Left work last night a little early to beat the traffic and picked Rich up on the way to Huntsbury Ave. Parked at the top and got changed and going at about 5.30pm. Up the gravel road with a pretty strong easterly blowing accross the ridge. We kept a good pace up as we had to be at Wazza's at 7pm for the PFMTBC trip DVD premier. We got to the top in pretty good time and hit straight into Vernon for the decent to Rapaki. I stopped for a quick drink and to check out what a guy was up to on the road below. It turned out he was looking for a dog and yelling out it's name. We couldn't see anything from our higher view point. Rich took a good lead to start with and I tried to reel him in, making a little progress by the bottom. Nice and fast but easy going here. It seems that by making the trail so smooth the speed goes up and therefore the danger level has actually increased.
I took over the lead up Witch Hill and had a really good climb, which as I noticed at the top could have been to do with my fork being locked out. It probably was also locked out on the way down Vernon, but as it is so smooth I didn't notice. Out onto the road we battled up to Castle rock with some head winds on the lower section but a little more shelter on the top section of the road. We breifly stopped to talk to a young dude out running at the top of the trail. I lead in again but found the flow difficult due to grass hiding the trail and rocks. Still kept a reasonable speed on most of it until I punctured near the lowest part of the track. When I took the wheel out I found that the tip of the valve was bent over about 45 degrees so took out my mini pliers to straighten it so I could get air into it. When I put the pump on it thought it broke off so couldn't be repaired. It was only on its second ride. I put in my spare tube and we turned around for the climb back up. I quite like the challenge of this climb but still stuffed up the last pinch which Rich managed to clean. At the top we met a roadie sitting on the rocks sipping a Woodstock. Clearly not your average roadie. We talked with him for about 10 minutes as he was pretty interesting. Turned out he had been a pro in his earlier years and had also been a trail digger at Wairoa.
Rich lead off down the road and I pulled up to check out a possible line up the bank giving him a 300+ metre lead. The tail wind along the lower section of road gave us a super fast entry to the Witch Hill track again which I held all the way to the top and into the decent section. Nice flow down here for a change. Normally I seem to get hooked up on a few of the rocks somewhere along the way. We carried on straight up into Mt Vernon with a pretty good pace. By the top of the steeper lower section we caught up to a couple of others and sat behind them until they turned off towards Farmtrack. Made it up the next steep push and criused along the flatter section down to the road and into the Traverse. At the bottom of the rocks it was tempting to keep going but we turned around and headed back towards Huntsbury and out to the runway. We crossed the fence, noting that the wire has been tighted, and headed along the ridge where the strong easterly was making balancing difficult. I went around the big jump on this section as it was too windy but lower down we hit the next lot with no dramas as the wind wasn't too bad there. About 200m from the end I felt the rear tire go down and pulled up, Rich went on by and I walked back to the car.
Back to the car at about 6.50pm and to the super market at St Martins for some food and a beer then off to Wazzas for the DVD showing.