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the ride they named the first baby after


te Aroha


A doctor, a dairy farmer, a distributor, a designer, and a Department of Conservation manager walked into a bar.
There. I have always wanted to start one of these things like that. But that is not what happened. Actually, they went on a voyage of discovery, to scope out a possible bike adventure for future development.
The mission coincided with the first really wintery weather, and while the week before had been bad, the day in question was forecast to be heinous. However, plans had been made and there was vague optimism in the forecast, so the trip was on.

When I woke up at 2.15am it was pissing down.

By dawn the sky had large patches of blue and as we headed out of Rotorua (in which direction I can not divulge, and it doesn’t really matter: there are potential mountain bike adventures at all points of the compass) we started talking about a possibly nice day. As long as we ignored the steely sky to the northwest, which looked capable of delivering almost anything.

It did. By the time we ditched a car at the finish point, and clambered into another to be delivered to the start, the unfortunate Doctor and Dairy farmer (who drew the short straws) had ridden up the significant climb to the trailhead and into a dusting of snow.

As always, once we were in the trees, and immediately onto a hectic trail, the temperature became irrelevant. And then the sun came out. For about 5 minutes. Huge views, mad trail, and nearly 1000m of jungle downhill meant a good day whatever happened - and nothing untoward did. By the time we had really steady rain we were already as wet as we could get. A few rivers to wade were only a problem because I keep my phone in my shorts pocket. Carrying a bike with the left hand while hitching the right pants leg above the waterline with the right makes walking on slippery boulders in cycling shoes about as much like multi-tasking as I can manage.

By the way: even a solid downpour on the road ride to the car didn’t penetrate my pocket enough to really wet my phone. With their water resistant finish and pocket location, Nzo shorts are good for this type of stuff. My TQ Peanut tights were only semi-damp, and both parts of Baselayer set worn at once under a decent rain jacket made slithering around in the bush for the best part of a day an almost comfortable experience.
Sooner or later we were back in dry kit, the heater was cranked up, and the ride was being dismantled and reassembled, and compared with other outings as we drove home.

Perhaps the best part of a successful expedition was that it was inspired by a Department of Conservation that is interested in making mountain biking part of the back country menu.

Seems like a long shot with such a complicated setup, but if anybody wants to come up with a middle section and punchline to my opening sentence, bring it on. If its really funny we’ll immortalise it in Nzoland, and send you a t shirt.

Posted on May 29, 2013 by Gary Sullivan




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