Monday, December 21, 2009

Ventana trio tame mystery mountain

Three intrepid Ventana riders embarked on a crazy four hour 'hike a bike' up the slopes of a mystery mountain. Planed by expedition leader Ollie who chose to ride the monster of his Ventana fleet; the El Terremonto. Two other braves comrades followed in pursuit; Chris Harte a local pro mechanic and private Speck, who rode with vengeance on his workhorse the El Commandante.
The trip consisted of 1000m vertical ascent done largely with the bike over the shoulder, followed by a relentlessly thrilling descent peppered with an aroma or roasted Juicy brake pads.

After the grueling climb to the top a quick lunch including Chris's crackers and vitamin B-winegums allowed us to catch our breath. Zealousness quickly grew in anticipation of what was waiting for us below.
The ride started of with 'twist plot' style ride down the moderately steep tussock clad ridge from the summit. Tussocks make harsh mistresses, and a wrong turn left me with a hockey puck size bruise on my inner thigh. Brushed this off, the track became more defined and we continued along the open ridge trying to maintain ourselves on the track as the strong westerly threatened us with its presence. This quickly subsided as we reached the shelter of the bush whilst navigating down a string of rock gardens that can only be described as nuggety.

The bush offered an action pack 90 minutes of undulating descents ranging from semi-steep to 'F*^K did I just ride that?!' steep. The track had a continuous mix of tree roots, rocks and fast fine gravel tracks leading to technical chutes. The steep loose section midway through the descent required a combination of 1, then 2, then 3 finger braking to reduce the strain in our fingers.

A quick rest before a suicidal drop allowed our fingers to regain their strength and the sizzling brakes a chance to cool off, before the next crazy installment. Towards the end the slopes became flatter but sky grew dark with an approaching storm. A frantic dash back to the car ensued when I ripped the rear tire off the rim in a tricky up-hill root huck. With his mechanic hookups Chris's offered up a 26 inch tube which was duly stretched around my 29er wheels. Frantic pumping from Ollie failed to dispel the clouds which lost their grip and let plump raindrops fall to the ground.

The track changed from dry to soaking in the blink on any eye, forcing us to push harder into the pedals and enjoy the complimentary shower. On the home straight with 200 metres to go I pinched flatted, and in an ironic full circle I ended up like I had started the climb with the bike over my shoulder.

As I'm writing this now I have gained a sense of empathy for methamphetamine addicts; as I now too share an addiction for the expensive body numbing exhilaration of speed. The only real difference is that my addiction for speed is legal and will not result me having to share a cell with some guy called big Jim.

Words by guest writer and Commandante captain, Michi Speck. Photos by Rico.


Alan said...

Heh heh I was inspired by this and did my own trip last weekend, one of the best days out I have ever had!!

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