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Selwyn Bus Trip 1/2
Location – Porters and Craigieburn
Riders – Charlie Murray, David McMillan, Matt Begg, Elmo Cotter, Jacob O’Donoghue-Price
Photos – Henry Jaine
Words by Charlie Murray
Crossing the Rakaia into Selwyn is always a good feeling. This time we had an adventure bus packed to the nines with bikes, camera gear, food, beers and a crew of heavy hitting riders. The plan was to spend a week filming in the backcountry. The weather was on our side as we made the call to navigate the converted school bus through the high country ‘Lyndon Road’. This is a gravel route that winds its way into the heart of Selwyn and the Craigieburn range. As the mountains got bigger so did our itch to ride them. Making it to the sealed comfort of SH73 without any hiccups we were closing in on our first stop, Porters.
After a cosy night in the bus, we woke to the sunrise, poached eggs in the wok and our skillet coated with scrambled potato. Uninterrupted by curtains, we admired the surrounding playground before digging into our tool compartment. Armed with shovels and pickaxes we made for the trails and started sculpting lines. The dirt at Porters is perfect to dig, not to mention ride. After a session hitting our new creations, we paused for lunch before heading to attempt our first scree slope riding.
Porters’ lodge manager and all round great New Zealander Jake, offered to drop us at the top of the ski field. We piled into an old school Toyota Hilux with six bikes, eight people and minimal tyre pressure to gain traction. The trusty old girl cruised up the side of the mountain in low range making quick work of the loose scree and steep terrain. We were enclosed by dark clouds with mist so thick we could barely see 20 metres ahead. Edging out of the mist at the top we were treated to 360-degree views across Selwyn and the Southern Alps.
Exchanging hollers, we jumped out of the truck and set our sights on the scree lines we had scoped from below. No one had ridden scree or freeride lines before. We were equal parts nervous and excited. Chris our camera man dropped in first and ripped turns that threw tennis ball size rocks into the air. Inspired by his show, our confidence was boosted and we made our way down one after the other with the riding and rocks becoming more and more loose.
There’s nothing like riding down the side of a mountain making up your line as you go. It was like skiing but with scarier and sharper landings. Hooting, hollering and having an absolute riot, we made our way down from 2000 metres to the bottom of the ski area. It was dark by the time we reached the lodge so we parked the bikes and enjoyed a hard earned beer before settling into another night of curtainless luxury.
We woke early to the sound of bacon sizzling – in the wok. One by one humans emerged from their sleeping bags in search of a hot mug of coffee. It was a team effort to load up the bikes and refill our water supply, before setting course for Craigieburn.
The Craigieburn range boasts world class riding and we were heading straight to the heart of it. The Edge – one of the original trials – was born as a hiking trail and used to access the ski area when the road was out of action. It was the perfect track to open on for some Craigieburn virgins.
We were bumped 5 kilometres to the start of the trail by another Porters vehicle. This time it was a Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carrier, fitting us and our bikes easily. We made our way up the ski access road, through the beautiful beech forest and into the alpine. The Edge impressed as it always does, living up to its name with a few close calls cliffside.
From the Edge we dropped into the Luge. The Luge is an all-time favourite, and it was a treat watching the crew arrive at the bottom with smiles plastered across their faces. I had planned a loop to give the crew a taste of the different riding and next instore was a short climb to get ourselves to the top of Dickson’s DH, a more recent addition to the network. This trail traverses through a dead pine forest before dropping down through alpine scrub to finish at SH73. The dessert of sticks was a great backdrop for our media crew and we enjoyed a session on the jumps on our way down.
Arriving at SH73 the boys kicked back in the sun while two of us pedalled the last few kilometres to collect the bus. We rolled to Lake Pearson for a much-needed wash in the lake. We whipped up some nachos, cracked open a Speights and took a few moments to prepare ourselves for the hectic few days ahead. Mt White Station was waiting for our wheels and tools.
Porters provides MTB shuttles for the entire Craigieburn range along with food and accommodation. For more, visit here.
Forest Lodge also provides accommodation, book here.