Saturday, July 29, 2006

Off-road in the Redwoods

Present: Paul, Stef

It was about time Mrs Billy-Bob got dirty [marriage going stale already? Ed.] so it was decided to take the shiny new bikes to the Redwoods Mountain Bike trails, Rotorua (above). Home of the 2006 World Mountain Bike Championships. The Whakarewarewa Forest comprises a network of trials and walks all graded according to ease of passage and technical difficulty. Bikers can just turn up and get lost of their own accord, choosing which colour coded track, or combination of tracks, they want to complete.

The Billy-Bobs arose early (for them) to travel down to Rotorua, approx 1 hour 30 mins drive south of Hamilton, arriving at the very quiet car park around 11am . Bikes out of the car (above) [are those non-TCA-regulation lycra shorts I can see? They certainly hold your belly in! Ed.] followed by a final kit check and they were off. First up was the beginner’s Repco Track (Pale Blue), a Grade 2, 25-minute loop circuit with mainly gentle ups and down through dense pine needle forest.

It was akin - for TCAUK readers - to the exclusive Hambledon Route #1, with terrain at very close quarters beneath tree canopy, similar to the start of the Forest of Bast*d. Stef (above) realised straight away why having the right gear was oh so important, her entry level bike bouncing off tree roots and rutted ground. It was Baltic for the first 20 minutes, with mild permafrost ground conditions. Billy-Bob stopped to adjust his fork rebound while waiting for Stef to catch up, her breath plumes visible in the cold sulphur-smelling air, breaking the mid morning silence beneath the ‘Ents’ like tree stumps. It occured to the Billy-Bobs that the route timings on the track boards were very quick indeed; the Repco track took them nearer 35 min’s all in, although there were a few stops enroute.

Next up was a second Grade 2 track aptly named the Diamond Back track (Pink) 25 mins. This track was more challenging: narrower sections; steeper climbs; more twists and turns over short distances. At no time was it really possible to get up any speed due to the numerous obstacles, log bridges and trees stumps. However, by this time the temperatures were warmer and the ground a lot softer. The down-side of this was that Billy-Bob, in his TCA-issue Helly Hanson thermal base layer (well, that was his excuse), was sweating like a pig in a sauna. Mrs BB was now getting the hang of balancing on a bike on uneven off road surfaces while also managing to change gear just before the ups. The Diamond Back track was completed in 40 min’s which, given her impending cold, was a very respectable first off road ride for Mrs BB. More to the point there was no registered offs (although this could not be confirmed during significant periods when Billy-Bob, in true gentlemanly fashion, had sped off into the distance).

While Stef rode back to the car, Billybob went on to tackle the final track of the day, a Grade 3 by the name of Avenir (Purple) 15 mins. This ride was immediately hard core with more extreme downs through narrow rutted forest tracks.

This was similar- for TCAUK readers - to the infamous Blackdeath Alley Descent, Haslemere, but with more twists and turns. It soon became clear that Billybob was not going to make the official 25 min lap-time suggested on the start board. After two steep climbs the remaining turning sections were all down hill through very narrow stepped tracks. One unexpected ‘drop’ from nowhere nearly sent Billybob flying but, unusually, on this occasion his balance was true. The final lap time was a respectable first outing of 30mins, although 10 mins in the world of mountain biking is a very long time. Looking at his watch, and thinking of lunch, Billybob decided to give the next grade 3 route a miss and pondered what the grades 4 and 5 held in store, and whether his hard tail would even cope with the big drops he had heard about at the mountain bike shop!.

The day was finished nicely with a much deserved visit to the thermal Polynesian spa where the Billy-Bobs soaked their weary legs. A very relaxing experience even though the hot mineral spa made Paul look like a lobster with high blood pressure in front of all the Japanese tourists.

(Posted by: Paul)

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At 10:17 am, August 14, 2006, Blogger TCA 2006 said...


Can one hire bikes at the Redwoods?

...can't help thinking about Xmas '07, BRING IT ON!


At 10:41 am, August 14, 2006, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Sure can old buddy. There is usually a hire truck full of hard tails and full sus bikes in the car park waiting for off roaders. I will add that to the Xmas '07 itinery.

P.S. I am holding my belly in, it took three shots but looks good eh!


At 12:05 pm, August 14, 2006, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Yeah, I thought it was a 'smoke & mirror' job!

Nice write-up by the way, looks like a max-ed up QE Park type place.. but no polynesian spa there, more's the pity!

MUST get out and about Xmas '07, if only for a classic Bog opp.!



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