Thursday, 7 January 2016

New Years Excursions - Big River Waiuta

With the New Year looming we headed south to the Town of Light - Reefton, once we had set up camp we wondered over to one of the hotels only to bump into some other mountain biking friends. A quiet evening was had in good company and the New Year arrived.

The first ride of 2016 was to be a cracker Big River-Waiuta, this is a classic ride and is included in both the Kiwi Brevet and Tour Aotearoa, it has been around for years now.

It is rich in mining history from the early days up to about 1960, it gives you a glimpse of big back country, it has a mix of four wheel drives tracks which give way to single track which was the old miners path.

The day started with breakfast at the local bakery ... not to be missed! Helen and I headed out from Reefton, soon turning off onto the four wheel drive tracks for a couple of hours stopping occassionaly to enjoy the vistas and a snack.

We arrived at Big River Hut for lunch two hours after starting, we enjoyed sitting in the sun, chatting with others who had ridden in. After an hour we found the energy to get back on our bikes and tackle the single track through to the ghost town of Waiuta.

The next two hours starts with you being lulled into a false sense of fun ... a bit of boardwalk ... a bit of nice single track ... all rideable ... a little slippery in places but fun! Then it changes some hike a bike, a bit of pushing up some short steep inclines, suddenly the character of the track has changed!

Half way through there is a slip which requires a it care with ... it is still lots of fun just a bit more effort required as you ride through some stunning forest. It must have taken a lot of man hours to carve this track out originally by hand!

Suddenly the track broadens and you near the end, through a gate and you pop out onto a four wheel drive track for a kilometre arriving in the town of Waiuta, this historic place now deserted is worth a visit whether you are driving or riding through.

Most trips end here with a vehicle being left as a shuttle, but no we were riding back to Reefton which meant we had seven kilometres of fast smooth gravel road to descend, then wind our way along a cute valley which pops onto the main Grey Valley road.

On reaching the Grey Valley, Helen and I sat down to have a snack and mentally prepare our selves for the last 24 km on tarseal back to Reefton, when Linda and Craig ride up, while we did have breakfast with them they left an hour or so later. Now Craig is a bit a of a legend in the NZ brevet scene ... strong and fast! We all rolled out back to Reefton together Craig leading and when he asked if we were all on ... I knew the train was leaving and it was going to be a quick ride!

Well I wasn't wrong, we were soon sitting on 32 kmh and at times it started to edge up, but my Yorkshire genes came to the fore when I brought a ticket for this train and I got the 50% off one ... true to form ... I got off the train just a bit quick for me ... Helen, well she brought the full price ticket and was hanging on, until she looked back and saw I had popped! Oh well, we rolled on with Linda, Craig was in his happy place totally unaware we had all got off the train! After a while Craig rolls back down the road to us and we cruise up the pass and into Reefton together for an ice cream and a swim in the river!

2016 has started with a great day on the bike ... bring it on!

November and December Missions

November brought slightly warmer but windier conditions!

Helen and I spent a long weekend in Hanmer Springs, rolling around the local tracks while I am rebuilding my confidence on technical mountain bike tracks, the leg has healed fine and is strong and getting stronger ... well ... the head is taking a bit longer!

We also snuck over into the big country to ride the St James Cycleway, I love this ride!!! The big mountains, the huge valley, the sense of remoteness it has so much going for it! It is an adventure! And the riding is great too! What more could you ask for!

We park at the St James Homestead, rode the 20 kms up the Clarence Valley to Mailing Pass (head wind all the way!) dropping down into the Waiau River along that lunch at the swing bridge, back up over Charlies Pass, with a quick bite to eat and a hot brew at Charlies hut before riding out to the car, the last 5 or 6 kms are such a blast, smooth flowing track ... what a way to finish! Just under 9 hours for the 86 kms including stops.

But wait there is more!

A Marlborough Loop ... 

With four days up our sleeves, we left Helen's flat in Nelson and rode up to St Arnaud, a warm day which climbs steadily to Nelson Lakes National Park, we found a cold beer to quench our thirst to watch the drizzle set in ... nice timing!

The next day brought a forecast of westerlies ... a whole day with the wind at our backs and it was down hill! St Arnaud to Blenhiem to spend a lazy afternoon in a cafe, before riding out to Rarangi on the coast to camp.

The third day brought hills and wind ... the eleven hills through the stunning Port Underwood and a very strong headwind (yes! it was still blowing a westerly and we were now heading west!) from Picton to Pelorus Bridge ... bloody tough going but just had to suck it up buttercup!

Between our camp and home was really only one hill ... the mighty Maungatapu ... 8 kilometres, 1 hour 35 minutes of climbing, just you ... your bikes smallest gear ... and the hill! But what a downhill ... wahooooo! just a little sketchy at times on a fully loaded bike haha!

Finally Christmas arrived and we were able to sneak in a couple of hours down the Hutt River Trail from Upper Hutt to Petone, then onto into Wellington and around to Island Bay to finish the month off!