Putting the Mountain back in Mountain Bikiing

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04/01/08
Hi everyone! Well, although in the strictest sense of the word today was a day off, the effort I put into my day made it anything but a true day off. Today, I decided to try my hand at some of the great mountain biking that surrounds Rotorua. On the plus side, I have now at least justified bringing my full suspension mountain bike with me to New Zealand. It was an amazing day on the trails, I’ll say that much. There were just so many of them, and in so many different grades of difficulty. If it weren’t for a certain minor medical condition, I’d consider staying an extra day just to do more biking on the sweet sweet singletrack around here. For a map showing where I went biking, along with a few pictures from the day, you know what to do. For more info, just read on.

All right, just so that I don’t keep everyone wondering too long, just what is this medical condition you ask? Well, to put it delicately, my nether regions are killing me! Specifically, my butt. I managed to develop some sort of rash today while on the flowing trails. I’m not sure what from. I guess a combination of working too hard and sweating, combined with repeated friction and jostling. Long story short, sitting on hard surfaces is a very tricky affair. To write this post, I had to go out and drink several beers just so that I could actually sit for a while 🙂 As a result of this irritation, I’ve been convinced to only go about 30km down the road tomorrrow, and camp overnight at one of the local thermal areas, where I can take advantage of a good soak in the pools. You see, even on my days off, I’ve been pretty hard on my body, and I really need a true rest and recoup, so hopefully that’ll help before I head to Taupo.

I’ve been looking at the map, and I’m pretty sure I’m fine to take an extra day to get to Taupo. I really can’t sit on a saddle much as it is, so that day is just going to have to work for my schedule, isn’t it? Anyway, enough about my stupid problems. The problem is, I can’t stop thinking about it, because it hurts more than you can possibly imagine. I just put a whole pile of special cream I got from the pharmacy on it, but it really isn’t helping much. Oh well, whatever. You’re probably all more interested in hearing about my riding today, aren’t you? I know I would be. Fine, let me tell you about it.

I started my day not too early, leaving the hostel around 9:30 to get some breakfast over at the Fat Dog Cafe. I had a scrambled egg meal, with hash browns and toast. This was supposed to keep me going until late in the day, as all I brought with me to the trails was a bag of mixed nuts, and two granola-type bars. That and 2.5L of water. I’d stripped my bike of all un-necessary things, in order to make it more trail worthy. It was great to bike without all the extras. I made my way to the trailheads and started exploring. For 5NZD, I’d picked up a map at a bike shop showing all the trails. This was an invaluable piece of equipment to me. It also helped that the network of trails was quite well marked, especially when it came to the entrances and exits of the trails.

I started in earnest at 10:30, and spent over 6 hours in total on the dusty paths. It was just such an amazing network out there. These trails were the smoothest trails I’d ever seen in my life. When I say that I hucked and flowed all day long, I’m not kidding. The flow on these trails was phenomenol. You’ll also notice that I climbed more today than any other day yet. This was mostly over the 40 or so km I spent in the trails, as the road to and from the trails didn’t have much of a gradient. I was well over 700m on some of the trails, which took me to the very peak of the Whaka forest. It was most excellent.

Guess who else I crossed paths with in the woods. Yup, none other than my Dutch friend Ralph, who had rented a mountain bike for the day in order to take advantage of the trails. Too funny. These trails are massive by any stretch, so running into him was pure dumb luck, but I wasn’t that surprised. We chatted briefly, and made plans to meet up for beer later in the day at a Belgium pub. I then spent another 3 hours riding my little heart out. I was totally beat by the time I made my way out. However, as you can see by the picture, some of the views were spectacular.

On the way to the hostel, I stopped to pick up a large bacon double cheeseburger pizza from Dominos for under 11NZD. Great deal for a starving biker. I took it back to home base, and swallowed 5/8ths of it, then showered, cleaned up and re-outfitted my bike, and ate the rest of the pizza, while drinking a couple beers. Then it was off to the pub with Ralph. We had a pint each of Belgium, then wandered the town of Rotorua on a Friday night. We opted for Ice Creams instead of another beer, then sat outside a pub listening to a band. It was around 10pm, and Ralph was heading back to his campground. I instead headed back to the Brass Bar to listen to the band. It was a great time. I had a few beers, just listening to them play. They are in fact still playing as I type this. I can hear them from the hostel, which is about 50m away. However, it is already well after 1am, and I still hope to get out in the morning at a reasonable hour.

I guess the take-away point of this post is as follows. My butt hurts, but I had a great day of Mountain biking in Rotorua. Tomorrow I’m off to soak my weary bones in some thermal spas somewhere between here and Taupo. Life is grand, and always interesting. Hope yours is too!

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