Continuing our Summer of Motoming, we headed to Taupō, hoping for great riding and scenery. After working solidly with deadlines and zooms on Friday, our haste to get away saw us leave an important piece of equipment behind – my pedals. Fortunately these are an add-on, so it was an interesting experiment to do without, albeit with potential to lack legitimacy as a cyclist.
Conflicting advice made it difficult to know if the Great Lakes Trail would be doable or not for the Motom. As a Grade 3 trail, it is a trickier trail than others we have motomed, so, along with friends, Susan and Darryl, we chose the Huka Falls to Aratiatia Dam loop, grade 1-2 with some areas of grade 3 first.
The ride started with the beautiful green and white churning waters of Huka Falls, with remarkably high water levels following considerable rain over the last fortnight.
The ride continued in forests and clearings alongside the Waikato river to the Aratiatia Dam. The path was generally wide enough for the Motom with a tricky steep corner that I struggled with. Possibly my thumb slipped off the throttle part way up and I slid backwards down the track before I got the brake working. My hands are weakened by the MND and having my thumb constantly on the throttle (without the pedals) was hard. So Matt took it up the steep section for me then came back to give me a hand up the path, before finally returning for his bike.
Other obstacles on the track included a small plank bridge that was too narrow for the Motom, several barriers that the Motom was lifted over, a washed out section requiring a little lift up, a section that had fallen away a little with a drop off, that I elected to walk across, and some areas that were very overgrown including with blackberry slowing progress because the plants pull at the Motom’s wheels, sometimes hide a hole, rock or branch that can jolt me and change direction of the Motom. Two helpful staff members at the bike place at the Hub thought the trail would be motomable, but asked us to report back, which we did diligently. I hope it will result in some improvements, as it was a nice trail for a mountainbike but very slow going for me, averaging only 7 km/hour (including stopping for photos).
I was surprised when my blood glucose declined despite the motor doing all the work, and not even pedalling. I saw this before with the A2O trail Kurow to Duntroon when a rougher track took a lot of concentration and effort, resulting in a mild hypo. This was not a hypo but an interesting effect on my blood glucose, as a person with diabetes.
Along with the gorgeous Huka Falls, we enjoyed the bird song on the East side of the river, the dragonflies and butterflies on the West side, the beautiful Waikato river, and crossing and riding alongside a geothermal stream flowing over a vibrant yellow bed, with water that was nearly too hot to touch.
After a delicious lunch at the Hub Cafe (Keto Eggplant with Ricotta for me), Susan and I rode back to our nearby accommodation while Matt and Darryl enjoyed a blast around the Craters Mountain Bike Park, both managing to fall off as they pushed the boundaries. We rewarded ourselves with dinner at Malabar, a Nepalese and Indian restaurant with delicious flavours in the meals and excellent service.
28 km of riding. A flat tyre for me from riding over a lot of blackberry. Total ridden since 6 January: 614 km. I learnt that the pedals work better for me than using the throttle constantly and I look forward to having them back on again. Although we were pleased to have done this ride, after the slowness and challenges with this trail maybe we will concentrate on the grade 1-2 trails more for the most enjoyable riding (especially where they have no barriers), although I am reluctant not to sample the greatest variety I can.