Weekend on the Wairarapa east coast.

Weekend on the Wairarapa east coast.

Just had a great weekend riding the east coast, finding some sunshine and avoiding the wild winds that blow in that part of the world.  Below are a few pictures of the trip.

We managed to find some good slip slide mud and pine needles down ‘Willies Way’ through the pine forest.

But once we got down to the coast it was a wild but scenic ride all the way to Cape Palliser lighthouse.

After all that riding it was time for a few beers and some fine food, pizza cooked in the pizza oven for starters and a pork roast for the main course, apple pie for desert and carrot cake to finish off. Eating, drinking and mountain biking are a good healthy mix!

All of this because it was Dave’s birthday! … who’s next?

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Nelson; Winter rain and sunshine…plus a little snow.

Nelson; Winter rain and sunshine…plus a little snow.

After a night crossing on the ferry to The South Island we arrived bright and early into Picton (6:00AM!) and were waiting for the Café to open in Blenheim soon after 6:30 so that we could consume a substantial breakfast that would help sustain us up the first climb of the day, an 800m vertical climb/walk up a peak affectionately known as Beebys Knob before branching off along Maitland  Ridge.

At 1350m we were high enough to catch some of the snow that fell earlier in the week, and at this time of the year it was no surprise that the track was mushy, that just added to the technical nature of this track.

Great riding through the stunted beech trees, plenty of mud and plenty of smiles.

 

The ride down past Red Hills Hut was fast and furious and the river crossings cold!

But everyone thought it was a great ride and were keen to get back there in the summer to see if those slippery climbs could be tamed.

The following day we headed west into the weather for a rain soaked trip down the Rameka, not the sort of day you get the camera out very much unless of course you have time

while someone repairs a puncture.(Richard)       

These guys enjoyed the ‘slightly’ muddy conditions!

 

Day three and the sun came out and after a leisurely start at a sunny café…

we headed up Dun Mountain to have a go at the grade 4 — 5 trails known as Sunrise Ridge, Cranknstein and 629.

Sunrise Ridge has a few challenges along the way plenty of roots and rocks and then a few more roots before we entered the twilight zone and headed down Cranknstein …

 

the five of us generally agreed that to ride all of this trail involved commitment that we didn’t quite have as we wanted to go home with limbs in place and a complete set of teeth.

  But the sections which were ridable, (for us,) were just great and 629 was more rideable with most riding pretty much the whole track. After descending fast enough to make your ears pop we cruised back into the city and topped up with beer and supplies and headed for the shower.

A zip up Barrnicot and down Involution finished off day four before a wild return trip on the ferry with 5m swells making a few of the guys feel worse than looking down the drops on Cranknstein!

As always there is great riding to be had in Nelson and as proudly stated by their MTB club:        Nelson was recently rated by IMBA as a Gold Ride Centre – one of only six in the world.

Trail maintenance time…

Trail maintenance time…

We have been taking time out during the ‘quiet’ season to help out with some trail building and maintenance on our local trails here on the Kapiti Coast.

We needed to bring in the big guns for some heavy lifting of 800kg hoppers of gravel to bolster up an area of track where the clay gets pretty mushy after rainfall, 38 loads kept the chopper busy for a while…

This was followed by a couple of weekends of work parties to get the gravel spread over the track.

A further chopper sortie was required to lift two bridge material packages high up to an area where a couple of local creeks need bridging, all we need to do now is dig the foundations and build the bridges. Once these are completed and official sign off by the council is achieved there is going to be a grand celebration!

A big thanks to Kapiti HeliworX…

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14 day Tour –South Island —March 2017.

14 day Tour –South Island —March 2017.

Hanmer Springs to Queenstown…

Chasing the earl autumn sunshine around the South Island we had a good hit rate with only a couple of wet travel days and two grey days down in Queenstown, the rest of the time we had those big clear blue New Zealand skies.

Hanmer Springs; A good weather forecast meant we could commit to a shuttle drop off at the furthest point on the St James Cycle Trail and bid farewell to our driver Andy and head over Maling Pass into the big wild and remote Waiau River Valley and the start of a 70km return to Hanmer Springs through the St James Station. This is big country with views to match of the surrounding 2000m peaks, throw in a couple of suspension bridges over the river and three passes to climb before the return to town over a final pass and a newly reopened pack-track down onto the Hanmer Plain, and you have the recipe for an epic adventure ride .

Let the pictures tell the story…

In Reefton we had a trip around the old mining tracks at the back of Blacks Point; there are some great sections of single track linking the mining sites, sometimes we were rewarded with relics from abandoned mine workings slowly disappearing back into the forest surroundings.

A fine West Coast day was the perfect excuse for a Heli-Bike trip up on to Croesus Knob sitting at 1200m behind Blackball. Chad and Peta were keen to go and so after an early call to Alan from Airwest Helicopters, we munched a quick breakfast at the Old Nurses Home in Reefton before I dropped Chad and Peta at Airwests base just outside of town and I headed on with the bikes to the pickup point up in the hills behind Blackball. This gave Chad and Peta an extra take-off and landing and 50km of flying which seemed to go down pretty well!  The weather was outstanding with views out over the Tasman Sea and of the Southern Alps and Mt Cook far to the south; the only difficulty was trying not to stop too often to take photographs…

After a stop at Ces Clarks Hut for an early lunch we then diverted to Garden Gully Battery to help explain the difference between this style of battery and a Duracell 🙂 before finishing with a glass of beer in the Blackball Hilton and heading on for Hokitika.

