Monday, 21 December 2009

Makara Peak shuttle day by unicycle

Makara Peak had a shuttle day on Wednesday 16th, to which I took my 29er unicycle - finally got round to posting about it.

4WD lifts to the summit allow you to do as many downhill runs as you have time and energy for. Due to a slow puncture which I wasted a lot of time messing with, the warmth of the day, the exhaustingness of mountain unicycling, and my general beginnerness, I had time and energy for only two. (Some of the fearless speedy downhill mountain bikers did dozens.)

First I tried out some of the tracks on the back of the hill - Zac's track, Varley's, and down through the woods via Wahine (at least, I think it was Wahine) to Karori Park.

Zac's was a bit narrow and slippy-sandy for me at the moment, and hard work in the heat - no shade - but should be increasingly fun as I get better.

Zac's Track

View towards Makara Cemetery and the wind farm

Varley's endless switchbacks were a bit overgrown with long grass, resulting in an interesting dismount into a spiky tree (barberry probably) as the slowly deflating tyre, the grass-hidden side of the track and my steering conspired to send me flying off the downhill side, scraping up my upper arm nicely. I was glad of the elbow pads. I actually managed quite a few of the switchbacks though - starting to get the hang of them.

Wahine was pretty steep through the woods, but an interesting change from the trails on Makara Peak itself. Lots of dismounts. Fortunately today was dry - I think this could be too slippery for one wheel when wet.

Once at the bottom I headed to the nearby bike shop to get my second spare inner tube of the day (long story) as a precaution against the worsening slow puncture. Then at Karori Park I refilled my nearly-empty 3-litre camelbak (that's a lot of water for just a few kilometres), rested a while and ate sandwiches.

Recovered, I decided to ride up Koru before going for a second shuttle run - after chatting to some folks by the BBQ at the bottom.

This time down Aratihi (by far my favourite downhill at the moment) and Missing Link (rode the whole rocky downhill part this time, but still walking the uphill). Then after surprising an upward-bound 4WD, I had another go at Ridgeline Extension. Getting better, I can do the woodland parts well enough, but still defeated by some bare rocky bits - when I'm not dodging hurtling downhill bikers!

Finally down Lazy Fern (favourite finish), then I had to struggle up to St Alban's Avenue where I'd left the car near the shuttle pickup.

See the gallery for more pictures, and captions.

Send in the clowns

This has to be my laugh of the week.

This is due mainly to the presence of the phrase "preoperative medically trained clowns".

Friday, 18 December 2009

Someone breaks a leg while unicycling on Mount Vic!

Snapped femur. Ouch. Can't believe he actually has video of it happening!

Muni Leg Break from Boffy Da Unicyclist on Vimeo.

I've yet to do worse than a sprained ankle - hopefully there are no broken bones in my future.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Quite the funniest chat transcript ever

doesnt look like stars to me

International Backup Awareness Day

Whoops. Jeff Atwood loses most of his blog and has to rebuild it from stuff scavenged from around the web: International Backup Awareness Day Time to review and test my own various backups, I reckon.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Quote of the day

When a co-worker said he didn't want his kids getting the H1N1 vaccine because it was too new and "they haven't tested it enough", I blurted out something like, "So you'd rather test a new and poorly understood virus on them instead?"
- Commenter on Bruce Schneier's blog

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Unicycling Makara Peak - summit

I've been on a few more weekend unicycling trips to Makara Peak since the ankle incident, now kitted out with ankle braces, and this week with some elbow pads as well following some scrapes and bruises last week. Ankle is mostly recovered now despite continued weekend abuse.

Last Sunday and yesterday I managed to reach the summit, via the very rocky Missing Link, and the long uphill Aratihi track.

The uphill rocky parts of Missing Link are still a bit much for me, though I can manage most of the downhill.

Though mostly not very steep, Aratihi is quite a long climb, and it's still well beyond my current endurance to ride the whole of it without stopping. Yesterday though I managed to ride intermittently for maybe 2/3 of it, and tried to keep walking up during the recovery periods in between, rather than stopping completely.

After a quick rest at the cloudy and windy summit, I came back down Aratihi and found it to be just right for my current skill level - an interesting and fast downhill route, but not too tricky even when I'm really tired from the uphill. (Last week I tried to go down Ridgeline instead, and had to walk it - much too hard at the moment.) Then back along Missing Link; the downhill first half is fun, but the climb back out of the valley is the disadvantage to this route: had to walk it. Then down the 4WD track and Lazy Fern - still a favourite. By the time I reached Lazy Fern my back was aching and I was glad to reach the bottom!

I took the camera along this time - there are only a few pictures because mostly I just kept riding / falling!

Here is the gallery with the rest, and captions.

The park will have been very busy today with the Makara Peak Rally, so I'm guessing it will be pretty torn up next weekend (as if I needed any more obstacles). Next year I hope to be good enough to enter the rally on a unicycle - would be an interesting challenge. At the moment though I would just be a semi-stationary obstacle in the way of the mountain bikers!

In a week or so there is a shuttle day (4WD lifts to the summit, so you can repeatedly ride the downhills) - I'm taking the day off work to go along if the weather is decent.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Unicon XV schedule and race routes

The schedule has been posted for Wellington's upcoming Unicycle World Championships & Convention. Less than a month to go.

Also the details of most of the race routes, which are right on my doorstep.

The 10km race (pdf) is on the flat, all along the waterfront round some favourite places from my rides to work, and my first ventures out and about after I learned to ride: Queens Wharf, Frank Kitts Park, Te Papa, round the Overseas Terminal, then back to the start - 3 laps.

The 44km marathon road race (pdf) is around Scorching Bay, Shelly Bay, up the hill to the prison, over the hill to Scorching Bay again - 4 laps, with a fair bit of up and down.

The trials competition will be right behind where I work, at Odlins Plaza.

The muni crosscountry course is all over Mount Victoria, looks really steep. Here's the map:
Full size original is here. Uphill and downhill tracks still to come.

It includes some of the tracks I've been riding up recently, but some that are steeper - and 3 laps! On my 29er, at my current strength and fitness I wouldn't finish even one lap without a few rest stops.

These events should be impressive to watch.