Sunday, February 11, 2007

Flying or Dying

Today I had my first experience of what is universally recognised as a classic NZ mountainbike ride - The Karapoti.

Made famous by the crazy Kennett Brothers it's 50 km of single trail and four wheel drive tracks through regenerating native bush. It's scenic as hell, but a right brutal bastard on the legs. There's a shit load of up (several sections of which cannot be ridden by mortal men), and heap of down (some of it vitually vertical). Hence the line flying or dying. You're either stuggling up a greasy slope a mere heartbeat from cardiac failure, or plummeting down a trail that seems like it was designed by Satan.

Here's exhibit number one; the rock garden.

Biking down here requires full suspension, nerves of steel, supreme skill, and not quite a full grasp on reality. It's not so much a track as it is a dry waterfall (though I hear in winter it actually is a watercourse).

So once you've bumped, bounced, and flagellated down that little gem you come across exhibit number two; the Devil's Staircase.


This picture doesn't do it justice. I couldn't get a decent shot on the really gnarly section as I was balancing my bike on my back while trying to climb what, to all intents and purposes, appeared to be a greasy clay cliff face.

However it's not all masochism in the wilderness. A lot of the track is really superb to ride. However you do need to watch out for the rocks.

Punctures and the Karapoti go together like crime and punishment. It's a fact of life that at some stage you're going to feel a little flat. I managed to get through with just the one today. But I did happen to snap my chain halfway up the third (and last) climb of the day. While I managed to jury rig a repair (thank God for chain breakers and spare links) having a shorter chain complete shagged the settings on my gears. Granny gear was not an option for what had to be the longest and steepest climb I've ever sweated through in my life. I think Hell wil be something like the experience I suffered.

Still this view and the corresponding downhill blast made it all worthwhile.

All in all this little adventure saw me go through 3 protein bars, 3 bottles of Powerade, 1 bike chain, 1 innertube in the space of just under five and a half hours.

Oh and I sweated off about 4kgs in fluid as well.

It was a blast.

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