Sunday RR (long)

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by 2trax, May 4, 2003.

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  1. 2trax

    2trax Guest

    Woke up early with the sunlight streaming into the room; I had left the blinds open as I wanted to
    make the best of the day and didn't feel like having the alarm clock shock me into life on a Sunday.
    Hauled myself into the shower feeling a bit slow but brimming with anticipation for my first ride
    since I got back from holiday.

    Grabbed a slice of cold pizza from the fridge, warmed up yesterdays coffee in the percolator -
    remnants of a very quiet Saturday evening in - and set the NIN playing an acoustic set on the hi-fi.
    Yes, I know they probably haven't been cool for about 10 years now, but I like the gritty vocals
    :). Set to work giving the bike a quick once over. Cleaned the chain,
    indexed the shifting, adjusted the V's, gave the forx a good clean and trued the wheels. Filled the
    camel-bak and stuffed all the usual tools & tubes into it's pocket. Threw in two bananas just in
    case I bonked.

    Left the apartment in a mess and manoeuvred the bike into the lift on it's back wheel. Thankfully it
    was empty - I get lots of scowls doing that when it's occupied. Two minutes later I was coasting
    down the hill, avoiding all the dog walkers that don't seem to be able to look left or right when
    crossing the road. I nearly ended up being decapitated by a German Shepard on one of those extending
    leads, wandering halfway across the road from it's owner round a blind corner... we live in a car
    free zone, so this kind of thing is usually safe, which is nice.

    I get to the ferry 10 minutes early, and carry my bike to the bow where they stow them for the
    journey. It's only a small ferry, maximum 30 pax and the guys running it are fairly laid back about
    things. I pay the fare then get off again to grab a fresh coffee whilst waiting for Ruth to turn up.
    We have plenty of time before it leaves.

    Ruth is training on a road bike for a triathlon but wanted to try mountain biking, because her new
    date is into it. I think she must quite like the guy because ever since she started seeing him she
    has been asking me to take her out. Today's the day - we're doing a 3 and a half hour xc loop which
    is mostly easy riding, though it does have a few interesting bits. Details and pics of the route are

    The ferry trip is only 15 minutes, and the sky is getting brighter so it might turn out be quite a
    nice day. We slap on the sunscreen knowing that this is the surest way to guarantee clouds and rain.
    Disembarking from the ferry we walk around the corner to the LBS to hire a bike for Ruth. She ends
    up with a no-name hardtail with RS Jetts on the front and kenda rubber on the hoops. It actually
    fits her pretty well, and while far from being high-end, is well maintained and shifts sweetly. Cost
    for the day? Less than US$7. Not bad.

    The ride starts with a short stretch on tarmac, which is good for Ruth to get used to the rather
    different handling of a mtb. The tarmac ends in a cul-de-sac; from here we have to carry the bikes
    up some stairs cut into the hillside (about 40 of them) to get to the beginning of the trail. The
    trail is 2 - 3 foot wide, with a hard packed sandy surface and sub-tropical jungle on either side.
    We get back on the bikes and start climbing - it's wet and easy to spin out the rear wheel. Ruth is
    wobbly and uncertain, but coping well and making up for a lack of skill with plenty of enthusiasm.

    As we climb a bit higher, the vegetation thins out to bushes & grass, and the trail opens out a bit.
    From here it's mostly easy riding, though you have to concentrate because there are a fair number of
    uncovered drainage channels cross the trail at all angles. Putting your front wheel down one of
    these is a sure trip over the handlebars, and most likely a trip to the shop for a new wheel. I put
    my foot down one once, hill walking, and tore 3 ligaments in my ankle. I was alone and had to hop on
    one leg to the nearest road - I must have looked a sight, sweaty and dirty hopping out of the
    undergrowth on one leg, grimacing :)

    I offer to swap bikes with Ruth for a while; she will probably find things easier on a full sus. xc
    rig and I am intrigued by the idea of riding a hardtail again... it's been nearly 6 years since I
    last owned one. I wonder if I still have 'it' or whether I'll be taking it back to the shop with two
    bent wheels. We do and quickly get into a heads down spinning session along the trail. We cover the
    distance quickly, apart from when Ruth lacks the confidence to clear an obstacle and has to
    dismount. Good job too; we hear thunder behind us and know that the sunscreen has worked it's curse
    again. Two minutes later the heavens open and the whole world turns into softly focused gray shapes.
    We don't stop - there is no point as we are both soaked already. I regret not putting my mobile in a
    waterproof plastic bag... we ride through a small village consisting of 3 houses; children point
    fingers and adults laugh at out bedraggled state. A toothless old man taking shelter in a doorway
    smiles, points up at the sky and makes a gesture - he thinks we are mad.

