I was updating the tassietrails information on the Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park and the North South track the other day, and realised that it's actually been quite a while since I've been down the North South track.
Then I noticed that Peter Mellows, of Wild Bike Tours, had a ride coming up on the North South track and was looking for someone to come down behind the group and play 'tail end charlie'.
The serendipity was obvious: if ever there was a mountain biker in Tasmania you could count on for coming last... I'd be it.
So Sunday rolled around and we headed up the Mountain.
I confess that I got pretty nervous as we chatted on the drive up to the Springs, as I found out that although it was a single family of four riders signed up for the trip, it was obvious that this was no family of casual riders. They were competitive roadies through and through, and so I did my best to make it really obvious that I was a slow rider as I internally worried about how far behind I was going to end up.
However, I'm pleased to say that it all turned out OK as being able to pump out a 100kms on bitumen in a few hours on a road bike, doesn't naturally make you an expert mountain descender, and so I was able to keep up with these guys and just enjoy a really relaxing ride down the mountain ...
It was a different story however once we hit the bitumen and bike track.
My bike was having all sorts of problems (that's my excuse) and I lost the chain three times within 5kms. Finally, frustrated, I stopped to see if there was some systemic problem ... and sure enough I found that my front derailleur had actually split and the chain was just slipping through it each time I tried to change gears.
That's a new one even for me.
Through trial and error (and after losing my chain several more times) I discovered that if I just set it on a single gear, and then rode at about 80% effort I could keep the chain on ... albeit that I had too watch the others ride off into the distance in front of me (something they probably would have done even if I had all my gears).
All up it was good to ride the North South again, and we did all get back to the start in one piece ... well all of us except my bike.
What wasn't so good was that when I took my bike into Avantiplus for a new deraileur I got the depressing news that the underlying problem was actually not my deraileur, the underlying problem was that my rear free-wheel was locking up again smashing the chain into my derailleur.
One new rear wheel, one new front derailleur and one new front drive chain sprocket later I'm starting to feel like that was a very expensive trip down the mountain.