We got up around 5:15am in the morning in Rotorua and hit the road at 5:30am. After a quick top up of gas and breakfast in Taupo, it was off again to Waiouru. The weather seamed to clear the further south we got, then as we approached Waiouru from the North on the Desert Road, the grey sky cleared away and we could see we where in for a great day.
Titled ‘Ride the Wonders of Waiouru’ or the ‘Waiouru Army Ride’, the Army generously opens up their huge back yard for hundreds of byocycles riders of both two and four wheeled machines to tear it up over hundreds of kilometres of gravel, tussock, grass, dirt and mud. With three looping tracks totaling over 100kms in length, the stage was set for an epic day of riding.
Tim tells me the organisation of this event was second to none, with forms handed out while driving into the car park, filled out, money taken and bike stickers issued, Done. So within 5 minutes of arriving we were inside, parked and unloading the bikes. Nice!
The time was about 8:45am when we arrived and we had some time to kill before the briefing at 9:30. Gates opened at 10:15am and we were anxious as heck about getting out amongst it.
The first ride we decided to do was the 10km loop named, ‘Hamburger Hill Loop’ which started off as a blast through open paddocks over smooth hillside country, until we dropped into a deep gully and came across the mother of all hill climbs. There were fallen riders everywhere you looked, and dozens more experienced at the top watching the novices like myself make a complete dick of themselves while they tried to get a 100kg bike up a 30 degree tussock covered hill. Needless to say I made it to the top with only a few minor scrapes and bruises, not too shabby for the first 45mins riding in the day I thought!
The rest of that loop was pretty much made up of tank tracks, two single file dirt tracks as wide as a tyre to follow around the most awesome landscape. It took us over 2 hours to complete the 10 km loop as there was lots of stops and a reasonable amount of ‘getting to grips’ going on, on my part, while Tim blasted ahead. We eventually made it back to base for a refuel, both of the human kind and the liquid gold we had to pump into the bikes, $1.79 per litre for 01 octane, don’t get me started!
After assessing our levels of fatigue and desires for another decent ride, we decided to go for the big loop, the 55km track, named ‘Anzac Trail’. And are we ever glad we did. That track was a real awesome experience. Starting out with a bit of gravel road riding as we wound our way up one of the many hills around us, it then followed some tank tracks up to a giant hill climb (which we opted to excuse ourselves from, as there was a bit of a que and many riders failing to reach the top). We on the other hand took the route up around the hill via the gravel road, joining up with the other riders at the top.
As we reached the top, we had arrived at ‘T-tree Tunnel’, a long single file slow downhill technical section carved out from the gorse and tussock. It reminded so much of some of the mountain biking I’ve done in The Redwoods (Whakarewarewa Forest) back in Rotorua. It was really cool commanding that KDX200 down this tight winding track. We could hear some live firing going on down in the gorge by the Army solders.
Once we made it through to the clearing, there was a small river crossings to make. Then on to the first muddy bog. After assessing the prospective paths to take Tim decided on his and entered the bog. The front wheel went in……..
And that’s it, the front wheel sunk down to the mud guard in the mud. After trying to free himself for half a minute, I decided to give it a crack. I cut a not too dissimilar path through the bog where there seamed to be a little more tussock to help support the bike. I took my time and hay, wallah! I was through. After parking the fairly clean bike, I proceeded to turn to check on Tim in the bog, only to find him sitting down in the mud with the bike lying across him. After the quick photo (I just had to take of him), I jumped in to rescue him. Never bike alone, Tim remembered people telling him all the time. And it wasn’t until that moment, trapped under a bike, up to his ears in a mud bog that Tim thought very hard about it, and was glad his brother in law was there to save the day… lol.
The following photos were taken during this ride in the Waiouru Army ground in the central North Island of New Zealand. A most excellent day spent riding with my brother in law, Tim Rattray, seen in most photos. Look for the one in the mud bath!. lol
As I write this, some five days later, only after just one day of pain free walking, and staring at my giant bruises on my legs and knees, I’m still buzzing about blasting around the centre of New Zealand, in the presence of Mt Ruapehu with my brother in law, Tim.
Cheers again Tim, I’d just like to thank you again and to your friend for leading me his KDX to ride for the day. It was a truly awesome day and I’m glad you gave me the chance to come along.