Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Scratchings at the Surface

A fair bit of time has passed with numerous activities taking place in the interim since I last posted here - including a trip to China, a second bout in Belgium, and representation at my second cyclocross world championships.

Due to circumstances much of my experiences during this time have remained unreported, but last week I had a bit of time to myself fairly isolated from everything, something which I feel like writing about now.

I had the opportunity to do some work on a new project to link, via shared use singletrack, the townships of Linkwater and Havelock, in the Marlborough Sounds. It is planned that one day it will stretch all the way across to reach Picton too.

Not a bad view for the commute.
My friend and fellow builder Thomas was also involved, and I met him in Havelock after the ever-reliable scenic beauty of riding along Queen Charlotte Drive from the Picton ferry.

A quiet week ensued, free from the chains of most of modern life's accoutrements. No internet or television, poor cell phone reception, but plenty of books and music to enjoy. That is, when I had the energy to do so after scratching around through a mixture of exotic weeds and native bush all day. We were following a very old track from two centuries ago, with the aim of that making it an easier job - following a pre-made, evenly graduated bench would surely mean less work than going completely from scratch. It would have been, had it not been significantly eroded in the centuries since its inception and had large trees not been growing up through it. It was mainly working from scratch in the end - our time being spent predominantly clearing blackberry and matagouri and gorse, up and over slips with loppers and a Silky (a small but very sharp and effective Japanese hand saw).

Korimako, Tui and Piwakawaka were flitting all about us as we stirred up insects from beneath the dry leaves and pebbles covering the ground, singing amazing songs and taunting us unashamedly with their feats of agility right in our faces. Not to mention the Weka sneaking around through the undergrowth, sniffing out our lunch and threatening to coordinate a team assault on us.

I found my Mavic Crossmax shoes are not only an ideal shoe to have for trail riding, but equally too for trail building. The grippy sole and neoprene section around the top of the ankle were particularly useful for staying put on slippery slopes and not having rubble and thorns slip inside. Perhaps they will make a steel-capped version for ultimate protection.

The link track project is still a fair way off completion, probably another year or more in fact. But considering it's been about 8 years already just getting to this point, I guess it's actually nearing completion.

I can recommend finding an alternative to riding back to Picton into a headwind with a pick on your backpack, although it does make for a greater sense of relief when you finally make it to your destination.

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