The Golden Bay Milk and Honey Race might possibly be one of the most varied and exciting bike races in all of New Zealand - a combination of road biking along the flats, an epic road climb up Takaka Hill and kms and kms of single track riding down the Rameka Track make for a race you won't want to miss this year (Sunday the 28th of October).
The uniqueness of Canaan Downs provides the backdrop to the transition from road to mountain bike. Canaan, the name given by the early settlers to the region, derives from the biblical reference to Canaan as the land of Milk and Honey. The 12km of gravel road that links SH 60 to the start of the Rameka Track is almost a religious experience in itself. It reaches 880 metres at the highest point, passing through ancient beech forest and rolling landscape of sink holes and limestone outcrops, sometimes populated by Hobbits!.
The Milk (road bike section)
Starting from Takaka, riders will head south along SH 60 for the first 22km up the Takaka Valley to Upper Takaka where the hill climb starts in earnest. Don't underestimate this part of the ride. The valley rises 100 metres over the course of 22km and southerly head winds can make it a serious uphill challenge in itself. Be aware of two single lane bridges at 10km and 13km. From Upper Takaka you will have a climb of 10km gaining another 690 metres, making this side of Takaka Hill the biggest paved road climb in New Zealand. A short, fast descent takes you to the Canaan Transition.
The Honey (mountain bike section)
At the 36km mark at the Canaan Road junction is the transition from road to mountain bike. You still have a 28km to negotiate back to Takaka by way of Canaan Downs, incorporating the Rollercoaster singletrack which links into the Rameka Track, the original route into Golden Bay as travelled by the early settlers and one of the longest single track downhills in the country
With the transition at 670 metres, you'll climb 200 metres to the Canaan Saddle. You may have time to take in the scenery, or you may be starting to hurt here. You turn off the road at 45km and take in 2 km of the Grade 3 Rollercoaster before exiting in the car park for Harwoods Hole. A short climb on rough 4WD track takes you to the start of the Rameka Track, signposted left before the top of the climb.
From here you are in for a treat with 15km of prime technical singletrack awaiting you. First off the Rameka Track traverses pristine forest of Abel Tasman National Park before plunging down to join the latest trail built by the Golden Bay MTB Club, the Pack Track. The track eventually crosses the road and after 400metres crosses back again, where it continues through Jonathon Kennett's Rameka Project, taking in the Grade 2 Great Expectations. More singletrack awaits you after a river crossing. By following the The Klicks signs you will ride two more Grade 3+ sections of track that run beside the road.
Once out the bottom of the gorge and on the road follow Rameka Creek Road to Glenview Road. A left turn, a single lane bridge and a right turn take you to Central Takaka and SH 60. After a quick check for traffic cross the highway into Dodsons Road, following it around back to the highway before the final short blast down to the finish in Takaka!
You can choose to do this ride one of three different ways.
1. ‘The combo’ (Individual rider with two bikes, road and mountain bike)
2. 'The treaddie’ (Individual rider with one bike, mountain bike only)
3. 'Team' (Team of two one bike each road bike/mountain bike)
Individual (Combo or Treaddie) $45
Team $90. ($45 ea)
U 18's $30.
More info: http://www.milkandhoneyrace.com/