It was a Solo ride, but I wasn't riding solo....
I and a few friends went for a biking trip in New Zealand a few days ago. We went to Nelson in the South Island. Nelson has a very healthy mtbing thing going on and their little secret is getting out. They have some really great trails. The place is surrounded by mountains and they are peppered with single track.
Weíd heard that the Heaphy track was closing after a trial period for submission on mtb use. So we were off to ride it, just in case it gets closed. Itís an 80km ride in wilderness, although you can stay at some conservation huts to overnight it. It is not recommended to ride it in one day because the weather can close you out. It rains a lot on the range.
Some have ridden it in one day, but it takes a good 8 hours because itís not all easy miles and they shouldnít ride it in one because you arenít allowed to ride it at night for the protection of a couple of nocturnal animals in the park. And as you can only ride it in winter and the start of spring, there isnít 8 hours of daylight available.
Where is Heaphy Ė the top left hand corner of the NZ south island. Start inland, head west and ride over the range and back down to the beach. Highest elevation is 915m, but there are drops and climbs along the way, before dropping back down to sea level.
Solo ready at the start of the Heaphy track. The Solo nails the trail bike riding genre.
A steady 17.5km climb up to the highest point. Even with the weight on the back, the 140mm Pike up front didnít trouble me. It was crap to brake into corners on the downs at first. Just getting the weight transfer to come over the front so as you can apply maximum braking. I ended up taking out 10psi on the fork to try and get better weight transfer for braking. Oneís braking transition is extended.
After 17.5ks for climbing, we got to the summit, 915m.
Sorry, not too many actual trail pictures, too busy riding them to stop and shoot. There are some great sections and some great downs, but obviously we weren't stopping for these. So here's more story....
Then you get some down action from here. And along the flat of the saddle, a couple of small climbs a few creek crossings. One section of the saddle is very exposed. There's a strong wind blowing here - you can see the windswept trees - oh, it is very cool temp wise. There's a very nice down section from here to a creek. One of our riders lost his sleeping bag off his rack - that was before we even got a little gnarly.
I guess it proves one thing, itís always better riding with a group of mates, if not yourself, someone will provide great entertainment.
You can see the trail near a stunted tree on the far left of frame. (that's where we are headed, down and around to right and outa sight)
See trail in background to right side corner here (back there is where we have come from)
Then there is one more bastard heart breaker climb up to the hut - Saxon Hut
Mate's bike on veranda, mine just visible in background ( a wee peak of rescue orange). We all pulled out our cans of beer and had a drink. Yep, we dragged some celebrations up the hill with us. You should have seen the other punters staying there looking wistfully at our lucky ales...
No power in hut, but gas and a couple of pots. I woke up early in the morning, raining, cold. Put on shoes and wet for a piss. Came back inside, and a joker was looking for his shoes - turns out I went for a piss in another man's shoes. Oh well... my turn to provide the entertainment.
Raining, cold, 1 degree
Prepping for a wet and cold ride Ė this is why they made it available in rescue orange...
And this is in front of us
There was a down section at the start. It was pretty funny. It was flowy and getting faster, then it came to a sharp turn. I hadnít touched my brakes, but was closing in on the back wheel of my mate, we were both going faster and faster, getting some early morning stoke on and shaking off the misery of cold and wet. Sharp corner looms, grabbed the brakes and whoa! The brakes were super cold from being outside and the bike had extra kilos. Squeeze harder on the handle, and an instant later the brakes warm up and you slow up - just in time. A little diary note for cold weather travellers Ė a couple of brake feathers to warm up are good before the hairpin.
There's a 150-200m climb up to Mackay hut from Saxon, then it's down all the way. Actually the ride between these huts is a good 16ks, it was great. Some really challenging technical sections. Rocks, roots, wash outs inter-dispersed with some great smooth sections. The Solo just hummed through this stuff
View on the way down
3 dudes on the trail. I have 4 layers on.
Some of the trail - magic all the way down. From time to time some great natural features, drop ins over logs, root balls, natural berms, dips and fun. A few G outs etc. This sort of stuff a Solo dominates, twisting and jinking, invented lines and generally holding incredible rolling pace.
Nearly to the bottom
After Lewis, it is a great forest single track ride in some flat areas. A few 50-100m hills, that you climb and race down to. Some of the best single track though, and these massive trees in there - like 10-15m thick trunks. Impressive scenery, breath taking.
Then onto Heaphy Hut - a new hut has been built. Sleeps about 24 I think.
Yes, and under the veranda that is Whale ribs, and back bone...
The view from the hut
Phew made it. No, another 20+ks to go
Check the map out, you go 20ks or so down the coast line, right beside the Wild West Sea. 3 times you drop onto the beach for about 200m, but the rest is good single track. The end is a climb and bomb down a hill into Kamera. You're shagged, but there are these logs that are great to bunny hop and you just end up going faster and faster, brake hard for walker, smile and go hard... By the end of the trip I could bunny hop with that ridiculous luggage on the back. The next ride day without the luggage and I bunny hopped nearly into orbit.
On the map (hope you can see it, all there are phone pics), we started at the top right corner, over the range, to the left, Heaphy hut right on the beach, and then down beside the beach, all wilderness until we reached the bottom left corner.
This is one beach drop in. In the far background you can see the point of land. We ride along that entire coast and around the point. Thatís the ride out ahead of us.
Only in NZ
The single track is exposed here, but it does drop through thick forest for the most part.
As you can see, cross the bridge and into more thick forest. This typifies the singletrack fauna you ride in.
Not far from the end now. Pick up time and the shuttle guy at the end greeted us with a smile and a cold can of beer for everyone. The first half of the can didn't touch the sides
Loaded or unloaded, the Solo kills it on the ups, downs and flats. Iíve never ridden so well on XC flats for sustained pace and a high personal pace for such a prolonged time and had such a ball. Admittedly, the stoke with your mates and surrounds was probably a contributing factor. I guess what Iím saying is that this bike can really eat some miles, and eat them well with a high level of fun. It begs, come on, give me more corners.....
The next day, we did a day ride in Nelson, rode a 40k loop that included a 17k climb (again). Once more, tired legs, great climbing and amazed myself. Bombing down the other side was great, I was relieved to have 140mm up front, let me say that much.
The Solo is very versatile, a great trail bike. Cheers.
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Thread: Not so Solo ride - long story