The evening got off to an auspicious start after we found a ticket in the parking meter that has already been payed for. If it was you chaps in the Hope van that paid for our parking then thanks! Karl says he's paid for it anyway as he runs Hope hubs on his bike.
There are several stunning views on the Red 8 circuit but I was too busy trying to hold on and keep up with Karl for most of the way to stop and take photos.
The climbing takes it's toll on Karl ;)
He was fine really!
The volunteers who have built the trails have done a superb job. There is a great mix of rocky climbing and descending, swooping berms, gravel road for the climbs, and "north shore" board walks.
Well worth mentioning Hully Gully - the most fun I've ever had on two wheels! Massive swooping berms, maybe 20ft high that you plummet down and whiz up the other side.
Hully Gully (C) www.iancawthorne.co.uk
I swear it felt much bigger than it looks!
When you are descending with your bum hanging off the back of the saddle with your entire world and vision is this wall of earth approaching very quickly before the g-force pushes you back down into the saddle and SWOOP you are at the top and pointing the bars down towards the next one. I looked like the Joker when we got to the bottom I was smiling that much.
"And as you can see, I'm a lot happier."
Plenty of the trail was at the limit of my comfort zone if not necessarily my technical ability and it made for a superb evening out. However, I surprised myself several times after getting through a tricky section or managing to climb a steep rocky bit without stopping. The things I struggle with the most are technical rocky bits and low speed balance like narrow logs. However practice will make perfect!
Ride off into the sunset...