The Pioneer MTB Stage Race – Entries Now Open

Entries are now open for the Pioneer Mountain Bike Stage Race. The new course for 2018 will see riders race 450km with 15,500m climbing over six days from November 25 to 30 2018, linking the best back country riding in the South Island on a course that starts and finishes in Queenstown.

Riders in the November 2018 race will start their six days of riding with a 22km prologue at iconic Coronet Peak, with five longer stages to follow, taking riders as far south-east as Alexandra and the Clutha River, before returning to the finish line back in Queenstown, completing 450km of riding with 15,500m of climbing.

The Pioneer Overview Map 2018

Race Director Bec Williams says much thought and planning has gone into the new course, to ensure the long-term sustainability of an event that quickly established its reputation as a world leading event in its first two editions.

“Riders can look forward to a course that will boast plenty of single track and will deliver a grand tour of the most stunning backdrops you could ask for. Riders will be sent deep into remote back country New Zealand, where they will really discover what it means to be a Pioneer.”

Many of the trails cross private land and can only be ridden while racing The Pioneer, so it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain access to best riding in New Zealand. Riders should expect big scenery and big climbs as they ascend tussock covered hills, traverse mountain ranges, explore secluded valleys and revive the spirit of the original pioneers.

Williams said the decision to reduce the duration of the event by one day and start and finish in Queenstown will generate further appeal to riders and supporters.

“Having the one start and finish location obviously makes the event easier from a logistics point of view for organisers and riders alike. Travel can now be booked in and out of Queenstown, supporters can base themselves there throughout The Pioneer, and it will be easier for our suppliers and contractors to support the race.”

“But it was vital that any of those decisions did not compromise the quality of the riding or the Pioneer experience, and we have done that with a course that will again challenge every rider, provide breathtaking views along the way and see us hosted in some amazing Central Otago towns.”

Those towns to host Pioneer riders in 2018 are: Queenstown (start and finish), Alexandra (two nights) and Bannockburn (two nights) before the event finishes at Arrowtown.

Terrain will vary each day, but includes a mix of local trails, farm track, NZ Cycle Trails and single track – so riders should be prepared to really see what they (and their bikes) are really made of. Overall, the course is non-technical, so a good set of lungs will be the most important asset.

The course will be clearly marked, and full course maps will be provided over the course of the next few months as more detail is revealed, but navigation skills are not required, each stage will have several check points and aid stations to keep riders on-track and well looked after.

Each day’s racing finishes in a host town with local hospitality on offer at the event village, ensuring each stage is unique and enjoyable. To cap it all off riders will finish back in Queenstown, an amazing place to celebrate an incredible achievement.

Riders will again have the chance to secure entry to the unofficial world championship of mountain bike stage racing in South Africa, with five age group winners (5), five age group runners up (5) and five lottery winners securing a place at the Absa Cape Epic for 2019.

Entries are now open at www.thepioneer.co.nz

For some riders that will mean finding a team mate. The event website allows the uploading of profiles to find a Pioneer team mate, and organisers also host a ‘find a teammate’ Facebook group, details again can also be found at www.thepioneer.co.nz

New this year is the option of an entry fee payment plan for athletes. This option will be available for a limited period, opening 24 November 2017 and closing 25 March 2018 and allows entry fees to be spread out across four payments. 

Stage information

Prologue Coronet Peak Own Accommodation 22km 1500m
Stage 1 Queenstown – Queenstown Alexandra 66km 2878m
Stage 2 Alexandra – Alexandra Alexandra 114km 2750m
Stage 3 Alexandra – Bannockburn Bannockburn 75km 2600m
Stage 4 Bannockburn – Bannockburn Bannockburn 83km 3100m
Stage 5 Bannockburn – Arrowtown Own Accommodation 67km 2800m

Estimates of the type of riding throughout the Pioneer

36% – 4WD/Farm Track
35% – Cycle Trails / Single Track
15% – Gravel Road
14% – Sealed Road

For more detail on each stage, CLICK HERE

Additional information can be found at www.thepioneer.co.nz

2018 Santa Cruz NZ Enduro – Entries Open Friday!

After three successful sold out years the fourth annual Santa Cruz NZ Enduro opens for registration this Friday. This three-day multi-stage enduro race will take place from March 9-11, 2018 in beautiful Marlborough on the top of New Zealand’s South Island. It is home to some of New Zealand’s most scenic and sacred trails.


Last year saw racers from seventeen countries take the start with Damien Oton and Ines Thoma taking the overall win.

Photo: Boris Beyer
Massive crowd at the riders meeting before everything started! Photo: Boris Beyer
Photo: Tim Bardsley-Smith

The entry link will be posted on the NZ Enduro Facebook page and NZ Enduro website on 17th of November at 7 am AEDT (9 am NZDT). Entries will be open for 36 hours. 140 Successful applicants will be drawn and notified by direct email. You will be able to submit group entries if you are travelling with a partner or group of friends.

Get to the choppa! Photo: Digby Shaw
Cedric Gracia. Photo: Boris Beyer

Basic Facts: Three wild days of racing and riding with your mates around the Marlborough Sounds, NZ. Close to the Picton Ferry terminal and South Island towns of Nelson and Blenheim. Natural trails, native NZ beech forest, scenic liaisons, challenging, fast, flowy, technical and steep at times. Laid back vibe and atmosphere. No start order or set liaison times. Professional timing, ride with your friends, have a swim if you want. Race entry costs are $375 NZD and that includes shuttles, helicopter uplift, food, beer, BBQ and good times, not to mention the infamous NZ Enduro swag bag on sign up.

