On Monday we decided to jazz things up a little by driving across to Taupo to ride the famed W2K trail. Well, famed in my mind anyway. It is one of my favourite rides in NZ as it actually goes somewhere. That somewhere is from Whakaipo Bay To Kinloch by way of a headland on Lake Taupo.
I was designated driver for the trip. With zero navigational preparation we launched off toward Taupo with just my memory as a map. After all, I had been here about 18 months previously. What could possibly go wrong? Apart from the obvious? Yup, I was finding navigating from memory a little sketchy and after an extra 30km(19mi) or so of "scenic roads" we eventually found the jumping off point at around midday, where we quickly kitted up and pedalled off.
After a very pleasant sheep paddock crossing we were at the step over and onto the sweet trail.
It was going to be interesting to see the other guys reaction to the ride today as most were relatively new to mountain biking and really only rode "bike park" where you basically go round and round in circles over the same (usually boring) trails.
This was a trail that went somewhere. To lunch, I was hoping, as I hadn't bothered to check if the shop would be open at the other end......remember, it isn't an adventure unless something goes wrong....!
Team Trek* were soon belting along the trails having a ball. So much so that I really didn't take many photos as we went along. I had taken so many the last time I was here that I didn't feel the urge, plus the lighting wasn't great at mid day. No, we were on a mission to get to the Kinloch Cafe.
Soon enough we were at Kinloch and luckily for me, sampling some fine toasted sandwiches and surprisingly good coffee as we sat under a gloriously blue sky and listened to the waves on Lake Taupo lapping at the volcanic grit that formed a black silica beach.
One of the guys had an old Giant Trance that was serviced once each decade and it hadn't been this decade's turn yet. Not surprisingly it had popped it's seat on the ride into Kinloch and we were on the hunt for a new seat bolt. Luckily for us there was a well kitted out marine supply store in town. Even luckier, it was run by a boat/dirtbike/mountain bike mad bloke who couldn't do enough to help us out in our spot of bother.
With a seat in the right position and some serious piss taking of the owner/rider we were off back past the marina and heading for the trail again.
The climb out of Kinloch with a full stomach was a slow and steady affair as I wasn't the only one to gorge myself on fine Kiwi grub.
The upside to this was being able to stop lots and admire the view on such a pleasantly cool day. Shame someone got his boof-head in the way of said view!
On the ride back we decided to take the headland track which added about 10km (6mi) extra to the ride. I was pleased on two counts here. One was that I hadn't ridden that track before and the other was that another 10km would make it a decent ride.
Shortly after heading down this track our "serviced sometime last decade" bike decided to break it's chain. When we went to help fix it there was no wondering why. It was so old and stretched it should have been binned years ago. While rejoining it for the owner I noticed his rear wheel flopping around in the drop outs. Closer inspection revealed the bearings were extremely loose. When I tightened them a bit they were so pitted that they would barely turn! So finding that "sweet spot" of not to tight /not too loose we refitted his wheel and were off again. I mentioned that he should change gears gently and not put too much power into the pedals lest the chain explode again. The answer to this was a predictable "yeah, thats what happened last time".
Anyway, we powered along for a while on some fun, flowing trail before we came to a lookout with a nice bench seat overlooking the lake.
In the distance was a snow covered mountain that was steaming a bit. We were later informed it was the Whakapappa (pronounced Fukapuppa) ski fields up on Mt Ruapehu. It was a reminder of the volcanic nature of New Zealand. The massive lake in front of us was the result of an equally massive volcanic eruption. One day it will all go off again but if you are standing here you won't need to worry for too long! Clearly, we are made of hard stuff......
Some of the boys were getting a little tired by this stage due to the riding on previous days but the tired legs were quickly forgotten as the trail flowed so well we were soon spinning our legs faster than they should go.
Back at the van there was a bunch of very tired but happy riders. Time to head into Taupo for some more food and refreshment.
While in Taupo we learned that it was Guy Fawkes night that night. With Oztralia being the nanny state that it is, we have not had "cracker night" at home for about 20 years. Something about kids blowing their thumbs off or their neighbour's mail boxes to bits and we were banned from fireworks as a nation. But not the Kiwis!
So, we did the only sensible thing. We bought the biggest-ass box of fireworks that we could. The one that said "Demolition Box" on the side!
We took said box back to our motel in Rotorua and introduced it to a radio controlled quad-copter that one of the guys had brought along to shoot some aerial video. Although, we were going to be doing another sort of shooting! You have sure got to love the mix of a few beers, some big Roman Candles and a quad copter!
Dodgy video at a later stage..............
*Team Trek. Though we hadn't ridden together before we found that there were four Trek Fuel EX 8 and 9s between us.