The Mad Cow…

From one of our New Zealand correspondents.


20170726_172844-01The prospect of some heavy rain for Thursday with a whiff of snow passing up the country provides the impetus for this evening’s ride.

Not needing to get to town after work gave me a chance for an earlier departure than normal. Batteries charged, water bottle filled plus 1 QSM Bar for a bite reward later on…

Setting off up to a spot to join the trail for numerous route choices, I was getting the feel of a slight shimmy on the trail, the by product of heavy rain a couple of nights ago. Enjoying the slew front & back of the 2.1 rubber (after riding 27 plus & 3.8 for the last couple of years the re-programming is slowly coming up to speed)

Into the climb after several km’s of undulating winding track the focus switches to just this, enjoying the smell of damp earth, quail bursting into flight in quick succession as I break out into their haunt amongst the oaks…

Now another climb ahead for the next 20 mins, past ‘THE SPOT’ (just seeing what’s in the tank, incline) reminding of Steve M’s youthful burst of enthusiasm on his trip this last summer to NZ! Some zig & zag and a few minutes of flat(ish) before an easier climb to the Mt Vernon Traverse style. Lifting the Singular over the fence the evening light is again giving a great show.

2017-07-27 20.26.54Good to pause and catch the many hues of shadows and colourful light transitions, visible still the faint blue of the pacific ocean out through Rarangi Beach. Downing a few slurps of water, I switch to the 26t from the 32t manually, as is my setup. A few metres of flat then into a little hurter, getting over the front of the seat balancing the effort, holding the front down I get over the pinch to make the top whilst sucking in some deep breaths, a couple more of these to a slightly lesser extent before eyeing the Jane’s Seat climb.

Regardless of the hundreds of times I’ve done it I still give a sigh at this climb!

Away into it once more, the goal? to make it without touching a foot down as the front lightens up, choosing the most favourable line through ruts and a poor excuse for a smattering of #grassupthemiddle I’m into the last pinch with loose rock, the rear tyre breaking out as I manage to keep all things turning to make the seat with a quite wonderful vantage whilst sucking some more big ones and the audio of heart beating in the ears. More water to quench a now dry mouth, things settle to catch the sun disappearing over the horizon.

2017-07-27 20.22.42Now a sequence of smallish descents mixed with a more civilised climb I make my way around the ridge to a descent called ‘The Mad Cow’. With the light dimming, damp mixed with a fair amount of bovine I keep it steady to make the bottom in pretty clean shape, now the next 45 minutes is all ascent to the Mt Vernon summit. With the altitude increasing and exposure to the wind from the northwest the chill is becoming evident after an otherwise mild evening till now. Slowly grinding away through the mix of muddy & dry I delay turning my lights on till the last minute with Blenheim town now lighting up the last part of the climb I am rewarded with the summit.

20170726_201010Not sticking around I head towards the Airstrip…

All descent for the next 6km, I temper the usual speed to a safer pace with the wind pushing the Swift about. A closed gate gives pause again allowing me to take in the beauty of the night. Cows are wandering about as I pick my way through till the next gate, almost to the flat the wind has, as if by magic, gone!

Another gate, this time sheep are the theme. Wandering amongst the vineyard the track happens to pass through. Final style, then a catch up with messages to confirm I’m going to head out to the truckstop for tea as a plan on the fly as the hunger pangs kick in…

20minutes later, arriving at truckstop for tonights choice…  

20170726_185524Beans, eggs and bacon number. The busy flow of truckies providing good entertainment despite the TV front & centre with game show playing…

Shortly later the Mrs shows up for a similar meal and a catch-up on the days events.

“Thanks for the Kai, see you again next ride” to the cook, lights on and away…

Back into a steady rhythm on the main road for a time and I’m soon back on the cycle path, following vineyards I exit onto a new path to take me through to the river, past the dairy that is a regular milkshake stop in the summer I drop onto thick grass before finding the track covered with river debris from a recent flood. Past the Raupo restaurant, a frequent coffee haunt and home to the best pork belly meal in town. On to boardwalks then back to paved cycle path which is part of the national cycle trail.

2017-07-27 20.48.39Tonight is unusually quiet with very few walkers and just a couple of fellow cyclists with whom I exchange evening greetings. A quick deviation takes me onto the local cycling track for 3 laps, enjoying the speed of the 29er on the paved surface I exit onto a muddy path to find the cycle trail once more.

Continuing up towards the mountain bike park I weave in and out of the trees in the last section, exiting before the park. Not wanting the ride to be over the local Dam seems a good choice to ride past, getting onto 3km of gravel before heading into the park and another 4km of track before exiting into the car park and an easy wind down for the 1km before home. Looking down at the GPS…

9pm. 40km & 641 metres climbed for the day feels good, the pro4″s singing as I turn into the drive.

Words & pictures – Paul Nicholls.


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