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October 2012

Mad if you don't

A few years back the visit to the central plateau by some Australian mountain bikers was immortalised in the movie “Be Rude Not To”. In the best traditions of the movie business, there is now a sequel, called “Mad If You Don’t”. New locations, some new faces, and a similar plot to the first movie: go somewhere really good, ride bikes, go somewhere else really good, ride bikes, etc.

The movies get their titles from a pair of trails in Whakarewarewa Forest, lovingly crafted and tended by various people over years and years of changing treescapes and increasingly heavy traffic. The Rude has been discussed before now, Mad If You Don’t takes up where the Rude leaves you grinning like a fool. It ducks and dives along the side of a forestry road and while it isn’t very long, it is a lot of laughs. It is one of those trails that is in a constant state of flux, it seems like every time it is sampled it has a new feature, the track is under somebody’s close attention, every time a problem spot appears it is quickly modified to a more sustainable shape.

I had not heard about the Mad being massaged by the club’s workaholics, so it must be one of those extra-special places that is maintained by a volunteer who “adopts” a trail, an act of selfless benevolence right up there with sainthood in my humble opinion.

I was blundering along Mad in the twilight a few weeks back, trying to milk another few turns out of a rapidly vanishing day, when a guy with a shovel appeared out of the gloom. I stopped to thank him for his efforts, and found out his name is Toby. He claimed that most of his motivation for what must be hours of spadework is that his girlfriend doesn’t like puddles.

 

Only in Rotorua

Although daylight saving only started this week, last week was looking pretty good for after work rides. Wednesday turned out to be the day that went most like it was supposed to, so shortly before 5 I headed up Hemo Gorge. That is the gap between some high ground that the highway south out of Rotorua passes though on its way to the main trail entrance.

Word about the opening of a trail through the gorge made me go and investigate. The trail follows the stream into a steep sided canyon then clambers out to a paddock close to the trailhead. It will eventually have a bridge over the stream and go direct to the forest but even with the dogleg across the paddock and out the gate it feels like a shortcut, and sidesteps the highway. It is well worth a look.

Any ride that starts with a new chunk of trail is a winner. But there is another new trail, starting at a high point above town that was recently denuded by logging. New tracks snake off in three directions and connect to old trails, but the NEW new one is all new, and designed to be good for riders of all abilities. A series of short traverses are joined by sculpted downhill turns that wind between big old trees...its magic. Currently called the Track With No Name, it will get a proper title from the Maori land owners that generously allow it to be. Check it out when you are next in Whakarewarewa Forest. POSTSCRIPT: The trail will be called Tokorangi. Toko has a meaning of “to prop up” while Rangi refers to the “sky”. The position of this track on the high point of the forest skyline overlooking town makes this name very relevant.

So a decent little outing, riding for an hour with two new trails! Only in Rotorua. But wait, there’s more: I had a rendezvous at the supermarket, and I quickly found the van, but had no keys so I thought I would wait outside. I discovered a novel way to sit on my bike’s top tube, wedging my butt under the seat and sort of propping the whole arrangement up with casually crossed legs. With the right hand on the left bar-end I could hold the rear brake with my right pinky to prevent movement, and be sort of comfortable. So I am perched there watching ‘epic fails’ on the phone, when a woman emerged from the supermarket. She approached, and in a strong accent said “Is ok to sit?”. Not sure what she meant, I agreed, it was ok to sit. So she sat, on my unoccupied back wheel. We sat together for a while, in a weird silence (I couldn’t think of anything to say, which is unusual). A car drew alongside containing her husband and several dogs, she thanked me profusely and left me on my bike/seat, alone. As I said, only in Rotorua.

 

W2K on a stellar day

A few weeks back we spent a great day at Whakaipo Bay on the north shore of Lake Taupo. I went for a long ride on the Great Lake trail, which now extends for 35kms one way! I didn’t go that far, but cruising past Kinloch to the lookout over Kawakawa Bay then returning via the headland loop made the ride something close to 60kms I guess. Because the trail has been built to a grade 2 or 3 level there is nowhere that is remotely technical, but there are some long downhill sections that are fun. Because the trail is so user friendly there were all manner of people out there enjoying it: a couple in their 70s on bikes, kids on foot, a guy in a really old pair of Dobies. There are some honest climbs, but they are not too steep and just about anybody ticking away in low gear will get to the top of them.

A good half hour before I set off another rider departed on his ride. After I got back and had a 5 second swim and a long sit down in the sun, we were getting ready for the homeward leg of the weekend. Just before dusk the other rider coasted to his car. He had been right to the other end of the trail, and around the headland loop twice. And back. That would give him about 90kms for the day’s total, a big ride by anybody’s standards.

He had driven all the way from Hastings, ridden 90kms off road, and was about to drive home again. The reason? He had a new bike.

Happy? Very. Worth the effort? He thought so.