My mountain biking life started in Masterton in 1990. Apart from riding around our college's boundary there wasn't much on offer in the way of singletrack except for this super sweet loop that we could easily ride from school. We'd head out north of Masterton towards Mt Bruce and hang a left at Kiriwhakapapa Rd, out past our English teacher's house to the campsite at the end of the road. A sweet climb lead up to a lowish saddle in the foothills of the Tararuas and then you dropped down the other side to Mikimiki Rd which lead back to the state highway and back to school.I used to ride it a bunch back then but it always seemed hard; it always had unrideable sections. We were on fully rigid Stumpjumpers and Marins. Since leaving college in 93' I've been back a only a handful of times to ride it and each time it gets better and easier, but it's still a lot of fun.
It's an easy ride to do both logistically and physically, parking your car at the Kiriwhakapapa Rd end, you head in along an old benched logging railway track left over from Rimu logging of the 1930s (if you look closely you'll still find sleepers) and then you climb. It's almost always boggy along the benched flat section but once you start to climb to the saddle the track dries out and offers up a short sharp and technical little climb. You need to pay close attention on the way up as you'll be coming back this way.
Once at the top, lower your seat a little and start pedalling. The descent to Mikimiki is a fast little singletrack rush. There are consequences for laziness, so keep on your toes, but you can really hit this section fast. When you reach the valley floor it's worth riding out to the road end before turning to head back. On this side the old logging tracks are far more intact and you can see the wooden rails lying on top of the rimu sleepers.
Have a sandwich, turn around and clean the climb back to the top. The descent back to the car is the highlight to this ride. There's a few technical little bits and some pretty tight corners but you'll remember these from your climb up right?
If you're heading back south don't forget to stop in Carterton for the obligatory post ride real fruit feijoa ice cream.