Mark Scott. Photo: Digby Shaw
Photo: Tim Bardsley-Smith

Both Facebook and the website will be updated with the latest information.

Kia Ora

Sven and Anka Martin

Anka Martin. Photo: Sven Martin
There is nothing better than a well deserved dip in a mountain stream to finish off a fantastic weekend of racing! Photo: Digby Shaw

Follow NZ Enduro on Instagram @nzenduro

NZ Enduro is thinking globally and acting locally, partnering with local providers, food and refreshments sourced locally and giving back directly to MTB trail advocacy programs targeting the trails we are using through the Marlborough MTB club and trailfund.org.nz with a raffle. 

Crankworx Rotorua 2017 Wrap-Up

Stoke levels were high at Crankworx Rotorua.
Stoke levels were high at Crankworx Rotorua.

This year, Crankworx Rotorua played host to no less than seven different events, as well as numerous riding clinics and the huge expo area that’s open to the public everyday, showcasing the latest and greatest from brands across the world.

Competitors and spectators received a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony.
Competitors and spectators received a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony.

Let’s take a look back at all the action over the past week- is it too early to start getting excited for next year? 


Pump Track Challenge Highlights:

The Pump Track Challenge is always a crowd favourite due to its tight racing, which makes for awesome spectating.

Keegan Wright edges out Barry Nobles in front of a full house.
Keegan Wright edges out Barry Nobles in front of a full house.

This year’s event saw the best pump track course yet at Crankworx Rotorua, as well as a big field in both the men’s and women’s categories.

Jill Kintner was edged out by none other than Caroline Buchanan.
Jill Kintner was beaten in the final by none other than Caroline Buchanan.

New Zealand young gun Keegan Wright took out the men’s category, whilst Caroline Buchanan took out the women’s in a great start to what’s set to be a big year of mountain biking for Caroline. Check out some of the best shots from the event below!

Cody Kelley turns the style up to 11.
Cody Kelley turns the style up to 11.
Sage advice from pump track master Adrien Loron.
Sage advice from pump track master Adrien Loron.

Dual Speed and Style Highlights:

Dual Speed and Style is an event unique to Crankworx that draws together racers from all disciplines, as well as trick maestros competing in the Slopestyle, resulting in an interesting mix of approaches.

With time bonuses on offer for tricks, Dual Speed and Style sees some interesting match ups.
With time bonuses on offer for tricks, Dual Speed and Style sees some interesting match ups.

For 2017, the riders were praising changes made to the course that allowed for more speed and bigger jumps throughout.

The course was in absolutely prime condition.
The course was in absolutely prime condition.

Oceania Whip-Off Championship Highlights: 

The Oceania Whip-Off Championship was held under lights this year, and more riders than ever before lined up to get sideways off the massive step up.

Riders turned it on in front of a huge crowd at the Whip-Offs.
Riders turned it on in front of a huge crowd at the Whip-Off.

Young American Reed Boggs took out the main event, but there was so much style on offer that we don’t think we could’ve picked a winner! Have a look at some of the best shots, and see how many Aussies you can recognise.

Jackson Davis flies the VANZAC flag.
Jackson Davis flies the VANZAC flag.
These aren't your regular media squids.
These aren’t your regular media squids.
Reed Boggs and Casey Brown took the wins.
Reed Boggs and Casey Brown took the wins.
And it's not hard to see why.
And it’s not hard to see why.

Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza Recap: 

Crankworx slopestyle contests are arguably the highest profile events in our sport, attracting an audience within the mainstream media, and offering serious prize money.

The Kelly McGarry designed course once again played host to some insane trickery.
The Kelly McGarry designed course once again played host to some insane trickery.

The Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza at this year’s Crankworx Rotorua lived up to the hype. With Brett Rheeder and Thomas Genon out with injury, and Brandon Semenuk failing to get his run dialled, it was Nicholi Rogatkin who took the win ahead of some rising names in the sport.

Brandon Semenuk boosts through the trees.
Brandon Semenuk boosts through the trees.
It doesn't get much better than this.
It doesn’t get much better than this.

Rotorua Downhill Highlights:

The downhill track in Rotorua is a steep, gnarled mess at the best of times, but this year wet conditions made it a true test for all riders.

Loic Bruni mistimed the pond jump just a tad in practice.
Loic Bruni slightly mistimed the pond jump in practice.

Australian young gun Jack Moir came out on top in the men’s, dominating in the wet conditions in a strong showing of early season form, and securing yet another win from an Australian rider at the first Crankworx stop for 2017. Tracey Hannah made it an all-Australian affair on the top step by taking out the women’s.

Shark Attack Jack took the win in the downhill.
Shark Attack Jack took the win.
Two Australians on the top step.
Two Australians on the top step.

Air DH Recap:

The last event of Crankworx Rotorua 2017 was the Air DH event. Held on Skyline Rotorua’s Mr Black trail, riders jumped and pumped their way down the buttery smooth track that is similar to Whistler’s famous A-line.

Richie Rude shows Mr Black who's boss.
Richie Rude shows Mr Black who’s boss.
We think it's fitting to finish up with yet another shot of Casey Brown sending it- were excited for Les Gets already!
We think it’s fitting to finish up with yet another shot of Casey Brown sending it- we’re excited for Les Gets already!

