Patches of Mud

The HVMBC Pureora forest trip

17-19 May 2013

On Friday 17 May, eighteen of the HVMBC (including associates) travelled up country to the recently opened Pureora MTB trail for a weekend of fine weather riding – without any mud.

The Pureora forest is West of Lake Taupo, and was once milled, with several bush tramways, a spiral and several decent suspension bridges. Some of the area is in pine, but much of the native bush has now regenerated and DOC is running a pest management program which has allowed the re-introduction of kokako.

Before getting to Pureora, half the group stopped off in Ohakune on the way up, to ride the old coach road, complete with rail bridges that were missing a few essential parts – ie sleepers. Sleeperless rail bridgeThe group then assembled at Kelly’s motel in Taumaranui on Friday evening, and shared their travelling stories, such as when Jenny Cossey broke her traditional silence, and talked her way out of a speeding ticket when John Burgess was driving.

The motel would be base for the next two days as we rode half the Pureora trail each day. To set the tone for the weekend the rain started as we settled in for a night of light drinking and heavy snoring, before rising early for the first day’s ride.

The group split into two halves, for the 46 km ride on Day 1, with one group heading to the top (Pureora village) and the other to the middle (Piropiro road).  Graeme Silcock was particularly keen to spot kokako, so Gene Clendon and Rod Ogilvie made it their mission to perfect their kokako impressions, just to annoy Graeme.

Swing bridgeSurprisingly only Mark Hearfield and Nick Padfield had to be reminded to swap keys at the half-way point as we crammed into a shelter for lunch on Day 1, to avoid the rain that continued to fall. The downhill group were faster on the first day, and Steve Meeres had time to loosen a bolt in the suspension arm of Mike Daltons car, before we all returned to Taumaranui for a communal feed, and some more light drinking – except for Nick and Vance Lowe, with Graeme Campbell, who decided they were quite dehydrated, and needed to make amends.

On day two, most of the group decided to wear their frilly girls’ blouses and demanded to ride downhill – except for Mike who left for Whangarei, claiming to be hearing a rattle in the front end of his car.  Following appropriate bribery and corruption, Graeme negotiated a way to get the right number of cars in the right places, so that the real men could ride the uphill section, and leave the group wearing their pink blouses to ride the 51 km downhill from Piropiro Rd to Ongarue.

Key swapActually, the second day was almost called off, when Richard Blaikie and Dave Ross saw the sign that had been posted that morning by DOC warning of “Patches of Mud” on the track. After heated discussion, during which Phil Baker and Dirk Naish agreed that DOC were just warning riders about shallow puddles, the groups set off again – just as the rain started.

The first riders helpfully called out whenever they got to any puddles, but soon gave it away and carried their bikes through the waist-deep mud, and tree roots, as we skirted Mt Pureora in the heavy bush.

Thanks to the weather (ie it rained all the time) and the patches of mud, there were only a couple of other groups of riders on the trail, and a few hunters with quad bikes keeping the kokako population in check.


It was a shame to have to finish the track, even with the patches of mud, and return to Kelly’s motel to pack up and go, but not before Ian McCabe managed to dry all his smelly socks in Dave Mann’s car.

Although Pureora mud is probably still coming out of the bikes and clothes (especially from the frilly pink blouses), the weekend was pretty awesome.

The forest and swing bridges were pretty awesome, the rain continued to be pretty awesome, and the companionship of the HVMBC (plus associates) was pretty awesome.

John Burgess

Taupo Away Trip

Rainbow Mountain

9-11 November 2012

On Saturday afternoon we went to Rainbow mountain to ride the new mountain bike track that opened in May this year.

We drove out from Taupo and after half an hour turned off the highway onto the corrugated gravel of Waiotapu Road. It was only a couple of kms down this to the parking area by Kerosene Creek. We had the bikes unloaded and almost ready to go when a Naked Bus pulled up and disgorged a score of backpackers. They had come for a swim in the thermal waters of Kerosene Creek. As some were still preparing their bikes a few of us followed the backpackers down to the pool to check out the temperature - we had a dip planned for after the ride.

We got back to the carpark and found everyone was ready so we headed off on the first part of the ride.

This was along a wide, rolling pumice track which is part of the Te Ara Ahi Cycle trail.  We gradually climbed as we wound around the scrubby hillside, with only a couple of shortish steep pinches to test our tired legs.

We stopped at a lookout overlooking Lake Rotowhero to admire the view and for our photographers to take a couple of snaps.  

Rainbow MountainThe track then headed into the bush away from the lake and after a few hundred metres we were at the bottom of the track heading to the top of the hill.  The start of this track had an ominous sign that warned that only skilled or advanced mountain bikers should proceed.

