Monday, 16 August 2010

First of the Northstar

This weekend, it was time to try something a little different - downhill at Northstar. I'd always planned to ease myself gently into a trip like this. First, I was going to do one of the skills courses on offer at the park and then segue into a nice weekend's riding - probably on the Nomad. Well, that plan evaporated when Rosson idly talked of taking a trip up there this Sunday to join his buddies Rich and Derek. No sooner was the seed sown and I was online, booking myself a lift pass, armor, full face helmet and a bad-as-you like Giant Glory! With dual crown forks and 8 inch coils this bike is built for one thing : Going downhill... Fast! With Spangles also onboard, the 3 of us met up at ridiculous o'clock in the am and made our way to the mountains.

We parked up and met with Spangles' mate, In Soo. We then took the gondola to pick up our rigs and hit the slopes. The Giant Glory is an impressive beast. It's clearly built to run on the right side of gravity and take anything mother nature can throw at it. It aint built for anything like climbing though. We decided to warm up on some blue runs. Coupled with the armor and high altitude, riding the Glory up the slight incline to the trail head was no mean feat. I wouldn't be suprised if the double butted frame tubes were reinforced with concrete. Point it downhill though, and suddenly it all makes sense.

Our warm up blue run started with some nice, sweeping burms and technical singletrack. But it ended quickly. With either black diamond routes or green trails (read : fireroad) back to the lifts, we opted for the red pill. Our trail of choice was FlameOut. Nice and technical with big boulder sections and drops, it was a great way to get a feel for the new rides. We rode the chairs back up, and sessioned FlameOut a couple more times. To the casual observer, downhill might seem like the lazy man's version of mountain biking. Have all the reward of the descent, and let the ski lift take care of the ride back up. However, keeping some sort of control over a 3 stone rig, whilst trying to soak up what an 8 inch spring can't - is one hell of a workout. After a few runs it was time for lunch and re-group.

The afternoon was spent riding Northstar's finest roller coaster - Livewire! Irrigated to keep the dirt tacky, this rolling, insanely burmed bobsleigh run has one speed - fast. Taking this at anything other than break-neck speeds simply results in fried trigger fingers. And that's exactly what happened. At run's 2 and 3 I hit the sweet spot where growing confidence met enough endurance to ride fairly hard. I was clearing a few table tops and even had Rosson in my sights for most of the time. But my last couple of runs destroyed what grip I had left in my withered arms. I was beat - but buzzing!

After a full day's riding we returned our gear and headed back to the city. I'd had a couple of spills and scares but without doubt we'd had a fantastic day's shredding. Downhill is a very different aspect to the sport and one I'm keen to keep my hand in. Rich had told me once that it's great for skill's training and he's not wrong. You can't fight gravity. So dealing with speed over sketchy terrain is something you have to get used to very quickly. It also sharpens your wits - like when to bail when you're well out of your depth on a double black diamond run! All skills I'm keen to develop and take to the trails. The next day I woke feeling like I'd been beaten up. My whole body has been punished and one of my feet feels like it probably needs medical attention. The mountain demands a price for all that vertical fun. Still, totally worth it. In fact we're already planning the next Tahoe trip. Livewire withdrawals are hard to fight ;o)

No comments:

Post a Comment