Sunday, March 23
He's been a long time coming but JAWS has finally arrived at Kaiteriteri.
He's fought us all the way, throwing up more challenges in 1 km of track than all of the others combined. Every time we celebrated the benching of an especially difficult piece of terrain, we were granted only a brief reprieve before facing our next hurdle.
The construction of this track challenged us in ways we hadn't encountered before. Even Mouse, our brave little digger, suffered some fractures that required extensive welding before being thrust back into the fray.
Blasting, rockhammers, enormous pines, slips - right up to the final few meters when we disturbed a cluster of three wasp nests and a bumblebee hive, building this track was a massive undertaking. It deserved a big name...
Having just climbed 3kms of Corkscrew, we figured people would appreciate a gentle, catch-your-breath, introduction to our latest Intermediate-grade addition to the network.
Sidecast spill creates the impression of a wide thoroughfare, disguising the steep slopes you're in fact traversing.
This will quickly revegetate and create a green corridor that lures you in.
You can climb some steps at this point to our tree stump lookout.
We haven't figured out what the felled pine, with its 'tentacle' branches, most resembles yet.
Is it a praying mantis..? A weta? A squid?
Whatever it is, this fallen monster dominates the open slopes of this length of track.
As is typical at Kaiteriteri, traversing the slopes means crossing numerous spurs.
Much as we try to open them up and shave back the inside bank, they remain 'blind corners'.
Therefore, because we want people to enjoy the flow of JAWS, we've made it ONE WAY.
The Pool of Reflection.
We spent many hours and days at this spot, wondering if we were ever going to progress.
I posted earlier about the trials we had with an adjacent spring we 'untapped', causing several cubic meters of grey, silty hillside to slump.
It seemed that every time we tried to move on, more soil and surface vegetation would slip down, forcing us to backtrack to clear the mess and try to create a new bench.
A brand new shovel is buried near here, left by an equally buried culvert.
So pause for a moment when you pass this spot and reflect on the hours it can sometimes take to create a few meters of track.
You may even spot the koura we relocated here...
The slope eased off. The soil reverted to the granite/clay mix that is such a pleasure to sculpt track from.
A nice blend of beech and kanuka forest provided welcome shade and birdsong.
Karl Thompson and Sam Knowles were hot-seating Mouse and I was working hard to stay in front.
We even found scope to throw in a split line and some swoops that were of our choosing, not the terrain's. We were having fun!
I guess we should have realised that JAWS wasn't finished with us yet...
A thin layer of vegetation sat on top of granite bedrock on steep slopes.
Much of this has already been chronicled in the Kaiteriteri Rocks!
photo album on our facebook page.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show showed the work in progress - here is part of the finished article. It's a thing of beauty, really, and may, in time, comes to resemble the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
We hope you notice when you fly past.
You may choose to stop anyway, if only to refill your water bottle from the stream.
We've put a pipe in to save you the 5m scramble up some wet rocks to a small waterfall, 'though if the funnel has been dislodged, you may wish to do that anyway.
The water is delicious and, on a hot Kaiteri' day this makes a perfect spot to cool down, eat that banana and... smile.
As it happened, Karl returned from his 'paternity leave', several weeks later, the day after Sam cleared the last of the rocky section. If I hadn't met the new baby boy myself, I could almost have been suspicious that the whole "pregnancy" had been a fabrication ;-)
To our relief, the final 200m run went fairly uneventfully (bar those wasp nests), no doubt evidence that JAWS was as exhausted by the battle as we were.
This first stage - of what will eventually be a 3 kms long, descending track to the Corkscrew hub - exits onto Velocity just below the steep, rutty Expert (Black Diamond) section, remnants of an old firebreak. From this point Velocity is graded Advanced but confident riders will enjoy a loop that swoops them down to the Skullduggery/Big Airs hub.
The track builders are taking a month's break now but will be resuming our tussle with JAWS after Easter. Even though his teeth are a little more worn now than when we started, we don't think for a moment he's given up.