Saturday 25 October
Had a stunning ride with Simon up the Ohakune Mountain Road to Turoa Skifield today. We're staying at Rangataua, just south of Ohakune, and had a short ride to the bottom of the climb. Then, a 16km ascent, climbing 1000m. It was dry to start with, but we put our coats on at about half way. Things ticked along nicely until the last few km, which were pretty damn steep. I was on the CRX, and was pleased for the compact gearing... Simon did it pretty hard on his traditionally-geared roadie, and one of the few rides he's done since the GDR. There was enough time for a banana, and an ill-posed photo of some snow at the top carpark, before a tough descent.
It was wet, and damn cold sitting on the bike with little work to do but keep it pointing in the right direction. It was nice to get to the bottom, and back onto dry(ish) roads, for the short ride back to Rangataua. Warm clothes on, then in the car for some world famous (in New Zealand) chocolate eclairs and a big bowl of hot coffee (istep - I won't say it...)
We might pop over to Pipiriki on the Whanganui tomorrow... Weather's making it hard to commit to a ride around the mountain.
Sunday 26 October
Sunday's weather was not ideal - cold, and spells of rain. Nonetheless, we set off for Pipiriki on the Whanganui River at 1pm, grossly overdressed (I wore four layers of Ground Effect clothing - the merino vest, a roadie jersey, a baked alaska, and a long-sleeved shell...). While I sweated a lot on the ride, at no point did I regret having all those clothes on!
Pipiriki's pretty much west of where we were staying at Rangataua, and the round trip (to the waambulance at Ohakune) was a little over 80km. So, not a massive ride, but pretty neat to ride from the central plateau into the upper reaches of a river which feels like it's nowhere near the mountain!
Raetihi's pretty quiet on a Sunday afternoon, but we got a lovely bit of encouragement from a couple of 5 year olds playing in the middle of the road... For a ride that drops about 500m elevation to the river, we did a lot of climbing on the way out. The road was very quiet, though there were a few canoe operators heading our way. The scenery was spectacular, with some impressive river gorges, and a carbon copy of the "Bridge to Nowhere".
There were half a dozen or so kilometers of gravel road, which we almost covered quicker on the climb out of the river. Simon was on his road bike, and me on the CRX, but both with narrow tyres.
There was a small shop at Pipiriki, offering packets of chippies and lollies displayed on a small book shelf, and a fridge with a sign on the front promising chocolate, fizzy drinks and juice within. We weren't tempted, although when my legs started to implode 30 minutes later, I was having second thoughts...
Once back on the road, it was undulating riding back to Raetihi. I popped into the 4 Square and came out with a cookie, which Simon and I shared, and a can of pepsi, which I downed myself. We got hailed on before we got back to Ohakune. We hammered along, desperately trying to get the ride finished (by this stage we'd arranged for Sarah to pick us up outside the eclair shop), but were unable to keep the pace up for the entire 11km.
The steak and cheese pie was good. (I turned down a steak and mince pie - what a fascinating combination.) The apple pie wasn't so good - it was over half air! I should have had an eclair, but I was on cream overdose... Getting out of all my wet gear and getting warm again was a real highlight.
The ride was only 80km, and a lot of that was rolling along with little effort trying to avoid rocks and potholes. We covered it in just under 4 hours, including stops. We passed through some very remote, and very cool NZ countryside. If you're ever in Ohakune with bikes, and nothing to do on them, I recommend you drive to Raetihi, and do the out-and-back from there!
Originally published on vorb