Posts tagged new zealand mountain biking
Saturday was my last day in Queenstown for riding on this trip and I wanted to make the most of it. We planned Friday night to get up early and try and get in as many runs before I had to head to the airport at mid afternoon.
I awoke to bird chirping, sunshine and blue skies at 8:30am it was straight to breaking down camp. No time to laze around. I packed up all my gear; tear down tent, prep bike for day of riding, find some clean clothes for flight and pack it into the car. Then it was into Bob’s Weigh for breakfast to charge the fuel tanks for a fun fuelled day of downhilling. After some eggs benny and a couple coffee’s it was off to the skyline for some riding.
We were first riders up on the day! Just like the other days it was non-stop action. We managed to squeak in 12 runs in just 4 hours. I wanted to hit each track at least once more and we easily did so. No crashes on the day either, which is always good for the last day of a bike trip. The bike gods were taking care of me!
At 2pm I had to get ready for my flight, so we went downtown to grab some lunch and then I went to the park to break down my bike and get myself ready for my flight. My mate left me at the park and he returned back up the hill to ride – lucky bastard. I broke down my bike for the airplane, changed out of dirty/stinky riding gear and into jeans and a t-shirt for my flight home and then caught a bus to the airport.
Once at the airport I checked my bags, had a celebratory beer, read my book and then it was time to board the plane. On board I easily fell asleep dreaming of returning back to Queenstown to ride once again. I should be back in Jan or Feb to ride again… it cant come soon enough.
With this trip now done it is time to start planning the next. So what is next on the ride radar? Of course there will be a tonne of rides around Auckland; Woodhill, Riverhead, Maraetai and hopefully Dome Valley. But I really want to make a long weekend trip to Rotorua and Taupo in the near future. Ive ridden Rotorua heaps, but Taupo is completely new to me so it’s on my ride radar!
Before I even arrived in Queenstown I was a little apprehensive when it came to camping. When I flew into Queenstown there was a cold front coming through and it was snowing/raining, but thankfully that first cold night I was in a hostel. Last night though was my first night camping and luckily I managed to stay nice and warm in my tent. I had the thermals and was rocking a toque as well, which kept me nice and cozy all night long.
I first awoke at daybreak to the chirping of birds – as you do when you are camping! I grabbed my ipod and tossed on some tunes allowing me a couple more hours of sleep before getting up for good! I crawled out of my tent at 9 am ready to go. We cleaned up the bikes, loaded the car and went into Queenstown for breakie. After a quick bite to eat we hit up the skyline at 10:30 am to start a great day of riding.
The weather was a bit overcast and there was a chance of showers, but the rain seemed to hold off for the most part and when it did rain it just made the tracks sticky! There wasn’t a track we didn’t ride! I ended up hitting some tracks that I didn’t really mean to hit. I thought they were a bit above my ability but I pulled through. Basically I was just following my mate and then all of a sudden it was drop after drop after drop through narrow trees… there nothing I could do but ride it out. There was no where else to go but down so I just rolled with it. When I came to the end of that track there was definitely a smile on my face – I survived ahah! After that it was game on for all the tracks; Vertigo, Hammy’s, Shit Sandwich, Thingymajig, Armageddon, Rock Garden, Drop Garden, Ants, Grundy.. it was steep and gnarly. Fawk yah!
We had a lunch break at 1pm and then back up the skyline. We rode until the days end and managed to get in 20 runs and we weren’t even going that hard. It was a casual 20! Everyone we spoke with thought we were completely mad for doing so many runs in one day. I would say on average people will ride 8 runs… smoked them all. When you are visiting from out of town you def want to make the most of your time.
At the end of the day we definitely deserved a beer! We headed into town to grab some Indian for dinner and then out to the house to drink some beers and play some ping-pong. My body was feeling pretty good; the only thing that was sore was my hands. It was an early night to bed as I was rinsed. The rained and wind picked up throughout the night, but it didn’t matter I managed to keep warm and sleep through the lot! Another epic day of riding! My riding has improved ten-fold… man I love this place!
