Through somewhat convoluted logic, I was also riding my hybrid rather than a mountain bike - the CT scan reports on my spine had reinforced my specialists advice that mountain biking was OK, so long as I didn't do the sort where I fell off. Given that single track always involves the risk of a fall, I'd sent my mountain bike off to a South Island retirement home, looked after by my daughter and a territorial mastiff.
We started by parking our car at Ongarue, and got shuttled up to Pureora by Ian and Ros of Timber Trail Shuttles, getting a full briefing on Pureora gossip as we went. The first section of the trail winds between the tall trunks of a remnant of Te Nehe-nehe-nui, the "great forest" that covered the central North Island. This particular remnant was saved by protests in the 1970s. A short detour leads to a 1930s bulldozer, a reminder of the machinery that harvested this forest. A bit further on, the trail breaks out into the barren waste of recently felled forest, a further reminder of the industrial forestry that has replaced much of Te Nehe-nehe-nui.
|Cyclists contemplate reviving the 1930s bulldozer to give them a tow up Mt Pureora|
|Freshly felled forest leading to Mt Pureora|
|View north west from first shelter.|
|Hybrid pauses at a convenient km post to contemplate cloud forest|
Soon we reached the first of the suspension bridges. These are a highlight of the trail, making the crossing of bush clad valleys effortless. They are amazing engineering achievements, providing rigid bike paths with only a spidery network of cables, seemingly resistant to wobbles caused by riders or wind.
|Marg crosses a suspension bridge|
|"Unless you suffer from vertigo, it's worth stopping in the middle to appreciate the forest views" - Jonathan Kennett, New Zealand Cycle Trails|
|Inside the "stump house"|
|An eerie face looms up out of the gloom, urging us "don't give up"...|
Next morning we did our best to knock off the delights in Maria's breakfast hamper, then loaded our bikes aboard Eddie, the Lodge's pickup truck, which owner Kerry has festooned with bike racks to get guests back up to the ridgeline. From here, the ride out to the trail was much more pleasant than the grind of the previous night - or at least it was once we'd mended the puncture on Marg's bike. We took a brief look at the Piropiro campsite, occupied by a single car tourist - there are rumors of a Glamping site being developed here, which could provide an attractive alternative for the mid point stay on the trail.
|Loading up Eddie|
|Riding out to the main trail|
|Marg contemplates a change of wheel at the tramway terminus|
|Marg emerges from a cutting|
|you have been warned...|
|Marg emerges from the spiral|
|Holes dug by seditious rabbits (probably with IS links) subverting John Key's vision of a National Cycleway|