DAY SIX: Helibiking in the Kimanawas.
Wow, nothing like breakfast just three metres from the lake edge on Mikes front lawn. While I was serving fresh coffee to my newest friends in their rooms, Richard was at the bakery arming himself with pastries. So we put a few tables together and greeted the common folk walking, jogging and riding past as they made comment on our luxurious lifestyles of the rich (Americans) and famous (therodfather of course!). I was about to hand out copies of Spoke Magazine until I realised Patty had stolen them for a dodgy photoshoot in her room.
I could have sat there forever, the lake was calm, spirits were high and it was perfect flying weather. There was much excitement as this was the first eggbeater ride for some and definitely the first helibike for the team. “Just another day at work for therodfather” I explained as I attempted to razz them up and instill just a tad of fear to make the experience all the more worthwhile.
Back in the Ninja convoy for the 30 minute drive to Helisika where we were greeted by a bunch of youngish Top Gun type helicopter pilots and tried to listen to a brief safety meeting, load up the bike racks and head up, up and away for the 15 minute flight to the peak of a very tall mountain I still don't know the name of.
After a few load considerations our pilot thought it best to use the same whirlybird with attached bike racks, so half of us got suckered into waiting for the A-team to get dropped and then we got our turn and dropped onto the summit to join them and the start of an epic descent through alpine grass and daisies with Mount Ruapehu standing over our left shoulders.
Like most good heli descents, there is always a suckerpunch or two in the form of what should be a gentle climb but in reality is a thigh destroying, lung burning hell hole due to the altitude and frayed muscle fibres from way too much adrenaline. But honestly the two climbs were nothing and we took our time to navigate the narrow tussock single track. The trail should have been an easy grade 3, but recent heavy rain had turned it into a river bed and there were many deep holes and ruts. Also the profile of the trail should have looked like the letter U but in many places was more like a V so we all struggled to hold a straight line and suffered multiple dismounts and in places we had to abondone the trail completely but not before I exited a corner at speed and had no time before a four foot hole swallowed my front wheel and I did my best Clark Kent impersonation.
It was a pretty exhausting time but the thrill of the adventure meant everyone was pumped, the super steep fall line trail to the lower meadows and the waiting helicopter was such a rush.
The team were pretty knackered by this time so only Jeff, Mike and I reloaded and flew back up to the top of the first saddle for a “race” back down. It was dry and dusty and I tried real hard to take the boys out in a rad passing manoeuvre but they were both on form and after a few diversions into the manukas I settled back and heckled the boys to keep them on their toes and we sprinted out onto the flats whooping with the thrill of a fast descent with no major mishaps.
A quick splash in the river and a third heli ride back to base while the cameras came out along with the gibberish banter that follows high risk adventure.
Back at the condo, we (me) decided that the lake experience was too good to pass up so another take out Indian meal with a few fine ales on Mikes front lawn sealed another best day ever.
Tomorrow: W2K trail, Lake Taupo.