My prayers were answered and I awoke to blue skies and sunshine on Wednesday. The lifts weren’t opening until 1pm, so I lazed around as long as I could at the hostel and then went back to the library to jump on a computer and read.
At about noon I headed back to the hostel, changed into my riding gear, built up the bike and then it was off to the skyline for an afternoon of riding. Being that it was mid-week there wasn’t too many people out riding so no waiting to get on the skyline! Last time I was down I managed 12 runs in a half day so that is what I was shooting for.
My mate wasn’t arriving until the evening so I rode solo just getting used to the speed of riding downhill again. Around Auckland it is mostly single track so it does take a few runs to get used to flying down a hill with trees, roots, rocks and drops all over the place. I warmed up on Hammy’s track, which is the easiest, but one of the most fun trails. It is pretty wide trail, but it littered with HUGE berms, lips, tabletops and jumps to pop off of. Also hit up Vertigo, Armageddon, Original, Shit Sandwich and Thingymajig. I managed to get in 11 runs in about 4.5 hours. Not bad, just one short of my goal of the day.
At 6pm the skyline stops taking mountain bikers up as it gets pretty dark in the forest, so my day was done. Complete success, no crashes just heaps if fun. My mate arrived just at 6pm and met me at the bottom of the hill as I was coming off the trail. He was all geared out and ready to get up the hill, but he missed the last run of the day.
Hungry from riding we hit up Fergburger for a feed and then we head out to our accommodation to set-up our tents. We are staying on a mate’s front lawn about 20 mins outside of Queenstown. The location is stunning – over looking the lake surrounded by the mountains! One of my favourite things about this place is the outdoor shower. Nothing beats a steaming hot shower while gazing up at the stars.
Since my mate didn’t get any laps in he was itching to ride so we quickly tossed up our tents and headed out to 7 mile to get some runs in. We were told of a short cut to the trail head, but in typical fashion we ended up in the middle bush just making our own track through the bush. We ended up going to high in elevation and had to ride our way down which was an adventure in itself. We soon found our desired track; Kochong, which is one of the best tracks at 7 mile as it is super flowy with jumps. We were able to get in 3 laps as the sun fell. Once back at home we drank some well deserved beer. I was beat and was wondering how my body was going to feel the next day. I had a full day of downhill a head of me… fawk yah!
What an epic day – 11 laps at the bike park, 3 laps at 7-mile. Sweet!
I took some time off this week to head down to Queenstown and do some downhill mountain biking on the skyline. As usual it was an early flight, I like to make the most of my time off so I usually fly really freak’n early to maximise my time riding. Well this time it didn’t quite pan out! I flew into some real shit weather. We are talking about a southerly that has just covered the entire country – cold, wet and windy. Not ideal for riding. When it rains hard and the ground is muddy and soft it is best to stay off the tracks since you just end up destroying! So my day was a wash. The skyline wasn’t taking bikers up, so what was I supposed to do with my time?
Yes Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world and there is heaps to do, but when you don’t want to do a bungy, jump in a speed boat or get drunk there isn’t a lot going on especially on shit weather days. So what do I do? I go the library and read. I spent 3 hours at the library and then another two at a café reading and chilling. It’s like when people go to tropical spots to rest on the beach and read… Well I didn’t have the nice weather, but I read.
By mid avro I checked into my hostel and continued reading. I’ve pretty much polished off my book, which is – ‘two seats left’ the story of contiki travel. Good read! I also hit up the local book shop to read and cruise through some magazines. Also I sent a couple post cards… I didn’t bring my lap top so jumping online isn’t readily available. Now I am just praying for blue skies, sun and dry trails!
I guess my question to you is – what do you do when you are travelling and the weather has gone to hell? Also got any good books you can recommend?
This past weekend was the opening of the Queenstown Bike Park – the only lift access bike park in New Zealand! I flew out of Auckland at 7:00am meaning that I had to be up at 5:30am. Yikes eh! Ah well, it was worth it! On Saturday night Ireland beat Australia at the RWC, which was a huge upset. So at 5:30am there was still a lot of drunk Irish kicking around the city, which was amusing when waiting for the bus. I caught my bus and off to the airport I went. 2 hours later I was in Queenstown.
