Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Mangakino to Mangapurua Landing (Whanganui River), Day 4

I had decided to give myself a bit more sleep in Mangakino so I set my alarm for 5am which was about 6 hours of potential sleep, I must of needed more as I never heard my alarm and woke up at 5.45am. I had bought 4 pieces of bread from the kitchen the night before and I now had the chance to use some of the Army ration pack, Jam and I also had small single serve Nutella so breakfast was not too bad all washed down with a Nescafe cappuccino sachet. I finally got out on to the bike, I am not sure what the time was exactly but it was still dark and I had to ride the 5km again back to where I left the route. Off the main road and onto quiet back country roads, after about 20kms I crossed a small swing bridge and onto an old 4wd track, this led onto some forestry roads and soon enough I was at the short track into the centre of the North Island.

Back out onto the Forestry roads for a while and just before entering the Timber trail I caught up to Brett Whiteley someone that I knew also doing the TA, a quick chat and I headed of on my merry way, maybe to merry on this downhill section as I flew past the entrance to the Timber Trail.
One of the many incredible suspension bridges on the Timber Trail
The Timber Trail was pretty well-groomed but I decided to let my tires down for the first time, the Tiber Trail was  80km long and I needed my bottom to last another couple of thousand kilometres yet. It was nice non technical ride really and generally climbed to the half way point and I was looking forward to the downhil. I was truly amazed at how much work had gone into the trail and it's suspension bridges good on you John Key for supporting the New Zealand Cycle Trail Network.

Just about at the end of the tail I passed a couple of recreational cyclist only to be passed again when I stopped out on the sealed road to  make a phone call to book the Jet boat down the Whanganui River at 7.30am the next morning. I rode into Taumarunui and I was looking forward to a Subway for lunch but it appeared there was none so it was back to the supermarket for lunch and supplies. I got my shopping done and was sitting outside eating lunch and in rolled a few more riders. Lunch was bread rolls with hot lasagne toppers (they were on special) stuffed inside and a couple of tomatoes. Along came two more riders and I asked if anyone wanted a block of chocolate as it was $3.50 for one or two for $5, I had a taker so in we went and I got my block of chocolate. The funny thing is that this story travelled through the TA and came back to me from my friend Steve. Hemet this rider somewhere down in the south island, Steve knows me well and when he heard about the two for $5 deal and a rider that did not want to pay $3.50 for one he instantly knew it was me (I am known for being ta bit tight fisted). From here it was out to the Bridge to Nowhere Trail which I had heard lots about from my good friend Marcel Hagener who had done the ride several times. It took quite a while to get out to the start of the Bridge to Nowhere Trail, it was about 70km from Taumarunui, and it generally climbed for the first 30km up to a height 500m then it was sort of downhill  until the start of the trail at the Blue Duck CafĂ©. No time for a coffee here as it was now late in the afternoon and I wanted to get in as much day light riding as possible. It had rained lightly a couple of times and the clay based 4wd track at the start was terrible, it was pretty hard to stay on the bike and keep traction to the rear wheel, this went on for a while and I wondered when it might change. Eventually it turned into a much nicer single track but the riding was still quite difficult. It was getting darker and darker and I finally turned on my lights, I was still trying to ride but I had to tell myself to be careful as the TA could easily finish here with a silly mistake. So I walked most parts of the track that got a bit more technical as it appeared there was quite a drop off to my left. I met the Macpac girls where the tack opened up again and it was now into a solid climb on very rideable train. My chain had been making not very nice noises up to here so I tried cleaning it, the best I could, it helped a bit but I had to clean it several times to get it back to normal. I got to the top but not without a few strange happenings where I would swear I heard voices just up ahead of name but I never came across anyone. I made it to the top and the downhill was a blast with my 1000 lumen dyno powered K-lite, and my 400 lumen Macro Duo Lezyne helmet light. Once the track started to flatten out it was about 10km to the landing, along the way there were several places with signs saying that cyclist must dismount, I did this for the first one but it was hardly worth it especially considering some of the riding towards the start where I considered the risk to be much greater. There were many more of these signs but I stayed on the bike for most of them. Battleship bluff just a few kilometres before the Bridge was pretty stunning even in the dark, ext was the Bridge to Nowhere, I took my photo (not a very good one as it was now 10pm)

It definitely seemed like nowhere at 10pm
I made it down to the landing which was a bit of a mistake as there is not much of a landing and not many places to pitch a tent. I managed to find a small spot between the board walk track and a bit of a cliff; bit of a dodgy spot but it had to do. That was another big days riding considering a lot of it was of road, 265km and about 17 hours in the saddle. The Bridge to nowhere track is something I would like to do again in daylight and ideally dry conditions, the single track that I didn't really get to ride towards the start seemed like it would be some great riding and I would like to truly appreciate the great scenery. I really hope I get that chance some day.


  1. Yea mate, the bridge to nowhere track was the highlight of the NI for me. Maybe you could have taken the tour slower and ridden in the day to enjoy the best bits. Just saying!

  2. Agreed, But I guess I was always treating the TA as a bit of a race. I have a long life ahead of me yet and I am sure I will get to ride it again. Cheers.

  3. Brilliant ! You can never call me a "tight fisted" bastard again! The morning running boys so impressed by your ride like the wind attitude. Cheers!

  4. Jacob,
    Can't believe you did the bridge to no where in the dark. My brother and I were only a few days ahead of you and enjoyed the trail with enough time to stop and smell the roses. You must go back. It is all rideable.