We were going to leave ‘early’ this morning. You’ll be surprised to hear we didn’t. Reefton is a town that has really got in behind the Tour Aotearoa, and there are ‘Welcome TA riders’ signs everywhere. So, obviously, we stopped for a pie and a coffee.
And we stopped at the local sports shop on the off chance they had a 20 inch tire because we’d used our spare (again). They not only had a good selection of suitable tires, but they also refused to let us pay for it. Turns out a TA rider was passing through earlier in the week and paid for two tires but ended up only needing one, so just left a credit at the shop for the next person who needed a tire - so if you're reading this, Jason: you’re a champion, much appreciated! Also, huge thanks Reefton Sports for your help, and all of the mechanical work that you are doing for free for TA riders - you guys are awesome.
After that delightful little interaction, our spirits were lifted as we headed in to Big River Track - knowing that this is the part of the course a lot of people disliked because it was difficult and slow. And after last nights big rainfall, exactly how bad was it going to be?
Turns out it was great fun. Sure, there were some bits we didn’t ride, there was some pushing, there was some (a lot) of slightly sketchy sliding along wet tree roots, and there was a lot of mud. But in our view, that’s what mountain biking in NZ is all about. Some tracks you can’t easily do over 100km in a day on .. Big River is certainly one of those, and it’s a great part of the route because of it.
We got out of the track late afternoon and after replacing our worn out brake pads, were discussing whether to push on 55km more to Greymouth, when we came across Ikamatua. Stopping outside the Ikamatua Hotel, we decided that, if we could get a cheap bed, we’d call it a day. $25 per person for a cabin - done deal!
And after a steak meal at the hotel, another great day was done.
58 km total
5:28 riding time
1114 m elevation gain
46.4 kph max