Taieri tour a rolling joy to ride

Today we're going to conquer Saddle Hill (well, almost to the top) before sampling the delights of the Big Dipper on the roller-coaster ride down to Allanton, before meandering back to Mosgiel along the pleasant Silver Stream track.

Mosgiel, Saddle Hill, Scroggs Hill, Allanton, Silverstream Track.
Distance: 37.5km.
Biggest climb: 275m.
Estimated riding time without stops: 2 1/2 hours.

Start near the Weaver's Retreat cafe/ bar in Factory Rd, Mosgiel (that's AOK HQ when we start Saturday AOK rides in that area).

Ride south on Factory Rd briefly, but before the lights, turn left on to quiet Church St. After a few blocks, you will have to turn right, then left, on to the main street.

Cross the railway line and then, to avoid the sometimes chaotic SH1 Spaghetti Junction, immediately turn right on to Gladstone Rd at the Shell station, then left when you see the signpost to the dog exercise area.

At the end of this street you'll find an underpass under SH1, which deposits you in Kinmont Park. From here, make your way over to Morris Rd, which will take you up the hill to the right of the Southern Motorway.

On the climb, your bike's many gears will come in handy. Spinning - selecting a gear that means your pedals are fair whizzing around - makes it easier to climb hills than straining in a too-high gear.

Just before you reach the motorway overbridge, turn right on to Coal Stage Rd and keep climbing. Soon you'll reach a little flat and can catch your breath as you admire the view down to Fairfield and Green Island.

When you reach Saddle Hill Rd, turn right and head up the hill. This is the steepest part of the climb, so don't worry if it all becomes a little too much and you have to hop off and push your bike for a time. Every bike likes to be taken for a walk once in a while.

The views from undulating Saddle Hill Rd/Scroggs Hill Rd are spectacular. Here a group of AOK...
The views from undulating Saddle Hill Rd/Scroggs Hill Rd are spectacular. Here a group of AOK riders look down over the coast to Taieri Mouth. Photo by John Fridd.
Before too long you'll be at the top, which means you have climbed 275m. Pause to enjoy the view over the Taieri Plain, as you've earned it.

Then pedal off south on undulating Saddle Hill Rd. Soon you'll be at the start of a nice downhill, and you will also be rewarded with another great view, over the blue Pacific Ocean down to Brighton and further south to Taieri Mouth and Taieri Island.

After the downhill, there's another medium climb before you pass Law Rd and head down Scroggs Hill. At the bottom of this downhill blast, keep an eye out for the gravel road on the right - that's Allanton-Scroggs Hill Rd.

Turn right on to this delightful byway. A few corners down you'll encounter the interesting Big Dipper - the name speaks for itself.

Take care, as this can be a bit rough on the way down, and don't get too close to any other riders. Full marks to anyone who can ride all the way up to the corner on the other side!

From here, the road rambles through farmland until there's a steep downhill to Allanton and the Taieri Plain. Once again, take care on the descent.

When you reach SH1, cross and take the first or second street to the left, then hang a right on to Otago's newest state highway, SH86, which links Allanton and Dunedin International Airport.

Cross the Taieri River bridge then turn right on to Allanton Rd and settle back for a long, straight ride of about 5.5km to Outram. Not a great route in a howling nor'wester, as I found out recently.

At Outram, you'll find a pub and a store, so you have a choice of refreshments if you want to linger a while before the final part of your journey. Go easy on the beer if you feel like a cool one, as you've got some way to go and a belly full of beer is a terrible foundation for a bike ride - another thing learned from experience.

After your Outram stop, ride north on SH87, heading for Mosgiel. Cross the Taieri River again and about 1.5km down the busy highway, turn right on to Riverside Rd.

Then go left on to School Rd and enjoy a country ramble up the Taieri Plain. You may see model aircraft buzzing around beside School Rd if it's a Saturday.

Then turn right on to Gladfield Rd and ride to the Silver Stream, where you have the choice of a ford (great fun splashing through in summer) or a pedestrian bridge for those who don't want to add water.

Then take to the Silverstream track to the left and ride back along this grassy trail to Mosgiel, enjoying the rural outlook and then a voyeuristic peek into the backyards of streamside dwellers as you enter Mosgiel.

When you reach the main street, cross over and stay on the riverside track for a short time more, turning right when you reach the sports fields. This street will take you back to the Weaver's Retreat, where you will probably feel like a coffee or something stronger. You deserve it.

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