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.

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Almost Spring on the Queen Charlotte Track.

Almost Spring on the Queen Charlotte Track.

The glossy brochure says “Experience the heart of the Marlborough Sounds while biking the spectacular Queen Charlotte Track, a 70km journey with epic scenery, ride through lush coastal forest, around bays and along skyline ridges, you will be rewarded with unsurpassed views”

But as we have discovered on previous trips to this part of the South Island it also rains quite a bit…

The forecast looked ominous for the weekend as we packed our gear for a Friday morning departure on the Interisland ferry, but hey it was still dry at that stage. Arriving around lunchtime in Picton we transferred to the water taxi for a 40km ‘cruise’ out to Ship Cove in the outer Sounds as the clouds gathered the rain began and the water started to cut up rough.

By now it was mid-afternoon but we only had a couple of hours riding to Endeavour Inlet for our first overnight stay, but plenty long enough to get plastered in mud and wet to the skin, this was to be the theme for the next couple of days, but we had a roof over our heads for the night and a place to dry out and enjoy a good feed.

Day two dawned grey with showers wiping through on a stiff breeze as we ventured out in our dried out gear which at least felt good for the first half-an-hour of our five hour ride. As with day one the descents on the clay surface which resembled small streams in places made for ‘lively’ riding and it wasn’t difficult to smile once we reached the bottom still in one piece.

Again a comfortable overnight stay awaited us with good food and an opportunity to dry out and prepare for the next day.

Day three had an even split with 20km of the track remaining and 20km of road and a new trail back to Picton, complete with a bike (and person) wash facility at the tracks end, Anakiwa. The ride back to Picton took in an excellent piece of new MTB trail running alongside and far above the road complete with a hammock and it had stopped raining!

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Finally a pre-arranged shower and clean-up awaited us in Picton before a return trip on the Interislander and a couple of days at home cleaning gear, servicing bikes… … that’s the QCT logo-fullsizeon a wet weekend.

Makara Beach MTB Sunday Ride

Makara Beach MTB Sunday Ride

The weather had been dodgy all week and Saturday was terrible, wind, rain, the works.  And so Sundays proposed ride along an exposed westerly coastline near Wellington was going to be an adventure. But as is often the way if you just stick with the plan you can be rewarded with the unexpected, in this case the weather turned on a cool and breezy but bright day.2016-5-19 02 Makara Beach

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The pictures tell the story, sunshine,  rocky coastlines and wind farms…

Lots of wind turbines to catch the regular wind that blows through Cook Strait.

Information here about the wind farm.       Meridian Energy, Project West Wind.

And after a lunch stop at Opua Bay we searched out some good technical riding along the cliff tops before a descent back to Makara beach and a cup of coffee in the local cafe.

Glendhu Station, Wairarapa Coast.

Glendhu Station, Wairarapa Coast.

We have just had a great weekend reconnaissance ride around part the Wairarapa Coast over on the southeast corner of the North Island, stayed on an old  sheep and beef station nestled between the hills down on the coast which has been run by the same family since the late 1800’s.

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Gordie having arranged a shuttle run back towards Martinborough made sure we were all loaded up and ready to go for the one hour trip back to a nice (if not cool) high point start next to the Hau Nui wind farm which was New Zealand’s first commercial wind-farm built in 1996.

The trip up the coast was fairly uneventful until we reached ‘The Slip’, there was then some discussion on our options to navigate this before we set off down and across the Rerewhakaaitu River (try saying that after a bottle of port [Grant]) and climbed before reaching the slip which involved some challenging traversing!

All successfully across we rode on the final 7km back to our overnight accommodation for some fine home cooked food, thanks Gordie, where a few bevies were enjoyed by most and a lot by some…

Sunday dawned bright and the wind had swung round to the west and strengthened which cleared the skies and added a challenging crosswind later on the return leg along the coast.

We had picked a circular route to the north which involved a good honest climb to start the day and warm up those muscles.

We added in some off-track excursions and ridge riding which was fantastic (if that is your kind of riding). This picture shows a preferred option and I managed to encourage Dave to come along for some ‘very lively’ off-track descending…

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After the excitement we had a pleasant ride back along a wild and windy coastline before hitting the road and heading for home.

