At the Northern end of Clyde we turned off by the dam, rode over the lovely little bridge before taking to the gravel to scare the bunnies off the road.
Hawksburn Road was pretty good gravel which once again led us up into the hill country. The dark skies even sprinkled us with the odd little spit of rain but it wasn't even enough to keep the dust down - perhaps just enough to allow the dust to stick to your visor...
Once again it was a little rougher up top with the usual rocks and ruts to pick your way through as we dropped down to Bannockburn Road before rejoining the Nevis again. This of course meant more climbing, rocks and ruts.
If you zoom into the map you'll notice that we even head off into the unknown with no road names showing until we hit Carricktown Walking Track. The "walking track" was a little rougher in places but the views out over towards Cromwell were worth the effort. Everyone should start the day with a ride through magnificent countryside!
Eventually we hit seal near Bannockburn and took this into Cromwell for an early refuel.
Next up was a decent numbing stretch of seal before we turned off onto Thompson Gorge Road. Dusty gravel and plenty of gates took us more and more into the middle of nowhere and the track got a bit more worn with just the odd water crossing for fun. In fact, there was a very short section where the creek was the road...
Eventually the road straightened out to mostly fast gravel and seal into Omakau. There a lot of the riders stopped for refreshments while Colin and I carried on into the Ida Valley.
I've been through the Ida Valley quite a few times on both the Connie and Tenere and I can honestly say that riding it on the WR was a different kettle of fish...
Smith Road was a gravel short-cut to get us over to the Ranfurly-Naseby Road. It was fairly uneventful except for a minor chewing gum incident...
|No, not running repairs...|
From Naseby we were forced to ride Danseys Pass - oh, bother...I think we were both feeling a bit jaded by now and I know that I really wasn't in the zone on what is normally a ride highlight.
|Still waving so can't be that bad...|
A few more gravel roads kept us off the main road for a while before the slow drone into Kurow for fuel and a much needed coffee and buttered scone.
At the gas station we had a chat to Rowan about the afternoon run and he suggested skipping one section (not just the challenge section which we had already struck off our list) to avoid a fairly reasonable river crossing. We got this a little wrong and ended up finishing our ride with a blast across the Hakataramea and Mackensie again - no wonder we were finished early!
|That familiar sign|
We did however remember (well, the zumo may have helped a little) the gravel roads back to Fairlie and were pleased to see that the big tree had been magically removed.
So there we have it, my first Dusty Butt done and dusted. Ok, so we didn't get to complete all of day 1 or 3 but I had an absolute ball, really enjoyed the new challenge of riding decent distances off-road and the truly wonderful places we got ride and see. Another bucket list item I reckon!
It was really cool to be with a loose group of like-minded nutters and our support crew were outstanding at looking after hot, dusty and knackered riders!
As for the WR? Well, talk about the little engine that could. Both the bikes took a right hammering, were dropped with no damage the odd time and required no more maintenance than the tightening of my mirrors (Colin has sexy double-take jobbies) and a splash of chain oil. Mine also has a weeping fork seal but that happened on the back of the ute on the way down...
The only things that might stop me from having another bash it would be work and the timing of the TT2000 (close together and normally the TT is in the South Island every year - this year being the exception). Perhaps if Lotto came to the party these wee obstacles could be removed...
Did I mention it was fun?