Crankworx Rotorua is growing year by year, and once again it’s got us pumped for a big season of racing! The next stop on the Crankworx calendar is Crankworx Les Gets in June, and we can’t wait.

Fresh Tracks On Scree: An Unforgettable Day At Mt Hutt

Above the clouds at Mt Hutt.
Above the clouds at Mt Hutt.

Remember that time you and your mates booked a trip to NZ and the bike park burnt down…?

Yes, it happened to us. We were are all eager and chomping at the bit to ride a Christchurch Adventure Park, fixated on every new edit popping up on social media. Then, whilst excitedly typing a message to a mate who lives in Christchurch we got a message from him first saying, “Mate big bushfires burning in and around the MTB park here overnight. Definitely check for updates on the park in a few days for your trip.” Confusion reigns; posts come pouring in with updates each sounding like the park might be ok, and then, only a few days before departure, the crushing news that the bike park won’t open.

With flights booked, time off work locked in, what are we going to do? You can’t pull the pin. Are there any other good trails within driving distance? To our delight the answer we found was most definitely yes!

We had heard good things about Craigieburn to the west and the Port Hills closer again, just south of Christchurch. A lesser known option was Mt Hutt, which only popped onto our radar when we saw a kooky sounding “Discover Mt Hutt Family Open Day” flyer on Facebook. It didn’t sound like the wild mountain bike experience we were after – a children’s slip and slide, heli tours, a live cover band… BUT then, we read about their 6-seater chairlift running from 10am to 4pm for hikers and mountain bikers. Our interest levels rose. We were now intrigued but mostly sceptical.

We could see they had great trails at the bottom of the mountain which we knew we could shuttle, but knew very little about the ski resort 10 kilometres up the road and over 1500m vertical higher. We thought it was at least worth pencilling it into our schedule for the shuttle runs at the bottom and to have a look at Mt Hutt, after all it was only open for this one day to bikes.

Unbeknownst to us was what lay secretly waiting.

Hitting the road early out of Christchurch we stop for the essentials of coffee and brekky rolls in an antique store/café in Methven, a small town at the foothills of Mt Hutt that is the closest accommodation for the resort.

Heading up Mt Hutt road ascending above the tree line, then smashing through the clouds into barren and wildly steep terrain we delicately crawl our way around bends without guard rails on a road that is carved into insanely steep scree rock filled slopes. Understandably, we start to get excited.

17124536_10154894980740498_1135249138_n

Jumping on the chair, the terrain below looked insane. The kind of steep, raw scree slopes that looked fresh out of some crazy Canadian edit. But could we ride them? Or were we only allowed on the access roads?

More to the point, was it even possible to ride down the 45-degree expanses of rock?

There’s only one way to find out! We found a suitably ‘safe’ looking setion of scree and pointed our wheels down. It was a surreal experience on a bike – surfing, our tyres buried in loose scree, doing all you can to go with the flow, keep your speed in check a little.

Yeeeeewww!!
Yeeeeewww!!

With more riders gathering confidence, there was that sense of urgency like a powder day at the snow – MUST GET FRESH TRACKS! People were rushing up the lift and just dropping in off the service road wherever looked fun to ride.

The hill progressively collected the visible scars from riders’ lines, progressing from mellow slopes into steeper terrain and then gnarly rock chutes that looked impossible to ride at first sight.

All of this madness with a live music soundtrack from the cover band on the restaurant deck, their sound carrying clearly to the top like an amphitheatre getting you in the groove before dropping in. This was a day we won’t forget anytime soon!

17105748_10154894211555498_1220281093_o
As the day went on, the lines got steeper.

A big shout out goes to the Lions Club for this fantastic day, which was all organised as a fundraiser and brought in over ten thousand dollars for the planned Christchurch Hospital rooftop helipad. I don’t think the volunteers and organisers anticipated so many riders (or so many riders venturing off the service roads!) Thankfully, they seemed happy enough with us riding everywhere and I’m sure a relief to them and to our surprise, they only had two visits to the medical centre all day!

There were only two injuries all day!
Do you think he rode out?

Follow what Mt Hutt is up to and to stay tuned for there next open day here:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mthutt

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/mthuttnz

Entries for The 2017 Santa Cruz NZ Enduro Open Sunday!

After two successful sold out years the third annual Santa Cruz NZ Enduro opens for registration this Sunday October 16th. This three day multi stage enduro race will take place from March 10-12, 2017 in beautiful Marlborough on the top of New Zealand’s South Island, home to some of New Zealand’s most scenic and sacred trails.

The entry link will be posted on the event Facebook page here and NZ Enduro website on 16th of October at 4pm AEST. 

Entries will be open for 48 hours, the 140 entries will be selected using a combination of lottery and ‘first come first serve’ system, as well as some invitational entries.

You will be able to submit group entries and successful applicants will be notified by direct email.

Santacruz NZ Enduro MTB Stage race.

nzenduro_55a0138 juliana_n3x0612 nze-vital-pics-with-captions-46

Nelson Summer 15/16

nzp1010421a


Basic Facts: Three days of multi stage enduro style racing format, March 10-12 2017. Marlborough, NZ.

Close to Ferry terminal of Picton and towns of Nelson and Blenheim. Natural trails, native NZ forests and jungle, scenic, challenging, fast, flowy, technical and steep at times with a laid back vibe and atmosphere. No start order or set liaison times, but with professional timing and the chance to ride with your friends and have a swim if you want. There’s good food, beer, coffee and of course great trails.

