Monday, August 10, 2020

Conquering Clay

Thanks to a mongrel cold I've lost three weekends worth of riding and having a new bike in the shed has made this even worse.  This past weekend, by hook or by crook, I had to fix that!

Earlier in the week I'd considered shooting up to Taupo to tackle a two day trail ride but still fighting the cold and unsure of the weather it was a bit of a gamble.  In the end Chevvy came up with a plan to go and play in the Akatarawas.  Mark had just had a significant birthday so I told him he had to come and take the WR so I could see if old men can still ride...

On Saturday Mark popped around and we prepped the bikes before loading them on the ute for a quick getaway in the morning.

Come Sunday morning and we were on the road just before 8am with just one stop for supplies in Otaki before arriving at the Maungakotukutuku entrance to the forest.  There were plenty of other bikes (some motorised and some not), along with quads and side-by-sides heading in while we unloaded the bikes and awaited the arrival of Chevvy.

Once the second WR arrived, Chevvy consulted the map and sounded very confident about where we were going and then we were off!

I initially sat behind the other two while I started getting used to the RMX (and the huge boots that came with it) but got the hang of it reasonably quickly and somehow managed to sneak by the others.  I was nice enough to stop and wait though...

As we climbed up the hill we got to sample some of the famous slippery clay sections so this made for the odd little slip and slide.  I had one pretty good moment that had me all over the show until I could rein the bike in, drop a gear or two and continue my clamber up the hill - it was great!

As neither Mark or I had that great an idea of where we were (North Island I think), we stopped at every intersection and waited for our navigator.

Our trusty(?) navigator

These short pauses often involved some interesting conversations which the camera captured.  Occasionally these were publishable and even slightly humorous..

And yeah, clay can be funny too.  Try not to stall a 450 when on clay - the rear wheel will try to overtake the front...

After being foiled by a closed road we eventually neared the Orange Hut which was our planned lunch stop but before that I gave Mark a whirl on the 450 and gave chase on Mighty Mouse.  Man, I noticed the difference!  You had to actually twist the throttle to make progress, it was a lot heavier and didn't have the suspension or handling of the RMX - big surprise eh?  But, what it did have was a comfy seat...

Anyway, it was a blast and you can catch the action in the super long video at about the 35 minute mark.  More careful watching will possibly discover some other interesting bits like picking the wrong line in a river (23:10) and more clay.  Unfortunately I think I missed a piece where Mark was cautious entering a big puddle only to find that it wasn't that bad...

Just after the wee race we arrived at the Hut and lunch was had with quite a few others - one of who gave me a couple of litres of fuel as I was a little worried at how much I'd got through and how much I was going to need in the afternoon.  Top bloke that guy.

After lunch we somehow managed to take the wrong turn almost straight away.  This took us down a steep section with a bit of a drop-off into a creek and then a scramble up a similar piece to get out of the hole.  We eventually got back onto the right tracks after riding some really neat bits that also included some faster sections which the 450 appeared to enjoy (it was making some lovely music and most of the gearbox got used).

Eventually we split up with Chevvy taking the Param track back to the Hutt valley and Mark and I pretty much retracing our steps back to the car - we even managed to not get lost!

From there, we loaded up, grabbed a coffee and nibbles at Colin's before the trip home.  I for one had an awesome day.  It was fantastic just to be out on a bike again but the icing on the cake was riding some great trails on the new beast - I'm pretty happy with the RMX so far 😊

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