Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's not called Blowhard for no reason...

Having been given an early finish from work I did a few jobs and then headed out home. Got changed and cruised out to the Ashley gorge and round to the start of the Blowhard track for round 2 of Nelson v Blowhard track. I had more time this time around and the added bonus of my light so the setting sun was not going to be a problem. Got out of the van and headed up at 5.15pm. Held it in the middle chainring up the 4wd track and felt pretty good. Got to the end of that and noticed a Landcruiser parked at the mud puddle. Figured it would be some hunters so better not to my deer imitation to much. Hit the knarly trail up from there and had to slap it into granny and grovelled up as far as I could keeping traction and the front wheel on the ground, not very far... had to walk and crank hard out for some time with a few not so steep breaks in between, until I came upon 2 walkers (1 with rifle) and said gidday. One said he thought they were mad walking up there let alone biking it. Not long past them I hit the really steep stuff and wished I had brought my crampons to help get up there. Managed to haul my tired arse and bike up and carried on slowly through the bush. Eventually I made it out to the tops. Had a brief look about and went on past where I got to on the first attempt. The riding from there out was much better, with nice views and some good trail even though there is still the odd little push here and there. Got out to about as far as I could before hitting a bit of swamp and the track starting to disappear which was about 1000m altitude. I started at 300m so it was a good climb. I would guess I covered only about 6-7km to get there too. It was getting dark by this time as well so I headed back down while the natural light was still OK. The track was great going down with some nice flowing parts and some good technical parts as well. After about 10mins of enjoyable riding I met up with the hunters again and had a chat. Turned out they were from Christchurch and were planning to stay out under the stars the night, which was still very warm at that point although the wind up there seems to be a constant (hence the name Blowhard). After that I needed the light on in the bush as it was difficult to make out the track properly and the trail has a lot of loose rocks on it. I made my way down carefully to the top of the steepest section and rolled down, it is pretty loose with a mix of rocks strewn about up to about infant head size. These rocks proved very good at knocking the front wheel off line some distance making control on the steep stuff very difficult. I felt pretty much only half in control for some of it and it is a long decent with not many places to gather it up again either. Managed to get down Ok, although there were several hairy moments before I got the the 4wd track. I think if you had a 6" travel full susser this would be easy but a cross county hardtail with the seat up is not really ideal. But that challenge is half the fun. Headed out the 4wd track and made it back to the van OK. Calculated the ride time to be 2.5 hours. Above is a photo I took of the typical trail gradient and type on the first half of the ride. The steepness is a bit hard to see, but just imagine it is mostly unrideable!!!!

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