The wheels on the bike go round and round, round and round, round and round. Wheels on the bike go round and round all day long……
The wheels certainly turned a lot on our latest ride or do I mean our peddles. It was what I’d call a “peddley” ride – if that’s such a word. My definition of involving lots of peddling and not much free-wheeling. Fun all the same though and nice to cover some new ground. There was a rumor that more of the West Coast Wilderness Trail was nearly completed and rideable making the ride from Greymouth out to the historic Gold Mining town of Kumara a little more interesting than along the road as it currently stands. Our mission should we choose to accept it was to check it out for ourselves. Hard to resist so we’re off. We have our friend Matthew with us today – sharing a new adventure incorporated with a couple of our favourite haunts.
Parked up at Paroa Pub on the outskirts of Greymouth three of us headed out along the trail following the edge of SH6 to the Taramakau River road/rail bridge.
I’ve chucked a photo in here from another ride so you can see for yourself….. yep, a railway line running down the middle of the bridge – a one lane bridge that is also the road bridge!
Soon turning off where we knew the old tram track was and assuming this was part of the cycleway our assumptions were soon gratified and the new trail started. Not officially operational yet there was a warning regarding possible hazards and machinery working. Most bikers though are illiterate when it comes to the possibility of discovering new ground…. oops did I say that out loud….sorry……
Bumping our way along with the surface not yet finished to standard – not that that matters to us, we’re mountain bikers after all. Scenery though was fantastic and this is certainly going to be a great addition to the overall ride experience of the finished West Coast Wilderness Trail. The old tram track cuts straight through some beautiful beach forest – an avenue really. Felt like I was in a Robin Hood film set just waiting on Friar Tuck to come along in his wagon. Rather him than Robin and his merry men, not that we had anything to hand over unless they wanted my honey sandwich – which is pretty yummy after all.
Ok, so back to our ride….. The trail eventually headed back towards the main Kumara highway along the edge of a farmers paddock. We thought it continued back into the bush – kind of a dog leg but soon discovered we’d come to the end of the road so to speak. Nothing that a bridge won’t fix but in the meantime it was impassable as was a deep ravine. We were hoping we could perhaps just clamber down and walk our bikes across the creek and rejoin the trail but yep, deep ravine puts paid to that thought. There were plenty of little fantails – not sure if they were laughing at us or trying to show us the way “follow us guys, just flap your wings” – yeah right, alright for you to say little ones!
Doubling back and after a short section actually on the road side we come to the little village of Kumara. Our lunch stop – or drinks break anyway. Rewarding the first half of our ride with a comfortable seat, hot drink and treat of savoury scone and muffin – not to mention that yummy homemade honey sandwich – that’s the real energy booster.
Time to get back on our bikes and continue our journey, we’ve still got quite a way to go yet and a couple of hill climbs to come too. Leaving the village we turn off the main highway riding along the back road to Lake Brunner for a short distance, first crossing back over the Taramakau River. Another one lane bridge but don’t have to share it with a possible train this time round.
We’re doing a loop – pub to pub so eventually turn off this road also and onto forestry tracks to bring us back to the main highway out of Greymouth. It is a gravel 4WD road – quite hard packed as used by the logging trucks and gold miners. There is a ford to cross first and thankfully we haven’t had too much rain of late so it is pretty shallow keeping our feet dry.
A gentle climb and the track leads through some farm land before back into the plantation forest and the real climbing begins. Gradually up, up, up and a little bit more up. Head down grinding away to reach the plateau. Now while the plateau is reached the road still gently climbs more with undulations or annoying little short sharp pinches. Stephen and I comment we’d rather have an honest climb than those pinches as at least you know what you’re in for and can pace yourself according.
One more true climb and we are finally rewarded with a quick downhill before the fun single track starts through what is known locally as “the Bundy”. The Bundy itself is a good ride for the locals so it has been nice to add it into this longer loop.
After winding our way down and around and plenty of whoop whooping we’re back on the main SH6 and back onto the Greymouth section of the West Coast Wilderness Trail. It’s nice to be off the main road and out of the traffic but after over 3 hours in the saddle the legs were well tired and this section seemed to go on and on. I’m sure it wasn’t as far as it felt but we were all pretty happy to come out of the bush and see the Paroa Pub car park entrance in front of us.
Pub crawl with a difference – no drinking involved unless you count the hot drinks in Kumara. Fantastic day out, mission ride with a bit of everything, some new, some old combined to make a great loop. Bikes loaded and I’m checking the glove box…… I’m sure there is a chocolate bar hidden in here somewhere……
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. Check out their other blog postings or activities page on their website for suggestions on things to see and do should you be visiting the West Coast of the Southern Alps.