42nd Traverse« Previous post in category · Next post in category »
After our 4 day trip down the Whanganui River, I take a rest day doing laundry, food shopping in National Park village and sadly, part ways with June. Fully relaxed I book some activities for the next couple of days, and consequently found myself booked to do the 42nd traverse, a famous mountain bike ride, for today.
Getting picked up, I find I am not the only person from this backpackers doing the 42nd Traverse today, and quickly make friends with a kiwi couple from Auckland. They have their own bikes with them, but I am hiring a bike from a local company who are also transporting us to the start and from the end of the trail. Nervous about how tough the trail will be I have a word with the driver, who reassures me that as long as I have some experience mountain biking, I should be OK, but may have to walk some steeper sections.
On reaching the trail head he talks us through the track, how its marked, and how to use our personal locator beacons should we break an arm or leg! The trail, although mainly downhill with a net descent of 500m, has 3 long uphills (though I counted 4). It also crosses several streams which you have to wade over (unless you’re really skilled).
Setting off, the kiwi couple offer to ride with me so I’m not doing the track all on my own, and I gratefully accept their offer.
The initial track is covered with loose stones, making for difficult going, especially if you’re not used to this terrain and find yourself skidding about on it. Shortly though, the real track breaks off from this and we find ourselves on a pumice surface, a lot smoother and easier. Attempting a short uphill over logs, a French guy pushing his bike up the same section, comments that I’m really brave.
We soon hit the first long downhill, which I find really bumpy and a lot harder to negotiate than I expected. On one section I find myself in a constant skid going from one side to the other, but manage to stay on my bike to the bottom. Further on we hit a muddy downhill, which I tackle really slowly, nervous about getting a wheel stuck in the mud. Unfortunately I was going too slow, and end up falling off straight into a large puddle of mud! With a slightly grazed elbow, and clothes covered in mud, I continue on, trying to keep focused on the path and not distracted by the amazing views over Tongariro National Park.
We hit our first stream, after an unusually steep downhill which I opt to walk down. Although this one is cyclable, the one we find 5 minutes further on is not, and we end up wading through, soaking our shoes.
We hit our first long uphill full of energy, and despite being a really long slog, found the gradient such that we passed it fairly painlessly. Towards the top, we spend some time trying to find a nice picnic spot with a view, but eventually give up and collapse next to the track. The afternoon downhills were a lot easier and smoother (or at least I was a lot more confident and in control). The second long uphill was a bit of a killer, but the third and forth uphills were thankfully a lot shorter.
Towards the end, with really sore muscles protesting at the thought of riding up a hill, I ended up walking quite a bit. I put this down to the fact that I have hardly ridden a bike in the last 6 months since coming to New Zealand, and under normal conditions would find the uphills OK.
The final descent is the best with a smooth track and long sweeping curves to glide around. I had a mild panic on it though as my back brake lever started rattling. The screws holding it onto the handle bar had come loose, but it was still working which was a great relief to me.
On reaching the Whakapapa stream bridge, I tighten the break and we opt to complete the last 2km, rather than being lazy and getting picked up here. The track ends at the Owhanga pub where our driver picks us up after a drink.« Previous post in category · Next post in category »