Catching a dry day on the West Coast meant we could take on the West Coast Wilderness Trail and knock off the best section from Kumara back to Kaniere giving us 60km of grade 2 cruisy riding, but just so that it wasn’t ‘too cruisy’ I added in the 7km of the Old Water Race track which cranked up the difficulty to grade 3, grade 4 with some step sections thrown in, this made sure Chad and Peta were properly worn out, therefore receiving excellent value for money times distance travelled!

The rain caught up with us for the next couple of days and we used some of that time travelling the 500km down the West Coast to Queenstown with an overnight in Makarora on the way.

In Queenstown we had a warm up ride on a cool day around Jacks Point…

and followed that with a circuit of Moke Lake, bumping into a few locals along the way.

On the day the clouds lifted we took on the classic Queenstown ride with multiple runs  incorporating ‘Rude Rock’ (note the shape of the rock perched on the hillside) ‘Pack, Track & Sack’, the relatively new grade 5 link which leads down on to the classic ‘Skippers Canyon Pack Track’, these three tracks give something over 600 vertical metres of descent and 9km of prime single track with a few scary bits thrown in, as well as a neat old stone hut where Chad had time to read the visitor book before our shuttle arrived…

in-between times we had a few runs of ‘Zoot’ and finished off the day with the ridiculously steep Slip Saddle which drops you into the gentler ‘Bush Creek’ ride through many creek crossing all the way back to Arrowtown. It would have been more sensible to join the paragliders and descend gentle to earth rather than plummeting down Slip Saddle!

Departed Queenstown for Tekapo and an overnight stop in a neat Shepherds Hut 7km along the lakeside where the following morning we had a ride through the local forest and on the trails above the town with great views of the lake and the Southern Alps.

And to complete 14 days of epic mountain biking we saved the best-till-last (in my humble opinion!) by riding the Craigieburn trails and especially the Edge Track high in the Craigieburn Mountains on yet another clear blue skies day…

I get to do this all over again sometime… some folk have to go back to 40 degrees in Perth… darn good excuse to call by this way another time I would think!

Finished off the tour with a few beers to help fill the kitchen shelf and a pie from the famous Sheffield pie shop.

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BIG NZ Tour. February 2017

BIG NZ Tour. February 2017

31 photographs covering 21 days from Whakarewarewa Forest on the North Island to The Craigieburn Mountains on the South Island.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words (“They” either being early Chinese or 20th century Americans depending on which translation you read or who might have first said something similar!). and so here are 31 pictures covering 21 days and 11 major rides across  New Zealand.

Click on the first picture if you want to see them all full size…

And as has now become tradition on the Craigieburn trails some ‘Dead-Tree’ art is required before the long fast descent into Castle Hill Village and a cold beer…

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One-on-One Tour January 2017

One-on-One Tour January 2017

Started off this year with a One on One tour for Ross from sunny Queensland, Ross was used to Australian temperatures and so although I was riding around in a short sleeve shirt most of the time, Ross usually had his merino base layer on!

Started out with some excellent riding on the Craigieburn trails and as the weather turned bad on the West Coast we stayed an extra day and rode the trails we had missed on day one, lots of pictures because of the great weather on that side of The Divide.

Zipped up through Arthur’s Pass and cut back inland to Reefton for a late fish-n-chips and a late start the following day to let the rain subside and the sun to come out so that we could tackle the long climb up Kirwans Track. The track was very soft after the overnight rains and so the climb was very slow with us not arriving at the top until 4 hours had passed.

Found ourselves a friendly Robin at one of the snack breaks; didn’t see him on the way down as we made up for our slow climb with a one hour twenty minute return run.

Up onto the Denniston Plateau the next days to see how the track network is there, fortunately the good guys from Habitat Sports in Westport are busy improving the tracks and upgrading the signage.

There is even a gorge up there full of trees amongst the otherwise baron landscape.

Again after overnight rain we headed back through the Buller Gorge and stopped off in Lyell for a there-and-back to Lyell Saddle Hut on The Old Ghost Road, the rains had made the track pretty damp which wasn’t a problem on the slow climb but we ended up wearing most of the track surface on the way down!

Nelson was our next port of call where we took on Involution and the Dun Mountain loop in warm dry conditions.

Involution:

Dun Mountain, (The Coppermine Loop):

Ross enjoyed the unexpected company at ‘Windy Point’…

Stopped off in St Arnaud to ride the Teetotal Trails on our way to Hanmer Springs where we managed to get most of the ride in before the expected rain finally caught up with us on our run back to the car. Got changed into dry clothes down by the lake with those ever present sand flies for company…

The forecasted ‘weather bomb’ then began to develop as we headed through Lewis Pass in torrential rain but broke out into sunshine as we approached Hanmer Springs only to then hear on the news that the pass was closed by flooding and land slips.

