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Monday, 27 August 2012

Riding Rotovegas

Plush trail at speed - it doesn't get much better than the Rotovegas Rush

I've been to Rotorua several times, but never with my mountain bike. Knowing that "Rotovegas" had claimed the reputation as the MTB Mecca of the North Island, or even of NZ, I teamed up with Sam Manson and Tim Burrell to go explore.

We rocked up to the Redwoods visitor centre at noon to find the forest damp, but fresh, after a night thrashed with lightning and booming thundercracks. At the counter I invested in the local novelty - a dual purpose Manky - trail map and hankerchief wrapped into one. Theres nothing like blowing your nose on old trails once they're done and dusted!

The Genesis trail is where it all started, for us three, and the founders of this extravagant trail plaza. Even in the damp each one of these trails were plush & soft, fast-riding & nicely technical. 

Our appetites were soon whetted with the taste of the closely packed carpark tracks, so naturally we set our gaze to the summit of the Whakarewarewa Forest. At 760 metres, we were expecting great views of Rotorua's lakes, down to Okareka our campsite, and across to Tikitapu, Okataina, Tarawera and more... but after a severe gravel grind to the Maori wooden arches of the summit, we were almost disappointed with the viewless view. Until we sampled the downhill. 

Riding through the lush native bush reminded me of a classic tramping track, but all completely rideable. The stringy roots of the upper mountain gave way to smooth crafted MTB trail, perfectly bermed with plenty of steepness below to add to the airy adrenaline feeling. Every turn of the Te Ahua downhill put a massive grin on our faces - a highlight of the day. We felt foolish searching for typical tramping views - what better view than the sight of native forest rushing past your face! 

We escaped the cold grips of the forest, spitting mud into the lips of dusk, retreating to the shores of Okareka for the night's camp. Sam began to word his recollections of his record Hillary Trail FKT while Tim and I pitched the tent. We hydrated on Speights as the Chinese dries from Hong Kong city fry caught us up, and just on cue. Sunday was much of the same - too much goodness for just one day.

Enjoy the shots below of our weekend of trail riding adventure in the Whakarewarewa, all pure gold. Thanks to Sam for driving his spacious steed and Tim for providing his usual repertoire of clich├ęs to light up the day. A class act indeed.

Staring over the barren wastlands of felled forest, the patterns of human enterprise etched deep - but the trails remained so we didn't complain

Definitely distracted by something

Alert - nothing matters more than the 5 metres ahead of the wheel

A tricky rock bypass on the Grade 5 run

Plenty of green in this shot, Sam blends in well

A fantastic weekend on the bike
Next on the bucket is surely the very new "Mountain to Sea" trail, from Ruapehu tracing the Fischers track near Ohakune, across the Bridge to Nowhere, along the great Whanganui river popping out to the sea at Wanganui. Multi day biking would make for a great adventure - and this journey of 317km would definitely take more than one day... what's more no tent poles would be needed with a bike to hold up the tarp. Let the dreams roll on...

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