Posted this on unicycle.org.nz, just in case anyone is interested in one of the lovely rides out here -
I rode Craigieburn with Canterbury University Mountain Bike Club on Saturday, what a fab ride. Was super fun. I wasn’t last on either of the descents either which was nice.
For those that don’t know, this is a famous trail in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, which is renowned for being kind of exposed and scary, but for also being a fantastic technical xc ride, with a massive uphill followed by two great downhills.
So yeah, the summary - 7.5 km of uphill, all rideable, going up approx 500 metres vertical, then a lovely 10 km descent. In big mountains.
I was on the Schlumpf 29er in low gear for most of it. The uphill is on a gravel track, a few loose bits, but mostly pretty smooth. I think it took us well under an hour. Rode much of it, although I had to walk a little bit, was still recovering from food poisoning. Nothing too steep to ride on this, it’s just about having the energy to keep going.
At the top, you are greeted with the view pictured. The trail goes across the scree plain in front, and into the woods that you can see on the hillside.
The scree plain has a very narrow bench cut trail in it, there are a few of these scree sections. They are mostly rideable, but really narrow, and catch your pedal if you slide down, which is eeeek. The singletrack however is oh so fantastic, much of it on the side of a cliff (the trail is called ‘THE EDGE’, so what do you expect), there is some quite significant exposure here, so probably not for beginners. It’s kind of super-rocky xc riding, all in a track that is tiny narrow, really single-singletrack. There are some little drop offs, rocks you have to ride over and the like, mostly pretty small (like 6 inches or so), but more intimidating due to being next to great big cliffs. I got to the end of this before four of the bikes did!
The second part climbs briefly to a saddle, then bombs right back down to the start, this is all woodland singletrack, and is the rootiest trail in the world, you’re riding staircases worth of root steps. It’s super fast if you manage to hang on, and has some great switchbacks where you can slide out if you’re not careful, wooden bridges to cross (really easy ones) and generally is nice to ride. I finished this one before all the bikes too!
Here are two pictures of a lovely bit of scree http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o147/joemarshall_photos/edge1-small.jpg
So yeah, fab ride. Not one for beginners, due to being quite a way, and not suitable for lazy pie eaters, due to requiring you to ride 500m of ascent. But if you’re up for a bit of technical xc riding, the gravity karma you build up on the climb is released in a most pleasing manner in two fantastic descents. What good fun.
Oh yeah, did I mention I wasn’t last on either of the descents (or the uphill but that’s less of a surprise)?