When the opportunity to ride with 3 fitter and younger riders on a route at the cutting edge of high country Canterbury trails, I jumped at the opportunity.
A shimmer of scorching heat greeted us as we unloaded the bikes at the start point, a little trepidation creeped over me as to if I had the early season fitness to keep up with these regular shredders. But once on the bike and into the approach this eased as quickly as the pitch increased and we were into our work of 'earning credits'.
Initially very steep and all carrying, we broke out onto a low Saddle before an even steeper section through some beech forest and the only shade we'd come across the whole ride.
Above the forest section the ridge flattened out somewhat and we started to ride bits. Shortly after we picked up the trail and focused on staying on it and off the stunted alpine scrub.
The true summit stayed out of sight but was easily visible due to some form of antennae. The higher we climbed the less pushing and more riding we did. I was working hard to keep the water intake going, it was sweltering up here with only a light breeze providing bugger all air conditioning.
The vistas from the top over the Canterbury plains to the East and as far west as the Arrowsmith mountains was jaw dropping. If I wasn't so delirious I would of spent more time admiring the view as opposed to scoffing lunch and reprogramming the neurons from mountain goat mindset to the preparation required before the huge onset of adrenaline I was about to encounter, coarsing through my veins.
As soon as we pointed the bike downhill the inertia of gravity took over and the realisation that we were about to 'get the goods!', we had earnt from our toil set in.
Huck after huck presented itself until we found first a natural rock berm and then a pumpy section that just need sessioning.
The descent just keeps going and alternates between loose scree and weathered sections of bedrock. The line is to stay on track and out of the delicate vegetation so there were some directions getting passed back to the nana bringing up the rear.
After what seemed like a long time we reached the forested section which I knew was going to be survival for me. I tentatively picked my way down mostly on foot listening to whoops echoing back up to me from the others. Below this, one last section which was essentially single track stolen back from a sheep track
This ride is a serious undertaking, just like most of the new skool lines opening up in the Torlesse and Craigieburn ranges. Steep and deep. Not really a ride I'd want to do solo, too much fun to be had in the company of others and also to pick up the pieces from a crash and burn. Thanks to Rose and Jackson Green and Melanie Blomfield for waiting for me.