Well, that was a boring first paragraph, hope you managed to stay awake and are still with me because the rest should be more interesting and was definitely a lot of fun for two WR riders...
On Sunday the Oroua Downs School ran their yearly trail ride (although they skipped last year due to the M. bovis issues our dairy farmers were facing). Apparently it's always a great ride and I was really keen to take in my first trail ride in over twenty years - what could possibly go wrong.
After quite some rain earlier in the week, Sunday was a cracker and after driving through a little light fog I met Colin at the event just after 8am. The ride didn't start until 10 but we got good parks, registered and chatted with a few people we knew while we waited. As it turns out, arriving early was a good plan - there was a huge turnout and a lot of people all arrived late together to make parking a bit more challenging.
|Utes and trailers on both sides of the road|
|Detailed route map by yours truly...|
Being perhaps the only plated bikes at the event (everyone else on far more serious motocross/enduro bikes/quads) we didn't hurry to get away, figuring we were only going to get passed/roosted by the quicker boys and girls. I guess we were also not in too much of a hurry to embarrass ourselves either - the smaller audience, the better!
|Colin champing at the bit with a clean WR...|
Trundling through the car park we eventually got to the start of the track. This consisted of a mug bog leading to a grassy looking hill. No probs eh?
|Outta my way!|
|Mmmmmmmm, mud. Any grip in there?|
|Not sure what the bike's doing over to the right there...|
|Some bloke getting in my way...|
|Blasting up the hill - go Mighty Mouse!|
|Having fun Col?|
|Everyone taking a cautious approach at the start|
|Speed was your friend here but it was damn scary and often accompanied by some butt-clenching moments|
|Sunken DR-Z, roosting quad and a Mighty Mouse|
|Waiting for Colin with Jason|
|Crucial indicator adjustment...|
For the next 35+km the terrain went from farmland to sand dunes, forest tracks (more sandy tracks), the odd short but more familiar gravel track and more mud...
One of the dunes was a doozy. Very steep and with plenty of whoops on the way up. I attacked it in 2nd gear but very quickly had to drop down to first and give the mouse everything she had. I just made it up over the top where I was then faced with even more whoops, a lot closer together and tricky to get just right. This was pretty tough work too and as soon as I could I pulled out of the way for a breather. Colin appreciated that too, we were working hard but having an absolute blast!
In amongst the pines the track was generally sandy and occasionally dirt. It was also narrow and wound in and out the trees a lot (we had to follow signage and also avoid tree stumps) so mostly 2nd gear stuff with the very occasion dally up into 3rd. Of course, sometimes it also involved short climbs and descents and plenty of slippery bits of fallen wood to avoid. The sand made things interesting as you definitely needed to maintain some momentum and while some corners had nice berms that you could nail it around, others required caution as they were deeply rutted or you had to watch what was over the top of the hill...
Both Colin and I loved the short bits of gravel as they were more of what we were used to and the WR's actually had more speed than some of the other more offroad machinery. I had great pleasure in passing two guys who had taken off in front of me on the gravel (roosting me as they went). Colin also smoked 'em - WR power!
On some of the more open stuff the pace could come up a bit and I really enjoyed getting used to picking the correct speed and stance to tackle the varied conditions. Standing on the pegs and hitting whoops in 3rd was a blast - but every section was different.
After a lot of riding and quite a few breathers we finally popped out of the forest for the last time - only to be faced but yet another set of muddy races. This time around about 500 bikes had been through so they were fairly churned up. They were a different set of races and I'm sure a lot deeper and muddier than the first section - and we were a bit more tired by now...yes, it was a bit of a battle and we had the odd issue...
Around 40km and 2 and a half hours after starting we arrived back at the car park (where the GoPro finally died) and trundled down to the school for the provided lunch. The cup of coffee after my pumpkin soup, pig in blanket, chicken pattie, muffin and biscuit was outstanding!
Unfortunately we didn't have enough time for a 2nd lap (I'm sure our absolutely knackered and battered bodies would have managed it eh?) so we cruised back to the vehicles and loaded up.
|Say no to slow!|
Here's a ton of video if you can stand it...
or just some highlights...