NZ enduro 2017 from NZ enduro on Vimeo.

Race entry costs are $345 NZD and that includes a helicopter shuttle, food and good times.

The Santa Cruz NZ Enduro, for those visiting for the EWS, it is perfectly timed to dust off your race cobwebs here in the sunny southern hemisphere.

 

Knee Pads & Roses – A Singletrack Valentine

Mountain bike couple Macky Franklin (@mackyfranklin ) and Syd Schulz ( @sydridesbikes ) have never been that into Valentine’s day.

And why waste time on candlelit dinners when you could be spending the afternoon ripping down pristine New Zealand singletrack on the Pivot Mach 6 Carbon? This video is their ideal date — a little romance and a lot of shred, kneepads and roses. Video by Sean Leader ( @seanleader )

Hero. Legend. Brother.

Yet another win for Jason English over the weekend at the 24 hour Nduro over the weekend in Rotorua.

A fine achievement by an incredible rider, but the story of the weekend is Rotorua local Lance Tavinor’s amazing effort to raise money for Kidney Health New Zealand.


Hero. Legend. Brother.

Rotorua mountain biker, Lance Tavinor was all those things and more when he took on the solo category in the 24 hours of Nduro in the Whakarewarewa Forest over the weekend.

With $5 from every entry going to Kidney Health New Zealand, he was riding for a cause close to his heart.

His older brother, Grant, is ill with kidney disease. Lance is undergoing rigorous testing to see if he is a suitable donor.

He also put himself through one of the most challenging tests for a mountain biker, when he started the Nduro at midday on Saturday.

“He went out a little fast with his race face on at the start,” said his pit crew boss, Benny Devcich who works with him at local bike shop, Cyclezone. “But he settled into a good rhythm as night fell.”

The weather and riding conditions were perfect. After one of the driest and hottest Januarys on record, there was rain on Friday night and the race started in a refreshing drizzle.

Lance was still going strong as dawn broke on Sunday morning.

He passed the 300-kilometre mark on the demanding 14-kilometre course as the clock ticked down to midday.

At the same time, multiple 24 Hour Solo world champion, Jason English, from Australia confirmed his favouritism to win the men’s race, with the New Zealand title going to David Rae in second place.

Another Australian, Liz Smith, was first over the line in the hard-fought women’s category with Kiwi, Anja McDonald, riding a brilliant race to take the women’s title. 

Then the focus turned to Lance’s last lap. He was cheered on his way by a big crowd of supporters and arrived back to an even bigger round of applause. “I had to ride that last lap upright,” he said as he enjoyed a post-race beer. “My back was so sore I couldn’t lean in to the handlebars.” He took a long swig and then held out his hands. They were bruised and calloused. “Sleep next,” he added with his trademark grin.

He was cheered on his way by a big crowd of supporters and arrived back to an even bigger round of applause.

“I had to ride that last lap upright,” he said as he enjoyed a post-race beer. “My back was so sore I couldn’t lean in to the handlebars.”

He took a long swig and then held out his hands. They were bruised and calloused.

“Sleep next,” he added with his trademark grin.

“If there was a Spirit of Rotorua Mountain Biking award, Lance would be a front row contender,” said Rotorua Bike Festival event coordinator, Martin Croft. He was there to watch the end of the race, which was a dress rehearsal for the WEMBO 24 Hour Solo World Championships.

This will be one of the feature events at the 2016 Bike Festival.

This year’s festival launches on Friday February 15 and Lance will be there.

“I’ll see how the recovery goes,” he said. “It’s a great time to be in Rotorua at Festival time, with all sort of events to enter or watch.”

Last year, he channelled Elvis at the Bike Speedway in front of Rotorua’s historic Museum and Art Gallery.

“I might have to just sit in a chair and spectate this year,” he added with a grimace.

Fundraising for the Tavinors and Kidney Health New Zealand continues in April at the New Zealand Singlespeed Championships – very special 100th anniversary Anzac edition.

Race day is Sunday April 26:

www.rotoruasinglespeed.com

Donate to Lance’s fundraiser for Kidney Health New Zealand:

https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/lancekranksitforkidneys

Rotorua Bike Festival:

www.rotoruabikefestival.com

 

Record Sell Out and Stacked Registration for Giant Toa Enduro

Holy Guacamole that was fast!

As was predicted, it was only a matter of minutes before the four hundred ametuer places for the first round of the EWS sold out- three to be exact. Read below for the official word, and we’ll see you in March.

Wondering what trails they’re going to use in the race? Probably a few of these!

http://flowmountainbike.com/features/10-video-special-rotoruas-top-ten-trails/


The Giant Toa Enduro is shaping up to be a fascinating race with a field of competitors from all mountain biking race disciplines set to take on the course at Crankworx Rotorua.

Selling out in under three minutes, the event secured a new Enduro World Series (EWS) registration record yesterday, with a rich field of New Zealanders and internationally-based amateurs set to join the professional riders for race day this March.

All but one of the top 20-ranked men and women from the 2014 EWS season are set to ride, and a number of professional downhill racers have registered, as well.

“This is probably one of the most interesting, stacked mountain biking races with top enduro, cross country and downhill athletes all entered in this one event,” says Neil Gellatly, Giant Toa Enduro race director.

The race roster includes World Downhill Champions Sam Hill, Steve Peat, and Greg Minnaar, who will ride alongside several top downhillers from New Zealand−Sam Blenkinsop, Brook MacDonald, Cam Cole and Matt Walker.

