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September 30, 2008

Wanaka

Filed under: MTB Travel, New Zealand, New Zealand MTB, Travel — anotherheader @ 10:43 pm

On the way to the trails in Wanaka

On the way to the trails in Wanaka

On Tuesday we did a long ride in The Plantation area with a return on Lakeside Track in Wanaka. The Plantation area is a purpose built bike park that spans an area a little larger than Water Dog in Belmont. The trails start at the edge of the suburbs and extend from the forested hillside down to the lake, where the Lakeside Track is located. There is a high density of trails in the area with trails dropping from both sides of a forested spine

Becky on The Gulch in Wanaka

Becky on The Gulch in Wanaka

that traverses the area. Initial trail finding was rather challenging—we spent more than an hour finding our first reasonable trail and then quite a bit of time figuring out how to climb back up to the spine. Once within the dense trail area, trail finding was relatively easy with trails marked with a small sign indicating the name, the difficulty level, and the preferred direction of travel. The trails marked advanced were generally not that difficult. A small map is available at the local bike shops for 2 NZD.

We entered in at the Rata Street entrance after not being able to find the other entrances. The Rata Street entrance itself may not be long for the world as it looks like house are planned for this area. We road to Venus Landing and then descended The Gulch and Sidle Track until we reached the Lakeside Track. The Gulch was a descending, narrow track (the trail building standards here are very similar to the ones used at Water Dog, with the exception of the grades) with lots of exposure and great views of the Lake Wanaka. The trails that descended to the lake were sandy or had very sandy spots. We wandered around Lakeside Track until we found the trail up to The Hub—a spot where multiple trails collect. From this point, we climbed Tunnel of Love to the central ridge spine. After some exploration, we dropped G-Spot which, at points, had a deep narrow rut that made cleaning the trail very difficult, and then climbed Venus and Sesame Street. From the other end of the spine, we descended Bilantis, a trail that is not completely finished, and exit onto G-Spot again. This time we climbed a signature trail of the area, Crankin Fine. This trail has a good gradient for climbing with multiple narrow switchbacks. The trail also features something that we have never seen on a permanent trail and only seen pictures of on a built racecourse. It has a spiral turn (check out the pictures)! The trail spirals up with a bridge on the upper section crossing the lower section. It is perfectly rideable, though you tend to enter the bridge at low speed and a little of balance. I’m not sure these turns serve a trail building purpose, as there is a tremendous amount of dirt that has to be moved during the construction. Another spiral turn is under construction on Bilantis and you can see that there’s a lot of additional dirt to move there.

Spiral turn (see link for a sequence of shots)

Spiral turn (see link for a sequence of shots)

From the top of Crankin Fine, we took Easy Street (the spine trail) to Kooza. Kooza is fast and with flow and lots of bank turns and perfectly constructed double jumps (which we didn’t try). Kooza dropped us to the Hub. From the Hub we climbed Sick Boy which is similar to Sick and Twisted at the UC in that you lose, for no apparent reason, a bunch of the altitude you gain in climbing along the way. Back on Easy Street, we headed out to the Double Gate, rode and pushed along the rode to Yumpts. We descended Yumpts, another relatively steep trail with banked turns that connects to Kooza on down to The Hub. From The Hub, we dropped to Lakeside Track and headed back to town for a good dinner at Missy’s. All told, the ride took about 5 hrs. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the area.

Pictures:  http://picasaweb.google.com/brainbucketster/Wanaka

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