A dodgy foot has enforced a break from tramping for the time-being and the need to find an alternative weekend activity. The on/off road MTB tour has proved to be a very satisfactory replacement providing plenty of scope for entertainment.
If you have a bike in the garage, the additional kit required is modest so why not give it a go? My first three forays are outlined below and may provide some ideas.
The idea is reasonably lightweight weekend touring from Wellington; on and off road, requiring no driving and getting to some new or long neglected places. Distance is not critical, so daily riding distances are generally on the ‘medium’ rather than ‘fit’ side.
For these trips I rode a bog standard MTB (Giant XTC2), with a single dry bag strapped to a cheap seat-post mounted carrier, light back pack, a sleeping role or tent strapped to the handle bars and a repair kit tucked into a corner of the frame somewhere. For tyres I ran the slicks I use for commuting. All up pretty casual; light weight and streamlined without being obsessive.
The first weekend is mostly familiar territory. On Saturday morning I join the Hutt river trail and don’t cross a road until the Akatarawa River junction. A short seal stretch to the railway line at Maymorn but then it is off road again, through to Tunnel gully and the Rimutaka incline (I recommend turning left at the end of Station Drive; right is unnecessarily hilly).
The incline really is a fantastic asset. 17km of enjoyable riding and the last few kms of single track have been upgraded nicely. The next stretch can be a killer in a head wind; it’s a long ride beside Lake Wairarapa down to Lake Oneke. But traffic is light today and there are just a couple of moments caused by the enthusiastic side wind. It rains a bit towards the coast but nothing of note.
There are a couple of accommodation options for the night. I decide to crack on to the DoC Corner Creek campsite and ignore the road to the Wharekauhau Lodge.
It’s an easy ride along the beach road past battered baches and across a couple of small streams to the camp site. Being Easter there are a lot of people about and they all seem to have a quad and an SUV. It also means the good tent sites are full; I discover a lot of the remaining area is too rocky or sloping for tents but eventually find a corner.
This coast can be a bleak and forbidding place. The clouds are streaming off the Orongorongos behind, but today Lake Ferry and Ngawi are bathed in the afternoon sun across the bay.
There’s a bit of afternoon left so I pop along the coast to the Mukamuka stream and a bit of welcome quiet. There’s a memorial to the early drovers and a view along the Coast. It would be good to close the loop back to the Hutt but not this weekend.
Back at the camp a few boats are being hauled up and you can see some of the attraction of the life style as the catch comes in.
It’s a very windy night and as soon as it gets light enough I’m up, packed and away by 7.45. It’s about an hour 45 to Cross Creek with virtually no traffic before a hard grind up the Incline into a strong wind. However from the top the going is good. Again there are plenty of people out enjoying the trail.
It’s quick riding to the car-park, the access road, and back to Station Drive. Station Drive is a fast easy downhill and soon Tunnel Gully and I think the tenth and last tunnel section for the weekend is behind.
It’s not far now over Mangaroa hill, through Upper Hutt to re-join the river trail and home by early afternoon.
For reference; much of this ride is described in the Kennett Brothers book “Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails” if you are interested in finding out more.