Nydia Bay Boxing Day
I love riding the Nydia Bay track. It is fantastic! Sure there is a hell shuttle of about 2hours to get into each end of the track, but then there are miles and miles of wonderful technical singletrack, with lovely views!
A crew of 5 gathered on Boxing Day to work off some of the Christmas excess. With the first 2 hours of Van shuttling out of the way we were on top of Opouri Saddle unloading our bikes. There is an old pack track that leads from the saddle (about 500masl) down to Tennyson Inlet, which is a fantastic way to start the day! Starting cold on a bike from the saddle it is a bit of a baptism of fire as you are thrown straight into a fast and reasonably technical singletrack downhill through the forest, but we were all loving it!
There is a short leisurely pedal around to Duncan Bay from the bottom of the pack track. This is where the actual Nydia Bay track starts. There are a few km of gently undulating tracks to get you around the corner to where you start climbing. This part of the track has some awesom root masses across the track to make sure that you have some challenges to keep you awake.
As you head around the corner into Ngawhakawhiti Bay the track heads up the hill. The next 3km or so are cycled using granny ring. There are numerous root structures to make your way up and over and I find myself putting in bursts of power to climb up and over steps and then trying to recover on the smoother section before the next challenge. The Nydia saddle is only about 380 masl, but it feels like a lot higher climb. It does not help that the day is very humid and warm. I feel a bit like I am riding my bike in a sauna. There are some wonder views out over the Marlborough Sounds on the way up the hill and we all stop for the first lunch at the saddle.
After the saddle is where the fun begins. The track gradient is fantastic for holding plenty of speed without having to be hard on your brakes the whole time, which means you can really concentrate on riding the super technical eroded rock and root matrix that forms the trail on the way down. You have to be on your game to blast through the various holes, drops, lips, rocks and roots, but my concentration is rewarded with a feeling of flying over a tangle of wheel grabbing obstacles. I become one with the trail and conscious thoughts are pushed from my brain as my body reacts to the various stimuli. Feelings of trepidation and then elation are on continuous playback and heart racing adrenaline pumps through my system. My tyres only just hang onto corners by a couple of side knobs, before blasting through rock gardens and dropping off water eroded steps. Banked corners are turned into mini-wall rides and rock slabs are used as launch pads to float my bike over rough sections.
The really technical rocky section goes for about the first km, and then it gradually gets more rooty, then faster and smoother as you get right down close to the bay at the bottom. I was not stopping to take photos on the uber fun downhills, because I was having too much fun. You will just have to go and ride the trail if you want to have a look.
You quickly pop out onto the track which meanders around just above Nydia Bay for the next 5 km or so. A little way along the track is a corner of a creek with a big sign that says “No Fishing, Pet Eel”. If you happen to have any tasty meat in your sandwich then Eddy the Eel (it might be Edweena??) is often hanging out beside the track and at about 1.5m long is an interesting diversion. There are a number of houses including farms and accommodation along the waterfront, and of course a Jetty which is good for taking photos.
The track soon turns inland across green paddocks and you start to head for the second saddle of the day. Back into granny ring as you grind your way up the hill. Again there are a number of challenging sections to keep you entertained on the way up the hill, although many of these are towards the top of the climb where some people are starting to get a little tired. It is about another 3km uphill and the saddle is a bit over 300 masl, but you can definitely feel the technical riding starting to take its toll. Second lunch was had at the second saddle, and a Weka even popped out to inspect our bikes.
From the second saddle there is more technical descending goodness. The eroded rocks and roots are back, and just as much fun as the first saddle. Trails like this put a huge smile on my face. It is all over far too soon, and although you would think the second saddle is the last big up of the day, there is a sneaky climb from about halfway down the hill back up to a third little saddle. From here there is a super fast blast down the hill to Kaiuma Bay. Super fun and a fantastic way to end the days riding.
Nydia Bay is a technically demanding ride. It is the sort of riding that I really love, with great scenary, fast flowing bits of trail along with plenty of technically challenging sections. Most times it has taken my groups about 6 hours to get through the ride, but I have always ridden with technically competent and fit riders. I have definitely heard of people having really long days (8 to 10 hours) on the track, and of people who hated it because of the technical level of the track. In my opinion Nydia Bay is one of the best one day single track rides in New Zealand, as long as you love technical riding!
It is probably a little less than 30km long and has about 1150m of descending and about 750m of climbing. For an idea of where the track is etc have a look here