Know Thy Enemy!

Postby Tinkerbell on Tue 14/Jul/09 10:42am

Last year, in a burst of keenness and 1 day after competing in the Wee McGregor racein Tekapo, I decided I wanted to ride the Godley Head track for the first time. I was feeling confident after a great race and had talked to a few people about it and thought it was within my abilities at the time. OH Ho ho! How wrong I was.

My main problem was that 1 day after doing my first even 40km race I should have been either lying on the couch or at the most sifting round Bottlelake, not taking on a new track that I didn’t know at all. I foolishly had in my head that because the track was at the top of Evan’s Pass it wouldn’t have any climbing and even though my hubby tried to warn me I was determined. Imagine my shock and horror when confronted with the first switchback up the hill and the realisation that I really needed to recover, not hammer my feeble legs up steep pinches.

It was bad. Very very bad. The sensible thing to do once I realised I didn’t have the strength required for the track would have been to just stop and go home, but I am pigheaded (shocking I know!) and forced myself onwards. Then I found myself confronted with what seemed a vertical wall of rock. Ha! No one could ride up that, except of course my hubby just had. I got off and dragged my bike up. And from that point on I was off my bike pushing more than I was on it. Sure I was tired from the race, but psychologically the rocks and pinches really got me that day and when the track levelled out I was in such a bad head-space I couldn’t enjoy the flowing singletrack and fun structures you’re rewarded with after the rocky gauntlet. In fact I couldn’t ride at all. I would have to say it was my lowest riding point to date and as I waited for my hubby to bring the car round to pick me up I truly hated riding for the only time since the bug bit me.

Why am I telling you this shameful story? Well it turns out winter is a great time to get to know this track. It’s closed at the moment so no one should be riding it and that means I can walk it without fear of annoying any riders. And that’s just what we did on Saturday in the glorious sun. I want to ride this track and conquer my fear, but I want to go into it with my eyes open this time, not with vision distorted by fear. The first switchback was as I remembered it, and I was surprised that the first big rocky climb looked as steep and impossible as my first visit.
clicky click for photos of the Godley Head track

But further on, through the rocks, I began to see the lines I could ride. Yes there are quite a few places I will probably have to walk in this rocky uphill, but there are lots of bits that are within my skills, and hopefully by the time the tracks dry out, within my strength. If you love riding rocky stuff, this is definitely the track for you, especially if you are one of those masochistic types that love climbing.
clicky click for photos of the Godley Head track

Once the track levelled out hubby and I amused ourselves by making channels out of some of the big puddles on the track and watching them drain in the sun. We really didn’t have the right tools for the job, but we’ll remember to take something more appropriate than a walking stick next time. The further I walked along the track, the more I wanted to ride it and when we got to the first structure I really wanted my bike. In fact by the time we got to the second and third structures I was aching to ride and having walked the Anaconda the previous weekend (sweet bermed heaven) I knew the reward for those initial moments of pain and anguish would be worth it.
clicky click for photos of the Godley Head track
As we walked back along the track to car in the fading sun we were both satisfied to see a number of the puddles we’d drain were drying nicely. We were less impressed to met 4 bikers who were obviously blind or believed that Track Closed signs didn’t apply to them. Grrrrr. For me, this winter walking wet tracks is great. We can earn some trail karma by helping the tracks to drain and I get to form an idea of the actual riding required, rather than going in blind and blowing up. Bring on more sun next weekend, and then bring on the drying weather.

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Original Published: 10:34am Tuesday, 14th July 2009 - NZST
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