Monday, April 7, 2008

Taking a Beating

Yesterday as I struggled to maintain forward momentum up the Poulter Valley riverbed, I thought of Ali's preparation for the Rumble in the Jungle. He was set to fight the much younger, bigger and stronger George Foreman. In preparation he put his mitts up and let his sparring partner lay into him for extended periods. During the big fight he lay back on the ropes and let Foreman beat him for several rounds. He took the beating he'd trained for, and when it appeared his opponent was finally beginning to tire, he said calmly "George, I'm disappointed in you. Is that all you've got?".

The Poulter Vally ride took me by surprise. It was five hours and a fair chunk of it was tough river gravels (or worse). I took a beating, but it was worth it. The scenery was magnificent, as you'd expect from a national park in the Southern Alps. This is the first track approved for mountain biking since the change in the National Park general policy. The start of an age of rational access decisions (hopefully).

Next up I drove to Fairlie, well into the south of the south. The sun was setting - it was touch and go to squeeze in a second ride for the day, so I made it the short Fairlie River Trail - and hour of sweet singletrack thru an ecological nightmare of rampant climbing weeds. Two rides a day is the average when we do research trips. These trips have been happening every three years for 17 years. We're fortunate that there are always dozens of new rides developed every year.

Today I woke up dog-tired - typical for the third day of a tour. The weather was cold and wet; progress was painfully slow. I had another three new rides around Fairlie to check, write up and photograph - one round a small lake; one up into a conservation area in the high country; and one in a couple of patches of forest. Lots of mud, sheep shit, wet grass. Some interesting stuff to see (incl an 8-point stag running across the track in front of me). There was so much fluffing around that my average speed was just 10 km/hr for a grand total of 40 km. I'm feeling knackered. Tomorrow the sun will come out and things will pick up.


Rob Hoult said...

Hi Simon

It was good to say hi on the Poulter. I took a couple of photos you might be interested in (I've emailed you at your Kennett Bros site). Corrie took a couple of spills in the last hour heading home, but still reckoned his first overnight MTB trip was a cool adventure. Cheers, Rob

Jo Smith said...

Hi Simon, very much enjoying your Blogs, keep up the great work!!
Could you please give me the link to the Blog you read by the kiwi who toured the GDMTR? My partner and I are planning on touring it next year and I would love to read a kiwi's perspective on it.
Looking forward to reading your comments on your new bike also.
Cheers, Scott Emmens

Simon Kennett said...

Hi Scott
I found it on Scott Morris' great divide blog (in his links). Can't remember the name of the site off the top of my head, but it's bookmarked on my computer at home, so if you don't have any luck just email me in early May.