In New Zealand the Arthritis Society runs an event called ‘The Longest DayRide’, which is where your ride your bike from Sun up to Sunset on the longest day of the year, Dec 21st. Basically you make a plan and then ride all day. Very simple. Some people do all day road rides, while other do a mixture of mountain biking/road riding and bar hoping. As soon as I heard about this event I knew it was for me. I asked a mate if he was keen and he jumped at the opportunity, so we went ahead and made an itinerary.
Not only was it the longest day, but it was supposed to be the last day of the world according to the Mayan colanders. What a great way to go out of this world – on your bike.
I got picked up at 5:30am and we headed out to Maraetai, where we would start our day. There was definitely an air of excitement. Your keen to go hard, but you also know that you have a long day ahead of you, so don’t charge every hill. Pace yourself is all I kept telling my self. Maraetai has to be on of my favourite placed to ride in Auckland. Great single track, with jumps, berms, roots.. everything you want in a trail. We rode there for 2 hours.
We then headed to Whitford Forest. It is only 10 mins from Maraetai and best of all there was a portable coffee shop setup, so we got an added caffeine kick before we hit the trails. Ive ridden here before, but found it hard to find tracks. I was hoping that my mate would have an idea of the trail layout, but he didn’t. We had a map and did some bush biking at the start and we eventually find our way around. Our plan was to spend about 1.5 hours there, but it was more like +2 hours as we got lost a couple of times. The trails we did find and ride were great. Worth the work and bush bash!
Two rides down; we had a schedule breakfast brake. A quick coffee and pie at the Brick Café and we were back in the truck heading on to our next ride; The Huna Ranges.
I’ve ridden Huna before and like Whitford, I got lost and didn’t overly enjoyed it as I did a lot of gravel road riding as I couldn’t find the trail heads. My mate had a good idea of the trails and had a map, which really helped! We did the Farm Track. It’s not a technical track, but it sure is a lot of fun. It goes through all this amazing native bush and you find yourself just in awe of the place. I really enjoyed this ride. I think it would be great to go back and do a night ride there as the trails I tight and the first is really thick, so it would be pretty crazy at night. About ¾ of the way through we stopped at a stream crossing and took a dip. It was just what I needed. The cold water just revigarated me and was what I needed to get on to the next stop in the journey. This ride took roughly 2 hours.
From Huna we had a bit of a drive westward to woodhill. We stopped in Keumu for a pie and caffine kick. Unfortunately we hit traffic on the way over and it took us almost 2 hours, which really made it tough getting back on the bike. You tighten up and you just tire out. We soldiered on, but you could sense the drop in energy levels. Luckily as we were about to ride at woodhill another mate pulled in. It was just what we needed; fresh legs and energy to feed off of. We rode Woodhhill for an hour and then headed off to the WCRC Compound.
At the Compound we had another mate turn up and join the crew. This was some of the fastest tracks of the day! It was a bit of a struggle up to the top, but coming down we all came a live again. Looking at our faces after that first ride down, you could tell we got out second wind or more likely our 20th wind! With the energy levels once again high, we ripped a couple more trails before heading on to our last ride of the day.
The last ride was going to be at Riverhead and it was a beauty. We knew we were in the home stage so we were leaving it all on the trails. There were some painful ups, but the downs paid for it. Here we spent a good 2 hours. Thing were getting a bit loose; corners were getting sloppy and line choices were all over the place, breaks weren’t being used – it was great!
With the sun dropping we made it back to the car before night fall. Here we high fived and had grins from ear to ear. We did it. We rode for over 10 hours in one day. It was now off to the pub for some well deserved beers.
What a great day! This will be an annual ride for me and I’m sure our group will only be getting bigger. I haven’t had a ride like this in ages, and I now cant wait to plan another one. Im thinking maybe doing a huge ride like this once a month… if im lucky enough too!