Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I am not long back from a pretty awesome holiday in Nelson and Marlborough. I was lucky enough to get shown the amazing trails that the locals have over there.
On boxing day, ex Wellingtonians Gazza and Susie Milbanke-Wood invited me along with a group of their buddies to do an ascent of Fringe Hill. Its about 800 metres in height I think, and seems to be the start of many good rides. At the top it was out with the scorched Almonds, chrissie cake and and all the goodies. Very civilised.
All was going well until my "Cuz" (who we actually met going in the opposite direction and joined our ride) showed me a short-cut down the hill... You remember that big storm that hit Nelson 18 months ago?
It knocked down trees that had been standing for over 100 years. Well those trees are still all over the trails.
To cut a long story short, I ripped off my drop-out and had to free-wheel down the hill minus chain and rear derailer.
Luckily for me I had the direct dial to the Stylianou Mansion on my bat-fone and by the end of the day had the entire NZ supply of Santa Cruz Superlight drop-outs in my hot little hand.
The next day, once again, purely by chance I came across Cuz, this time in the company of "Coppermine Classic" organiser James Hufflet. Where were they going?
To pre-ride the Coppermine of course! As Stylie was at home sick he was spared the job of showing me around the course as earlier promised.
I didnt notice at the start but both Paul (Cuz) and James were riding big-hit bikes with 2.3 wide tyres... I was on my superlight with my Brevet Aero-bars on! DOH!
The first descent of the Coppermine, from the top of the Fringe hill is the best part, ride able rooty drop-offs among the Beech trees, quite beautiful, but I am sure a handful in the wet. The next part was also very nice, taking in parts of the Dun Mountain Walkway. There were lots of new trails being built up there, but the one bit that I didnt care for too much consisted of nasty bowling ball sized boulders in a stream bed. I suspect that this is the "signature" of the Coppermine, but I have heard its being cut from the offical Coppermine course this year. No complaints from me but the local hardcore will not be happy.
The next day I was out again with Paul and James and we took in some pretty amazing trails from the entrance to Hira Forest, Kaka, Rimu, R&R, and supple-jack trails, to name a few of them. All of them real fun and some quite demanding singletrack in my book. They were dropping me easily in the descents as I was lacking in confidence on this style of track. Its not the groomed trails that you get in R-vegas or Makara, and after 3 days on the trot, I was also missing a fair bit of skin.
The weather was very hot in the evenings in Nelson but thankfully it was quite overcast during the days. Under the canopy of the exotic forest it was so dark at times that I nearly needed lights to see.
One day I snuck out to take in a piece of the Brevet course through the Wairoa Gorge road and Pig Valley, probably about 70/30 Tarseal to gravel.
On new years eve I ran into another ex Wellingtonian (Dave) when we stumbled across his bar while waiting for Minuit http://www.minuit.co.nz/ to play at the Catherdal steps. Dave was up for a ride at 11am the next day, despite only getting home at 4am. We re-rode R&R where I didnt dab, or crash at all, and did a whole bunch more trails.. Chings Highway, Tuckers Road... and many more that I have forgotten. What a blast.
Next up was a trip over the Maungatpu saddle to Pelorus and onto Moetapu Bay where some more Welly friends have a bach (hang a left at Linkwater). I was able to ride some of the Brevet course in reverse. It was very foggy going over the hill with a very light rain. I tried out my new breathable rain jacket which worked well. There were a couple of short walks on the ascent where the surface was steep and loose. I stopped for some photos at Murderers Rock and when I eventually got to Blenheim a few days later I read up all about the murders. It was a pretty gruesome affair in ever way, the murders, the executions etc and would it would be hard to find a similar event in NZ's history that would have had such a profound effect.
No sooner had we got to Moetapu Bay than our host Greg had organised a family ride, and the next day dropped myself, Alan and Ollie off at Punga Cove so that we could ride the Queen Charlotte Walkway to Te Mahia. Awesome! Its not the cruisey family ride I was led to beleive. Lots of straight up and straight down. I am not sure I agree with it being a mixed use track either. Walkers must get pretty annoyed at MTBers barrelling down the track all the time. We got to te Mahia just as it started to rain so it was very well timed.
We later drove into Blenheim and amused ourselves by PYOing 10kgs of cherries...