Of the 400 racers registered, 40 per cent are from New Zealand, with 17 other nations represented, including: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, France, Israel, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden and, for the first time in an EWS event, Tahiti.

Race registration from New Zealand shows equal interest from all regions, with riders from Auckland (10%), Christchurch (10%), Dunedin (5%), Queenstown (10%), Nelson (10%) and Wellington (15%). Rotorua has, nonetheless, secured the most representation with 20 riders on the list.

Sponsored by Giant Bicycles, the Toa Enduro Rotorua marks the opening race for the EWS and will be one of five competitive events at the inaugural Crankworx Rotorua.

For those who didn’t make the race cutoff, and true enduro fans, Crankworx will once again broadcast the event live and names are being accepted on a waitlist at www.enduroworldseries.com/waitlist/R1. To date, Crankworx has offered the only live enduro coverage, broadcasting its Whistler event annually.

“We hope to take our live race coverage to new levels this year,” says Darren Kinnaird, Crankworx Word Tour Manager.

Tune into Crankworx.com at 7 a.m. NZDT on Saturday, March 28 to watch how it all unfolds.

Crankworx Rotorua Entries Opening Thursday!

Athlete registration for Crankworx Rotorua opens this Thursday at 9 a.m New Zealand time. This includes registration for the Giant Toa Enduro and the Crankworx Downhill. Organisers are expecting tickets to sell like hot cakes, which is not suprising considering the calibre of trails on offer. Last year we documented the top ten trails in Rotorua- be warned though, if you watch this you will be flying to Rotorua this March! See you there!

http://flowmountainbike.com/features/10-video-special-rotoruas-top-ten-trails/

While you’re in Rotorua, you should also lay down some rubber on the Skyline trails. We’ve been lucky enough to rip many a lap after the cruisy Gondola ride up, and the break from pedalling is a great contrast to the Redwood trails.

http://flowmountainbike.com/features/introducing-skyline-rotorua/

See below for the official word on who has already entered and how to lock in your own spot!


Registration for the first two events of the inaugural Crankworx Rotorua opens 9 a.m. NZDT Thursday, January 22 and those lucky enough to secure a spot can expect to ride with the best.

Athletes interested in racing the Toa Enduro Rotorua, sponsored by Giant Bicycles, and the Crankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by iXS this March can sign up online through the Enduro World Series and Crankworx websites respectively, beginning at 9 a.m. New Zealand Daylight Time (9 p.m. CET Jan. 21 and noon PST Jan. 21).

According to the Enduro Mountain Bike Association, interest in the EWS among the factory teams has grown exponentially for this third season of the series with a record number signing on to race.

Crankworx Rotorua director Takurua Mutu says last year, the EWS stop in Chile sold out in three minutes and Rotorua is expecting an equally quick response.

“This is going to be an epic event, so we want to make sure all athletes competing for an open entry spot are ready when registration opens,” he says.

All of the elite EWS racers from 2014 have registered, including EWS World Champions Jared Graves and Tracy Moseley. Sidelined by injury for most of last season, Jerome Clementz, 2013 EWS champion, is signed up to race, as is Fabien Barel, who returned from breaking his back to win the last round of the 2014 series in Italy.

Several World Cup Downhill racers, who are not regular competitors in the Enduro World Series, are also vying for a podium spot. Sam Hill, Steve Peat, Greg Minnaar, Troy Brosnan, Brook MacDonald, and Sam Blenkinsop have all registered for this first EWS race of 2015.

The window to secure a spot for the Crankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by iXS is not expected to be as tight, but it too will sell out quickly.

“What makes Crankworx special is the opportunity for the amateur athlete to ride on the same track, in the same race, on the same day as the world’s top professionals. We are encouraging those who want to race to register quickly,” says Mutu.

Selection and sign-up for the other four competitive Crankworx Rotorua events also gets underway this week. Those events include the Australasian Whip-off Champs, the Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox, the Dual Speed and Style and the Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle.

Please note registration will occur on New Zealand Daylight Time (NZTD) and athletes will need to consult the international time clock converter to find appropriate time for their home region. To register for the following events, follow the link:

GIANT Toa Enduro: Race March 28. Register Thursday, January 22 at 9 a.m. NZDT− http://www.enduroworldseries.com/registration.php

Crankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by iXS: Race March 27. Register Thursday, January 22 9 a.m. NZDT − http://www.crankworx.com/rotorua/info/athlete-information

Australasian Whip-off Champs: Competition. March 25. Registration to take place onsite just prior to the event.

Rotorua Pump Track Challenge Presented by RockShox: Race March 26. This is an invitational event featuring some of the top World Cup DH and Slopestyle riders. Other professional riders wishing to compete, both male and female, can email [email protected] to request an invitation.

Dual Speed and Style: Competition. March 26. Invitational. Confirmed rider list coming soon.

Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle: Competition. March 29. Invitational. Confirmed rider list coming soon.

 

New Zealand’s Cardrona Bike Park Reopens For Easter

AS FUN AS SNOW ONLY DIRTIER… Cardrona Bike Park will re-open at Easter (April 4th –19th) with a range of chairlift accessed mountain biking terrain suited to all abilities.

