3 Day Biking Weekend – Croesus
My mate Russ was coming down for a few days and bringing his bike along so I could show him some of the good Canterbury single track. Looking at the weather forecast on the Thursday he almost changed his mind and bought the skis along instead! We had one of the lowest snows of the year on the Friday, and when I picked Russ up from the airport early on Saturday morning it was still pretty grey and cold in Christchurch. The weather on the West Coast was looking much nicer, so we piled into the van and headed for the Croesus Track which is over near Greymouth.
Russ had not been for a mountain bike ride with me for a long time and was a bit apprehensive that I might be going to throw him into a ride that was way over his head. Rolling down the first kilometer of the Croesus it was wet, muddy and a pretty full on rock garden as well… and I could tell Russ was wondering what he had got himself into!! However it soon became a lot easier riding and after crossing a couple of swing bridges the track started its steady ascent towards the Paparoa tops. There was a lot of water on the trail and the streams were flowing well. Croesus is always a good ride whether it is wet or dry. I think the amount of water that does fall on the track manages to wash anything slippery like moss off the track!
Being an old miners pack track, much of the trail is good and wide, and very well benched, but time and erosion have made the track interesting for bikers by wearing some exciting obstacles and lines into the track.
After climbing almost half way to the tree line we start to find the first bits of snow at the side of the trail. It was not long until the snow was covering the track as well, but it was only a thin icy covering which was pretty good for biking up. Russ and I were having fun slipping around in the snow!
The trees were getting shorter as we got higher, and the snow on the track was getting deeper. By the time we were getting close to the tree line the snow depth was making riding uphill pretty much impossible so we decided to turn around when we got a view, rather than try and make it all the way up to the Ces Clark hut. It was a gorgeous warm sunny day out on the tops with wonderful views of the Southern Alps. We were very glad to be on the sunny west coast rather than caught in the last of the freezing southerly that was on the other coast!
Heading back down on the bikes Russ and I were having fun drifting the bikes around in the snow and slush. Toes and fingers were feeling like they were about to fall off, and there were some interesting moments navigating rocky sections with snow. We were quickly back down to the end of the snow, and the change in temperature was noticeable. Fingers and toes thawed out as we rocked on down the track. There were large flowing sections to swoop down that would transition into absolute rock gardens where you could pick a straight line and “steam the gnar”, or you could choose some rock launching pads to grab some air while choosing your landing carefully!! There were also big water channel ruts and switchbacks to negotiate along with the occasional fallen tree or mass of roots. All of which add to the fun and character of the Croesus.
The fun of the down hill was over much too soon, it felt like we had been belting down the trail for about 10 or 15 minutes… although looking at my watch it had taken us almost an hour to get down from the tree line! There was the last grunt to get up and out to the carpark, where our legs were starting to advise us that we had been out on the bikes for almost 4 hours and that it was definitely beer’o’clock!
Wet muddy bikes and gear was chucked into the van and we were soon at the bottom of the hill and soaking up the sunshine outside of the hotel “Formerly The Blackball Hilton”. Croesus is always a fantastic day out on the bike, and Russ has been converted from a bike park boy to man who will be searching out the good and epic singletrack that is to be found in the forests of NZ!