I've been wanting to tackle Western Valley Road for some time now, it's been a matter of waiting to the time I felt I had the legs to complete it.
Western Valley Road travels between Little River and Purau Bay, essentially connecting you into the bays. From Little River, Western Valley Road climbs to 650m, reaching 21% gradient in places, it's not for the faint-hearted. Then on top of this, there is another climb from Port Levy into Purau, adding another 420m of climbing at an average of 10% gradient.
Having run into a friend at Motukarara, conversation pursues, then looking at the gearing on my gravel bike he immediately said "Good luck". I was a little worried after this, but hey I've always got my legs to walk if need be I thought. Taking a break at Little River, slightly procrastinating I committed and was off.
The start of Western Valley Road is sealed, making it a bit easier to gain traction on the first pinches of the climb compared to the upper sections. The first half of the climb is certainly the toughest, with the road pinching in places where you'll almost wonder if your rolling backwards between pedal strokes. Thankfully the climb has plenty of flatter sections for you to catch your breath, or have rest or two as I did.
The second part of the climb, Parua-Port Levy Road is fully sealed and unlike Western Valley Road this climb carries the same gradient from top to bottom without any reprieve. I personally found this tougher, more relentless, but I'm not sure if this was due to my legs having already climbed 650m.
If you're up for a challenge, then this ride certainly won't disappoint. Banks Peninsula is a spectacular place to ride, one of my favourite places in NZ, with views that won't disappoint.
You can take a look at my full loop here on Strava.