Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Craigieburn Lung shredder!

Note: Photos from previous visit to Craigieburn.

Chris managed to get another day off on a Wednesday and we were trying to get together a small but capable posse to ride the beautiful Craigieburn alpine trails. Unfortunately the earthquakes on Monday afternoon meant most people were busy cleaning up to do any riding so it was just Chris and I again. Chris arrived at my place at about 9am and loaded ourselves and gear into the 4wd. T came too, and we picked up some supplies on the way through Oxford. The day was fine, but with a bit of gusty nor-west wind coming through. I was worried that the wind would be way worse in the mountains, but when we got there it was actually less. So great for riding. T dropped us off and went to Arthurs Pass for coffee and a look around. We headed up the Broken River access road a few Kms and found the bottom of the Luge track to go up to the saddle. This was the first time Chris had been there so I warned him it was a bit of a climb so he should pace himself. I tried to do the same but my unfit state and the altitude combined in a way which made me feel severely aerobically challenged!!! I was so slow and had to stop for breath at least 7 or 8 times and felt like crap. I remember feeling way better last time I did it. I guess the track was softer and more resistant this time as well. Eventually we got to the saddle and decided to have a look up "Helicopter Hill". We pushed the bikes up (I was thinking I would just go a little way up with the bike and walk the rest as the sign said it was only 500m). Then the track opened out onto the ridge and we could ride some of it although the wind was pretty against that at the time. Walked the rest as it was pretty steep and checked out possible lines to take on the way down as it looked doable even on the really rocky sections. Got to the top where the shaded areas were all frosted and had a great view. Chris took some photos (I didn't as someone misplaced my camera and we couldn't find it before we left) and he went down a little way to take some video of me descending the top open section. I tried to make it look good, but probably failed, but it was super fun and then we did some more video on the technical sections. I almost crashed when I tried to ride the rocky steep as bit as I couldn't make a sharp left turn safely so went ahead into some bushes. Luckily I managed to bail safely. Got down and descended to the junction below the saddle and turned right. Chris was loving the trail and went past me. I had trouble seeing as the speed was making my eyes water having no glasses on. Clear lenses would have been great. Also a bit more fork travel would help too...

Got to the road and started the grind up. I don't remember it being so long last time either, but I knew it was a pig to climb anyway. At least this time I was feeling better and kept up OK. I think I am better on steady climbs at the moment. Had a break near the top hairpin corner and then another at the carpark area at the top for food. Showed Chris the trail on the opposite mountain face which I think shocked him a bit as it looks like a mad goat trail on a cliff from there. I guess it is in a few places too...

Got to the start of the trail and Chris wanted to take some pics but his camera decided to give up so we went without pics from there. Chris went in first and had a good pace on to start with but then got a bit spooked after a while so I went ahead so I could warn him of any tricky parts. I managed to ride most of it pretty we and was enjoying the ride immensely, especially as we were getting the last of the suns' warmth before it dropped below the westward peaks. Got caught out by some steep climbs on rock scree surfaces a couple of times but managed the rest of the technical sections very well. We even had an audience (2 walkers) for the last and biggest and trickiest scree section who were very impressed that we could ride it OK.

I even rode the little washout section at the end of it that I fell into last time I rode there. It has been made a bit less dangerous now though so that helps a lot. Chris rode most of it well too, but was a bit freaked out on some of the exposed sections, which I was also on my first time there. We got to the intersection and headed up to the ridge again and both were really feeling it this time and had a couple of cramps but managed to keep going and ride most of it. I let Chris go ahead from the saddle on the Luge track as I knew it was rough and much more difficult on my 100mm fork and I was pretty tired already too. He shot ahead and I kept my own pace which was still pretty good. I struggled on the really rough rooty sections, but was OK on the rest. Clipped a few trees on the way down including 2 in a row, but got right down with no other problems. Sped down the road the rest of the way and met T at the bottom and packed up again. Stopped at the Sheffield Pie shop just before 5pm and they had only 1 left (roast garlic vege pie) but they said they could microwave us any other pie we wanted. Got 2 each and then I decided to take to roast garlic 1 and it was the best by far. Highly recommend that 1 for sure. Got home about 6 and had a couple of beers before Chris went home.

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