I caught another bus into Queenstown from the airport and then it was off to drop my gear at Nomads Queenstown. I had planned to drop my bags and then hit up the skyline to start rocking some downhill tracks, but it didn’t work out that way. When I went to purchase my ticket at the skyline I found out that wouldn’t be opening until 1pm. I guess on Saturday it rained during the day and the riders ripped up the tracks pretty bad. The tracks had to dry out and the maintenance crew had some work to do, so it was a waiting game.
So what do you do with time to kill in Queenstown? I headed to the local bookshop and read magazines, had a coffee at Bob’s Weigh; Queenstown’s best breakie spot and checked out some really expensive real-estate that I could never afford.
Soon enough it was 1pm and up the skyline I went keen for that first ride. Oh I was not disappointed. The tracks were mint! Dark brown earth, sticky… oh brown pow how I love you! Not all of the tracks were open, but still enough to keep me grinning from ear to ear. It was a great day of riding and I managed to get 12 runs in. At the end of the day I was beat. My legs, arms and shoulders were sore as… but so worth it! I can’t wait to get back down south in October. I plan to make a week of it.
My first week back to work was a grind. Anytime you return back from a couple weeks off its painful settling back into you’re your old routine. Though I really cant complain too much because I really do enjoy my job! One of the first things I did once back in Auckland was of course get my baby ie my bike into the shop to fix the lower linkage. The shop was going to try and get a hold of giant for me to see what they were going to do. I told them I had wanted to ride that weekend and were able to switch out the linkage with one off of there shop flow allowing me to ride. Once they heard back from Giant with the redesigned linkage they would swap that out. Sweet deal.
That weekend I had planned to head to Rotorua for a full day of riding on Saturday, but a Friday night on the piss cancelled those plans. This is the first time since I have been in NZ that I wasn’t able to ride because of a big night out. After a painful Saturday it was off to rock’n roll in rotorua on Sunday. Up early and keen I was on the shuttle by 930 heading up for my first run. First run down, sweet, felt good, bike was working – nice! Second run down – hitting a couple jumps, railing some berms – Sweet! Third run down, got my flow on, hit this section of three jumps in a row; first one smooth, second one real nice, third one – ah fuck! I believe I carried a bit too much speed and landed long on the transition bucking me from my bike and landing full impact on to my shoulder. It hurt. I jumped up moved my arm around in all direction – that’s my medical check. It seemed to be fine. Nothing was dislocated and I was guessing it would be good bruise. I jumped back on the bike and continued down the track. By the bottom of the track I knew my day of riding was over. I really couldn’t raise my arm above my shoulder and it was already swollen.
Once back at the car I knew this wasn’t just a simple bruise. I managed to load the bike into the back with one arm, take off my gear and then it was time to hit the road for the long 2 hour ride home. It really didn’t hurt that bad as long as you didn’t move it. When I finally arrived home I didn’t bother collecting my gear, I just left it in the car and cycled home. I had called Michelle to make sure there was ice in the freezer and that was the rest of my day. Sitting on the couch with ice on my shoulder. I was a bit pissed off, not just because of the injury, but that I only got 2.5 runs in before I hurt myself. 2 hours is a long way to drive for 2.5 runs..argh!
I decided I would hit up the doctor the next morning because there was a noise when I moved my arm a ceratin way, kind of like a clicking. So I was back at the same doctors office when I tore my mcl.. ah fun memories! When I got to see the doctor, she didn’t think it was broken but wanted to get some x-rays to be sure. $30 later it was confirmed – no breaks, no fractures. SWEET! It ends up I tore part of my supraspinatus. Off to physio I go. It looks like it will be another 6-8 weeks before it is all healed up.
Now I havent been on my bike in a week and a half since it was christmas, so i was keen to get out for a ride. Nelson has some amazing tracks and I had already researched 8 or so that I wanted to ride. Day 5 was my day to get out on my bike and enjoy. I had been looking forward to this since we decided to come to Nelson for the holidays.
