Monday, April 5, 2010

Wharfdale River Expedition...

As has now become tradition, when you arrange to do a ride on the Wharfdale track it decides to get wet. Met Chris at home at about 8.30am after doing some maintenance on the X-Edition, ie a chain lube and stuck on a new rear disc rotor (the old one kept warping with heat). We loaded up the Bongo and cruised to Oxford via German road. Stopped for supplies and some loo paper and headed up to the Wharfdale car park. Felt natures call there so visited the lovely long drop for a spell. Luckily I had the paper as there was nothing left of the DoC supply that was there last time. Got ready went to head into the forest with a bit of light rain falling. Got 3 metres and realized I didn't have my pack on, the realized I had just locked it in the Van and it had the keys in it!! We tried Chris's keys with no luck, and then thought we might need to break a window. I found some fence wire and had a go at lifting the lock from in the door but didn't get anywhere. Then I slipped it in the door and got it down by the lock knob but couldn't get enough grip on it. With some help from Chris pulling the door and a bit of fine tuning of the wire shape much to our relief and excitement we got it open and I climbed through to get the pack out this time...

Took it easy on the way up to the saddle as I knew it is a long ride especially if you are buggered to soon. Coming down the first longish decent I heard a bit of noise from Chris but didn't think much of it. Stopped a little further along and had to wait a minute or so before he showed. I thought he must have dropped his chain or something, but he reported his front wheel had washed out on a root and shot him off into the bush!! He had some mud on his side to prove it and a bit of a knock on his hand. Luckily nothing serious though. Carried on managing to do some of the tricky bits and not others, but feeling pretty good considering the wetness and slippery roots, although that is par for the course on the Wharfdale. Chris was having a lot of trouble with wet and foggy glasses also. Most of the trail was pretty much a small river with nice deep puddles which you couldn't tell the depth of. I found the the right down the middle route was often the best as the mud seemed less even if it was deeper there. We both got caught in a few of the bigger mud bogs along the way but generally got them pretty well. I was surprised at how well I managed to ride one of the toughest sections from this side of the saddle from the first hairpin about 1.5km from the saddle, I managed a clean ride right up that through the big steppy bogs and up the next steep hairpin (although I had a little dab just at the top of the hairpin where the steep chute comes out of the corner) and I cleaned the rest to the saddle so was happy about that. We stopped there and had a feed and drink and got rained on and cold. Not the best idea considering we were about to descend for 20mins or so after that making warming up difficult. We headed down and had a good run carefully avoiding the slippery roots along the first section. Had fun riding some of the tricky bits where the slips have changed the trail but mucked a few of them up myself. Really enjoyed the decent and found ourselves at the river crossing in no time. Cruised to the hut having a bit of fun on the last little section before the hut with the big steps and roots making a nice technical bit of riding. Stopped for a little bit more food etc and checked out the river flats for a minute before heading back.

Had to climb back up the tricky steps and then managed to ride down the equally steep and tricky opposite side to the river. I stopped to take a couple of pics of Chris doing it again successfully which are above. We cruised on in quite nice weather for a bit before the rain came in again for good. Climbing was good with a couple of dabs here and there and a few clambers over washed out creek crossings. We got to the top faster than I thought we would and headed down the now very wet south side. Chris really struggling with visibility and me going OK but getting wet but the overhanging trees, rain and spray off the track. My helmet seemed to have a constant river of water running off the front of it onto my nose!! Kept up a pretty good pace and waited a few times for Chris but no major whoopsies luckily. Had a bit of a slide on the cliff edge coming down into the steep rocky hairpin down into the biggest of the creek crossings not to far from the saddle. Thankfully it was only the back wheel and it gripped again on the lower bit of track otherwise I would have needed a parachute or a strong tree to grab!!! Made out way out to the bridges and felt pretty good so I kept a good pace on going down and decided to nail the last climb holding a pretty good gear right up to the gateway followed by Chris not far behind. Had a ball (and water blasting) on the last downhill section hitting the whole thing at full noise. I had to blow the water out of my mouth on each breath as it was like riding into a hose being sprayed in your face the whole way, with crap from the trail getting in your eyes and then being washed out again luckily. Got back to the Van and cleaned/dried off and changed into dry clothes. Much better prepared than last time. Easy cruise back home from there.

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