A great part of the country for some good scenic riding, no special single track but plenty of options to ride where there were no tracks at all… And just a note, this ride was over private land and requires the landowners permission for any access.

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Stock Yards Ride. Kapiti

Stock Yards Ride. Kapiti

Late summer ride up in the hills above The Kapiti Coast, a different ride on a Wednesday evening, not a lot of track to follow now that the farm has closed, all that nicely cropped grass chewed down by the sheep has turned into wheel eating matting which makes for challenging hill climbs. Not a lot of green after the long dry summer.

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But the views from up in the hills are pretty good although the southerly wind was blowing strong.

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And once you have done the last climb past the stock yards the downhill is a real blast with plenty of opportunities for unexpected dismounts… but not on this trip.

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And even the locals stayed up to watch us pass but declined the offer to join us for a pint at Finns in Paekakariki…

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Steve. And a bunch of good keen HVMBC folk who don’t always stay on the ‘straight-n-narrow’.

Rimutaka Summit Route. August 2014

The ride up to the Rimutaka summit, Burnt Spur  and back down the Pylon Track to Kiwi Ranch loop involves a bit of walking but hey, we had tackled it 4 years ago and didn’t write it off as a ‘never-do-again-ride’ and anyway at that time the sun was shining…

And so it was that on a cool August morning with a southerly blowing fine misty rain over the grey hills we set off with the 7°C breeze cooling our knees, this time tackling the ride in a clockwise direction so that we could ‘ride’ down from Burnt Spur to The Summit.

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The ride up to the beginning of the Pylon Track from Kiwi Ranch is a good warm up through some challenging bush sections, especially in the wet.

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The Pylon Track is a good test for the lungs and legs as you eat up 400m of climb and a reason to break a sweat even if it was only 6°C and you’re wearing a plastic work coat (Gordy!)

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Once you leave the pylon behind at the ride high point of 700m and descend along Burnt Spur (the site of a fire many years ago) you drop into a bush section and the temperature dropped to 4°C, there was plenty of bike carry through here to keep us warm… 

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And when we weren’t carrying we could at least do some pushing and on the odd occasion some riding… The views are great up there even on a grey day and once we had regrouped at the summit and zipped off part-way down the highway to pick up the 4WD track that leads down to the Rimutaka Rail Trail it was a high speed dual slalom race down to The Rimutaka Incline and then a cruise back to the cars, but not before I talked the guys into a high speed pass through the ford doing an excellent impression of the ‘Rinse Cycle’!               Good ride, Good company: Andrew, Dave, Dirk, Gordy, Grant and Ian…

Steve.  

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Rimutaka Summit Route August 2014

Distance: 28km. Altitude Climb: 1055m.   Altitude high point: 700m.   

Total Time: 3H 30m.               Ride Time 2H 55m.

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Mt Thompson (on a good day)

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Mt Thompson can be, and usually is an interesting ride… Just 80km out of Wellington. Mt Thompson is a little over 700m in altitude and you have to earn the downhill by climbing up there first, a nice cool river crossing before the long climb.

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No fancy MTB tracks on this ride, just logging roads to get you most of the way up and then old four-wheel-drive tracks along a ridge through good sized bog-holes to get you to the top.

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And on a good day there are views to the South Island, the Marlborough Sounds and all the way to Mt Taranaki 200km away.

a few of us knocked Mt Taranaki off on a non-biking trip back in 2008 on a ‘good day’, standing at 2518m in T-shirts…

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Anyway back on Mt Thompson after being able to sit in the sunshine at 704m and munch on a sandwich on the top of Mt ‘T’ it is then time to put on an extra layer, preferable waterproof ready for the wild downhill on something resembling a creek bed for 600m of descent over about 3km until you reach the ‘Taranaki’ gate at the bottom, enjoyed the downhill so much that no photos were taken until the stop at the bottom to check all body parts were still connected.

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you can’t beat Mt Thompson on any day, it’s just even better on a good day…

Steve, and 14 other good keen men, 6 who were first-timers.