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What i saw in the park in the dark


On Tuesday night I saw three beautiful things in the forest. Well, more like three hundred, and at one point perhaps three million, but back to the main three: in the carpark, while layering up, I heard what sounded like a flock of tropical birds. It turned out to be a group of women gathering for a night ride. It is good to see adults cheerfully animated about anything when most of the population is masticating the evening news, so it was a beautiful thing to see four women fizzing about taki ng themselves into the forest on a cold night to ride their bikes.

One of the husbands was also on the loose, so he and I teamed up for our own little adventure. Kev’s been riding mountain bikes for as long as anybody, he went racing in the States in the first wave of kiwis back in the 90s. Derailed for a while by work, life, and those pesky motocross bikes, his mountainbike career is now back in full swing. His good wife has entered him in this weekend’s N-Duro (without consultation) so he is even back to racing. We stopped in a pitch black clearing to fix a flat, and Kev produced a minor monologue on the provenance and excellence of his 29er singlespeed: who he had horse-traded with to get it how it now stands, how great the handling is, what an all-around good thing it had turned out to be. And, even better, what he was going to do to it to make it even more awesome - can’t tell, it’s a secret! For somebody with as many years into an activity as Kev has, to be this excited about a hardtail with no gears is a beautiful thing to see.

We parted ways after a satisfying lap of the woods, and I dawdled up to the top of Tokorangi, which overlooks town. Rotovegas sparkled below, stars covered the sky, and the distant mill hissed and clanked, producing clouds of steam, lit from underneath, that billowed out of the forest.

A good time to turn off the lights and stand there feeling lucky.

Another rider was approaching, his light bobbing and weaving as he crawled up to the high point. Turned out to be Blair, another person that has been rolling around the woods for longer than most. He reckoned he was out for a quick ride before dinner, and was headed where I was, down Corridor.

Blair went first, because he’s faster, and staying behind revealed the third thing of beauty: a good rider travelling fast in his own pool of light, which disconnected from the earth as he hit each jump, becoming soft and vague, and leaving him hanging in the air for a long time before rushing back up to his wheels as they touched down, and gluing him into the next berm before dropping away again.




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