I woke up early to the birds – this happened everyday so far – argh! The sun comes up, the birds start chriping and I get out of bed to make coffee. It wasnt a struggle to get out of bed today since i was excited to get out and ride. After a small breakfast I loaded my bike into the car and I was off. The tracks were only about 15 mins away. As I approached the park I was stopped by security to ask if I had a permit to ride. I told him I just got to town and didnt know i needed a permit. He let me pass but told me to stick to the dirt roads and not to ride the tracks since I didnt have the park pass. Yah right. I agreeed to it knowing all well that as soon as I came to the track enterance I would be in the bush riding.
After reviewing the trail map board and knowing the tracks I wanted to hit I headed up! As I started to ride up the hill I noticed the bike wasnt running right. There was a knock in each peddle stroke.. i couldnt peg what was wrong but my initial thought was that I snapped my lower linkage.. FUCK! This isnt something you can fix on the trail. Acutally it is a design flaw with my make of bike. Ive been reading about other riders with the same model as mind the Giant Reign X series who have snapped there lower linkages under peddling duress. When i orginally heard about the problem I went to speak with some Giant retailers who said that if it did break it would be warrantied. Great, but if i am in the middle of the wop-wops riding and I break it my ride is fucked. Not good. I wasnt 100% sure that was it, but since I was now at the top of the hill decided to ride the downhill track down. Wholy fuck – steep and rocky as hell and toss in some sharp turns and you have yourself one amazing downhill track. It was great fun to ride!
I come out of that track pumped full of adreniline and then head to ride some single track. I rode Supplejack, which is a technical single track with rocks, roots and switchbacks and runs down throuugh a rocky creek bed.
After tha track I hit up Matai which runs down through native forest and like Supplejack is filled with rocks and roots.
I also rode Sharlands Creek Track which has several creek crosings and a couple carries as well. It was a fun track.. farily easy.
The final track of the day was R and R Rush. This trail had a couple different sections. You start off on some single track. It does get a little trickers as the track narrows and gets a little more rocky, and also has a pretty good drop on one side of the track!
The tracks were great, but to be honest I didn’t enjoy the ride as much as I would have liked since the bike was working to well. It was a pain to peddle, so by the last track I was ready to quit. I would be keen to come back to the Hira Forest to ride again. They have heaps of trails to play on!
The day before I popped into a bike shop – RIDE – to talk with the mechanics about trails and places to ride so I headed back tothe shop with my broken bike. I walked in and told the mechanic what i thought it was and it said ‘naw man it is just the i bolt here on the shock -$20 fix and I can have it back to you in a couple hours.’ SWEET!
I left the bike in his hands and went back to the park to grab michelle so we could get some groceries and chill out in town. We hit up a couple shops, Michelle picked up a nice hoodie, we were able to skype my brother from a Star Bucks and then I headed back to the bike shop to pick up my bike.
Well, I was right. The mechanic told me I had snapped the lower linkage on the drive train side and that there was really nothing I could do. He is not a a Giant retailer so he wouldnt have the parts and plus since it will be under warrenty I will have to hit a giant dealer. My riding for this trip was over. FUCK! I really didnt even scratch the surface of what I wanted to ride, but what are you going to do?
After returning back to Tahuna the park had filled up even more. I guess lots of people planned to do some camping over new years as most of the sites were now gone. In the avro we hit up the beach and then chilled at our site. It was New Years Eve so Michelle and I had some sausages and sald plus heaps of beers and ciders to consume. We cracked the case of cider and i mourned for my bike ahaha. It wasnt long before we struck up a conversation with our camp neighboors – Tony and Lynn from Invergargal. We brought 2011 in together having a wee yarn and some good laughs.
We woke up well rested, which was needed after the stormy night in Wanganui. After a quick breakie and coffee we headed downtown Nelson to the iSite to see what Nelson attractions we wanted to take in. It was pretty apparent what we wanted to do first – Abel Tasman. It was a no brainer. I was receommend to take in the Sand and Seal trip through Aqa Taxi. It is a trip into Abel Tasman National park via the water taxi with a stop to check out some seals before we hit the park for a hike. We were both pretty happy with the sounds of that so we booked it for the next day. The Aqua Taxi will also pick you up in Nelson, so we didn’t have to bother to drive. Sweet! We also found a couple other things to do in the coming days. Sea kayaking and a wine tour were looking promising.
