Aaron headed up to Wairakei, near Taupo, on Thursday to talk to Dr Gill Jolly at the Geological Nuclear Sciences (GNS) office. They are applying for funding to map and model lava flows on Tongariro Volcano, in the centre of the North Island. After two days of talking volcanoes and writing a proposal I caught the bus up to Taupo to join him for a weekend of mountain biking, weather permitting. The weekend started off pretty cold and windy and was threatening rain. Yep winter, or at least autumn/fall has arrived. Saturday we drove up to Rotorua to ride at Whakarewarewa Forest and the sun came out for us. We did get a slight shower after lunch, but under the trees you could barely notice. We rode a couple of different tracks that we hadn’t ridden when we were up there over Christmas. My favourite was Diamondback/Dipper, which is only a grade 2 but was so fast and flowing with lots of nice berms and little jumps and one big gulley that was a little intimidating at first.
Sunday we headed to the local Wairakei Forest mountain bike park. We did the classic Outback loop, and I think that Aaron was regretting having brought his single speed (well except for the kudos that he got from several other bike nerds we met who were keen to give it a try). It was a bit slippery from all the fallen leaves and pine needles and there were times when it was hard to see where the track went through the forest. It was still fun and it is always nice to get out and ride different trails.
We headed home via “F’sh and Chups” at Turangi, and a scenic drive down the Desert Road past Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruhapehu volcanoes. Unfortunately the clouds were slightly obscuring the mountain tops, but there was snow in the gullies on Ruapehu – I’m excited about the upcoming ski season.