Timber Trail Day 1 – Camp Epic

The Timber Trail started today, I had been really nervous about this as I’m not really mountain biker. The whole day was riding in drizzle and cold, energy was hard to come by and the track was wet. At least to the half way point the track hasn’t been too hard, if you’re comfortable with the bike bouncing around anyway. The forest is stunning, old growth rainforest, plenty of birds calling. Some very cute qual families running around. Someone saw three piglets, I saw a big one near the camp, not my preferred animal to bump into! A nice surprise about half way along, someone had put a bathtub showing the 1000km point, very cool, only about 2000 to go.

The 80km of paths along the Waikato River trail was much harder, lots of steep switch backs with steep drops and 15% gradient hills, if you plan on doing the Timber trail, skip the river. Absolutely do the Timber Trail though, it has a reputation as some of the best mountain biking in New Zealand. I don’t have a lot of mountain biking experience but it is easily the nicest I have done anywhere.

Unfortunately I don’t have many photos of this section, I was pretty busy hanging on and it had followed the previous few days and had rained, a LOT. I will add some GoPro footage when I edit it. Once I reached Camp Epic I was ready to set up my tent, they allow a few private tents long with the glamping. One of my co-riders, a very good negotiator, managed to convince them that it was the evening, no one else was coming, the tent was going to waste so how about a discount. It worked, that that night a luxurious huge African safari tent, a comfy bed and somewhere to dry out my gear was home.

I should mention Camp Epic, it is really well set up. The big tents that are expensive, but no outrageous, hot showers, and a terrific kitchen. They even provide serials, milk, bread, eggs and cooking things in the kitchen. Plenty of people do a trip where they carry your food to the camp, you just ride, then cook. with a glass of wine. Like most of the caravan parks, the kitchen was a centre of social activities and people are really friendly. It makes a really nice evening.

Timber Trail Day 2 Ōwhango

Glorious riding, lots of flowy single and double track, not too steep but little hills to keep it interesting, platforms over wet lands and swing bridges – just great.

To make the next stage easier I went a little further down the road to Ōwhango to camp outside the pub which doubled as a canoe/tramping hub. The owner had left for night at 4PM leaving everyone who was staying. I decided to camp on the floor of the lounge to make tomorrow quicker, this was a bad decision!

Ends up the owner had double booked most of the rooms, people kept arriving and asking where their room was and where should they sleep. Since I was the only person there I wore their angst! The hotel was also next to what ended up being a major trucking route up a hill, the floor shook every 30 minutes. Sleep was not great that night…

On the plus side, their was a fantastic cafe in town for breakfast – and the two coffees I needed to wake up!


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