Cardrona has committed to developing several new trails as part of providing a park that suits everyone from the absolute beginner to the most advanced riders. Apartments will be open for those wishing to experience a unique on-mountain accommodation experience whilst visiting the bike park. The Handle Bar café and bar (aka Noodle Bar) will also be open over the entire period. The autumn season will finish in style on the 19th of April with the running of a new Mega Avalanche race in conjunction with the “Race to the Sky” motorsport event being held in the Cardrona Valley that weekend. Campervan sites and on-mountain apartments will also be available for “Race to the Sky” spectators.  http://www.cardrona.com/mountain-bike…

Queenstown and Wanaka: Top of the Pile


Flow Mountain Bike - Queenstown and Wanaka 58

This place is almost too easy to fall in love with; the setting is breathtaking, the town has a buzzing, outdoorsy vibe, it’s big enough to have all the facilities, small enough to get around without a car… And it has an absolute tonne of world class mountain biking right on its doorstep.

Flow Mountain Bike - Queenstown and Wanaka 8

We spent four days getting just a sniff of what this place has to offer. It’d be overstating things to claim we even scratched the surface of all the riding, but we did get enough of taste to make us wonder why the hell we, and other Australian mountain bikers, aren’t making this trip an annual journey.

Flow Mountain Bike - Queenstown and Wanaka 70

A gondola-lifted bike park, heli-biking galore, superb shuttled riding, endless backcountry epics, the best dirt jumps going, and it’s all just three hours flight from the east coast. So enjoy the vid, soak up the images, and begin making some plans to get your family, your mates, your crew across to Queenstown.


 

Skyline MTB Park is literally on top of town - the gondola runs from just 100m from the main street.
Skyline MTB Park is literally on top of town – the gondola runs from just 100m from the main street.
Another perfect corner. Get used to them!
Another perfect corner. Get used to them!

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There's a real variety of trails in the Skyline MTB Park, from the buff and groomed, to the steep and loose.
There’s a real variety of trails in the Skyline MTB Park, from the buff and groomed, to the steep and loose.

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Rude Rock is one of many killer shuttle-able trails that run from Coronet Peak, about 20-mins outside of Queenstown.
Rude Rock is one of many killer shuttle-able trails that run from Coronet Peak, about 20-mins outside of Queenstown.
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Oh god.
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Scenic much? Rude Rock is an incredible trail.

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Wanaka, about an hour from Queenstown, might be the prettiest town in existence.
Wanaka, about an hour from Queenstown, might be the prettiest town in existence.
The Millennium Track is a 30km out-and-back along the shores of Lake Wanaka, with views like this the entire time.
The Millennium Track is a 30km out-and-back along the shores of Lake Wanaka, with views like this the entire time.
More Millennium magic.
More Millennium magic.
No trip to Queenstown would be complete without flashing (and riding) the Shotover Jet maniac canyon boats.
No trip to Queenstown would be complete without flashing (and riding) the Shotover Jet maniac canyon boats.
Dropping in! The Shotover Canyon Swing is classic fun. Terrifyingly classic fun.
Dropping in! The Shotover Canyon Swing is classic fun. Terrifyingly classic fun.

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Queenstown is also home to one the most famed dirt jump parks on the planet, the Gorge Rd Jump Park.
Queenstown is also home to one the most famed dirt jump parks on the planet, the Gorge Rd Jump Park.

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No trip to Queenstown would be complete without some heli-biking. Greg from Fat Tyre Adventures guided us for a run down Crown Peak. Mammoth stuff!
No trip to Queenstown would be complete without some heli-biking. Greg from Fat Tyre Adventures guided us for a run down Crown Peak. Mammoth stuff!
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Greg’s done approximately 500,445,499 heli-biking trips, he’s your man.
This is the kind of elevation you get with a chopper. Save your energy for the descent.
This is the kind of elevation you get with a chopper. Save your energy for the descent.
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The lower reaches of the Crown Peak heli-drop take in some 100+ year old mining trails that cling to the canyon walls.

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Cheers, Queenstown! It’s been special, let’s do it again soon.

Keen to do this trip yourself? We recommend:

Air New Zealand for direct flights and staff who’ll look after your bike like they own it.

Skyline MTB Park for some kick-arse trails.

Vertigo Bikes for quality bike hire and excellent guiding.

Fat Tyre Adventures for a variety of incredible heli-biking trips.

Queenstown Bike Taxis for all your shuttle services.

Pinewood Lodge for the great bike-friendly rooms, right next to the Skyline gondola.

Edgewater Resort for the great rooms in Wanaka.

Shotover Jet, Shotover Canyon Swing and the Skyline Luge for a break from the bikes.

 

 

 

 

Must-Ride: Wanaka, New Zealand

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The surface of the lake is 300 metres above sea level, but the bottom is actually lower than sea level by a few metres. Visibility is incredible; the only thing blocking your view in the water is all the trout!

Wanaka makes an incredible first impression. The road into town presents you with an uninterrupted shoreline, offering you a view across the glass-topped surface of the lake to snow-capped peaks in the distance. It’s breathtaking, and this outlook sets the tone for much of the riding in Wanaka; your eyes are on the views, as much as they are on the trail.

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The Millennium Track is 15km each way. It’s quite a hilly ride, but one of the most spectacular you’ll ever find.

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Compared to the very gravity-oriented vibe of Queenstown, Wanaka has more appeal for the cross country or trail rider – the kind of person interested in an epic, scenic ride. The Millennium Track exemplifies this. Wrapping around the western shore of Lake Wanaka, this dual-purpose track is mesmerising in its beauty. Carving around bluffs that allow you to look straight down into crystal clear sapphire waters below, or dipping down to sandy beaches, this 15km point-to-point mightn’t be most technical trail going, but it’s a ride you’d be a fool to miss.

