A Bunch of Old Farts?


A couple of weeks ago, Nicola and I, with a couple of friends, rode the Timber Trail through Pureora Forest. We spent the night before and between the two days riding, staying at the Timber Trail Lodge.


First of all, let me say we thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. If you are into bike riding, and even if you are not, the Timber Trail should be on your list of must-dos.

The excellent track, the changing scenery, some of which is through old growth native forest, and the epic huge swing bridges all contribute to what is a great experience. We rode e-bikes, which some might call cheating, but to my mind, they took away the pain and enhanced the pleasure.

Anyway, this post is not about extolling the virtues of e-bikes. Instead, it is about old farts out there doing it. By the way, an old fart is someone of mature years – in body, if not in mind!

E-biking on the Timber Trail

On our first night’s stay, I took some photos of the lounge area of Timber Trail Lodge and the people in it. I shared these photos with our River Valley Team group on Messenger. Comments came back, alluding to the fact that there was no one there, us included, who did not have grey hair.

Well, of course not, this was mid-week, outside school holidays, and most younger people would have been at work. I have been told the lodge and trail attract a more youthful clientele at weekends, public and school holidays.

Timber Trail Lodge
Tiimber Trail Lodge

The point of sharing these observations, which we are also experiencing at River Valley, is how older members of our communities are being engaged and “getting out there”. We now regularly host groups of cyclists in their 70s. We have rafters in a similar age group, admittedly not on the Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei River, but all the same, making an effort and exploring and experiencing what our wonderful country has to offer.

But this age group is not just recreating. On the trail, we met a group of retirees, one of whom was 80, who spent their leisure time checking the extensive network of predator traps through the forest. They operated under the nickname “Dads Army”, obviously a takeoff of the 1970s British comedy TV show of the same name. Through their efforts and others, the rare Kōkako now number more than 100 breeding pairs in Pureora.

In passing, the 80-year-old gentleman said he was determined not to buy an e-bike until he got to 80 but succumbed at 78 and did not regret it.

We met another small group of retirees, called the Track Angels, who voluntarily spent one week a month helping keep the actual Timber Trail track surface in good order and helping control wilding pines.

E-biking on the Timber Trail
E-biking on the Timber Trail

Closer to home, many people tramping around the Ruahine Ranges checking predator traps are also in their more mature years. However, many undoubtedly would have an issue with the word mature.

Being in the more “mature” age group myself, it excites and motivates me, as it does no doubt so many others that there are so many fun things to do and experience and places to explore, even without leaving these shores.

There is also the volunteer aspect. Retired people doing the work outlined above are generally volunteer and unpaid and often do not even have their basic expenses reimbursed. What they are doing is giving back.

Their efforts are truly remarkable and, to a large extent, unrecognised.

Yep, just a bunch of old farts.

Brian Megaw