Today’s riding was all about downhill. Mark has a trail that he and a couple buddies use and it’s awesome. I was up early too try and take my shit bike back, but they opened at 10:30am and I wanted to be out at Mark’s by then. I decided I would leave the bike in the hostel and then hitch hike out to Waitati to meet up with Mark. It took me about an ½ hour to get picked-up.
Scott, a 30 something Kiwi, who moved down to Dunedin to work on the new stadium, was kind enough to pullover. He tossed his pug dog to the floor (it seemed the dog wasn’t happy to be giving his spot up to a stranger) and gave me a lift to Waitati. He was a really nice guy, who hitched all over Europe and felt he was just paying it back by giving me a lift. He dropped me at the local Dairy and I called Mark to come get me.
Mark was there to pick me up in about 10mins and we then headed back to his place to load up the bikes. Mark lives in a wing of an old hospital. It’s pretty sick! He has a nature reserve surrounding his place – amazing views!
He decided to lend me his 2008 Specialized Demo – a big, heavy downhill bike. This was a great bike for me to have, especially on this track – it could just bomb down the hill.
Once we loaded up the bikes we headed to Marks buddies place in the Seacliff area. His name was Pete and he had built a lot of the trails in the area. He had a big north shore structure on his front lawn – Awesome! We unloaded and had a chat with Pete – real nice guy and supposedly hell of a rider. He’s getting over a hernia so he’s off the bike for now. Mark and I then headed off down the road, took a right on a gravel road and biked for about 1km. We then lifted our bikes over a barbwire fence and biked into the native forest. We rode for a short distance and then it got way too steep to ride. It was time for hike-a-bike.
This was the most physically exhausting thing of the day; the task was pushing/carrying 40 pound bike up very steep terrain, was a hell of a workout! It took us about 30 mins of hike-a-bike to get to the top of this trail. This trail had everything I would want in a downhill trail. It had three really technical spots where you had to enter with caution or you would eat it, some steep roll-ins, small kickers, rock drops and some smooth cornering with really tight lines. It wasn’t as well manicured as the track we rode yesterday (Switchback track), but it was a true downhill track. Mark called it a goat trail as it was narrow and windy and wasn’t overally manicured – kind of natures trail. The first trip down the hill was pretty good – I managed to ride one of the three of the really technical parts. I did get tossed at one corner as I came in too hot and had lost my line and then there was a sketchy rock drop between two trees. You had to drop in slowly, hit the rear the break to swing around the back to make the next drop between two rocks and keep the line as it was a really tight section where it would be easy to fuck yourself up if you bailed. You wouldn’t want to spill in this section as bailing options weren’t good. I lost my nerve looking at it – I didn’t want to just huck it as it was very unforgiving. For my first ride down I was happy. Yah I bailed in a two spots, but that’s mountain biking and it was my first ride down the track. Mark is a jack-rabbit when he rides. Dude can rip and it is impressive to watch. He is all about going fast! I learnt a great deal by riding behind him and watching where he picked his lines. I found that if I would just lay off the breaks and follow him I would ride smoother! After a beer brake, we decided it was time to head back up.
Another 30mins of hike-a-bike and we were at the top again. The climbing was exhausting! Im sure my legs will be feeling it tomorrow! This time down I was way too loose and ended crashing in three spots. I rode two of the technical spots, but my nerve for the technical tree/rock drop wasn’t there. I did feel more cornering was really good as I drifted through a couple – pretty sweet feeling.
At the bottom we decided we would go work on cutting a corner and so the third time we hiked the hill with our bikes. I was definitely feeling it now. We got to the corner we wanted to work on and we moved a bunch of soil and added it to the top of a drop. We worked at it for about 45mins then Mark said it was time to ride again. We grabbed out bikes and went the rest of the way up. At the top we had a beer, he showed me the bush and explained some of the trees and nature. There was this tree, a Lampwood that only grows in two areas of NZ. The Maori used to make walking sticks as they were bendable when wet and then very strong once the dried out. I loved the info about the forest; Mark was pretty knowledgeable.
Bye this time it was 3:30pm and I decided this would be my last run since I had to hitch hike back into Dunedin and wanted to do so in sunlight. Knowing that this was my last ride on this trail for a while, I was planning on hitting everything and trying to get one clean run in. I tried to stay on Marks back wheel and it worked well for me. I hit everything and rolled through the rock/tree drop section no problem. I kind of let it all hang out and it was sweet as! It was a great feeling and I hope to come back and get some more riding in. He and his buddies have what sounds like an 8-9 day bike trip planned and Im going to try go, if my schedule/fitness/bike skills permit. Sounds epic! Mark then took me back to the dairy and we parted ways. I just want to say thanks to Mark for everything. I never would have ridden or found such amazing trails without him. He hooked me up with a bike and was the coolest guy. Cheers for that!
I then waited on the side of the road for about 25 mins before someone picked me up. An older couple in there 50’s picked stopped and we chatted about what I was doing in NZ until we got into Dunedin. Im going to get a good feed in, and hit the head early. Back to work tomorrow – but ill be day dreaming of Mark’s downhill track. Another great day of riding!