For those of you that have read some of my stories about the Tour of The Bay Enduro, 2 laps of Tour de Manawatu, and 2 laps of Taupo in memory of our team mate Glenn Thorby, you will have heard about the BBC, we’re basically just a bunch of good mates who enjoy each other’s company, ride together, and occasionally do some crazy stuff.
Tim Mackey sent a message a week or so about a ride he was planning, from whanganui (yes there’s an H in there – don’t get me started on that one), up the Parapara’s (SH4), Fields Track, Whangaehu Valley Rd, to Ohakune for a lunch stop, then on to Raetihi, Pipiriki, and then the whanganui River Road back to whanganui. When the Strava map came through, we are all pretty sure it said 2591 metres of climbing – sure, 200 kms and nearly 2,600m, we can do that – most of us have ridden K2 (either the race itself, or a reconnaissance lap of the course), or the Pongaroa Loop – this was totally do-able. We made a plan and headed away nice and early on Sunday to drive to Whanganui. On the way up there was a bit of rain, and we began to wonder if we had picked the right day – but that soon passed.
We unloaded bikes, crammed our jersey pockets full of gels, bars and other fuel and set off.
The first 50 or so km’s from Whanganui were quite uneventful, but we did see some amazing scenery and views of the Whanganui River- there were a few climbs, but nothing too taxing… Then we made the turn on to Field’s Track – cue Jaws type music- this was straight in to a 6.5km climb. For the most part, the climb was a good gradient, with only a few sharp pinches, but it was just relentless – it didn’t stop – and then when we thought it had – it hadn’t. While we got a few downhill sections on the rest of Fields Track and the Whangaehu Valley Road, there were definitely more uphills than down – oh, and did I mention the wind?
If the wind hadn’t made itself known to us earlier, by the time we hit the main road to Ohakune, we definitely knew about it – and it wasn’t a tailwind either.
We made a stop in Ohakune for lunch, where Wayne Fage met us for the second half of the ride.
We departed Ohakune and headed for Raetihi, and then on to Pipriki – this was mainly downhill, but with 2 climbs in there. At Pipiriki we had a compulsory photo stop and then turned on to the Whanganui River Road – we we warned by Jeremy that there was a ‘reasonable’ climb out of there before we hit the nice downhill stuff – as we were climbing the first hill, Jeremy decided to tell us that this wasn’t actually the climb he was referring to – he must’ve forgotten about that little bump in the road. Once we were over the ‘actual’ climb, we started a beautiful descent down in to the valley – we still had a number of short uphills, but it was predominantly downhill. As we wound our way beside the river we were treated to some stunning views of the river and the lush green landscape.
Jeremy had also warned us of one last climb out of the valley to the outskirts of Whanganui, we were still about 30kms away I was fast starting to run out of fluids – luckily we found a house where I could refill my bottles. Another 10kms along and the others were starting to run out of fluids, we managed to find a campsite with a tap to refill – however, the water didn’t smell all that great and there was a bit of talk about gastro bugs (I was quite glad I’d refilled my bottles earlier) It was also about this point in time that Garmin checks said that we had already climbed more than the promised 2,600 metres – unfortunately that didn’t get us out of the last climb.
The last climb definitely had a bit of hurt for us – this might just have because we were nearly 200kms and 8 hours in to riding in hot temperatures, but at the top our efforts were rewarded with the most spectacular view down to the river and valley below – and with it care an appreciation of just how far up we had climbed.
All in all, it was a great day out – a little more climbing than we had anticipated, but we all managed it (with no reports of gastro bugs yet), and everybody agreed that the views and scenery were what made this ride.
This truly is an amazing ride, it’s challenging, but do-able, and almost right on our doorstep – I thoroughly recommend it, even if you split it up by staying overnight in Ohakune, or just did the second leg from Ohakune to Whanganui – you won’t be disappointed.