Ohakune Weekend Stage 1
Ohakune Weekend Stage 1
So the Ohakune weekend Stage 1 was upon us. We’d all managed to navigate our way safely to Ohakune, albeit some where pretty late. We were to get up at 4:30am to be on the road for 5. For those that arrived late on Friday night, that was a shock.
The alarm went off. The usual quietness instilled. No one really talks much at that time in the morning, much less when they are preparing for a very long ride. The usual was had for breakfast. Everyone got dressed silently. Packed their bags, silently. And then proceeded to file outside, yep, silently.
It wasn’t until we were all on the road that the chatter started. Nervous chatter. Chatter about doing 330km. We’d all discussed about carrying less equipment, and share the load. But in the silence no one broached the subject, so we all ended up carrying 2 tubes, gas, levers and tools. The only positive from all of carrying tubes is that we obviously scared the puncture demons away. We had just one puncture the whole day, and that happened early on.
It all started out so well. A little tail wind, not too cold, and this time we had a group of seven riders. Then we hit the desert road. From here until just after the central plateau it all turned to shit. It started to rain. The wind was now wrapping around the mountain and offering us a headwind. The road surface is unkind to cyclists, even more so with roadworks. Although the shoulder is wide in places, it’s non-existent in others. When dealing with trucks it makes it especially scary.
As soon as we reached the summit of the desert road, we cruised down to Tuarangi. A gentle roll at 40kph for 30 km. The feeling of reaching the highest point of the ride can’t be over exaggerated. It was here that the rain finally stopped for a while. We were frozen. Guy too cold to change gears with his fingers. He’d decided to brave the cold in just a jersey. Mad, simply mad, I tell you. The rest of us at least had a jacket.
We arrived in Tuarangi. Headed straight for the nearest café. Breakfast and multiple coffees, all of which were pretty top notch. Trying to eat whilst shivering was proving a problem. Guy looked hypothermic. That warmed me up, knowing I wasn’t the coldest in our group. We had to make a decision. Would we be able to make 330km, or should we be sensible and cut it short! The answer was proving difficult to find. I made the executive decision that we should just abandon our dreams of reaching 330. Let’s just cut it short and let sanity prevail. As soon as it was suggested that we would cut it short everyone agreed in haste.
Tuarangi and onwards
We finally left the café, and rode off towards Te Pihanga Saddle Road, state highway 47. It’s a 6km climb at 7%. We last tackled this climb at 240km. This time we are tackling it at 93km. That made one hell of a difference. My legs felt fresh, although my heart rate didn’t suggest that. The rain made an appearance once again. It wasn’t welcome. I continued up the hill as to not slow the group down. They visited the scenic lookout. This bought me enough time to make it to the top and down the other side before they rejoined. A crafty move it could be said, especially for the Strava data. That didn’t matter though.
We regrouped and made our way to National Park. A café and food beckoned. We could smell coffee. And with a good tailwind now playing its part, we knocked off the next 45km pretty quickly. National Park couldn’t come soon enough. Although we’d eaten only 3 hours previously, too soon for some, we all dived in and fed our souls.
Everyone was a little warmer and happier, now. We were fed and watered. The weather had improved. From National Park all the way to Ohakune we’d be gifted a tail wind. Absolute bliss. We raced along highway 4 towards the Makatote Viaduct railway bridge. We stopped to take some fresh team jersey pics. A great backdrop and well earned rest. The bridge is an absolute stunner. If you’re ever in the area it’s worth stopping and checking out.
The final dash
The final dash for Ohakune was a smashfest. All guns blazing we roared to the finish. A smash for the line as we finished the final stage of the day. Glory was ours. Onto the pub, well, café (again).
A dash to the old railway station for some more GLCC jersey pics, and our journey was nearly over. Although it was cut short, we felt this was the best decision for everyone. A night in the Powderkeg made sure of that. Everyone had a few beers and then it was straight to sleep, ready for the Turoa TT the next day.
The Makatote Viaduct (Bridge 179) takes the North Island Main Trunk railway (NIMT) across the Makatote River. It is 335.7 km from Wellington, at the foot of Ruapehu, in northern Manawatu-Wanganui (central North Island), between National Park and Ohakune.
It was built between 1905 and 1908 for the Public Works Department (PWD), who passed it to New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) in 1909
When built it was tallest, and is now the third tallest, viaduct in New Zealand, the higher ones being the 1981 North Rangitikei 81 metres, further south on the NIMT, and 1937 Mohaka viaduct 95 metres, on the Gisborne line.
Settlement of the town is considered to have commenced in the early 1890s and by March 1908 the railway line had reached Ohakune.The period of railway construction activities was followed quickly by intensive timber milling; as the forest was cleared, cattle and sheep were introduced and farming progressed. Ohakune was constituted a town district in August 1908 and in November 1911 attained borough status.
The meaning of the name Ohakune in the Māori language is “the place of” (Ō) “the careful ones” (hakune).
Known for it’s skiing, it’s also worth checking Ohakune out in the Summer. The roads south are great for road cycling. There’s also plenty of mountain biking to be had. It’s Home of the Ohakune Old Coach Road and the starting point for the Mountains to Sea cycle trail.
There’s plenty of great accommodation in Ohakune, but I’d recommend staying close to the town centre. It has a great heart, and the locals are friendly.