If i can pry myself away from the computer, here’s where I’m going. On a superb, borrowed ‘jewel suspension’ bike from my very generous host Jim Hawkbridge.
Three hours later…. Reader, I did the ride.
It’s a straight-up-the-highest-sealed-road-in-N.-Z. hillclimb, about an hour, followed by a very memorable singletrack that has a cross-section of 10-inch diameters ABS pipe. The Long Gulch trail follows a tiny creek, and is so steeply pitched that I had to tiptoe the entire 5 km length. Being alone an’ all….The Special Eyes bike has that typical long-travel fork and precipitous perch saddle height that makes me feel insecure. Add to it grippy disc brakes whose modulation is anything but gradual, and you have a recipe for flap-Jacquie.
That was how I got my bruise at the Whackarewarewa 100 last month –riding a borrowed Turner.
The plummeting singletrack passes a tiny cabin (with a new car parked alongside) tucked in the trees, then it crosses the creek to meet the dirt Skipper Canyon road. I went further down, enough to see the chimneys left behind from the old-timey Welcome Home Hotel.
If I were truly fulla pep, I’d have ridden and ridden a few more miles to see one of the longest single-span suspension bridges in the southern hemisphere, and checked out a cool ghost town. I decided that three hours was a goodly length for a solo ride without pump, patch kit, not even a spare tube. For all I know, the bike had tubeless tires anyway!
Crawling back up the dirt road, it’s easy to see what a challenge building it must have been in the late 1800′s gold frenzy. And had I been here in 1951, I could have gotten a beer at the Welcome Home…I don’t think it burned down a second time (like the inn on top of Tam, it had been burned to the ground and rebuilt)…it was simply taken apart and the bits used elsewhere.
Two huge tour buses passed me, hauling giant rafts and adventure clients.
At the Coronet Peak saddle, a Vertigo Tours bus disgorged 5 clients and one guide. The clients were even more tip-toey than me, and all had pretty heavy armor on…a wave of smugness swept over me.
Ten minutes later I was back at the house, turning yesterday’s minestrone into tonight’s ribollita, hanging out the laundry–these kids keep their clothes impeccable–and falling back into my book, The Story of Pi.