katore, we bumped into Helen and Dean whilst I was trying to create a tow device out of the dog lead to tow my partner up the hill (it didn't quite work out, so unfortunately, she had to ride herself) and we hit up the new trail with them, then I rudely pushed on at the bottom of the trail, pretty keen to keep moving and not lose the interest of our furry children who have a tendency to wander (sorry guys!). I dropped off the partner and the dogs at home and then headed off back up Nursery Hill for the second time that day, then A Trail and across to Bunny Jugs, up the hill to Tihi O Tawa, then Little Red Riding Huck, Dragons Tail, Be Rude Not To, Challenge and Dipper to round off the three hours, then climbed back up Katore Road again to do some trail exploring down a trail head Dean had pointed out to me when we were up there earlier in the day. The trail was awesome, and evidently not frequently used. It snaked it's way down through the native forest and popped me out at the other end of Long Mile Road to finish the day off. PERFECT! In the end, I climbed about 3500m over the course of the weekend.

That night, I created a Strava account to upload my Magellan Switch Up data to (super easy to do, by the way)... Inadvertently, it looks like I have taken out a couple of QOMs and am sitting in second or third on  a number of other trails... This could be dangerous... EVERYTHING is a competition now... GAME ON!!!

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