Holy Mofo catman, this 29er epidemic is spreading faster than bad T Shirts in Rome! Yes, another Big Wheeled mission coming direct following on from the Wacky Welly XC fest. This time, much further north on the shore of Lake Taupo. #Dirtytraveltip – Try not to drive through the Desert road at night when its snowing, its not only mildly disorientating, but rather marginal at times.
That said, it did drop me in a prime location to unleash my inner XC nerd again like a mob of spider monkeys that have been laced with a stiff cocktail of viagra and voltarin. My target for today was heaven for people who like to race for 1.5 hours: The W2K trail, Whakaipo to Kinloch:
Just to confuse the fuck out of the whole set up, I parked up in Kinloch to ride to Whakaipo return, so not sure if I have actually completed the K2W trail? Nevertheless, it all kicks off in Kinloch, which is Scottish for ‘Uptight’, but a nice wee spot on the shores of Lake Taupo and easy to find even without Google maps. Best of all, the trail map looks exactly like it does on the internet! Bonus:
What you’ll discern from reading the map wall is that there is a shit load of trail here that has painstakingly been crafted by hand and mucho mucho volunteer hours by people who love big wheels and short travel. To be fair, awesome effort has gone into not only the trail work, but also the signage and overall set up. Ok, its not a fucking post about maps, it was time to
shred ride some cross country trail… First, a gratuitous lake photo to kick off:
The first problem you’ll strike riding W2K from the Kinloch side, apart from the initial climb out of town, is the urge to stop every 2 mins to take photos. This means you not only fuck your Strava segment times (assuming you’re into that sort of thing), but you end up with 184 photos of Lake Taupo that all suspiciously look the same:
Yes – Its time for a Dirty Disclaimer: If your crew are shredders and you bring them here, best case scenario they punch you in the face. Worst case you get tea bagged. Yes, this is about as Grade 3 XC trail as you can possibly get. Its the sort of stuff that makes up Welsh Assassin wet dreams, the kind where he has to explain himself to Mrs Assassin in the morning that it was “Sweet Single track, I promise its wasn’t Catherine ZJ this time“. Allow me to elaborate:
And… Some more:
The most fun you could have here would be to bring along the V2, Welsh Assassin and Snozza, close the trail and RACE them against each other in some sort of filthy Strava segment orgy. These trails would have them KOMing everywhere… It really is XC heaven.
However, its odd terrain… 75% of it is super grippy pumice based soil, basically hero dirt. But not so fast, every 200m or so, there are these dark patches which are essentially like hitting ice and/or oil slicks. No shit and I found out the hard way too… 8 days riding in Whistler and I didn’t hit the deck once, 3km’s in here and my Hans Dampf disappeared from underneath me without a shred of notice and dumped me on the deck, I tried to act all cool about it, but it was a precursor to a morning of some massively leery moments on the big wheels:
Like I was saying, its a fast and flowing trail, for the most part. I did notice a lot of flat low speed corners, which felt more than a bit awkward on the Scalpel. I’m not sure if this is me or the bike, or perhaps the conditions. Riding here in summer would be nice in the bone dry, but then I suspect you’d have to contend with more traffic – To be noted that this is a two way trail, so at any moment as you carve around that blind corner there could be a Aluminium Avanti 29er donkey plowing its way up in your path. Its also impossible to get lost, even for me:
Another recommendation – Throw in the Headland loop, which adds about 10km to the ride, well worth doing even if the non stop twists and turns do start to morph into one for you. Still, the trail scenery does mix up the more you worth through the trail towards Whakaipo:
After close to a couple of hours, I found myself popping out of a bowl of Kiwifruit in Whakaipo Bay. This is what it looks like when you bust out of the end of the trail and miss the right hand turn to the actual end of the trail. Wrong:
It turned out to be the perfect spot to stop and fuck about looking for a stick to try and take an elaborate “Look, my bike is in the scenery!” photo. I can neither confirm nor deny if it blew over shortly after this, not so good for the Enve bar:
If you like big grass areas, then by all means keep going the wrong way out of the trail head, you’ll be able to totally satisfy that grass fetish. Still wrong:
If you eventually back track, you’ll end up here… Right where the signs pointed to, which leads you to the official end of the trail. Handy:
You’ll be stunned to know, the return trip looks alarmingly like the outward leg… The sign says 2 hours to get back to Kinloch, which I managed to cut out in about 1 hour 15 mins, so don’t be put off. No, its not because I’m awesomely fit at the moment or am an XC Sadist, its more the fact its not that tricky. I expect a Welsh Assassin/V2 Rocket/Segment Bear would piss all over this in an hour or less.
I had been hanging out for the final downhill back to the trail head, thinking it would be relatively rad as I climbed up it on the way out. Alas, it wasn’t so awesome overall as I would have expected. Lots of slow, tight and flat corners that didn’t have a lot of flow to them – Combined with a 29er that really just wants to race XC courses had me scratching my head a little bit. Still some good action to be had:
The trail builders have put some serious effort into this set up, so I’m not about to detract from their efforts. Its perhaps not a trail to do after being in Whistler for a week… But if you want a decent work out and a day on the bike, then its worth a nudge for sure and a good one to tick off. What it will do most likely is remind you how much you love riding a bike… The scenery, the overall journey and just being on a rolling trail a powerful trio. The end of the trail is pretty cool as well:
The best part about Kinloch is totally the General Store… Stuff my fucking face, it has awesome burgers and pretty much every junk food element covered. Its a post ride MUST to get here and smash one of their burgers, fucking gold:
So – W2k in the experience bank, some #Dirtytips if you’re wanting to check it out:
- Kinloch is a good start point – Lots of surveillance cameras in town, so no cunt will rip you off whilst out riding
- I did the W2K trail and added the headland loop, about 38kms in total and took me a shade under 3 hours. I wasn’t smashing it, but conditions also probably not as fast as usual. Take food, no shop at Whakaipo Bay that I could find
- If you want a big day, park in Kinloch, do W2K return, smash a massive refuel at the General Store and then head out to do K2K on the other side of the bay – It would be a BIG day, but doable
- Its 29erville here, so grab the most XC porn orientated machine you have and embrace the workout
- Care does need to be taken on the downhills, a few blind corners and its two way, so it messes with your mojo a bit
- Don’t ride here just after Whistler – It doesn’t do a whole lot for your PWD.
Righto then, the 29er tour of winter weirdness rolls on – Next stop: Auckland and Woodhill Forest!