After booking our trip we wandered around nelson checking out the local scene. Nelson is a smaller city 44,000 that has many old english style buildings with a very laid back art vibe. I could defintely see mylf living here – not to mention the amazing mountain biking scene! I popped into a bike shop to find out where to ride (well just confirm what i researched already) and found that my research had paid off. I knew the right tracks and the 6 days in Nelson would not be enough time to really hit everying – so I guess I just have to come back on a bike trip ehehe.
After our tour of the town we headed back to the campsite to unload our groceries and get the beer chilling! Then we headed to the beach to chhill in the sun. It was a gorgeous day and the sun was hot. There was a lot of Kite Surfers out playing in the water. Looked like a lot of fun and I think I may give a go sometime. The beach was pretty busy, so it was great for people watching. What else do you do at a beach! I have to say though i was having a hard time just chillng out. I am kind of a busy body. I like to be going somehwere, riding my bike and to just hang out and chill is foreign to me, but I am learning to except it. I know tough life! After sometime at the beach we headed back to the camp ground to eat and have a couple bevies. Nelson has some stunning sunsets so we headed to the beach to watch the sun go down. Pretty chilled out relaxing day!
I woke up early to the kea’s squawking. Thankfully they didn’t see the bikes and hadn’t picked at them. One was picking at our cast iron pot from last nights dinner, but better that then my bike! On one of the trips to craigieburn earlier I guess one of the guys seat was pretty much shredded by these pesky birds!
Today we were hoping that two of Marks buddies, Dave and Napalm were going to join us for a ride. We waited until 9 and then decided to head up the hill, as we all thought they just couldn’t make it. We rode up to the trail head and then down the Dracophyllum track to a gravel road. The Dracophuyllum track was like the luge – through native beech forest, winding your way down the hill through forest – sweet! Once we hit the gravel road it was a half our ride to the Edge. The Edge is a hairy track that is steep, with sharp corners and steep drops, shingle rock scree slopes that were sketchy as. The scree slopes were totally open and off camber. You had to keep you speed up to roll over the rocks and if you fell off to the left it would have been a 300 foot tumble down rock scree until you hit the bottom. It would have been a helicopter ride to the hospital if you fell. This track had about 4 of these sections.. I rode 3 of the 4. The one section sketched me out too much and I walked it. There were also hair pin corners with rock face on one side and drops on the other. Take your time, pick your line well and concentrate. It was some of the most intense riding I have ever done. After the first time around we were having a breather on the gravel road and Napalm and Dave came flying down the track. They made it down and luckily enough caught us before we headed up for our next round. It was great to have these two show up. They brought a lot of new energy to the ride – which we needed after 5 days of riding. On our third lap of the track Napalm ended up taking a spill on one of the corners. He managed to grab on to a tree on his way down, but his bike was another story. It took 5 of us holding on to trees in various spots and passing it a long to one another to get it up. If you were to ride there a lone and were to take a spill, it would have been a lot of work to get the bike back. We rode the edge 3 times. It was gnarly and I can’t wait to hit it up again!
Our last track for the day was the National Downhill track from 1996. It really isn’t open to the public, but one of the guys knew of it so we jumped a fence and pushed our bike for a while. Once at the track it was a little over grown, but still pretty mint. It was steep as, to begin with but opened up nicely, which allowed you to huss it. The track was overgrown in some spots so it was bush/tree branch face slapping fun. Half way down Dave got a flat so we all waited for him to fix it. Once we started to ride again, I found I was done. I was tired and my focus wasn’t there. Up until that I was riding real well, but after I felt like I was just hanging on for dear life. I was happy when the track ended.
We rode until about 4pm, so it was a pretty full on day – 7 hours on the bike. We headed back to camp site and had a couple beers. After a couple we took down our tents, packed the vehicle and headed back to Christchurch.
Once back in Christchurch we dropped off Hubby and set off for Napalms place were we would be crashing that night. A couple more beers and it was bedtime. Today’s ride was the sketchiest, intense, extreme and fun ride of the trip. Day 6.. fuck`n eh!