Stories of Zane riding his Mountain Bike in New Zealand

Wet Coast – 1200m descent to Bazvegas

The Wet Coast. Usually known as the West Coast, but with the amount of liquid sunshine we encountered I think the Wet Coast is more appropriate. Before the trip we were looking at the rain forecast maps. On Wednesday the forecast was looking wet, by Thursday it looked like there might be a dry window we could sneak through, and then by Friday the forecast looked wet again.

We arrived in the rain and were off to the Blackball Hilton for a pint of Miners Draught before heading back to the community center to camp the night complete with entertainment from bourbon drinking locals. I was woken by a few downpours in the night, thankful of being warm and dry in my tent. The morning dawned with 5 second patches of sunshine, followed by downpours. Cups of tea and coffee were made and Breakfast consumed. The cars were shuttled to leave one at Barrytown and we set off at the crack of midday in intermittent downpours towards the Croesus track.

Much climbing through streams and mossy forest later we stopped for lunch at the Ces Clark Hut, before pushing on up through the tussocks and clouds and across the tops to Mt Royal, which is where the fun almost begins. Everyone padded up at the top and then spent the next 5 minutes pushing and carrying to get to where the track starts in earnest. We quickly dropped into the trees and the steep rootfest began. As you might have guessed it was a bit wet in the trees, although the Barrytown side was a lot dryer than the Blackball side.

I was very glad I had lugged my super tacky 2.5 minions up the hill. A standard trail tyre in normal compound would have simply pin balled down the steep roots and rocks. As usual I took a couple of minutes to warm into the technical riding, quickly remembering to ride in way that lets the bike move around under me in the steep and slippery terrain instead of trying to hold it to definite lines. It looked like DOC had been through with line trimmers and there was long wet cut grass over much of the track. While this made it much easier to see where my wheels should go, it definitely did not help the traction! The top third of the trail is superb fun with some super challenging moves required to get around and down some bits of track. A creative approach to where you ride helps, as wheel sized holes surrounded by roots can be avoided by railing around the side of the track or lofting over unlikely sections. There are some fun flowing bits in between the gnarcore which provide a great contrast and add to the enjoyment of the trail.

By the time we got to about half the way down we were starting to drop out of the clouds, and once we got onto the benched track nearer the bottom, there was starting to be patches of sunshine and the trail was almost dry! Getting off the narrow rooty trail of the ridge and onto the benched track provides yet another contrast. Wide open and fast, with roots to pop and pump and late braking into corners provides an adrenaline filled blast. The great thing about this piece of trail is that it continues being great fun until the moment you pop out on the main road at the very bottom of the hill, which happens to be directly across the road from the Barrytown Pub.

I finally took my camera out of the waterproof bag it had been in all day in time to get a photo outside of the pub. No riding photos as my camera is not waterproof!!

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