Gosh, we are so lucky here on the West Coast – we have so many tracks and trails to choose from to mountain bike. The hills are filled with forestry roads from the plantation forests, old logging roads from the native forests, gold mining trails and coal mining trails. The choices are endless – just pick an area and go for it, there is bound to be something there.
Today we’ve off to the back of Greymouth again, behind Marsden and into the forestry and gold mining blocks. There has been much logging over the last 10 years so many of the originally gold mining blocks are being reclaimed and re-mined while there is the access. Reading an article in the local paper recently the figures show that the amount of land being prospected or mined in the region has grown from 91,308ha a decade ago to 168,074ha by November this year. That is HUGE. Apparently miners are poring over old maps and history books and when possible mining forestry land that once yielded gold. Many of the forestry blocks have recently been felled allowing companies – and individuals a chance to mine the land before it is re-planted. Exciting times and with the price of gold, it is certainly worth it!
Anyway back to our ride…….
So the area we are heading to, is a forestry block that has been felled and now being mined. We’ve done this ride many times. It is a nice 1.5hour loop – a good fun ride for both us and the dogs. Now, today, in her wisdom, “someone” suggested we do the ride in reverse. Sure, why not……… after 1/2 hour of constant climbing we soon wondered about that idea.
The ride starts with a very short, sharp rocky downhill to mosquito creek. The idea to do the ride in reverse came about – apparently – for the sake of the dogs. Yet another incredibly hot day and a certain “someone” thought starting out with the little creek crossing would be beneficial for the dogs. As I say, sounded reasonable. So, short, sharp downhill and then straight into the hill climb. The first 15 minutes was quite tough, cold muscles complaining about what was happening, low gears as it was reasonably steep to start out the ride, loose, rocky – but challenging and that is what riding is all about – the challenge. It is a really pretty area, lots of new growth in the grasses and wild flowers.
A little reprieve and then back into climbing again – not quite so steep for the next 15 minutes or so as it winds it way around the hillside. The climbing’s not over yet though, another little reprieve and we’re climbing some more – but more like gravel forestry roads now – must be being used by the miners as not too overgrown yet after the loggers have finished. Not loose gravel like the 4WD track, just gradually climbing up the hill. There are lots of tree stumps and left over tree branches and logs on the side of the track.
One more climb to go and this one is a little steep again – it isn’t particularly long through and after one last corner and one last short sharp incline we reach the junction. I mention to Jan that we now know where to come when we need to do some hill climbing training. It was fun and rewarding though. Back into a short section of native forest and we start heading down through the logged area and where they are now gold mining. There is a little creek running off to the side of the road and this is a welcome reprieve for the dogs on this gorgeous summer’s afternoon.
I ride ahead to enjoy the downhill leg while Jan stays back, riding a bit slower with the dogs. They’d like to try to keep up with me but we prefer they take it a bit easier on the downhills, especially in this heat.
Onto Billy Goat Road and before heading down the last of the logging/mining access road, we take a little detour to view the gold mining area. We’re back onto old logging roads and the track is covered in sticks and branches from the felling of the trees. There are piles of deadwood off to the side and much of this is donated to local organisations and clubs from the Greymouth area, who chop and sell it as firewood to raise money for their various projects. This is a great opportunity for the little communities.
Our logging track ends and we leave the bikes and walk on the deadwood piles to look down on the gold mining area. It is amazing to see how much more gravel they have moved since we were last here – making the most of the area before the replanting of the trees. We can see our access road off in the distance – good another short little downhill coming up.
Back on track and the last section of our ride out to the road. This is a nice gentle pedal after the short downhill section, meandering along the bottom of the gold mining area. The boys are happy to finally just trot along, knowing the car is just around the corner and they have completed another adventure in the hills of Greymouth.
Stephen and Jan run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Punakaiki Coastline, north of Greymouth. They are happy to help with suggestions on things to see and do while visiting the West Coast.