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  1. #1
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    Jul 2009

    Not so Solo ride - long story

    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.

    Not so Solo ride - long story-start.jpg

    After 17.5ks for climbing, we got to the summit, 915m.

    Not so Solo ride - long story-top-1.jpg

    Not so Solo ride - long story-top-2.jpg

    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)

    Not so Solo ride - long story-saddle-1.jpg

    See trail in background to right side corner here (back there is where we have come from)

    Not so Solo ride - long story-saddle-2.jpg

    Then there is one more bastard heart breaker climb up to the hut - Saxon Hut

    Not so Solo ride - long story-saxon-hut.jpg

    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...

    Not so Solo ride - long story-morning-saxon-hut.jpg

    And this is in front of us

    Not so Solo ride - long story-morning-ride.jpg

    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

    Not so Solo ride - long story-view-way-down.jpg

    3 dudes on the trail. I have 4 layers on.

    Not so Solo ride - long story-3-dudes-trail.jpg

    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.

    Not so Solo ride - long story-trail.jpg

    Nearly to the bottom

    Not so Solo ride - long story-getting-close-bottom.jpg

    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...

    Not so Solo ride - long story-heaphy-hut.jpg

    The view from the hut

    Not so Solo ride - long story-heaphy-beach.jpg

    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.

    Not so Solo ride - long story-map.jpg

    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.

    Not so Solo ride - long story-trail-out-1.jpg

    Only in NZ
    Not so Solo ride - long story-trail-out-2.jpg

    The single track is exposed here, but it does drop through thick forest for the most part.
    Not so Solo ride - long story-trail-out-3.jpg

    As you can see, cross the bridge and into more thick forest. This typifies the singletrack fauna you ride in.
    Not so Solo ride - long story-trail-out-4.jpg
    Not so Solo ride - long story-trail-out-5.jpg

    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.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Not so Solo ride - long story-made-down.jpg  

  2. #2
    rox is offline
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    Aug 2008
    very cool. thanks for posting

  3. #3
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    Jan 2006
    Ditto. Much appreciated. Can't wait to do something epic on mine.

    Sent from my HTC One S using Tapatalk 4

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: gmats's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Wow! Awesome! Great post, such passion.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: sooner518's Avatar
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    Jul 2007
    awesome photos and ride. would love to do an epic ride like that someday.

  6. #6
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    Reputation: GlennW's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    Looks like the Solo was a great choice for your ride. Beautiful scenery over there in NZ - I wish I had done riding more during my time out there.
    Ridin' & Diggin'

  7. #7
    fan of maple syrup
    Reputation: nuclear_powered's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Great post. I just wasted half an hour of work learning about the Heaphy Track. What a superb trail.

    Here's hoping the trial period was successful for MTB riders in the future. I could see it being a potential bike trip for some friends and I, given flights over the ditch are pretty cheap these days. And here's also hoping it paves the way for other similar multi-day trails in Aus/NZ to become MTB friendly (like the Overland Track, for example - something I've always wanted to see, but would much prefer to do so by MTB than foot)

  8. #8
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    Jul 2009
    Thanks guys. Yeah, it was a special ride trip and it is always a pleasure to share the stoke. It gets others enthused and we all get to find the next new ride frontier. We probably fluked it a bit, every ride day just got better so far as our trail selection went. The last day I was there it was pack up and fly home day, the weather had closed in and it was windy and raining. We got the best of it I think.

    Yep, riding in NZ is pretty special, both North Island and South Island, they are blessed with great topography, lush rainforest and awesome trails. The whole country has a very progressive approach to mtbing and trails, the network is expanding and I think they are seeing the benefits of the tourist dollar from it now. The local sense of camaraderie helps make for a good trip and you can tell how healthy the sport is over there by the number of women, kids and families that you see out on the trail.

    Our next adventure is further south, early next year weíll be heading to Queenstown for some more elevation love. It can be a little faster in Queenstown, so a bigger rotor on the front and Iíll try some more rear travel out. Cheers.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: vikb's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Looks like a great ride. Thanks for posting!
    Safe riding,


  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: GnarBrahWyo's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    The Solo is an incredibly comfortable bike. I rode 17 miles of trail the other day and thought in my head it was probably 10. My GPS told me otherwise. Normally I would have ached all over but the bike geometry really keeps me going on this bike.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
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    Jul 2009
    Yeah, it is a great travelling bike. Eats up the miles nicely, super nice twisting through trails and holds great rolling speed. Good in the woods. Fun and very competent when things point downwards. An interesting balance this bike strikes.

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