- New Zealand
- The Queen Charlotte TrackMountain biking the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds
- History on the Heaphy
- Suppressing the Competitive UrgeMountain biking in Malborough
- Northern ExposureMountian biking the Coromandel
- Hurunui Hot SpringsWinter mountain biking to Hurunui Hut in the Lake Sumner Forest Park.
- Craigieburn Conservation ParkMountain Biking Craigieburn
- The Brevet ClubGuy and Laurence recount the suffering and intrigue of the inaugural Kiwi Brevet... a 1100km mountain bike race around the top half of the South Island over six days. Informal with self-enforced rules, no entry fee, unsupported, and... well, hard.
- Wharfedale TrackThis is arguably the best and longest stretch of single track in Canterbury
- Double FencelineThis classic trip snakes along the summit ridge of Banks Peninsula.
- One Night StandsOvernight mountain biking trips in the South Island
- Fool's GoldMountain biking in Central Otago
- All that Glistens... the Croesus and Moonlight Gold TrailsMountain biking on the South Island's West Coast
- Otago GoldMountain biking - Bannockburn, Central Otago
- Loop de LoopGreat mountain biking can be found in most corners of this flat earth and New Zealand boasts its fair share of classics.
- Magnetic WestMulti-day mountain biking, Kaikoura to the Tasman sea
- Romping Round the Marlborough SoundsMountain biking Marlborough
- Rambling Around the Marlborough SoundsMountain biking Marlborough, Arapawa and D'Urville Islands
- Off the Beaten Track An off road traverse of the South Island on mountain bikes
- At Peace with PureoraMountain biking around the Pureora Forest in the Central North Island
- Taranaki for NeophytesMountain biking in Taranaki
- South Pacific
- West meets EastAfter riding all morning through the tail of a typhoon, we didn't want to slosh into a Japanese restaurant in that state. I tried drying out by standing under the vent outside the kitchen. I got no drier, but now I smelled of noodles...
- Tien Shan TraverseWhat do you do in the middle of the mountains when two large, thuggish Chinese men get out of a car and stride purposefully towards you? You smile and say thank you for the stale bread and peaches they are offering you!
- One Gear, One Continent, One Hero.Hero Cycles is the world's largest manufacturer of bikes, spitting out a whopping six million a year. You're unlikely to find one at your local bike shop but as any seasoned traveller can attest, they are the 'people's car' of India.
- Laid-back LaosMountain bike touring in Laos
- The Road to MandalayCycle touring in Myanmar
- Vietnam on Thirty Dollars a DayCycle touring in Vietnam
- A Short Ride in the Hindu Kush Cycle touring in Pakistan
- On a Wheel and a Prayer FlagCycle touring in Tibet
- Shanti Shanti - Across the Himalaya by BikeCycling across the Himalayas
- Biking the Hidden HimalayaCycle touring in North West India
- Pedalling Patagonia"Wow! Amazing! You're cycling to the bottom of South America. Is it all downhill?" Alan and I looked at each other in amusement and suggested that we expected a few uphill sections.
- Cycling Cuba with Fidel and Ché
- Dirt Roading in Colombia'The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay', promises Colombia's latest tourist advertising slogan, printed over glossy photos of idyllic Caribbean coastlines, perfectly preserved colonial towns, rolling, lush coffee plantations and a Latin couple dancing hot cumbia.
- Famous Potato Recipes from Idaho
- My Private Idaho
- Donde Estan Los Pollos
- Alaska - the Last Frontier The Alaskan Iditasport Human Powered Ultramarathon
- In Search of Maple Syrup and a Decent National Anthem Mountain biking in Canada
- All You Can EatMountain Biking in Northern California
- Caffeine and Singletrack in the USA Mountain biking in South West Colorado
- Bici Dolomiti Cycle touring around Italy and the Dolomites
- A Slice of Swiss CheeseMountain biking in Switzerland
- London Calling The London Cycle Show
- Stairway to Heaven - biking Spain's Camino de SantiagoCycle touring in Spain
- Albania for BeginnersIn the summer of 2009, our route from Greece to Germany crossed the small country of Albania...
- Fat Tyre Touring in ItalyCycle touring through Italy.
- Corsica- touring the scented isleCycling in the Mediterranean
- A Scottish Coast to CoastCycle touring in Scotland
- Crouching Tiger - Cycling Ireland's South West Coast Cycling Ireland's South West Coast
- The Italian Job Mountain biking around Lake Garda
- Double DutchA cycle tour of the Netherlands.
