DAY TWELVE. IT'S ALL OVER BUT FOR THE HOME RUN.

Wow, the last day of riding was upon us so quickly and we had to decide when to ride our last ride. Have a sleep in and suffer the heat or another dawn raid and have time to get leisurely packed up and relaxed for the big drive to LA. Luck favours the brave and the time was set for dawn so Jason First, an old buddy of Caleb Smith's, could show us around Hangover trail before he started work at 9am.

We're getting good at these dawn starts.

The boys are pretty quiet this morning especially Stefan who is usually the life of the party...Is he about to snap? The somber mood possibly reflects the fact that the team realise this is the last day they get to hang out riding with therodfather, nothing to do with the desire to get back to the girlfriends, wives, kids, housework, lawns and of course work.

We were lucky enough to get the VIP guiding from local pro enduro rider Jason First. I met Firsty back around 2008 when Caleb was showing him and Ross Schnell around NZ. This guy is seriously skilled and very fast yet unassuming and modest, it was a pleasure to ride with him again (James was in awe of Firsty and followed him around like a lost puppy). Caleb set Firsty  up big time on Ridgeline in Wellington making him jump a non existent jump and he had a wee OTB (over the bars). I was a little paranoid that he was going to repay the favour on the steep techy descents....but no, Firsty is too much of a nice guy and therodfather is far too skilled to get trumped even by a pro.(Thanks for carrying my bike down that steep chute Firsty)

Stefan and Simon cruising up the sometimes very steep slickrock moving too fast for the wrong setting on my point and shoot camera. (yes, I know I need to sort that out).

Rich red rock with grip for Africa. Jeff was over his cold and back to his normal aggressive trail riding dominance.

Many rests make light work of the tough, technical but seriously fun Hangover trail.

We were very stoked to ride Hangover. It had plenty of steep technical climbs and descents with a few freeride style drops and chutes. There was a heap of slickrock with the painted centreline to keep you on track but Firsty knew all the secret lines and took us down a few random cliffs to test our mettle. I have to say it may be my new favourite trail, especially if you narrow the criteria to most awesome trail features. There was so much going on and I'm sure I whooped more here than anywhere I have ever ridden before.

Jeff gets dwarfed by the majesty of Sedona.

Simon in his happy place.

Firsty trying desperately to drop therodfather...Good luck buddy, I've done a couple of enduros and I went to the gym in September...twice.

  Me looking for a safe line before I drop in. photo: Jeff Carter

Me looking for a safe line before I drop in. photo: Jeff Carter

Traversing looking for a more radical line down the slickrock.  photo: Jeff Carter

This part of Hangover trail was a dirt ledge sandwiched in a steep slickrock face. It was super techy with roots and rocks waiting to clip your pedals and rock overhangs waiting for wide bars to graze through.  photo: Jeff carter

Jeff coming in hot up a technical climb right into my camera. Sorry Jeff.

I normally drop in off that cliff there.... Nice T-shirt by the way Jason.

Wahoo. Home run. Firsty is on the phone explaining to the workers at his bike shop that he's "been held up by a geriatric wannabe who calls himself thecodfather or something" and will be a couple hours late for work.

We stop off at Slide Rock for an icy cold swim.

We are all going home to start training when we get home, but first we needed a before photo. I know what you're all thinking...Damn that therodfather guy doesn't need training at all. Wait 'til you see the after photo.

So now we are back at the house packing the bikes and drinking beer in another perfect day of 28 degrees and anticipating fondly the joyous rapture of our families as we arrive back home.."Daddy, what did you buy me?......is that all you got?" and trying not to think too hard of going back to work and all the other wonderful things that daily life brings to a guy living on the edge of sanity in a world with too few mountainbikers and too many non-mountainbikers. We could be playing golf or tinkering in the shed but for a scant 12 days we were living a dream life that could only be bettered if our loved ones were sharing it with us.........Oh my God I can talk some crap, had you fooled there for a minute didn't I?....

I hope you got to live a little of this trip with us and managed a quiet giggle at the fantasy world of therodfather.co.nz