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There’s a tonne of dedicated mountain bike trail too, with both Sticky Forest and Deans Bank networks only a few minutes from the centre of town. Or if you’re looking for something more epic, the Pisa Range with its high-alpine descents and overnight huts awaits. Wanaka is increasingly expanding its appeal for gravity riders too, with more and more downhill tracks opening up in the Cardrona Valley, and the Cardrona ski area opening its chairlifts for riders this summer from 27 December – 11 January.

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Dean’s Bank is a fast loop, crammed with great berms like this.

While it’s easy to get fixated on Queenstown and its glut of trails, you’d be mad not to spend some time in Wanaka too while you’re in the region. This sporty, genuine little town really struck a chord with us, and we’ll be back, you can bet your possum-fur undies on it.


 Where to stay:

Best Budget Option – The Wanaka Hotel. Located in the centre of town, a stone’s throw to the lakefront and close to the bars & cafes. Secure bike storage. www.wanakahotel.co.nz

Best Mid-Range Option – Edgewater. Located on the absolute lakefront – just roll your bike across the lawn and you’re away! Great coffee & check out the baked-to-order scones. Secure bike storage. www.edgewater.co.nz

Best Premium Option – Riverrun. A boutique lodge set on a working farm with direct access to the Clutha River walking & biking tracks. Secure bike storage. www.riverrun.co.nz

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Where to eat:

Breakfast – Federal Diner. One of Wanaka’s best kept secrets. Don’t miss the world famous (in Wanaka) cheese scones! Complete with bike racks. www.federaldiner.co.nz

Lunch – Kai Whakapai Cafe. Wanaka’s iconic lakefront café (corner of Ardmore & Helwick St). Kai Whakapai means “food made good”. Rehydrate with a local Wanaka Beerworks “Brewski”… Bike racks onsite…

Dinner – Francesca’s Italian Kitchen. Authentic pizza & pasta with a twist of Masterchef at great prices. DO NOT miss the polenta fries… www.fransitalian.co.nz

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We’d drive to Wanaka for the polenta fries alone. Francesca’s is a must.
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A Wanaka Beerworks ‘Brewski’ goes down a treat.

More info:

The Pisa Range is a mix of Dept of Conservation and Snow Farm, with a $10 honesty box for access. For more information:

http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/otago/wanaka-makarora/pisa-conservation-area-tramping-tracks/

 http://www.snowfarmnz.com/summer/mountain_biking

 

For more information about Wanaka, head to www.lakewanaka.co.nz  

Must-Ride: Skyline MTB Park, Queenstown NZ

Now get this: it’s real, and it’s only a few hours from the east coast of Australia. We’re talking about Queenstown, a true mountain biking paradise.

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Like a postcard. Just prettier, and with better jumps.

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The mountain bike gems of Queenstown are no secret – this place has always been a mountain bike hot spot – but in recent years things have gone from a quiet simmer to totally boiling over. The riding options in and around Queenstown are now so plentiful that you couldn’t dream of covering them off in just one trip: epic cross country loops, heli-biking, mammoth shuttle runs, the best dirt jumps you’ll ever see. And sitting, literally on top of the town, is the major mountain bike drawcard, the Skyline MTB Park.

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Serviced by a gondola that’ll get you to the top in just six minutes, the Skyline MTB Park is an ever growing beast. Local stalwart Tim Ceci of Vertigo Bikes explains: “Often new trails will get built on the sly, illegally, by locals. Then the next year, they’ll be incorporated into the park.” Already there are a huge number of runs, many of which are criss-crossed by other trails, allowing you to keep it fresh by stringing together dozens of different combos. Even if you came to Queenstown solely to ride the gondola accessed trails, you could easily fill a week with riding, hammering out runs until your hands can’t take it any more.

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From buff, machine-built flow trails…..
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….to steep, rooty, raw chutes.
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Drowning in a sea of green, beneath the beech.

With so many people fixated on ski resort riding in North America, we found ourselves asking time and agin:”Why fly to Canada to ride?” Sure, somewhere like Whistler may have more runs, but when you look at the complete package of Queenstown, it’s an unbelievably good option: it takes three hours to get there from Sydney or Melbourne, the town itself is pumping, the airfares are affordable, there’s bugger all time-zone difference and, most importantly, the riding is insanely good.

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New Zealand is already on the bucket list for many Australian mountain bikers, and we can’t stress this enough, Queenstown MUST be on your itinerary if you’re heading across the ditch.

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Where to stay: There are more accommodation options in Queenstown than you can point and bacon butty at, but we stayed at Pinewood Lodge, which is fantastic value. You can stay in dorm-esque backpacker rooms, or rent the new self-contained cabin like we did. (We’re too old to party with backpackers!). Pinewood Lodge is supremely well located, and it’s less than 100m ride to the gondola! They even have downhill bikes you can rent.

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Bike hire: There are plenty of places to hire a bike in Queenstown, but when our video man Sean ‘The Prawn’ Anderson needed a bike, we went to a true Queenstown original – Vertigo Bikes, located right in the middle of town. They have a massive fleet of downhill, all-mountain and trail bikes to choose from, as well as a range of other services from guiding to skills clinics and transport. Check them out here.

