We wanted to ride the iconic Old Ghost Road in a day, on eMTBs. We knew this could be done with ‘acoustic’ bikes (or a bike that’s not e-assisted) but could it be done with eMTB’s with only one battery?! We packed our bikes, gear and cameras then took a road trip to the mighty West Coast. Anxiety, anticipation and mild stress was mulling over and rolling around in our heads. Could we make it? What would the day bring? Would we still be riding come nightfall? Would we have to walk the bikes out due to flat batteries? Plus a long list of other unanswered questions.
After a long time transferring from Christchurch, we bowled up on Seddonville Hotel. It’s deep and remote but has damn fine hospitality, cosy rooms, a roaring fire, wooden bar and eclectic bunch of people. In preparation for the mission we ordered pints of Speights and ribeye steak with fries - proper west coast food! After that, we hustled to get everything sorted for the next day’s adventure.
The first thing we did was charge the batteries on both bikes. We had a Cannondale Moterra and Trek Rail, both using the Bosch Performance Line CX with 625wh batteries. Bosch has a range finder on their website and we both ran it for the bikes, our weight and the trail conditions. It was spitting out around 75-81km for battery range across Old Ghost Road for both of us. Either way we knew it’d be touch and go. We threw all the essentials into our backpacks; I took the food, first aid kit, PLB (personal locater beacon) and 3L of water, whilst Cameron had to lug his cameras up the trail. I roughly estimated around 7kg for my bag and probably around 9kg for Cam’s camera bag.
We finally hit the sack. As I lay in bed, the few beers helped the anxiety somewhat but I was still a little nervous. The next day dawned; I pulled back the covers and flicked on the jug. It felt cold and as I pulled the curtains back, they were stuck to the ranch-slider due to the moisture. I looked outside and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. The moon was shining its light over the quiet valley and the hills were still in darkness. The outside temperature was around two degrees. We downed some warm porridge and coffee, and rustled our packs before we jumped in the Ute and hauled round to the trail head in Lyell. The drive over had sunrise on offer, the layers of colour were incredible. Miners wearing hi-vis vests lined the roadside in the small towns of Buller’s coast, waiting for their shuttle pick-ups whilst we zoomed past. It was an incredibly clear day - hoots and hollers rang out between us about the day we’d scored. However, as we entered the Lower Buller Gorge, the mist and cloud began to hug the mountain ranges. As we ventured further on the road inland it got thicker. There was an eerie feeling about it, and again the anticipation of what lay ahead boiled up inside me.
Words: Liam Friary
Images: Cameron Mackenzie