Back to Basics - Velo mountaineering part 2

Velo Mountaineering part 2 The bike as a pack horse

 It has been a pretty quiet summer here for me as far as getting out and about goes due mainly to being too busy elsewhere with work and family. I have managed to keep a little fitness with some local back to basics ride /runs and also my favorite - Velo mountaineering.

 In New Zealand there is a lack of roads in higher mountain areas despite the fact NZ mountains aren’t really that high to begin with. One reason is the steep alpine nature of the mountains and putting roads in them is a precarious business .Further to this, the often wet wild weather and the fact that the snow line in winter is quite low makes high roads difficult to build and maintain but most of all the lack of population has meant there is little or no need to build many roads into unoccupied mountain areas. Most mountain roads here are of secondary nature and are either in poor condition or even merely 4 wheel drive tracks meaning they are not in a particular;y good state and even these are often blocked to traditional vehicular traffic with locked gates. Its great news for the bike rider though as often you end up being the only one up there. Locally here in the Top of the South (and throughout New Zealand indeed) there are many road ends either as entrances to a national park or ski fields that involve a fairly stiff up hill bike grunt.

Using the bike as a pack horse to carry supplies and equipment more easily up mountain roads and trails is one of the great plus aspects of Velo mountaineering over traditionally humping stuff on ones back from a road end..  No matter how hard the ride in , the ride out is often almost free , freewheeling out with a big load is not only much easier after a hard day walking in the mountains but its many times faster.

Lately all my "Velo mountaineering" has been of this rather simple nature as within a good half day from my house there is a whole variety of options all with a tough ride into a high road end , hiking and running around some small mountains and an easy ride out at the end of the day.

Going out with Tom on the Arthur range in its spectacular limestone Karst country.

Carl riding up to the Amuri ski field , he did a real velo mountaineering mission ,as I meet up with him  after he had ridden the Rainbow rage - 110kms mountain bike event. We camped out than climbed to ski field on bikes the next day  before running on the tops.

Climbing the only piece of rock around , the St James range above Amuri ski field is running country , wide open rolling mountain country 1700 plus meters high.

Dawn breaks over the western ranges as we climb up the tough forestry road to Gordon's Knob firelook out.

Brad and Carl as we descend off the Gordon ridge before climbing Gordon's knob , shortly after it clagged in and was several hours of wandering in the mist.

Rocks at the end of the rainbow.


There is a real satisfaction leaving one's house at sea level and riding a bike to the car park  and than run hiking the tops on foot. however after climbing the very steep Mt Arthur access road on bike the spring in step once I start out on foot is noticeably different from when one is fresh as is the sureness of foot. Excellent training though not only fitness wise but mentally wise as well.

Carl catching dawn rays as we enter the New Zealand Bush

The Godzone adventure race composed of mountain biking , trekking , Kayaking , rafting etc was in our area for a week and I followed the Team from our local town Motueka whilst they were doing the second last stage here riding into Canaan Downs. Despite several days on the go and little sleep they were in good spirits.