After Hanmer we opted to try out the new Adventure Park in Christchurch with its chairlift bike shuttle options.

Great way to finish off a trip with 1280 vertical metres of descent and the chairlift taking care of the up. After all that riding I packed Ross back off to Queensland so that he could get back up to his regular temperature!logo-fullsize

Nine day ‘full-on’ MTB tour…                  Top of the South Island.

Nine day ‘full-on’ MTB tour… Top of the South Island.

Day 1: Started in the Canterbury High Country with clear blue skies as we all headed up the long access road to the Craigieburn ski fields nestled at 1300m. The descent down The Edge Track is always a goodie as your tyres cling to the narrow slot across the scree slopes and then on down into the rooty beech forests below.

A fast traverse across The Luge Track brings you out to a short climb before heading across towards Dracophyllum Flats a neat track that undulates through the Dracophyllum plants before the long climb up onto The Hogs Back,

(The old dead tree is always a good spot for a wee bit of bike art!) By this stage the legs are feeling well used but the climb is rewarded with a very long descent down into Castle Hill Village and for us a waiting shuttle to take us to our overnight accommodation at Flock Hill High Country Station.

Day 2: It was up and away early the following morning for an appointment with The Old Ghost Road. Everyone was prepped and ready with their overnight gear stashed on various parts of body or bike for a night in Ghost Lake Hut high in the Lyell Mountains. The weather was good for the long slog up past Lyell Saddle Hut

and eventually out into the clouds on the open tops at 1320m and the last 5km on to Ghost Lake hut nestled at 1200m for our overnight accommodation.

Day 3: A good night’s sleep in the hut prepared us for the long 55km exit to Seddonville. It’s an exciting start because within 1km of the hut you hit a stack of tight descending switchbacks which is an ideal wakeup call! Followed by some high top ridge riding a good dose of climbing through the ‘Bone Yard’ and the long exit following the Mokihinui River past the ‘Suicide Slips’ and on out to Seddonville for a well-deserved beer and  a bike wash

Day 4: The expected bad weather arrives with rain and low cloud and a phone call to the local helicopter company confirmed there would be no landings on the tops today. Undeterred we headed off for Blackball to take on the Croesus Track up in the Paparoa Mountains with a ride up and back with a target of Ces Clarks Hut perched just below 1000m. The rain came and went and the wind was blowing pretty well on the open tops but we made it to the hut for a lunch stop before a rapid descent on the rocky track where we then used the trailer as a changing room as the rain bucketed down, all then retired to ‘The Blackball Hilton’ pub for a few beers and a good meal.

 

Day 5: We abandoned Reefton and the rain and headed over to our next stop in St Arnaud hoping that the rain might be lighter inland. Arriving in the dry we got kitted up and rode out of town to try out the Teetotal Trails and although the rain caught us up and the temperature dropped sufficiently for the rain to turn to hail we still managed around four hours of riding, slipping and sliding!

Day 6: Was going to be a trip up onto the tops locally but no one was very keen looking out the rain washed windows and so again a quick change of plans saw us pack up, take a quick look at Lake Rotoiti…

stop in Wakefield for what was becoming a regular pie stop…

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…and drive over to Nelson where we did manage to leave the rain behind and stretch our legs with the long climb up into the hills for the fantastic descent down ‘Involution’ one of the many great trails built around Nelson.

Day 7: Travelled over to the Takaka Hills for the Rameka track with of course the now obligatory stop for coffee and pies… The sun was shining and a plan was hatched to split into two groups where the slower group would cruise through and the quicker group would have a double hit with our trusty shuttle driver waiting at the bottom for a quick 45km return back up and over the huge Takaka hill and back in on the 11km of gravel road to the drop off point for a second hit, a fantastic track well worthy of a double run.

Day 8: We took on The Dun Mountain loop, starting in Nelson and climbing up to just under 1000m high on the mineral belt.

 

A long steady climb is rewarded with wide open mountain views and 15km of downhill which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.rmba-si-1741

Day 9: Today the weather stayed fine which meant the planned Heli-Bike trip up onto Gordons Knob, east of Golden Downs high the Gordon Range of mountains was on. So we all hopped into the Minivan and on over to Reid’s Helicopter base in Wakefield and 10 minutes’ after take-off we were standing east of good old Gordon’s Knob at an elevation of 1564m, (5130 feet in old money).

The weather was great, sunshine and only a light breeze which meant there was no rush to lose altitude and so we played around on the tops for a couple of hours or more …

before following the poled route down the ridgeline (which wasn’t always rideable!) and out onto a fast fire road to our waiting vehicle kindly delivered by Reid’s helicopter boys, thanks guys!

And that completed a whirlwind tour of The Upper South Island and what a way to finish…

The Riders:                           Earl, Hana, Jonathan, Peter, Michaela, Ivette.

Support:                               Bryce and Dave.

Organisation and Scribe:     Steve.logo-RMBANZ fullsize jpg