A big round of Dutch cheese was moving up the South Island as the C19 elevator dropped down to level two. Ditte and I popped back into travel mode with a mighty sigh of relief and exuberance for freedom. First stop the Heaphy.
Dave Mitchell was amongst the small clan of kiwis who embraced the then embryonic pursuit of mountain biking back in the eighties. The fashion was appalling - a mash of tramping kit, sagging lycra and sometimes even gaiters over leather walking boots. Shocks, clipless pedals, disk brakes and dropper posts were yet to be imagined.
In the last of their pre-covid-19 adventures, Dave Mitchell and Ditte van der Meulen revisit the hilly finger of land separating Lake Hawea from Wanaka - scoring the obligatory fisheye panoramas from the windswept tops.
The day started like any other. The sun came up in the east and slowly but surely persuaded the clouds to exit stage left. Our high country grand loop began at Moke Lake on the Ben Lomond Station Farm Road near Queenstown.
Back in the late eighties, mountain bikers use to ride big bloody heavy steel bone shaking and crushing mounts (and lived in shoe boxes in gutter), suspension was courtesy of Fisher Fattrax tyres and the rider's arms and legs, but boy did we enjoy the wild Skippers Pack Track.
Dave Mitchell vaguely recalls St Arnaud hosting a few National Series races back in the dark ages, but since then - and mostly under the radar - a network of superb trails has magically sprung up. The new tracks are mostly in the Teetotal area, with some long adventure loops just out of town around Beebys Knob and the Russian Red Hills.
Dave Mitchell concludes his and Ditte’s extended exploration of the Italian Alps with a history lesson and up-lift indulgence using their non-consecutive three day passes, providing access to Pila Bikeland, Cervino and La Thuile.
The bustling city of Aosta sits in the valley of the same name and is surrounded by monster mountains with quaint villages and farmhouses perched on their rocky slopes. Ditte and I have had a couple of previous sessions exploring the valley’s magnificent trails and so were pretty excited to return last year for an encore.
Beyond St Moritz where all the beautiful people hang out and the bike shops are full of carbon and titanium shiny stuff, a lonely mountain pass (Julierpass) leads to the train-less settlement of Bivio.