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May 2016

Nice for ducks

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Last weekend Nzo got behind two events, at opposite ends of the mountain biking spectrum.

In Manawatu, the local club was hosting ibike4kids. Organising this event is probably about as easy as sorting out a herd of cats, and if people want to have a go at that, we should support it in some small way.

in Rotorua, the local club was hosting the Triple Crown, an event which was a pre-cursor to the whole enduro thing. It is a small event, limited to 60 club members. We have usually supported it, but never got around to entering it. I once rode past the assembled entrants while nursing a freshly broken collarbone, proving that being in the forest at the same time as the Triple Crown is life-threatening, so we leave it to the keen beans.

On the day, the weather forecast was as bad as it could be short of raining cows. On Friday night the loony looking man on TV1 grinned his way through a litany of rain, thunder, high winds including possible tornados as if he was delivering the winning numbers for next week’s lotto. It looked like a good weekend for sorting out the garage or finishing a long book.

On Saturday morning the sky was clear, and sunshine slanted through the kitchen window with a fair amount of enthusiasm. Checking the weather online still showed likely end-of-the-world conditions, but looking out the window was a different story.

Knowing that so many people were signed on to brave whatever climatic conditions might arrive, and looking out into a bright and sparkling day, the decision was made to get out for a ride, and check on a stage or two of the Triple Crown with any luck. With no clue about which trails were being used or in what order, that would be hit-or-miss, but a try was in order.

I pedalled out of the shed on my weather-proof Krampus, no shock bushes to wreck, full cable housings, and a generous helping of wet lube on the greasy bits, just in case.

Once I was moving I couldn’t stop, and while I got wet undercarriage it was nice out. I wandered the woods, no sign of a Triple Crown, until I was as far south and away from home as I could get without leaving the forest.

Then I turned for home, and I could see the hills were obscured by something, hopefully mist.

It was rain. Gentle at first, then persistent, then hypothermic. Saw nothing much and nobody else for the next couple of wet grinding hours, took two showers and a nap to get all of the forest out of my eyes, and on Tuesday my shoes were still damp.

Turns out the kids got a sunny morning with no rain until they had got their prizes and bolted for home, and the Triple Crown was postponed, all the entrants more than likely sorting out their garages or reading long books.

Balance-Bike The Balance Bike Grand Prix

Medium-course-start The start of the Medium Course Race. No holds barred.

Short-course-start The start of the Short Course race. Line choice can include directly over whatever is in the way.

Skills-course Skills Course. I could ride along that plank if that guy was helping.

 

Irish times

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Last weekend the world’s best enduro riders were in Ireland, racing hard, wrecking gear and racking up points in their World Series. Rae Morrison took to her top with a needle and thread to make it more streamlined. It looked deadly serious.

We have only been to Ireland once, and it was long ago, but we spent most of our time laughing with the locals, who were not very serious at all.

Our race correspondent Wyn Masters made the observation in his facebook feed that he was “In Ireland, where they don't have numbers on their houses, makes sense..”. That called to mind an experience we had in Dublin.

We checked into a backpackers, an old stone building that looked a bit like Mt Eden Prison, if it had a bright green door.

The man at the check-in desk was very friendly and accommodating, and he said that if we didn’t mind some stairs he could give us a bunkroom to ourselves on the seventh floor, with plenty of room, and a bathroom nobody else would be using. At least that is what I think he said, it was not always easy to decipher the exact words of a conversation although the message was clearly hospitable.

It hadn’t looked to me as if the place would have a seventh floor, but he said something like “just up the stairs there, go on, room 702”.

We climbed the stairs, two flights to the third floor, then ran out of stairs. We wandered up and down the corridor to no avail, and returned to the front desk looking confused.

The man at the desk looked confused as well. He said just go up the stairs, carry on, you can’t go any further that the seventh floor, when you are there you are there. We tried again, and failed again.

This time the concierge had a good think about it and said, as if following a mental diagram, up the stairs, then across the corridor, then up the stairs, through the door down the hall, then carry on, do you follow?

Or words to that effect.

Armed with the new information about the hall and the door, we mounted the stairs again. Sure enough, at the third floor landing there was a short hallway to another building, with a door at the end, and beyond that some more stairs.

Going down.

We descended another four floors, until we arrived at the seventh, which was underground and actually one level below the reception.

He was bang on. Counting from reception we were on the seventh floor, and we had a nice big bunkroom to ourselves, more showers and other amenities than we could use, and a really pleasant stay.

No view to speak of, but you can’t have everything.

 

Annual checkup

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About the same time we moved to Rotorua to start the Nzo period of our lives, our son moved to Queenstown for snowboarding. Both moves turned out to be permanent. Living in these locations makes casual visits reliably difficult and expensive, so we see each other on an annual basis. Once a year we meet and we try to get a few rides in.

As a kid, Nath took a leaf out of my book. I hosed away all my energy on racing bikes, he spent his formative years mastering skateboarding, neither of us had much left over for school. Skateboarding more or less full-time does stuff to knees and ankles that snowboarding doesn’t fix. The transition to snow was quick but not painless. The snowboarding career was short. He went down south for the snow, but ended up staying for the dirt.

He always had bikes as a kid, and we dragged him along to mountain bike races once he was old enough. He never looked enthusiastic, but he was a young teenager, say no more.

When he was about 17 and beginning his career as a chef we left him in charge of the house while we went travelling for a couple of years. As soon as we were out of the way he made a full transition to mountain biker.

By the time we got home he had specialised in downhill. We developed an overlapping mountain biking programme, but in the venn diagram containing all mountain bikers we occupied different circles, which barely overlapped.

Then we went our separate ways, geographically speaking. We started making these, he created a new career making and riding  things like this. We have ridden together many times since, and it always underlines what a great sport we have for people of different ages and tastes to do together.

I could never keep up with him downhill but I could at least I could usually make him pay for getting to the top. The bike he was on most years was a sled, making up in sheer weight what it lacked in sensible gears. Every time he lifted whatever I was riding into the van he would mutter something about how I was cheating.

A year ago he turned up with a state of the art trail rig, and things got real. On his day, he got hard to deal with, but as most of his training was still on a twenty inch in mid-air, I could grind him down if I could trick him into a long outing.

This year, forget about it. Don’t know what he has been doing lately, but now he has to wait for me on the climbs as well as the drops. We had three weeks of the best rides together, we finished his visit off with three smashfests over two days, then he went south.

So did I, figuratively.

Came down with a cold and haven’t been on my bike since he left.