It may seem that the Summer Tour is all about ME… Well, lets get busy dismissing that wild accusation ASAP, because there are lots of other people out getting amongst it with some summer loving. First up, Craigos has been debuting his very flash new BMC TMR in Wanganui, sure, its a place where I think they should test tactical nuclear weapons, but it does have a lot of DN history at the same time:
I know a couple of Ex-Pat gentlemen (you know who you are) looking at that photo and thinking “Mmmm… Got to get me some of that action!”, nice bike Craigos and kudos for the Lismore Forest sign. That happens to be the place where I had some of my most epic MTB adventures and spankings back in the day, but that’s a story for another time.
Moving further North into Strayla and the Teacher has been out and about at a Coastal Black site, soaking up sweet back country miles, good coffee and post ride Vino’s. Summer kicks ass:
And, at the other end of the spectrum on the Anti-Summer Tour, T Tap has maydayed in from Taiwan, where it basically appears to be the End of Days riding conditions wise… Lucky eh bro that you got that sweet Rapha kit locked in:
After a couple of days of dirt, it was time to tick off another Wellington area staple – The Aka’s loop. It was also a Saturday, which means Taxpayers can come out and play and the Rivet Boys were rolling out from Welly to hook up for a spin. I tend to have a golden rule that you never meet people on the road as 95% of the time it fucks up massively. It’s usually as accurate as a Scud missile, but, the logistics seemed relatively straightforward in this event, so it was on.
Here’s something I have forgotten to bitch about since being back – Holy fuck the road surfaces here are Shizen! Woah… In fact, the section of SH1 between Te Horo and Waikanae is worse than any road you’ll find in Malaysia or Indonesia, which is really saying something. After about 10 mins of jarring and being rattled around like a prom queen I was already feeling worked over – Clearly Asian riding has made me softer than a tea cake.
The first milestone for me was the Paecock hill, or if you want to be proper about it, the Paekakariki Hill Road. At 3.3km’s long with an average gradient of 7%, its not a big deal on paper, but its a tough little bastard, especially at the top. The aim was to hit a PR here, so I put out my best effort based on current form/lung capacity and managed an 11.17… No to bad, but a minute slower than what would be really respectable. Ah… It never ends. Much like the view from the top of the cock:
At this point I could have A) ridden down the other side to meet the guys and do a threshold interval back up based on my average threshold power (WTF) or B) Wank around at the summit taking selfies and posting them on Instagram. Clearly I went with B, which I then expanded into ambushing the boys coming up, smashing each other to pieces. Disappointingly, no commuter vest from Tijs today, but he was on the hunt for more pies, fully ready to inhale them:
Like I was watching a Pro Team training video, in perfect formation the next Power Ranger appeared, pumping through a perfect power rhythm and looking a lot more at home on the BMC than the Scalpel yesterday:
It wouldn’t be a group ride without a full posing session at the summit, check out that sky, does it even look real?! Unfortunately AT’s PowerBalls were too big for him to sit properly on his bike, either that or he’s been spending too much time with the Angelina Ballerina dolls:
Next up in the 3 peaks round trip was Moonshine road… A sort of multi part climb that wears you down at the bottom with a surface that is about as fun as a ferret with a yeast infection, before it steepens painfully, levels out and then stiffens up again for you to gag on it. Fun. Its really the last 2.2km’s that count and whilst my time was 30 seconds off being really cool, it was another PR, so high 5 from me to me like a total fucking road nerd. Hoo RAR.
At this point the lads peeled off south to town and I headed for the REAL hard shit, the Akatarawa Valley and climb. Before I get nostalgic on it, here is the entrance basically, with the real doom far in the distance:
Its worth a quick history lesson to note that this is the scene of so much hideous brutality, violence and straight up aggravated assault on my legs, body and soul that I have blocked out years of my life from my memory just for self preservation sake. Yes, I have had more encounters with pain and suffering up this valley and its climb at the end than any other piece of road in the world.
In fact, the first time I tried to ride around here when I was 15 on my steel Rieker road bike, I had to stop and be rescued by the man that became synonymous with my destruction in the Aka’s: The Lizard. There he is, white helmet, popping out of a bowl of rice behind me from this 2008 photo:
The Lizard was the Landlord of the Aka’s and much like the Welsh Assassin on Galibier, he always collected his rent and there were no gifts. I tried for 15 years or more to defeat the king through this valley and its undulations or big climb at the end, and I came away with a big donut in the wins column… The Aka’s also happens to be the place where I was the coldest I have EVER been on a bike, climbing the final climb in snow. I wanted to cry it was so cold, but my tear ducts had frozen over and my central nervous system partially shut down, so it couldn’t process the emotions to trigger such an event.
Would be fair to say in summary then that the 33km long Aka’s valley and climb are steeped in DN history. Riding through here solo felt a bit weird given it was the cauldron for so many hard group rides. Like so many of those times, I had emptied the tank on the previous climbs and was virtually crawling by the time I got to the final climb at the end of the valley:
The final climb has numbers that would make most people dismiss it: 4.8km’s at 4%… Easy right? Well, you’re already worn down by the valley and its one of those climbs where you can get into a very fast rhythm and blow yourself to bits going up it. This is the ‘easy’ side after all, with a couple of evil little ramps near the top to keep things honest. The number of times I have been off the front up here to be merciless hunted down within sight of the summit still haunt me to this day… Its an awesome climb and one of the best for inflicting massive pain on your homeboys/girls. More good viewage from the summit:
Back when Angus and I first started doing regular Aka’s loops, we always need to stop like a couple of retiree’s for a coffee in Waikanae, which is exactly what I did today… My soft ass needing to refuel… Tijs you’ll be pleased to see this pie getting dominated:
I was quite keen to head straight home at this point, but I has Strava Challenge OCD going on and only needed another 30km’s of riding to achieve the dumb ass Gran Fondo challenge… Ordinarliy in Singapore on smooth roads thats a piece of pie cake, but here in NZ with a head wind on Roubaix type roads it felt like an epic mission of ball aching proportions. I did get to see the coast though on my whack detour home… Past another old stomping ground:
130km’s ride in the bank and the Akas’ mission achieved, fair to say we now have enough momentum on the riding front… May be time for a regrouping day, plus there are Dirty Videos to be made!