We all headed up the Te Tihi O Ruru Dual Use (uphill riding only) track knowing that we had to get to the top as returning down this track is not an option.

The day was warm and we were all pleased that the bush was shielding us from the hot sun while we would our way up the early parts of the track. It was not long before the slope increased and a few of us were off our bikes pushing. While the stronger among us kept pedalling up (so I hear) those of us at the back plodded on and upwards with the occasional foray onto the bike when the track led more round the hill than up. I was pushing when we came across another lookout where all had stopped for a look.

The strong riders got back on their bikes and headed up the increasingly rocky track while I followed plodding slowly upwards while using my bike for support. Regrettably this continued to the top of the hill. I came out of the track onto the road and briefly wondered about riding the road. However it was very rocky and still steeper than my legs could cope with so it was back into the bush, pushing up the last hundred metres or so to the top of the mountain.

The views from the top were spectacular - especially once my tired legs had carried me up onto the fire tower - from where you got 360 degree views of the surrounding country side. We all spent 15-20 minutes resting or admiring the view before heading back down.


We posed for a couple of group photos with the view in the background before mounting our bikes and heading down hill. Even the first couple of hundred metres on the road was interesting as it was almost like riding on golf balls - big round loose gravel .

We stopped at the entrance to the new Te Ranga MTB Track. This new track is crucial as it's existence as a down hill track now means MTB's are allowed to use the walking track as an uphill.

And what a track it is. It is not a track for the faint hearted as it is narrow with loose surface, steep tight turns, roots, trees and rocks but it is a real blast. While I admit to walking a couple of bits, it was a nice technical challenge that required all your concentration - and a heap of fun. Just what the doctor ordered to make one forget the horrible climb to the top.

And that was just the top half!

Halfway down the hill we popped out on the road and, after a brief regroup, we headed back into the bush for the second half of the track. This one was a wee bit wider, a bit more cultivated and flowy. While not quite as technical this was still a great bit of track. However all too soon we rode out of the bottom of the track at the carpark at Kerosine creek.

A quick change into our togs/swimming trunks/bathers/undies and we headed down the track to the pool where we flopped into relaxed in the thermal waters.

Kerosene creekIt's amazing how a good downhill and a pleasant soak in hot water make you forget about the horrible slog to the top of the hill.

A ride in 3 parts - a relaxed rolling intro, a gut busting climb and then a great fun and challenging downhill


2012 Nelson Away Trip

Thursday 6 September. Ferry crossing. Gusty Westerlies, with swell rising to 2 m.

Taking the 6pm ferry out of Wellington, 9 HVMBC club members headed off for the Spring MTB trip to knock off some of the famous Nelson trails. We only lost two people, but picked up three others - just like a Wednesday night ride!

Courtesy of Richard, we also got a tour round the Ferry - checking out the diesel electric powerplants downstairs and up to the bridge to see the captain working in the dark, lit only by the glow of banks of dials and gauges... very spooky.

Then an hour drive out to Havelock, and bedding down at the Blue Moon backpackers.

Friday 7 September. Wakamarina. High winds turning to gale, frequent showers.

And so it was, on Friday morning, in the rain, that we organised the location of the vehicles, gear and bikes ready for the shuttle. We knew that we were in for an interesting day when the driver chucked a chainsaw into the van, and then asked us how to get to the drop off point ... of course we did have a map, and although the recent logging in the Richmond forest had changed where all the roads were, when you have a chainsaw what can go wrong?

The river fords were kinda interesting after heavy overnight rain, but after an hour of forest roads, we were at our drop off point at 800m above sea level. It was time to assemble the bikes, remember the key bits of kit that we had forgotten, and start riding the Wakamarina track. The wind was blowing, but the sun came out as we climbed through the South Island beech forest up to the 1100 m summit and our lunch stop, complete with sushi (from the ferry) and hand-made beech chopsticks.

Steve (El Presidente) managed to chase the pigs off the track (remember it is all rideable) as we dropped three hundred metres round the Mt Richmond peak, just so that we could have the joy of pushing and carrying the bikes back up 300 m to our second lunch stop (in the sun again). This was the start of the real descent, and we were into an amazing technical downhill, complete with hairpins, fallen beech trees, off track detours, weka, and the sound of smiles breaking out across our faces, as we switchbacked 800 m down in 20 minutes. Third lunch in the sun at 18degrees (you can never have too much lunch) saw the HVMBC lounging on the grass around Devils Hut in the Wakamarina river valley. We sent Brett to check whether the shape under the blanket in the old slab hut was actually a corpse, (and therefore would not be needing their Marin any more) but the bike was red and unsuspended so we moved on.

