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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Some tips for safe and responsible mountain biking in New Zealand

An intrepid explorer of Wellington's wild South Coast with
a dirty bike.
I deliberately cultivate a personal culture of adventurism and risk-taking; but this is done with a reasonable sprinkling of care and responsibility to ensure I come out alive, injury-free and not endangering others such as rescuers.  So far this has worked in my favour with my worst accidents being in the city and the most disabling being within view of the hospital - and at low speed (mountain biking is my thing for now)! 

My partner, Alofa, exiting Barking Emu this afternoon
Come to think about it, what scares me the most about mountain biking is riding up a blind 2-way track which may have some out of control down-hill hoon come screaming round the corner!  That is a terrifying prospect and painful collisions do happen.

At the summit and about to drop down to Red Rock on
the South Coast
My record of being a safe and responsible mountain biker was put to the test a few days ago when I went into the South Coast of Wellington on the tail end of a storm.  All went well until I rounded a corner, only to be picked up by the wind and thrown over a huge drop similar to what you can see in the pictures.  While I was not hurt, I was unable to get back onto the track due to the ferocity of the wind.  It was impossible to even crawl!  I finally managed to regain the track only to be blown back over again along with my bike.  For a while I thought I was in deep trouble.  However, I managed to clamber around the hill side with my bike until I was out of the wind and able to get back onto the track.  Then it was reverse direction back home safe and sound!

Being winter here is what I carry in a small back pack, in the back of my cycling jacket and on my bike:
Compulsory selfie

  • Various tools for emergency repairs including a spare tube, pump and gas canisters.
  • Beanie
  • 2x jackets in addition to long sleeve cycle jacket and underclothing.  
  • Winter booties.
  • Survival blanket.
  • Some energy food and water.
  • Emergency locator beacon and cell phone with a full charge.
If I am going out alone I always tell someone, usually my partner, Alofa, my route and I am reluctant to change plans part way through and will often phone to advise of the change.

Wellington is mountain bike heaven but it can also be mountain bike hell if the weather is against you.

The trail in the distance down to Wellington's South Coast.
Yes, I got caught out the other day and it could have been much worse.  There is one decision I made that was dead right and that was to turn around and go home.  When tired and going downhill, it is so easy to take the easy option which is to head down - not back up.  If I had done that it would have been like entering an eel trap and the result would not have been good.

A breath-taking ride on a fine day.
The photos to the right are from our ride this afternoon over the hills above Wellington and down to the wild South Coast.  With riding like this outside our front door I am not about to leave Wellington anytime yet.  Its simply amazing!

Best riding you'll find anywhere

Mountain bikes can go just about anywhere

The South Coast beckons

Looking back to where we came from

Alofa walking the drop-off at the end of the track
Wellington's South Coast

Its a very busy day with crowds visiting the seal colony

Chatham Islands ahoy!  On my bucket list.

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