I’m new to mountain biking. I know next to nothing about bikes; maintenance and care, basic mechanics, sizing, brands, etc. “Novice rider” is generous when it comes to my skill level. But I’m up for just about anything so we planned a few days of mountain biking around Nelson, which is at the very top of the South Island.
We left Christchurch late in the evening and camped about halfway up. We spent some time exploring the Nelson downtown area and then found some trails.
The thing about mountain biking is that all the fun is in the downhill, right? But to get to do that, one must first go up. And up. And UP. AND UP! And so we did. Pushing our bikes, carrying them up stairs, opening and closing gates…it was basically hiking. But then the fun began!
It was a short ride that day with some pretty sweet views of Nelson. Lots of climbing, lots of work, and lots of fun.
The following day we went to check out the mountain bike park in Kaiteriteri. It was busy on the beach that day but we were pleasantly surprised that the bike trails were relatively empty.
We spent a good amount of the time on the beginner trails and then upped the ante to some intermediate ones and I was pleased to find those fairly rideable, save for one narrow trail with a steep edge. I was feeling proud of my cycling fitness but note to self after two consecutive days of riding: buy padded shorts! These are key for any rider, I believe.
The view on some of the exposed parts…oh so beautiful.
After a few hours of biking, it was hot enough to call it quits so we picked a nice loop to bring us back to the car. Riding along, the trail became noticeably harder with tight switchbacks, steep grade, and often some large drops. Around one particularly sharp corner I must have been braking too hard in the front because I suddenly found myself end over end, stopping with my bike on top of me. First crash was a decent one and it was fun to watch the various bruises ripen over the next few days.
We reached the bottom and consulted our map. It seemed our trail map was out of date and we had ended up on the “under construction” trail…that was seemingly finished to be an ‘expert’ grade! Whoops! But it was good training for Jesse with his adventure race only a week away.
We spent the night somewhere between Nelson and Greymouth and all of my complaints of sand flies put together would not equal the misery I was in at this campsite. Pun intended, I was not a happy camper. Luckily it was just one night and I could look forward to a real bed, a hot shower, a washing machine, and the best company for the weekend. Stay tuned!