A blast down more single track took us through some real gnarly rocky switchbacks, lots more fords, a suspension bridge, a young beech tree nearly taking Andrew into the river as he cleared the track, and eventually emerging at the trail head. It was sets of weary legs that followed the river down to the Trout hotel and the carefully located cars, and included Karen taking increasingly long taps as she and Mark competed for the chance to sample the beer first. (What sort of man are you Mark? Just cos you then rode another two hours back to the 10:30 pm ferry at Picton, is no reason to let Karen drag you back to the pub - we do have standards you know... )

Only the keenest cleaned (and polished) their bikes in the rain that evening, before it was Pizza in Nelson, then no trouble sleeping in Paradiso.


Saturday 8 September. Involution. Gale force Westerlies, heavy showers, some thundery.

A road ride out towards Stoke, took us on our "easy day" up the Marsden Valley and into the Richmond hills to the start of the 4WD climb up the Barnicoat walkway, through the pines, into the cloud and up to our lunch stops at the top of the Involution downhill, in the sun - of course. A major steep rocky uphill sorted out the men from the ... other men - and women, before we were into beech forest again, past lots of pest control traps, and then over 4 km of awesome downhill trail riding. Thank you DOC, Nelson MTB club, Nelson council and the Dept of Corrections - that is one awesome ride... Then there were a few river crossings (including falling into holes and getting punctures) and we were back at the quarry. We managed to slow SFI (Super-fast Ian) down a bit, by granting him the pleasure of riding a super-plush armchair (aka a Giant Reign 3) back to town, which meant that John had a chance to head him off on his XTC 29'er hardtail, in the sprint back to Paradiso. Thanx to some mad navigation skills (Ian?!) we also had the joy of duelling with the surf sloshing over the sea wall, as we took the long way home round the Nelson coast back to the city.

A team effort to prepare Chili con Carne for eight, and a few drinks took us through to the evening rugby, where we had real Argentinians to sit beside and shout at the ref.

Sunday 9 Sep. Coppermine/Dun Mountain loop. Gales easing, showers, some heavy, turning to hail.

"Fair-Weather Dirk" encouraged a delay in our departure as the heavy overnight showers continued to batter Paradiso through the morning, till at a luxurious 10:45 we headed out, without rainwear(!). Even though Steve was wearing his skins again, Jenny was more entranced with the flowering magnolias than his legs, as we followed Tasman street through the old parts of Nelson to the restored grade of the old Coppermine rail trail. The temperature dropped further and further, and the trail got better and better through beautiful Beech forest, as the dirt track turned to grey shale, then brown (dun - old English for brown) rocks. We did enjoy an hour of light rain, and some random locals managed to confuse our onward passage, but we rode up to the bizzare open tops (that is not an allusion to Karen's riding gear) where the highly mineralised soil prevents trees growing, and made it look like real high altitude. Up to Windy point, and, it was like, totally still. At 846 m and the sun comes out - again - and we get the awesome views over Nelson. Lunch in the sun - of course.

And the downhill - aaaaaahhhhh. Even Grant was smiling. It had everything! Well, maybe not copper plated handrails - but nearly everything. Thank God for gravity. Nearly makes you forget the pain of the uphill. 45kph on single track - that has gotta be good, even with a random bit of wire through the tyre sidewall regularly re-puncturing the tube.


Then there was the aftermatch function at the Ale house - with two-for-one vouchers causing a popularity contest among our mild-mannered members.

Monday 10 Sep. Codgers bike park. Who cares what the forecast was - it was wrong.

I have no idea what happened on Monday, since I left on Sunday night, so you can make up your own ride description, which would probably involve having lunch in the sun, SFI riding too fast, Steve wearing his legs, Brett buying another tyre, Karen drinking a bottle of wine, Richard polishing his bike, Jenny doing everyone's washing, Grant playing some random card game, Ian peeling mandarins, Andrew doing bear impressions, and Dirk riding a bike with wheels larger than he is!

Bring on the next HVMBC away trip - we may even get to have lunch in the sun again...

2011 Westport Away Trip

Some thoughts...

While cycling along the Old Ghost Trail we arrived at a freshly blasted and cleared section of the track that traversed a scree slope, with a steep drop off of 100m into the valley below. Clearing the last remains of rock into a large swag bag were two track workers who were waiting for their helicopter to appear. One was an old friend of mine that I had cycle toured around Scandinavia with when we were both 16 years old and living in England. We had time for a quick catch up on family news before the helicopter arrived and perched on the track; the front of the skids balanced on the rock platform, the rest hovering in space behind. My friend climbed in and flew away. Its always great when a friendly ghost from the past pops by.