Mental, have been massively off the grid due to a combo of being Wifucked and rammed with more travel than a V10 set to plough mode (terrible cycling analogy). But, finally back with some fresh action and tales.
So, more Whistler videos to check out? Alas, not yet… I have been unable to get into the Shredit Studio and resume wading through the piles of sticky film canisters. No, we are about to head to the absolute opposite end of the spectrum and in doing so possibly lose friends and readers in one FOUL move. Yes, #hatemyface, I have been running around on one of these:
I know… 29er XC horrendousness… It could NOT get any further away from what I was rolling on a week ago in shred heaven. A 71 degree head angle, lightweight everything across the board and not to mention half the suspension travel of the Demo. You’re thinking exactly what I’m thinking right?
It just so happened that the Scalpel 29er Ultimate was the only weapon I had stashed away at the Dirty Wellington Bunker, its caretaker having lovingly prepared it for its first Dirty Mission. Yes, clearly its not a go to weapon, but still, riding any bike is better than riding no bike, except if its a CX bike. Or an Avanti. Or a Trek. Or a Fat bike. Or a Gravel bike. Anyway, I could go on. No, it was time to embrace the 29er and get the XC geek freak on. And as fate would have it, Welly has some perfect terrain to allow one to indulge their inner nerd, I had selected a classic:
Brrrr fuck if it wasn’t cold rolling out, funny that being the dead of winter in a place that weather hates with a passion. I had forgotten how easy it is to fall into the trap of too much clothing, baking, then freezing at the hand of your own sweat… Ah, the good old days. If you’re in town and want to hit this, start up Chartwell Drive to get into the Skyline Walkway:
Like all good XC burn rides, it starts with a climb… Preferably a long grinding gravel road climb… Check. No problem there. I was reminded how little I had ridden this bike, a mere 360km’s on it before it was carbonite frozen in storage. Don’t pop any party poppers yet, but the fucker did make short work of the opening trudge up to get some of that classic Welly view. Its at this point you wonder how and why anyone would put a city here, other than for close proximity to some Mountain Biking:
Off in the distance to the right, sort of, was the intended destination… Didn’t freeze my ass off at all taking these pics:
And looking the other way, how could I avoid getting artisanal on it when this was the view? Mt KauKau getting photogenic on it (I probably have my geography mega fucked up there FYI):
I had a timetable that I was slowly shitting on through all my faffery, not to mention extremely timid riding. Forget that it was wet and slippery to the max, how much was I struggling on this bike?! Faaaark… Going up in a straight line, no issues… Heading down? WTF with the head angle, travel and these tiny little shit brakes! Sure, its all premier kit, but I was still set to DEMO love and this was like going from getting busy on a palatial king bed to the kitchen floor – Still fun, but not as comfortable and needs a bit more thought to it to avoid disaster. After some coaxing, my awkward date and I found ourselves at another landmark, time to hit Makara Peak:
Yes, the mandatory dabble into a must do park if you’re in Welly with your MTB. It occurred to me grinding up Varleys that riding the Scalpel was like riding the Demo in reverse. On the Demo, you look down something on the trail and think “Fuck off, no chance“, and the bike just smashes it. The Scalpel is the same, except in reverse… Climbing up something tricky and see a cunty wall? No drama, this thing is a bit of a tractor and needs some brain resetting to get used to what it can scramble over. Still, there was plenty of flowing native sweetness to be had:
Just as well, because I had a series of ball squashing tip of the saddle grinding climbs before we got to the next Welly classic, pleased to say that we cleaned them all, noteworthy given my shite fitness, not to mention an epic weekend of gorging on insane NZ food. Wouldn’t be a Welly ride without the Turbine:
Once upon a time it was straight down the roller-coaster from here, back in the days when Spanky and I used to ride down in tight formation, significantly too fast on rubbish hard tails with tires pumped up to 45 PSI, how we never ended up in hospital remains a mystery. These days, its sweet flowing singe track to provide a mega happy ending that would put most Singapore massage parlours to shame. Carparts down into Highbury Fling into Transient a rad little trio to cap off a ride into Aro valley for a coffee.
How stoked were the rental car people when I turned up coated in Wellington’s finest shit to pick up the Prado… About as stoked as I was when the fuck heads hit me with $200 in hidden charges their shit website failed to mention, zero car factor when I loaded this number into the back:
I’m now many days behind, so stay tuned for more 29er madness from the North Island roadie, its freaky and weird and I have finally got a handle on the big hoops and little travel machine, so should be able to give a more enlightened report.