Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Danseys Pass, A2O and Elephant Rocks!

This isn't a post about a long bike ride, more about a long weekend with a short bike ride. Mark and I headed off to Danseys Pass Camping Ground for a short break. What a great little campground! I highly recommend it. There is a beautiful river running right by and a really good swimming hole. The water was a bit too chilly to go swimming, but I imagine in summer in would be lovely.

There wasn't bike trails to ride, so we rode around the campground and down along the river. Great fun for Mark who loves finding obstacles to ride over and banks to ride down.

The next day we loaded up the bikes and headed to Kurow. I wanted to check out part of the Alps to Ocean (A2O) bike trial that runs from Mt. Cook to the coast at Oamaru. Its in my plan to ride the whole 300km this summer, so this was a chance to check out just a small portion. First we headed past Kurow to the Aviemore and Wataki Dams, just to have a look at a couple of the campsites on the trail.

Then Mark dropped me off at Kurow and I headed off to Duntroon on the A2O trail, telling him "oh it will only take me an hour and a bit." The first couple of km's was very pretty following the river. I  wasn't too fussed on the surface on the trail, it was loose river gravel I think, and really slowed me down.

The trail then veered off to follow the road for a wee bit, then headed back through a vineyard and down near the river again. 

After that, as much as I don't like saying this...the trail was boring. I thought I would be following the river but instead you ride along a gravel road with huge gorse bushes pretty much obscuring any view you may have. Add into this a very loose gravel surface and strong headwind and my ride was starting to feel more like a chore. After a couple of river crossings and wet feet, I hit the highway again before veering off past paddocks, and I did catch a few glimpses of the river.

I met up with Mark who was riding from the other direction to meet me and just to top the ride off, I got a puncture!!! The ride into Duntroon goes through the newly established Duntroon Wetlands, They have done an enormous amount of planting there and once it all starts growing will look spectacular.

After this experience I am still keen to do the whole of the trail, this was only a tiny portion of it and probably the most boring part. Hopefully the gravel won't be as thick in other parts, though it does make for fun skidding out on the corners!

So after all that it was getting a bit late so we headed back to the campground via Elephant Rocks. The whole area around here was once an inland sea, and there are amazing outcrops of all different types of rocks everywhere as well as an abundance of fossils. Crazy to think it was all seabed once. 

Next day it was time to head home via Danseys Pass. Absolutely stunning scenery on a very winding, narrow gravel road. I kept thinking this would be so much fun to ride, so maybe that will be my end of summer challenge. 
A great couple of days away...its always so good to discover new places that you never realized were so close by.

" Escape and breathe the air of new places."

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Autumnal Arrowtown

Its been a while since I have posted. Most of my riding this summer has been around where I live, and now winter is nearly here with shorter days, it will be harder to get out for decent rides after work. I have also been battling with an inflamed elbow so thought best to get that sorted before any more long rides.

But yesterday I had to drive up to Arrowtown to drop a piece off for an exhibition, and thought what a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a glorious autumn day and have a good ride. I decided to ride along the Gibbston Trail from Arrowtown first and could not have asked for a better wind, sun shining and all the trees just started to change colour. There was even a dusting of snow on the mountains!

This trail has such a good surface with a lot of nice little cornering, lovely river crossings and only a few slight climbs.

The trail branches off and you can either keep heading down the Gibbston Valley or take the turn towards Queenstown. I decided to do that as I wanted to join up with the Lake Hayes trail and ride back into Arrowtown.

It was such stunning scenery looking down over the river with Queenstown in the background. There were a few short, cheekily steep climbs but overall it was a fairly easy trail. I did nearly come off once pays to look ahead when zooming down a hill and suddenly you come upon a very sharp hairpin turn! It was obvious that I hadn't been the only who had to brake sharply and skid to a stop on that corner, judging by the tyre marks!

The Lake Hayes trail starts in the Lake Hayes Estate which was kind of nice riding on the smooth tar seal and looking at all the new houses. Funny what people get up to on their weekends.

After crossing the highway and checking out the historic horse trough, it was time to bike around Lake Hayes. I decided to go around the left hand side of the lake and I think it is quite a bit steeper than the right. It was also the shady side which may have been a mistake as the afternoon chill was creeping in. At least the hill climbs keep you warm.

After that it was an easy meander through Millbrook Golf Resort, and then onto the trail back to Arrowtown.

I highly recommend the trails around Queenstown and Arrowtown. They are very well maintained, spectacular scenery and best of all they link up so no road riding.

By the time I got back to Arrowtown I was needing a bit of sustenance and feeling slightly chilly, so what could be a better way to end my day than sitting in front of an outdoor fire, with a glass of Merlot and a big bowl of hot wedges listening to a guy playing blues.

Perfect end to a great days riding!

" Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile."

                                                                                          William Cullen Bryant

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Forestry Trails & Face Plants

One of the worse things about running your own business is working when everyone else is on holidays, but one of the best things is you can take a day off when you feel like it...and that's exactly what I did yesterday. Marks birthday was a good reason to go adventuring for the day.

