A big hello to all the winter moles. I see you’re all out enjoying the winter conditions and braving the arctic winds and rain, with a bit of mud thrown in!
As I guess you know Amanda, and I are sunning it up in the bottom part of the world, so I guess we should send you some ride reports from our travels. We’ve just come from South Africa – Cape Town – which is definitely one place that should be put on the winter travel list of places to ride.
Not many people know about how good Cape Town is, you’ll have a lot to choose from with plenty for different skill levels, well worth a visit. I should have sent some reports but I think I’ll do that next year.
So now we’re in New Zealand and once again enjoying the sunshine and the wonderful views that New Zealand has to offer. If there is one place that you want to tick off your list of ‘places to bike’ then New Zealand has got to be in the top three, if not number one. Over the next six weeks I’m going to send the moles a few reports on what New Zealand and the USA has to offer.
Amanda is from the South Island, but up in the North part, near a place called Nelson. We’re based next to the Abel Tasman National park in a town called Upper Takaka and the first trail we’re going to report on is called the Rameka Track. It features a 22km climb, then the Canaan loop and project Rameka at the bottom, a trail the locals have been toiling on over the last few years.
One thing I should warn anyone about NZ is that the locals are like mountain goats compared to most other places, so granny gear is going to be used lot’s. The foothills are just under a 1000m and that’s before you start to reach the mountains!
Our round trip from AJ’s mums house is a 4hr quick ride, including the Canaan trail with about 1500m of climbing. This time we parked at the bottom of project Rameka and make our long climb.
Project Rameka is where the locals have been working on building trails, so it’s a nice singletrack along a creek “stream” which then carries on climbing into a pine forest with a load of switch backs. It’s nice to have a bit of relief from the burning sun. Once out of the forest we’re then onto a 4WD track for a short while to the start of the Rameka track, by now we’ve already climbed 470m.
The Rameka is a natural trail up through natural forest and it’s all singletrack, with a few rock gardens, a few rock ledges. You walk them. You could bike them but it’s a long drop down off the edge of the trail!
Once that’s over, it’s back on the bike and enjoy the ride up the hill through the forest which hugs the hill all the way to the top. The smell from the bush is just great and the wildlife that’s all around you is something I love about NZ forest. We cross some dry creek beds, the ride up is easy on this part of the trail.
After 1hr 40mins of riding uphill at our pace – maybe 2hrs for others – we’ve made it to the top of the Rameka.
Once at the top of the Rameka we turn left and join the Canaan Loop trail, 20km of singletrack so a bit more of a climb. It get’s a bit sketchy where the rain has washed away the track, leaving ruts that you can ride over easy enough.
After that you’re into open ground with amazing views looking across the Western range mountains. One place I love riding through is a section called Log City, I guess this forest must have just died or been felled or both but it has this strange feeling that your in this dead forest.
Out of the Log City you’re out into the open fields and climbing back up to the hills with sheep looking at you. After a few creek crossings and some fast switchbacks it’s on to a dirt road for a few k’s, to a place called Harwoods Hole car park. It’s a short climb back to the start of the Rameka, where you can take a wee breather and get ready for the 950m downhill all the way to the bottom.
This is what it’s all about, singletrack all the way, Heaven… you pop out at the top parking spot and carry on down the dirt 4WD track, going as fast as you dare around the corners which are a bit loose. The next part awaits you, it’s back into the pine forest and down the switchbacks to exit the forest, traverse the side of the hill and then back onto the 4WD track.
Again it’s full speed down the track and back to the last trail, which has some sweet rock gardens and just fun parts to it. You exit just in front of the car park.
One thing’s for sure, you’ll finish with the biggest grin on your face. You’ll think back to where you started from and think Wow! 40mins of downhill fun!
When the locals finish the trail we’re told that this could be the longest downhill singletrack in New Zealand! If the track it anything to go by so far, it should be just great, I’ll be looking forward to riding it next year.
This trail is just one of hundreds and some of the trails that we’ll report on are just bonkers… On the Daz & AJ scale we’ve give this an 8.5, Bracknell Forest we’ll give 0.5 so it gives you an idea on the scale of things out here…
More photos of the Rameka trail are on Flickr.