Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rain, rain, rain, rain, sun & two rides.

As you may have guessed from the title - it rained most of last week (Mon. - Thurs.). This meant that I had plenty of time, finally, in the evenings to get stuck in to reading The Count of Monte Cristo. I got it out of the library quite a few weeks ago & all 1250 pages have been mostly sitting around unopened. It's quite good so far - about a quarter of the way through - but not quite as action-packed as the Three Musketeers (same author). But now the sun is out a bit more, it'll be ages before I finish it.

The All Whites' first game at the FIFA World Cup was on Tuesday morning, so I was up at 5.30 to watch it before work - it was just as well I didn't leave at 7.10 as I usually do. All those who watched the whole game were rewarded by that very exciting equaliser. Also of note last week, was the visitor we had at two o'clock on Saturday morning. I was woken by a banging noise coming from the laundry - after it didn't stop, I decided I had better get up & check it out. Alex also had the same idea & we were a little mystified by the noise coming out of the drier (which we haven't used yet). The noise was explained when a ferret poked its head around the corner of the washer. As the laundry is in the middle of the building, we were struggling to work out how it had got inside. All was revealed when we harried it outside & it promptly when through a small hole in the wall & walked back up the duct to the drier to thrash around some more & then reappear. It was really friendly & tame, so Megan & Alex made a little bed for it & it slept in the bathroom the rest of the night. We quite enjoyed its company (very well behaved for a ferret - no biting or hissing) for most of Saturday, until we finally tracked down its owners - friends of friends living a couple of blocks away. By then I was awake & hungry, so I stayed up & watched the All Blacks thrash Wales in the second half at Carisbrook.

Quite tired on Saturday morning, so it was spent watching football & cleaning my bike (got rid of the horrible grinding noise from my bottom bracket when it was under load - very dusty in there, strange considering I only greased it a month previous). Alex & I headed back to K-Country for another ride that afternoon. We were going to do Baldy Pass - on the opposite side of Barrier Lake to where we rode last weekend. We climbed up a forestry road for about ninety minutes - it wasn't too steep (except a little singletrack at the top of the pass), but we did have to clamber under & over a lot of fallen trees. This part of the ride wasn't at all scenic - recent logging had opened up the view a bit, but also left a lot of debris.
Stopping briefly at the top of the pass for a rest & a bit more geocaching, it wasn't long before we were heading down through some nice sharp, loose rocks.
The trail down then turned into another great test of roots & rocks & not-falling-off-the-side. It was technical enough for the first part, there was never really any place to let go & blast down - but eventually it started flowing & I could get some speed up & still remain in control. As we got close to the creek bed it flattened out a lot & was good pedalling fun. For our nice climb, we got a good twenty minutes of bliss before hitting the road & riding back to the car. On the other side of Barrier Lake, you can see Jewel Pass, which we so enjoyed last weekend, & to the right of that Barrier Mountain - which was a decent climb well rewarded by more great downhill.

Saturday evening was a barbecue for James's thirtieth birthday. A good night with plenty of good company, food (Zara's crab sauce was incredible & didn't last long), beer & cake. I was well full by the end of it - I skipped the bars, as I wanted to get up & watch the All Whites-Italy game on Sunday morning. It was well worth getting up for - who would have thought we would be 1-0 up so early & then manage to hold off waves of attack for the last sixty or so minutes. I popped in to Calgary for some new tyres & on my return, Alex & I biked three-quarters of the way up to Whiteman's Gap to try out another downhill trail - the Reclaimer (which just reminds me of moving coal & PC around & in to the Ironplant). Here's a video of the trail, obviously taken early spring as there is still quite a bit of snow lying around. We got a bit more downhill out of it for our thirty minutes of climbing - as we were a bit slower going down. Those first two rocky corners were a bit tricky as they are steeper than they look (in fact, most of the trail is steeper than it looks on a helmet cam), but after that it was all ridable for me. From the end of the trail, we cut over to the Nordic Center for a few more trails (making up as we went along), before hitting our favourite way down from the Nordic Center to town. I was pleased to actually clear a tabletop or two, my doubles need a bit more work though. The hairy corner just above a pond was a lot less tricky after a race on the trail last weekend helped to smooth it out a bit.

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