- A Rather Big Swedish RaceMountain bike racing in Sweden
- French ConnectionCircumnavigating Mont Blanc on the "Sentier Pedestre" hiking trail.
- A Month in Provence Cycle touring in the South of France
- A French PilgrimageTouring with the Tour de France
- End to End, the Long WayCycle touring in Great Britain
- Steve's SabbaticalCycle touring in France
Off the Beaten Track
Dave Mitchell, UnderGround Issue 10, February 1997
Updated 29 June 2011Maps, I love 'em. More than that, I get quite excited by them. I collect them like some people collect phone cards or personalised number plates. The metric 50,000:1 series is my favourite and I've managed to acquire the full set. I've done heaps of mountain biking up and down the South Island and a few years ago became fascinated with the prospect of joining the dots to ride it all in one go. After all - I did have all the maps.
On Xmas Eve the lads (that's Joe Arts, Guy Wynn-Williams and myself - soon to be known far and wide as the "orange roughies" on account of our matching orange Ground Effect tops) headed north for French Pass. The cunning plan was to ride the length of the South Island off road. We would stay close to the eastern side of the Southern Alps, scoring as much single track and 4WD, and as little tarseal and carrying, as possible. An epic of biblical proportions was brewing.
At French Pass we hooked up with our support crew - Derek and Moira, the youngest and best travelled 60 year olds in the country. They have taken their faithful 1968 VW Kombi to every nook, cranny and back water imaginable. For the next month we would be constant companions. Each day they would load the Kombi with our tents and food, and cart it all to a pre-arranged campsite that evening. They were an integral part of the adventure and made considerable sacrifices to help make it happen - but were rewarded with several hundred excuses to stop for a cup of tea (Derek is a man who can't drive past a stream without wondering what sort of tea its water would make).
It's a short boat trip from French Pass to D'Urville Island and the start of our mission. Next stop Port Craig. Preparation is the cornerstone of a good expedition (ask Amunsden) - we spent 3 months nutting out details of the route and made scores of phone calls to the 40 high country farmers whose land we would traverse. Their support was great, especially with the recent furore surrounding the Health and Safety in Employment Act.
Our route took us from D'Urville Island through the Marlborough Sounds, Rainbow Valley, Lewis Pass, Craigieburn, Rakaia/Rangitata, Mackenzie Country, Lindis Pass, Skippers, Mavora Lakes, to Port Craig (near Tuatapere - sausage capital of NZ). We were surprised by the ease with which we forded some of the bigger rivers - defeated only by the mighty Waimakariri - resulting in an 80km detour to find a bridge and an unscheduled night in a shelter. We ventured into some remote places and crossed some spectacular alpine passes - on one occasion navigating through a white out by map, compass and altimeter for 3 hours in a biting Southerly. Nasty. The longest carry section was for 8 hours going over Shotover Saddle from the Matukituki. We spent 2 days camped at the head of the Matukituki waiting for the weather to clear. Boredom was relieved with the activities of various trampers, climbers and tourists - the most bizarre being two travellers who arrived in their car thinking they were heading for Haast Pass.
We ate huge amounts of go fast food. Joe's appetite is Gargantuan - the only bloke I know who makes his salad up in a plastic bucket. Moira soon got a handle on provisioning for us and would delight in emptying the local Four Square store of its entire stock of bananas and avocados. Being largely fuelled by dried fruit had unfortunate side effects - resulting in the three of us impersonating a mobile herd of ruminants doing our best to destroy the ozone layer.
Of course amongst all this planning we had to order the good weather and keep our bikes, bodies and minds in one piece. The gods were on our side - we had near perfect conditions with only four days' rain the whole trip. We suffered zillions of punctures (the record was 5 wheels out of 6 at one time requiring 13 patches - cursed Spaniard Grass) but suffered no major mechanicals. The bodies remained intact although Guy went for the big smash around Mavora Lakes which slowed him down for a few days.
29 days after leaving D'Urville Island, we arrived at the old school house at Port Craig. Hugs and handshakes all round then we celebrated with avocado and tomato sandwiches for breakfast. For the train spotters out there we stashed 1768km under our Mambas and climbed 33,665m (almost 4 times the height of Mt Everest). 12% of the distance was heavenly single track; less than 5 % was spent on tarseal and carrying - the balance was 4WD and the occasional shingle road.
Surprisingly, Christchurch seems so much smaller after a month away but my appetite remains as keen as ever. Avocados. I love 'em. More than that...
The Nitty Gritty> Follow the Mountain Bikers' Code. Respect Others; Respect the Track; and Respect the Rules.