3 Day Biking Weekend – Sunny Port Hills
After snow plugging on the Saturday and Sunday it was time to show Russ the trail network that starts 5 minutes from my back door. There is a great network of trails on the Port Hills behind Christchurch, which are where I ride on the week day evenings or on weekends when I can’t get out of town!
Seeing as Russ only had one day left I decided I would take him nearly from one end of the trails to the other! We started off by heading up Worsleys, where the sun was definitely shining and had us toasting as we made our way up the ruts and rocks. As we climbed higher the views across to the snow covered Southern Alps were definitely inspiring. From the top of Worsleys we headed over to the start of the Flying Nun track. It was a good feeling knowing that the worst climb of the day was already behind us, and that there were many miles of single track sitting just ahead of us. Swooping down the Flying Nun was fun as always. Russ was very keen on the idea of having a session on this track at some stage. It is one of those tracks that gets better each time you ride it!
From the Flying Nun it was a quick road bash up to the top of Victoria Park where all the down hill type trails are. I took Russ for a quick run down Brake Free before heading off across the Traverse Track and onto the Mt Vernon track. Christchurch trails have a lot of square edged volcanic rock sticking out of the trail surface, and when this is combined with the narrow U-shaped channel that most of the track wear into it makes for tracks that you need to be really on your game to ride smoothly and well!
At the end of Vernon we passed the top of the Rapaki Track which is the main off-road highway up the hill for bikers, runners and walkers. We had fun on the Witch Hill track before jumping back onto the road for a short stint up to the Castle Rock Track. Barrelled down the fun Castle Rock Track before passing the Bridle Path and wondering at tough early settlers who used to haul their lives up and over the very steep hill from the Port of Lyttleton. We then passed under the under-utilised Christchurch Gondola. There is a group with a plan to use the gondola for getting bikers to the top of the hill so they can come back down on some fun tracks, and while that sounds like a great idea, the terrain under the gondola is so rocky and full of bluffs that it looks like it will be a track builders nightmare to get anything other than an extreme huck cliff drop line down it!!
We were soon around to John Britten Track and then onto the fabulous Greenwood Park track which dropped us all the way to Evans Pass. While the tracks out to Godley Heads and especially the Anaconda Track which drops into Taylors Mistake were calling to us, we decided to drop down the Captain Thomas track into Sumner instead. The two previous days of biking were probably a large contributor to our decision to take the shorter route!
Russ had a good chance to feed his vertigo while we made our way down Captain Thomas as the track has a number of rock outcrops that are rideable, but the exposed drop into the valley off the side of the track is a pretty major disincentive to many people!! We were soon sitting in the sun in Sumner, drinking coffee and scoffing yummy food, looking out at the snow on the Kaikoura Mountains. It was a damn fine 3 day weekend of biking, with everything from West Coast jungle gold mining tracks, to silliness in the snow and slush on tracks in the Canterbury foothills, to fast and flowing with technical rock sections on the Port Hills. In the 3 days of riding I had gone from wearing layers and freezing my extremities in the snow to getting sun burnt in a t-shirt and shorts on what felt like a summers day up the Port Hills!