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March 2014



I had a bike ride last week that I announced later was one of my all-time top 5 rides in the Whakarewarewa Forest, ever. Which automatically qualifies it for the top 10 list of all time, such is the splendour of a late summer Whakarewarewa outing.

What does that mean though?

Obviously, the jackpoints in my brain were prefectly aligned with the wires fired up by that ride. Like a particular drug will latch on to certain little sockets up there inside the crash helmet to produce its own special mix of whatever it is designed to do, the perfect ride produces the right balance of fun, terror, and that feeling of having performed something better than usual.

The other part of the equation is that I was riding alone, with nobody to compare myself to. I like riding with friends, but a quick lap of the local is often solo.

One of the best things about a mountain bike ride is that the feeling it creates is completely subjective. My bike looks better without a computer, so it doesn’t have one. My phone is for taking the odd photo, and otherwise ignoring. Hearing it jangling away in my pocket is a clear reminder that other people are not doing what I am doing, but other wise it serves no purpose. I take it along in case there is coverage if things go wrong. It is certainly not for tracking my progress for later comparison and analysis.

They say that by observing a thing we can change it, and I can tell you for a fact that if I knew how fast I was not going on the long climb in the middle of that top 5 outing, it would have affected the ranking system. If a man rides very slowly up a hill in a forest, and nobody is there to heckle him, was he really that slow? Or could he have been rolling purposefully up that same slope, using one cog higher than he normally does, and even clicking up another one near the top of Lobotomy? And if he did, how did that make him feel? I can tell you that, too: pretty damn good. And not having any concrete evidence to the contrary, it has already turned into the memory of a stomping good climb. I tore that hill apart like I may never do again.

Especially if anybody is watching.

Same thing going down: the same man on the same bike can be a spectacle of spasticity when chasing the zen masters that can be found in these woods. And yet there he is, floating from root to natural berm, effortlessly turning obstacles into speed, in a series of almost balletic moves that seemed to be playing in slow motion.

That is how I recall it anyway. So that is more or less what happened.



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