Zen On Dirt

Rocky trails, steep passes, and into Nelson


Three things I’ve learned about New Zealand:

1) November is the sixth rainiest month in Nelson (where we are now).
2) The trails here are steep. Just like everyone said they were.
3) Riding without a rear brake is fairly to mostly terrifying.

The hut stayed amazingly warm overnight. Whenever Kurt rolled over in the bunk below me, it shook my world above. I’m sure that whenever I rolled over, it shook his world too. There were mentions of everyone snoring. We should probably stick to our tents in the future, though waking up to a dry space was absolutely amazing.

None of our clothes dried over night. Bummer.


We pushed out bikes back up to the trail from the hut, always good to start a day with a hike a bike, and proceeded towards the road. Amazingly, most of it was contouring, and there were very few parts that I couldn’t ride without my rear brake. Things were looking up.

Some hiking, some mud, some creek crossings, we emerged from the Wakamarina Track. Ooof, that was rough.


The rain was holding off and we made short work of the gravel road down to the highly, and with the promise of a cafe and coffee five miles down the road, we put Kait on the front of our little peloton and hammered down the highway, reaching coffee, cakes, and scones just as it started to rain. Our timing has been pretty good in that regard.

So good, in fact, that it wasn’t even raining when we left. And it stayed not raining for almost 20 minutes!


The remaining time that we spent on our 2,500 foot climb was spent in the rain, and I really don’t want to talk about it. Clouds swirled in all directions, wind blew, rain fell. I may have had a moment of frustration where I decided that pushing my bike was better than riding it. It was that steep.

At the top, I put rain pants on for the first time since…maybe Colorado Trail Race in 2010? This rain!!

I’m proud to say I negotiated a 2,400 foot descent, with a fair bit of steepness and rocks, with no rear brake and didn’t die. I only had to walk one section, which I was pretty impressed with. Donkey did good! And all of my years of riding bikes with sub awesome brakes finally paid off. I’m excited to get the brake fixed tomorrow tho…

We’re staying at a campground a few miles outside of Nelson, which was half the price of anything in town. We’ve sat in the common kitchen area sharing a gig of Internet data that we bought, watching the news coverage of everything America, and eating meat pies. Watching it rain.

I think we’re all fairly worked over. So tomorrow is a town day, where we’ll watch it rain from the comforts of the library.


2 thoughts on “Rocky trails, steep passes, and into Nelson

  1. Are you safe?!? I just heard about the earthquake and I see that you are near the worst of it. We are headed to New Zealand this week and I have been following the news all morning. I wish you well. Thanks for the posts. I love following your adventures. cheers!

    • We are up in Nelson and safe and sound. The quake definitely woke us up and the aftershocks kept us awake for a while, but it seems to have died down as the morning has gone on. It seems like the east coast has gotten the worst of it.

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