Closed Hill Tracks = Night Riding the Sandpit
It is the middle of the icky winter here in Christchurch, and it has been a pretty miserable cold and misty wet one. All the singletrack up the hill is shut ( http://www.ccc.govt.nz/Cycling/TracksRides/PortHills.asp ) and it seems like it has not been open in the last month. Trouble with building tracks up the Port Hills is that the soil is a type of loess (basically very fine dust) which really does not stick together. Riding the trails when wet very quickly turns the tracks into unrideable bogs with axle deep ruts. There are plans to armour some of the tracks to make them a bit more all weather, but for the time being a wet spell = no riding up the hill.
Needing a biking fix 5 of us headed out to Bottle Lake last night for a blat around the flat sandy forest. Quite a fun place to take an old beater of a bike, or a singlespeed. The tracks are right near a beach, and there is a lot of sand mixed in with the tracks, as well as a fair bit of salt. Having not ridden out there for about 3 years I had no idea where the winding tracks were taking us, and there were plenty of surprising corners that I did not know.
There was a mixture of lighting. Everything from my Nightlightning Iblaast LED light with Li-ion batteries to home built LED kits to 20W halogens with a brick of a sealed lead acid battery. Prices of these kits probably ranged from about $50 through to about $500… but they all did the job just fine!
Bottle Lake might be a poor substitute for real singletrack up the hill, but having a blat around some sandy singletrack in the dark certainly fed the habit. I am hoping it drys up the hill soon, but if not there might be a couple more night riding sand pit missions.