I seem to be starting a bit of a tradition by taking in some excellent mountain biking on my holidays after Velo-city conferences. Perhaps it is all that earnest urban energy, a country boy needs his escape to the green stuff.
I hired a bike from Hanmer Adventure which was an extremely efficient process, a few minutes to get going and I was on a good quality Scott bike with helmet, trail map and local advice.
About a kilometre out of the town I was at the entry point to Hanmer Forest and a proper cycling playground.
For years I was a sceptic about so called “trail centres” for mountain biking because I was afraid they were just full of terrifying descents and jumps aimed at hardcore riders in body armour. I am strictly a “wheels-on-the-ground” sort of rider, I have the scars to remind me of the last occasion I forgot my limits. I was converted by some great sites in the UK that showed me that some of the best have routes for people of all levels including those like me who love to combine scenery, some energetic off road climbing and the sort of descents that make me go “wheee” rather “aaaagh”. So I haven’t given up the joy of just riding on forest roads or high paths, but I do like it when someone shows me some fun riding in their back yard.
Hanmer Springs delivered just about the perfect ride for me, I had two hours of “wheee”, “wow” and a bit of “wheeze” on a network with names like Swamp, Swerve, Dog Stream, Fir Trail, Mach 1 and Detox without repeating almost any of it.
Trails enticed me on into the forest, riverside and hills.
Sinuous bends allowed me to swoop and swerve.
The climbs were steep and sometimes technical but not beyond me.
At the top of each climb there were always the mountains and hills providing outstanding views on this clearest of days.
And when I got bold enough to step up to the Advanced “Detox” trail I found that the mountain bike club must have known I was coming. A great touch.
When I got back to the town I returned the bike and enjoyed that I could sit outside with coffee and cake in the sunshine. It’s not often I have been able to do that in northern Europe in December, the equivalent season to our late June visit. It may have been a touch chilly, but it had been a beautiful day for riding.
As ever I have to credit the volunteers who work with local landowners to create and manage mountain bike centres like this all over the world. The Hanmer Springs Mountain Bike Club are doing a great job and have created a wonderful network for all sorts of riders.