Returning from the ‘Holiday within a Holiday’ (a concept worth a try), there was only one more #Bromance ride that I wanted to tick off my list in NZ before Christmas takes over and then I am dragged actually kicking, screaming and cursing through the airbridge and away from the NZ Summer to return to the Global Hub.

Our Dirty Global Affiliate in the Bay had so far managed to avoid being pinned down for a ride, which goes to the fact that he’s a man to shun the limelight, but finally there was no escape for the Panther. It took a combo of the legendary Tuki Valley and a full Rapha ride scenario to lure him out to one of his old hunting grounds of Havelock North.

As you can well imagine, for anyone that likes to keep a svelte and sophisticated profile with a stylish tinge to it, rolling with the DN can be the stuff of nightmares at times, given that we’re not shy about whipping out the iPhone at any given moment, no matter how precious the occasion. Given the magnitude of this ride, the first time we had ever gone for a spin outside of Singapore, I didn’t waste any time in soiling it:

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Kind of looks like a smile, but its really clenched teeth… The Panther unhappy I had forgotten my Rapha cap

I’ve raved on a lot recently about how people maketh the ride, which was partly why I was so looking forward to this spin. Not only had it been a good 18 months or so since I last had the privilege to roll with the Panther, but it was also the first time in the Bay that we had managed to hook up for a mission. Injuries and timings always managing to thwart previous attempts. It was also just a touch over two years since he and I in the company of the Diesel engine completed the biggest ride I’ve ever done, the monster 221km loop up in the MF Malayan Badlands and beyond.

So, dripping in more Rapha kit than you can shake a Platinum card at, we set off for the classic Tuki Valley loop and a good dose of shit talking that is ably assisted by the quiet roads and road porn scenery. True to form, once on the fast roads back to Havelock, the Panther wound up his big rig and started to put some epic pace down, with me doing the best to hang on as we melted the empty back road maze. It was golden to rekindle the unspoken lapping out action that you only have from riding with people you trust.

At some stage a revelation revealed itself like a dirty co-worker crush that gets spilled all over you at Christmas drinks, when I learned that in spite of being more Hawkes Bay than a Magpie, the Panther had never scaled Te Mata Peak on a bike. Ignoring his 6 foot 6 dimensions and the fact that he was also on the comeback trailer post injury, it seemed logical that now was the time to implode that TMP cherry and give me something to write about.

Whilst the weather wasn’t as mind blowing as last year, rolling with a home boy more than covered that aspect and the views were just as awesome of course, as we cruised up its 5.3km, 7% average gradient action…

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Fully unzipped… Just the way everyone likes it

I did all my raving last year, but just to reiterate, if you’re in the Bay with a road bike and aren’t a total pussy then this climb is a must do, the last half in particular once you pass through the first cattle stop is particularly awesome and by the time you get a sniff of the summit its a battle for the senses between how cool the road is and the banging vistas that are punching you in the face repeatedly.

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The whole Shaved Panther Scenario getting business done with the scent of summit filling his nostrils

It was a case of Road2Recovery Vs. Road2Recovery, which was mutually agreed as the best approach to take, last time I came up here I was bleeding around my gums thanks to the effort, so a good chance to take in the view and get some more all important shit talking done. With the summit in sight, you know what time it is… Oh yeah…

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Unashamed Rapha Porn summit photo shoot

Not to be out-modelled by the Panther’s natural nonchalance, we decided to have a pose off, unfortunately for me I didn’t realise that I had fallen pregnant until the photos were on Instagram… This is super no good to my Rapha career. Luckily you can’t see my Rolling Hills stiffy in this shot at least:

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Unfortunately for me I had stuffed my arm warmer down my Gilet for storage…

So then, finally unleashed the whole Shaved Panther Scenario onto the pages of DN, ticked off an awesome ride with a golden dude and hit TMP for a solid rerun, not a bad days work for the penultimate ride on the NZ Tour! Thanks to the Panther for the great ride and for reinforcing the concept that its hard to beat rolling with your crew.

Whilst you’re sucking down Christmas tarts and planning out tomorrow’s Festy 500 ride, spare a thought for a fallen comrade, a fellow Rivet Racer, GP, went down HARD on the Christmas eve team ride this morning and in an event that had me curled up with PTSD flash backs, broken his collarbone after hitting the deck at, I kid you not, 50kph… fuuuuuuuck. In a testament to what a good dude he is, here we see GP with his trademark wry smile, which is saying something when all I did in the same situation was to say ‘cunt‘ repeatedly to everyone around me:

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One of the more interesting POV shots sent in this year…

Oh yeah, finally for today: A Massive Dirty MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone, I hope that you end up with at least one of the items off the highly suggestible lists provided for your family earlier this month… If not, eBay/Trade Me can easily help convert unwanted gifts into cycling dreams. Stay safe if you’re shredding or attempting the Festy 500!

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