22 October 2007

Paradise winter hibernation

So this weekend my paradise closes for the winter. Nearly 5 weeks ago marked my last Winterberg visit for 2007 and I've been really pleased with my progression since I fell in love in April this year. Every visit I've stepped up my game and tried a new line, bigger or faster challenge but my last visit was not quite as valiant an effort.

I met Tanja there again who brought along a Winterberg virgin - Lars, a hardcore marathon XC rider keen to try out a bigger bike and see what all the fuss is about. I arrived a little earlier and managed a few warm up runs but as soon as Lars was charging I found myself working hard to keep up. That dented my pride a bit and I was a little off my game.

looking mean

We soon hit the more challenging downhill run and I was avoiding many of the more technical lines that I had taken before. Probably something to do with watching Tanja slam in front of me but I just wasn't feeling it. The park was also too busy for me to build myself up into my zone so I felt a little off for the rest of the day. It's always a pleasure to ride with Tanja tho, she's got some good skills, patience for others and not too crazy that I'd break a leg trying to follow her.

scream if you wanna go faster

I felt a little better once the camera came out for a photo session in the afternoon. The Karousel was one piece of shore that got my heart pounding the first few times I rode it. But it's surprisingly easy and Tanja snapped the following photo of me whizzing around:

round and round we go

It was great to big up Lars and watch him rail the Karousel too. As a reward I created the following sequence shot of him all the way round:

Winterberg Karousel Sequence

Just around the corner there is a nice step down and much more shore. Here's Tanja tweaking it out and myself launching:


leap of faith

I was feeling it a bit more by now and my confidence was pumped so I attacked the large seesaw for the first time. It's pretty tall but also quite wide so not really too bad. Tanja snapped me making it look easy poking my tongue out:

HUGE seesaw

Finally we sessioned the bottom drops, sending Lars off too. I'm fully confident with these drops now and have been running them blind for the last couple of visits. Something I enjoy running early to get ready for bigger things later in the day.

1st time



I walked the road gap next to the above drops and have to say it'll be a long time before I'm running that. Never say never but wow do you have to hit it with speed. I watched the following group of lads hit it pretty hard and Tanja spotted they were all on rental bikes. Nutters!

physco road gap

nice helmet

making it look easy

Then it was time for the last run, with the cameras back in the cars it was time to unleash the fury. We hit the downhill run hard and I don't know what clicked but something had or someone put a firework up my jacksie! I had my best run down the track ever and was loving it. So much so that I stormed past the halfway point where we normally catch a breather and nailed the next line that I normally take the chicken shoot. It's a fairly nerving drop into a left hand berm that I've struggled having the courage for. I normally go wide of the kicker and plop into the berm like a lemming. But this time I held the front wheel up and went for the kicker. Whilst in the air you have to tweak the bike out a tad sidewards to enter the berm at a safe angle to rail rather than shoot off the back. My line felt

spot on and gave me a real buzz. I had so much speed out of the berm that I glided over the next rock garden. I'm always too slow through that section and often have to steer my front wheel precisely between two unforgiving boulders. This time I was nowhere near and it felt like I was floating. Well OK maybe some exageration there but it did feel awesome!

My heart was pounding and my lungs were bursting but I tried a different line on the penulitmate corner hoping to be setup faster for the last berm. It worked and I was able to get an extra pedal stroke for the final table top. Exhausted but over the moon, we loaded on the chair lift anxiously wondering if there was time for "one more run". It was borderline and by the time we were at the top of the lift, our hearts had returned to a normal pace and our brains were engaged - best to end on the high we had than a low that could've been.

Thanks to Tanja for the photos and Lars for the company. The rest of my photos can be found here or in slideshow format here

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