Friday, December 08, 2006

Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park

Wellington is a cyclists' paradise with the only exception being its highly variable weather conditions. Despite a week rain and strong winds I was feeling optimistic about doing some riding this week and so I visited the 'On yer bike' bike shop to hire a mountain bike. At the shop I meet Nigel who was one the bike mechanics and an former bike-courier. I asked him about some good rides the region. He told me about Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park, which is a specially designed park with over 70km of single track. Nigel also invited me to join him for a ride after work and without any hesitation I said 'yes'. Makara park is located around 10km west of the Wellington CBD. However its straight hill climb to get to the park and so legs were buggered buy the time I got there. You can however take a bus to the suburb of Karori and hire a bike from another bike shop called Mud Cycles which is right near the park. I'd never ridden such an excellent tracks as most of the riding I've done in Australia has been on 4WD fire-tracks in the Blue Mountains. The riding experience was completely different and I realised how much more concentration is required in proper mountain bike riding. Its quite challenging keeping a rhythm going as you ride along a path that is one foot wide and perched along the edge of the mountain side. I was feeling both wobbly and out of puff just trying to keep up with Nigel. We rode up a track called 'Sally Alley' slowly took us up the mountain. From there we rode the 'Missing Link' trail to Makara Peak which almost killed me. The peak is at an elevation of 412m and it was unlike any hill I’d ever ridden in Sydney. From the peak we took the ‘Trickle Falls’ trail down to Allington Road in Karori West. The 'Trickle Falls' track was rated 'average' which was how I was feeling but thankfully my guide saved me from some of the more advanced tracks such as 'Vertigo' and the 'Leaping Lizard'. The Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park was actually built by a volunteer group of local cyclists over 10 years ago. The Wellington City Council agreed to give them the land to develop the mountain bike park and a volunteer association has taken responsibility for the parks ongoing management. It doesn’t cost a thing to use and its a wonderful place to visit.