Thursday, April 10, 2008

Riding on...and mixing it up

Well, the sun did come out on Tuesday and I set out to ride the Macauley Valley with great ghusto. DOC describe this as a pleasant ride along tussock flats and riverbed. As it turned out, the tussock flats sections had been 'upgraded' with a generous layer of chunky river gravels and a recent flood had turned the river bed into a maze of deadend 4WD tracks. It was a 'mini-Poulter' and my average speed up to the flash Macauley Hut was 12 km/hr. That was me going hard out! Oh well...the scenery was magnificent and the ride down the valley much easier.

As a guidebook writer big braided river systems are a bit of a nightmare. You can spend all day working out the best route to take and then a fresh (high rainfall event) can turn your good advice into bad, in a couple of hours.

After a late lunch it was off to check out a small area of singletrack being developed in a forest just out of Tekapo. Singletrack! Ahhhhhh...nice. Then I part drove, part walked the local section of the Te Araroa Trail (the length of NZ walk) to confirm it wasn't really worth having in 'Classic NZ MTB Rides'.

All in all, a good day. Average. 5/10. Could be better.

Wednesday started with a visit to DOC in Twizel. They've been very busy opening up new area through the High Country Tenure Review process. Not surprisingly, there was lots to check out starting with the wonderful Twizel River Walkway - 12 km of new single & double track. The river is lined with willows and the leaves are starting to turn.

Ride two was the Dusky Trail into the base of the Ben Ohau range - 26 km, half formed and half of it just following a worn path over bumpy high country pasture. Lots of tussock, matagouri and rose-hip, with merino sheep and the odd rabbit & hare. There was some zen-like sweet riding on the descent following a 5-inch wide sheep track. And during this ride Sarah texted to say that Miro had just looked at a photo of me and said 'Bye' - her first word! Sad..happy...cute... She has a week to learn 'Hi' before they fly down here.

In the late afternoon I rushed off to Lake Ohau to squeeze in the Parsons MTB track before dusk. Apart from a little road ride between the start and finish, this was only 8 km long - thank God!!! I was knackered again already. 8 km/hr was all I could manage through the single track (which was fun, I think...).

That night was spent with rellies (David, Jennie & Mica) at 'Hippy Heights' near Wanaka. Always nice to catch up. They are building a house at Hawea Flats on a shoe-string budget (after having lived in a caravan and shipping container for a year and a half) - very exciting. So yesterday turned into a rest day - concreting the foundation wall until the sun went down. Nothing like a 40 kg bag of cement to make your bike (any bike) feel light. A good nights sleep was had by all.

Righto...enough blogging. Time to head for some serious mountains in Southland. Yee hah.


Oli Brooke-White said...

Good work, Simon. Love the Miro story mate. Brought a tear to this old dad's eye...Happy trails, dude.

Rob Hoult said...

Twizel is not a bad base for some emerging rides, except in winter. Once the frosts set in the 'frost heave' makes it pretty poxy. Summer and Autumn are good though.

That long downhill section of the Dusky Track is indeed sweet -its rather deceptive how much height is gained from the start point.

A really great ride waiting to happen is to ride up and over Ben Ohau Peak itself from the Glen Lyon station road. Half of this is now DOC administered under the tenure review, but the latter part that links up with the Dusky is still in private hands. Its a grunt and a half getting up to the summit, but then a huge down hill. A round trip from Twizel township is about 5 hrs.

Simon Kennett said...

Thanks Oli : )

Hi Rob
You're dead right about the frost heave - slowed me down to a crawl during research 3 years ago. Great to be out here earlier this time.
And Ben Ohau is an awesome mission. I did it with a local lad (riding a 26/24" clunker) back in 1987. Views to die for!