The Heaphy Track has been on my riding bucket list since its winter-only reopening for bikers a few years back – it’s the only Great Walk you can cycle! My plan to ride the track a week earlier had been quashed while camping up at the western trailhead, thanks to a localised weather bomb. During my first early-morning start, it was even a challenge to avoid the wash of debris on the track, well before I encountered an impassable slip. I was the first to reach this near-vertical wall of sloppy mud with torrents of chocolate-coloured water that thwarted my riding plan. I returned to the car safely but disappointed.

A frosty start up on the Downs

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