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Fat Tyre, Frequent Flier, Madd Tired

You remember how the other day I mentioned needing mother nature to cooperate in order to partake in the many outdoor activities here in New Zealand? Yeah, well today she was a bit feisty!

We were picked up at the hotel in the Fat Tyre vehicle this morning…

…and after a few minute drive down the road, we took the mountain bikes off the roof-rack, and wheeled them into the hangar.

Sort of a weird place to mountain bike, right? Right. Except, out back behind the hangar, and next to the Red Bull acrobatic plane…

…was this beautiful blue & gold helicopter, complete with bike racks!

That’s right, today’s adventure sport will be: Heli-biking!

Heli-biking is the sport of strapping mountain bikes to a helicopter, and then taking said helicopter up and over the airport…

…over the river…

…to the tipity top of the highest mountain you can find.

Once at the top, you take the bikes off the helicopter, and it then takes off. Leaving you, your bike, and your helmet there on the mountain top to fend for yourself.

And fend we did! Mother nature got the best of us at the top. The winds up there were in excess of 40 knots, gusting up to 60 knots! At those speeds you can barely even stand upright, let alone balance on two wheels! At times we would be leaning on the bikes into the wind riding at a 45 degree angle to the ground! Once you were blown off the bike, there was no way you were gonna get back on it. So you had to walk it to the next alcove to duck out of the wind and start all over again.

Sometimes I think the only thing holding me on the mountain was the banana I ate that morning and the bottle of water in my backpack! You could literally lift the bike off the ground and the wind would just blow it sideways so that it was practically laying flat, hovering over the ground. If I let go, the bike was a goner. But I liked that bike. It was the only way I was gonna get down off this mountain and out of this vortex.

Luckily, after several minutes of walking the bike through the wind, the trail ducked back down below the peak. This sheltered us considerable from the gusting wind.

From there on down, we were able to blaze a trail to the foot of the mountain with very few injuries. Jay nearly injured a bovine in the path, but no burgers would be compromised this day.

At the end of the trail, it emptied us off into some farmland, and we peddled out of the farm and down the road to an old inn, one of the oldest in New Zealand according to our guide.

We sat out back and ate some food and downed some refreshments to replenish our energy levels.

We then loaded the bikes into the trailer and headed back home. This will be one of the best nights of sleep ever! Fighting against those winds at that altitude really wears ya down. Good night!

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