Local legends Aaron Clark and Grant Beatty tackled the Heaphy Track in one day recently. Aaron is a successful Rangiora real estate agent at Property Brokers and a good guy. Grant is better known as Camp Dad and organizes wicked mountain bike trips away
Here is their story:
The 78km Heaphy has been spoken of in awe by mountain bikers for many years. Along with the Queen Charlotte Track and the Old Ghost Road it is one of the trinity of epic singletracks of the upper South Island. Tales of amazing huts, ever changing landscapes and brake burning grin inducing descents were told and remembered.
It is always a challenging ride, when Camp Dad put the call out that this year’s Heaphy mission would be to ride it in one day, the mind calculated the fitness levels stored in the legs and decided to do it anyway. Camp Dad is the master of mountain bike logistics, and had plied his lovely wife with enough gin to get her to agree to be our driver - which involved the driving of the van and trailer 400km from the start of the track to meet us with the beer several hours later at Kohaihai at the other end.
Day one involved us collecting the crew into the van and piling bikes on to the trailer so we could make our way to Collingwood where we would stop for the night. An excellent night was enjoyed with the convivial locals at the Collingwood Tavern (great meals!) across the road from the tidy and comfortable Pioneer Motels.
For Day 2 we were up before dawn to get our gear on and head to the start of The Track. Lights were on for the first few kms as we warmed the legs up on flat ground to Brown Hut. Up we went as the track ascended to 890m above sea level through beautiful bush on well graded track at an average of 5% to Perry Saddle Hut. From here the riding was mostly flat or downhill and the bush and scrub at this altitude was amazing to ride through with constant great views on offer.
We were constantly grazing on food to keep the energy levels up, and at James Mackay Hut lunch was had while the views to the sea and the West Coast were absorbed. The most fun part was about to start! The descent from James Mackay Hut to Lewis Hut is an experienced riders dream. Switchbacks, rocks, views, wooden water bars that you can pop off all vie for your attention. When you’re in a group the smell of disc pads getting hot remind you how fast you’re dropping. Look out for other track users!
At Lewis Hut one of our group had suffered a failure of his Reverb dropper post, so a length of wood, some duct tape and cable ties got him back up to pedalling height again.
On a back-country ride like this, always take spares! I carried a sleeping bag, spare clothes and extra food in case of an unexpected overnight stay - and tubes, brake pads, dynaplugs, chain links, chain lube, tools, survival blankets and first aid gear. Help is a long way away! From Lewis Hut the ride is flat and follows the coastline to the Heaphy Hut in classic West Coast seaside bush. There are a few swingbridges in this section to enjoy.
Past the Heaphy Hut you’re riding very close to the beach, and while there are a few sandy sections to tramp through the legs are thankful for the lack of climbs as you tick over the last few kms to Kohaihai.
Luckily for us, Camp Mum was waiting for us at Kohaihai, and we clambered off our trusty steeds to enjoy a well earned Supercharger APA and relive some of the day – all of us in very high spirits. To cap off a satisfying day we enjoyed the hospitality of The Last Resort in Karamea. Great accommodation, fantastic bar, hearty meals and the All Blacks beating the Wallabies on the telly. Beauty.
Thanks camp mum for doing the driving! Without you this trip would have a lot harder.