So I was both excited and apprehensive about this ride. Excited because it is probably one of our favourite riding spots in the Grey District. Completely out of it, great views from the tops, a good workout and well rewarded with as much downhill as uphill. Apprehensive – well think I just covered that, uphill! Lots of climbing on this track and with a bout of the flu, a change in the weather and being busy of late with renovations my biking adventures had come to a bit of a standstill so wasn’t feeling particularly fit and not looking forward to the hill climbs.
So with the excuses out of the way we headed out to the Notown Forestry Blocks. This is all plantation forest and an old gold mining area. I say old gold mining area – there is plenty of modern-day gold mining going on with people making the most of the felling of the trees and getting back into the areas to make their claims – and they will be hoping their fortune!
We have a glorious winter’s day – a lovely Sunday afternoon and meet with our friend Chris for this ride. Chris is relatively new to the mountain biking scene so we’re keen to show him some of our favourite haunts. He has driven these forestry roads but they are totally different on a mountain bike – especially the hill climbs!
It is a gradual climb to start with – thankfully to warm the legs up before the real grind begins. Eventually we start making our way up the mountain side with the gravel road meandering round and the views opening up out across the Grey Valley. Not quite the views we use to get as much of the new plantation isn’t so new anymore and the trees are getting quite tall and blocking some of the vista – still pretty though.
The track veers to the left. Time for a quick reprieve and bite to eat before we tackle the next climb. The next one is short – well relatively in comparison to the one we just did, but this one is steeper – oh so much steeper! Worse still the gravel is really loose so we really have to concentrate and pick our lines, keep our balance and adjust our weight and position on the bike just right to keep our wheels down so we don’t get flipped off or spin out. It is one of those times where you really need to make sure you pick the right gear – no second chances, you’ll be walking before you know it. Grind away, come on, come on, you can do it – wahoo! Success I’m a riding God – the top is reached. (I know slight exaggeration on the riding God, I easily get carried away – it’s the little things).
Our trail meanders across a ridgeline for a bit with a short down, an even shorter little climb again and then we are rewarded…… the downward slope – nice and long, winding our way back down the ridgeline. The gravel is a little loose in places but still good fun. Don’t mind a good hill climb if you’re rewarded with the downhill to finish with.
We’re not finished yet though – decide to go for an explore further up the valley. Previously – a good five or more years ago, you could do a double loop. Ride up the valley and then head to the left to another hill climb and ridgeline. There has been quite a few high wind falls over the last few years and with harvesting of the trees not due for another couple of years yet we didn’t think the track would be open – worth a look though right!
The pedal up the valley is a gentle meander with Chris and Stephen yakking the whole way. They say women can talk but guys, you are just as good if not better in my experience. Eventually we reach the turn-off, almost hidden now as it is quite overgrown. I thought we were just going to the start but no the boys are off up the track – wait – what are you doing!!!!! gggggrrrrrr more climbing – I don’t remember signing up for this.
Actually it isn’t that bad. The trail gently winds its way up the hillside, through dense pine forest. Someone has been in recently clearing much of the windfall – there has obviously been a lot going by the debris that is left behind. Have to be careful biking on the trail as it is strewn with left over branches, twigs etc and the last thing we want is a stick stuck in our spokes or worse still, through the derailier.
eeh stop. The end, fineto – we can go no further. We are confronted with a huge windfall so dense we can’t even attempt to carry our bikes over the top – there is really no way through. We can certainly see why the person attempting the clearing stopped. It’s a real bummer actually cos the top is quite literally just around the corner – we remember from when we use to do this loop. Nevermind not to be today and we wouldn’t have had time to complete the entire loop anyway as even though that particular top would have been reached, it then goes down, and up, and down, and up quite a bit more before meeting back with the road. We know the rest of it is open as it can be accessed from the other side but we’ll leave that for another day.
Today though that’s it for us, we head back out the way we came in along the valley flat – time to head back to the car as we have a coffee date in Greymouth with Chris’s wife Vicki – another reward for our hill climbing efforts of today!
Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth. They enjoy getting out and about and exploring the West Coast and sharing their adventures. Check out their other blog postings or Activities page for suggestions on other things to see and do.