This classic course completes a 40km loop of Nelson's stunning lush forests and mineral belt, including a fun and flowing descent that drops 850m. It stays on the Dun Mountain Trail all the way to Third House and on to the historic Coppermine Saddle. This course is an excellent recreational ride. It has less climbing than the Epic and does not require the same technical skills, but it's still a challenge.
The loop starts at the picturesque Maitai Esplanade Reserve, on the banks of the Maitai River. The course leads through a loop of single track in the "manukas", then starts climbing. Racers then take a right turn and join a dirt road passing the water pounds and up a short sharp climb to the Tantragee Saddle. From here the course drops down to the Dun Mountain Trail before it begins it's gradual climb up to the Coppermine Saddle. 5km of easy riding gets you to the Four Corners Junction. The Classic continues straight ahead at this point continuing along the Dun Mountain Trail to Third House, a section of 5km of gentle climbing track through stunning native bush.
A clearing in the forest canopy is the first sign you have reached the historic Third House point. From here it’s straight on to the Wells Ridge intersection and the 15km mark. At this point the Classic and Epic courses rejoin (Epic riders having been to the 900m summit of Fringed Hill and descended Black Diamond Ridge) and continue on an easy route up the Dun Mountain Trail through native beech, eventually entering the stark and epically beautiful mineral belt section. The track smoothes out for a fast ride to Windy Point and past the original cromite mine shaft on the way to Coppermine Saddle, not that you will have the time to look at it. This is the halfway mark at 20km.
From here the fun really starts as it’s mostly downhill to the finish. This descent has had a full remake in recent years and with some very skilled work by the teams at Bikeworks and Nelmac is now one of most flowing pieces of single track in New Zealand. Everyone will love this section as it caters for all abilities and is a lot of fun to ride. The landscape is amazing and the scenery breathtaking. The lower section remains fast as you descend through native forest over the new bridge and out to the Maitai Dam. The course stays left and follows the new pipeline track for several km before dropping down to the Maitai River, crossing the road, up a short pinch climb and along some fun singletrack. Then, using the Maitai Valley gravel road, it’s a fast 2km to the Motor Camp (The Maitai Valley Road is open to general traffic. Normal road rules apply).
It is expected that most riders will take between 3 to 5 hours to complete the course