As soon as I decided to take my single speed for the 85Km Old Ghost Road trip in March 2017, I knew that I might live to regret the decision. As a mater of fact I did, but not because of the single speed, nor the distance.
The Old Ghost Road is probably one of the most memorable experiences you can have on a mountain bike. It has everything, scenery, techy, long, flowy descents, long climbs (if your in to that sort of thing). We were blessed with great weather for two days, which meant 30 degrees heat and sun. Built out of blood, sweat and hard work. It spans an entire mountain range and at it’s peak goes up to over 1400 meters.
The first day involved a 30K climb to Ghost Lake Hut. Perched on top of a mere 200 meter vertical cliff it offers bikers the most aesthetically pleasing, well facilitated rest for the night after a few hours of solid climbing.
Much to the absolute despair of three or four Aussies over for a weekend, staying in the hut, I lit the fire for the evening and the whole place turned into a furnace for the next 5 hours: I thought they’d be used to the heat.
The following day we set off downhill towards our next stop, Mokihinui Forks Hut. From Ghost Lake Hut it is essentially downhill, with a couple of long pinch climbs, the second one being the boneyard.
The downhill sections are like nothing you’ve ever ridden before, some technical, on exposed rock, that require close navigation, some through native forest, that are so long and flowy you forget yourself. Once you pop out into Stern Valley the landscape is that of an arid desert, unforgiving and desolate. The boneyard, a climb of a hundred meters or so, is at the end of the valley. So called the boneyard because in the 1929 Murchison earthquake and from subsequent jolts the whole mountainside has collapsed. The track winds its way around the debris, which includes boulders the size of houses. The signs, telling cyclists not to stop, consistently reminding you of how volatile the area is.
The legs were getting tired at this point, the single speed taking its toll. We caught up with the Aussies who had left some time before us. The next downhill, resembling the long flow one from before took us to the forks hut. At which point there was a conversation about whether this was our abode for the night, which is was, but we didn’t know that then. It said Forks Hut, not the Mokihinui Forks Hut, a subtle difference, which seems clear now, in hindsight.
We carried on, and on, and on, until we realised we had gone too far. A debate ensued which ended in us turning back on ourselves toward the forks hut, at which point a short while afterwards my crank literally cracked in half.
All seemed lost. We were about 10km out from the end. I jadedly pushed my bike out, freewheeling the downhill sections. Nick went ahead and booked us into Seddonville Hotel, one of two hotels in Seddonville, the other being The Rough and Tumble Bush Lodge.
The owner, who upon arriving we explained to that we had no money as we weren’t supposed to be out of the OGR until the next day, set us up with beers, a slap up meal (note to all veggies – spring rolls contain meat), a bed and breakfast in the morning.
A good sleep and $88 later we had accomplished the OGR, by crook or by hook. A time well spent and definitely worth it. Did I regret taking the single speed? I got a lot of qudos from the SS and it is mostly all ridable on it. My only regret is the Shimano crank failing. It now has a Raceface crank on it. enough said.