Nobody felt like summiting a windy mountain or camping out in the rain this weekend. So I took my friends Kate and Eliza on a bike ride.
They'd never been mountain biking before, but Eliza has a roadie sister in Maine who takes her on rides sometimes. Kate had been mountain biking in Arizona once, but they had to stop a lot to check for snakes along the trail.
The day was bright and sunny. We went to Dirt Merchants, a bike shop down the street from my flat. It's my favorite kind of shop: a tiny one-room deal crammed with bikes and old bike magazines and a couple pieces of merchandise. There's cool music piping through the speakers, and it's right across the street from two great cafés.
The shop manager's a really cool guy named James. He gave Eliza a free upgrade to a full suspension, adjusted my sideways stem, gave us trail advice (brakes in NZ are set up moto-style), made sure we'd packed plenty of snacks and water, and sent us off with a friendly Kiwi wave and a map.
We rode around in the field at the bottom of the trail head. Then we headed up the first hill. After three seconds, I heard hysterical screaming behind me. I turned around.
It got better after that. The trails were smooth, clean, and tight - unlike the craggy, slippery Pennsylvania and Ohio trails I usually ride. It was like riding in Colorado with greenery. Eliza and Kate's badassery started to show through in a mile or so. They cranked out the rest of the ride like champs and made it all the way to the top of the trail at the base of a windmill.
We'd been riding uphill for over an hour. Everyone was happy to be done.
I had a rough time posing for the triumphant bike picture, since Montana insists on selling the light wheels I used last summer.
Then the brake cables started popping off my bike, so we had to go back down on the road for safety reasons. There weren't any resounding complaints. It took five minutes to fly back down to the shop, where James was waiting to applaud our accomplishment and replace my brake cable.
I spent the rest of the day wandering downtown Wellington. I took a hike up to Mt. Victoria, the site where Peter Jackson filmed this scene:
It turns out those tree roots weren't quite real.
Still, it was a nice enough hike without any freezing alpine blasts or Nazgul.
Then one of the girls had a flatwarming party. Some people experienced beer-related culture shock.
Besides that picture, it was a lovely time.