    From the village, we follow a concreted coastal path for a few miles. It's a Hong Kong *thing* to
    take a path of great natural beauty and then concrete it over in the name of progress. Yes, it
    does make it easier to walk, but few would agree with the government that this makes it better.
    What a travesty.

    5 miles later the path joins a main road and at the junction is a state correction center, nestled
    in a rocky bay. The barbed wire and gray hanger shaped buildings look particularly malevolent in the
    rain, a sharp contrast to the beauty of the bay itself and the jungle around it. The sea no longer
    sparkles but looks dark and ominous - the whole place leaves us with a creepy feeling and we push on
    to get away from it and the pain it contains.

    At the junction we have a choice - we can either do a much more technical bit that loops round the
    outskirts of a national park and returns us to this point in about 2 hours, or we can head through
    the park, out the other side and past a few more bays to a South African BBQ restaurant that we
    know. Ruth is not feeling too confident about doing the technical stuff in the rain - the lichen on
    the concrete path is slippery enough to be giving her problems round the corners - so we decide to
    ride to the restaurant instead. This is still a good 45 mins away, and we've been riding for 1.5
    hours already.

    The ride through the park is more of the same uneventfully concrete path, widening as we crest the
    top of a hill to the width of a car. Down the other side, we play in the torrents of water that are
    running down the path with us, though we are carefull to stay away from the uphill slope to our
    left; landslides are common here in these conditions.

    Leaving the park, the path winds into another bay, this one much wider than the others we have
    ridden through and home to quite a large semi-rural community. We debate stopping for a can of coke
    and some chocolate from one of the beach shops, but decide not to and push on. Riding around to the
    back of the village, there are some flat paddy fields and a herd of water buffalo. They were
    probably quite enjoying the rain, which was thankfully beginning to ease off.

    At the back of the village, we met the main road. Unfortunately, leaving the path, the sole of my
    shoe decided to part company with the uppers. (Note to specialized: please use waterproof glue to
    stick your shoes together in future). The sole just sort of hung there, clipped into my pedal, while
    my foot powered away on the upstroke. I did a maneuver similar to spinning out the back tire and
    ended up planting my groin firmly on my headset. Embarrassing and somewhat painful.

    Luckily it was only a few miles to our destination, so I just pretended that the sole of my shoe was
    an extra long pedal and we continued. There were a few steep climbs along the way that I cursed, but
    we got there in the end. However, we decided that riding back was now out of the question and agreed
    to call a van to pick us up after we had eaten. With the pressure off, we tucked into some seriously
    good food washed down with a pint of carlsberg... magic.

    Ruth says she would like to do it again next weekend. I think we have a new convert.

    Hope everyone else had a good ride,


  2. Gabrielle

    Gabrielle Guest

    On Sun, 04 May 2003 05:49:06 -0700, 2trax wrote:

    >> Grabbed a slice of cold pizza from the fridge

    Breakfast of champions.

    > & tubes into it's pocket. Threw in two bananas just in case I bonked.

    OK, I have to ask: How the heck do you manage to carry bananas without them getting smashed into
    oblivion? I gave up trying to take them anywhere because I always had to make banana bread when
    I got home.

    > avoiding all the dog walkers that don't seem to be able to look left or right when crossing
    > the road.

    Around here, dog walkers are bad, but people with strollers are worse.


    Hong Kong? Freakin' A.

    > Unfortunately, leaving the path, the sole of my shoe decided to part company with the uppers.
    > (Note to specialized: please use waterproof glue to stick your shoes together in future). The sole
    > just sort of hung there, clipped into my pedal, while my foot powered away on the upstroke.

    Two words: Duct tape. An XC ski boot did the same thing to me a few miles out and duct tape
    saved the trip.

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