Participants: 2 mountain biking beginners & a Scotsman with a semi-broken wrist.
Aim: To mountain bike from Punga Cove to Anikiwa (44km) over two days.
Mission: Successful & awesome!
I hadn’t been on a bike in, well, a while. Unless, of course, you’d count conquering the rugged concrete jungle of Christchurch’s University suburb? Perhaps not. None-the-less, our team was reasonably fit & made up for lack of experience with great bursts of enthusiasm!
DAY 1: An early start (8am!) & the team was headed down to Marlborough Sounds Adventure Co., sleeping bags & cameras in hand. Once paired with our trusty steeds (Specialized Mountain Bikes) we hopped onto the Cougar Line Water Taxi for a beautiful cruise out to Ship Cove & back to Punga where the ascent would begin. On the boat, the passengers marvelled at how beautiful a place we live in – WOW. To make matters even better, the boat was joined by a playful bottle-nosed dolphin & her calf in front of Furneaux Lodge!
After a quick (ginger)beer at Punga Cove, Nicole (German), Josh (Scottish) & I headed up towards the Keneperu Saddle, pushing our bikes & absorbing the sun’s rays (Summer? Are you really here!?). At the top, we roared off down the hills, pushed up some more, ripped down several slopes & finally arrived at Portage Resort Hotel.
You cannot really exaggerate our limited experience on mountain bikes - but, my, after this ride, you can see why people get hooked on it! Every ‘summit’ that was overcome rewarded us with spectacular views of the Sounds in turquoise & as many greens as you can imagine. Every new descent presented new-found courage & enthusiasm (as well as ample amounts of adrenaline.) We also spotted a mischevious weka & a happy bunch of MSAC Guided Walkers. A refreshing beverage at Portage’s Snapper Cafe sorted us for our walk to Cowshed Bay where we swam, ate, & collapsed into a happy, exhausted pile.
Day 2: Up with the sun & a quick dip in the sea, the team was ready for the day. A bit sore from our previous day’s efforts, the climb up from Portage was taken at a steady rate. A soft slope down & then another climb & we were on top of the world! With simultaneous views of the Marlborough Sounds & the Keneperu Sound, we sped down the winding slopes that made up the rest of the 21km from Portage to Anakiwa. The day was a brilliant blue with lots of happy faces along the track & the ride was AWESOME! Shooting down straights & curving back around (sometimes the bike-equivalent of a hand-brake turn!) we finished the track feeling like we had just competed in a big event; we were now members of the fortunate group of people who have completed the Queen Charlotte Track & experienced the joy & exhiliaration of mountain biking on, as the MSAC t-shirts say, ”NZ’s best single track ride!”
For those of you who are experienced Mountain Biker’s, this WILL challenge you & give you a shot of the adrenaline you so dearly crave…. & for those of you who, like us, just want to give it a shot – you will not regret it, in fact, you might just be hooked.