I had read about the mountain bike trails in the Naseby forest and was keen to go and have a look, so that is where we went. There is 500 hectares of privately owned forestry full of mountain bike trails of all different grades. (If you are interested in finding out more click here.)

It was also a good chance to check out the road from Lawrence to Middlemarch, as that is the next challenge I am setting myself...30 kms of gravel and hills, then 50 kms of highway and hills. And not nice gradual hills but steep and short (ish) ones.

Naseby is a lovely town with a lot of history dating back to the goldminers, and still quite a few original old buildings.

We both needed to eat before tackling these tracks and and headed to the only cafe in town, The Black Forest Cafe. The food was so good and I filled up on sourdough bread, sundried tomato chutney type thing with avocado and feta mashed on top and a poached egg. 

Now it was time to check out some trails. There was a bike trail map available from the info centre but it wasn't that detailed. There was a trail that seemed to be the main one with other trails branching off it.
This main trail is called the Mt Ida Water Race Trail and does follow an old water race. I think we took a wrong turn to get to it and ended up on a single track that was way out of my capabilities, but as we all shame in walking!

Once we got to the water race trail it was really easy riding and very well maintained. Amazing to think that this water race was all dug by hand back in the 1870's. They even had siphon points where the water race crossed a low point and you can still see all of this when you ride the trail.

We passed some lovely dams and forested areas, also quite a bit of the forestry had been logged and replanted. It's such a great idea to be able to utilize all this land for trails. 

So there I am..riding along a nice easy trail and come to a slightly narrow part. The rain had washed a big groove into the trail so my brain said go around that but what did I do? I went straight through the groove, my pedal hit the side and I veered sideways to the left and plummeted down a 5ft bank! Somewhere between leaving the trail and landing at the bottom, I face planted down into the scrub, rolled and Birdys handlebars hit my cheek. All I could do was lie there and laugh since I wasn't hurt. Poor minute I'm riding in front of him and then bang, I'm heading off over the side!

I was fine though and we kept riding, but when I woke up this morning my body sure did ache and my ankle was pretty swollen. But minor injuries and it could have been worse.

After riding the 20kms there and back on the water race trail, we investigated some of the others. I was OK on the Intermediate Grade 3 trails but I think any more than that and I would be struggling. I enjoy single track biking to a certain degree, but would much rather ride long km's on good trails. Also I just don't have the skill nor the balance to feel confident riding difficult terrain.

After mucking around on the trails for a while it was off to the Ancient Briton Hotel for a beer and sit down. Jess, the hotel dog was big and friendly and the beer went down a treat. It was such a hot day that I could have easily sat there all afternoon and had a couple more.

For anyone who likes biking I would recommend you check Naseby Forest out. You can get to Naseby from the Otago Rail Trail..its not too far to ride from the trail and there is a camping ground to stay in.
It was a fun day out and I will definitely be heading back to Naseby.

"Crashing is part of cycling as crying is part of love."

                                                                                         Johann Museeuw

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Pack up the gear RB, we are heading off!

We have been having some gorgeous weather here...lovely hot days that are perfect for riding except work seems to get in the way. So I decided to head off this weekend for an overnight camp to my favourite camping ground at Millers Flat.

I haven't had a night in my tent since the end of the bike tour and to be honest, I was missing it. I love my little tent. So I packed up the panniers, loaded Birdy up, tucked RB (Roadside Bear that I found by the road in the USA, but RB  to his friends) into a secure spot and off we went. ( Buggy gets to go on the overseas trips Elsie!)

It was a scorcher of a day which suits me, I love riding in the heat. Pulled over here for a drink and the locals seemed very interested in Birdy.

The trail is in such good condition now. There were so many washouts and slips after the torrential rain and floods through winter but the trail committee have got it all back in peak condition. With all this warm weather its lovely and dry too, perfect riding conditions.

Got to the campground after a slight detour to have a wee nap by the river. It was so nice to be setting up my tent again!

I decided that since it was still early I would ride to Roxburgh, only another 19kms further on the trail, and grab some fish, chips and a beer to picnic by the river. It was a beautiful ride, the Lombardy Poplars were shedding all their seed tufts and it looked like snow in some places.

Of course the Clutha River was looking as stunning as it normally does. One of the great things about this trail is how it follows the river, and the river and flora around it is always changing. I never get sick of riding through here as its different every time.

Fish, chips and a beer with a view. What could be better?

Needless to say the trip back was a bit slower. There was storm over the hills and it was kinda cool cycling towards the sun while behind me I could hear thunder rumbling. 
After a shower, some red wine and a lovely chat with Marise it was time for bed.

I really enjoyed camping out again and can't wait until my next tour. The plan is in April to bike the length of the south island here in New Zealand, and then in September get myself to Western Australia to ride the Munda Biddi Trail. This is a 1000kms off road trail and in September the wildflowers will be out, so it should be spectacular.

Until then I have to be happy with short overnight trips and day rides. Heres a few pics of recent rides to whet the appetite of all my overseas friends to come to NZ and ride with me!

" Travel is not really about leaving our homes, but leaving our habits."

                                                                                                              Pico Iyer