Craig tackles epic ride

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Craig Cullimore and his bike at the highest point on the Heaphy Track.

Mountain bike enthusiast Craig Cullimore has ridden four epic, testing South Island tracks in back-to-back days.

The near 300km scenic challenge took in the Paparoa Track, Queen Charlotte Track, Heaphy Track and Old Ghost Road.

The avid biker has done all of the tracks before in single days, but never one after the other.

Craig rode it with fellow bike enthusiast Rae-Anne Kurucz from Christchurch while his supportive wife Donna dropped the bikers off at the start of each day and met them at the end.

The challenge had been contemplated last year and the track order had changed at the last minute because of the weather, Craig said.

The details of his riding exploits were recorded on exercise tracking app Strava, which shows the distance, time and altitude gain on each track.

Paparoa was the first of the tracks he tackled and was Craig’s favourite of the four. He completed the 56km distance in six hours.

The shared hiking/mountain bike track was created as a memorial for the 29 miners who lost lives in the Pike River Mine.

Craig rode the 78km Heaphy in around eight hours. It featured 1506m of elevation gain and can only be ridden between May to November.

His least favourite track on the day was the muddy and up and down 71km Queen Charlotte. The track has the highest elevation gain of the four tracks at 2333m and was completed in eight and a half hours.

The 85km Old Ghost Road has an elevation gain of 2087m and took Craig a gruelling 10 hours. It is the country’s longest single-track and classified as advanced.

The 48-year-old takes every opportunity to get out into the New Zealand wilderness on his bike.

His local haunt is the Mt Hutt Bike Park, while one of his favourite spots is the Craigeburn area.

“I’m not into road biking or doing the racing thing. I get out for my enjoyment and for the challenge.”

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