Where to eat: We’re going to offer the same advice we were given: Go to Fergburger. This ridiculously popular burger joint always has a queue (and we mean always!), it shuts for just a few hours a day, has a golden reputation the world over for serving some of the tastiest burgers out there. So good, we went there twice.

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Where to drink: Atlas Bar, on the waterfront, is the mountain biker’s watering hole of choice. Serving a great variety of craft beers, this little joint puts back into the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club with generous donations. They do excellent, great value meals too. Lock it in for a pint or four.

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Always Summer Somewhere: Riding Craigieburn and Nelson, NZ

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Picture yourself: pinned, silently drifting, surfing and jumping along some of the finest singletrack you have ever touched. The only audible sounds are of beech leaves heaving off pristine trail as tires smash its corners, take-offs and straight-shots. The humidity hanging in the air from the nearby Tasman Sea blows off your face, shoulders and hands as if it had never existed at all. This is perfection. This is New Zealand.

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After a few days of crushing hot laps in the Queenstown Bike Park, our crew stuffed itself aboard the HouseMartin van and a relic we’d picked up from a local rental outfit in town. Our rig read 350,000 kilometers on the odometer and was the third and final installment of vehicles we “tested” before leaving town. New Zealand is such a massive hub for backpackers and long-haul travellers that we couldn’t help but imagine the tales our pewter 10 passenger van, bikes in tow, had to tell under its remarkably intact exterior. Manual transmission, right hand drive, questionable high-speed shudders and all, old reliable “kept ‘er pinned” throughout our journey; up and down shuttle roads, along the highways of New Zealand’s south island and all the way to the “top” (of the island) to Nelson. This van was a clear winner – and proved to be so as we watched Anka and Sven battle with periodic stops to pump a perpetually slow leaking tire of the HouseMartin van on our way up north.

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We arrived in our quaint accommodations in the Craigieburn Range after driving nearly 7 hours past countless mind-blowing vistas. The plan was to ride up to the legendary Craigieburn Ski Field in the morning and to the descent of the adjacent Mt. Cheesman, about 16km down the road, in the afternoon. The crack of dawn came early and we all mobilized for what we knew would be a big day. The pedal up to Craigieburn, via the Craigieburn Valley Ski Field Road, proved to be reasonable, and everyone chatted and threw around jokes on the way up. The 7-kilometer ascent toured us past Craigieburn’s winter accommodations and ticket windows, complete with “tow prices” ($50/day NZ for club members), all left in solitude to sleep for the summer. When we arrived at the top of our climb, the forest canopy parted and we were met with the panorama of an open scree-filled alpine bowl, complete with dozens of avalanche start zones and a couple of precariously placed tow lifts down the center of the terrain. Sven pointed out our route of travel: a skinny looking piece of benched singletrack that meandered along the alpine bowl in and out of forested areas and back into the heart of the valley we had just climbed out of.

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The ride down from Craigieburn was everything a person with a bike could ask for. Technical, rocky traverses coupled with rooty sections that could be blasted over. New Zealand is a country so small, half of it could be crossed in 7 hours by our old-timer van, yet it felt so enormous that the terrain we encountered at each stop was so different from the day before it felt like another planet entirely. We were told that this descent takes most riders about a half an hour to ride in full at a reasonable pace, and it was clear that the pedal we did to get here would have been worth doing over and over again, had there been the time we needed. It was time to move on to Mount Cheesman.

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By the time our van chugged itself to the drop-off spot along the Mt Cheesman Ski Field Road, the sun was in the process of shutting down for the evening. We stood atop a view unlike anything we’d seen yet in New Zealand, and we took the time to appreciate the place where we stood. Once riding, we dropped into a few hundred meters of incredible alpine singletrack through tussock grasses, jumps and corners. We continued on to “Ride The Line” just as we saw the sun drop behind the mountain in our peripheral. The dimly lit trail ahead of us dropped virtually straight down the fall line and through the haunting-looking vegetation of the mountain beech (or “tawhairauriki” in Maori) forest we were in. When we weren’t hanging on through the chutes of Ride the Line with full trust our brakes, we were making pointed attempts to open up and look for speed in the places where it felt like we could get away with it. As the group spread out, we could hear each other yelling and shouting with disbelief and utter elation. It was hard to imagine that we could have stepped up the excellence of the terrain we rode earlier that day, but we were getting used to being surprised.

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We travelled north and then west along the West Coast Road in the dark; stopping only to drink beer and eat sandwiches sourced by Anka and Sven in a late night café…visit…in Arthur’s Pass. Canterbury was behind us and the West Coast region crept into our senses: the humidity in the air and the scent of the nearby beaches of the Tasman felt overpowering when we arrived late at night in the small town of Punakaiki. The next morning reared its head with the brightest sun and we found ourselves in cabins nestled within a jungle.
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A short visit to Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and a wicked refuel session at a local café put us back on the road as the HouseMartin van’s tire became more beleaguered; we were able to take more frequent photo opportunities while the floor pump was put back to work. State highway 6 delivered us north and then east to Nelson, and the 5-hour drive gave us all a chance to relax, share a few more tall stories and check out the views out the window.

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Nelson was more than fit to be the final destination for our adventure. We settled into a house perched high on the hill overlooking Nelson and the Tasman coast. Duncan made a single attempt to run along the 14% (and higher) gradient roads that accessed where we were and the sense of newness and excitement over things yet unseen hit our crew once again. As a small port city, Nelson has an international feel that so many towns around the world are missing. Its streets are lined with amazing restaurants, bars and cafes and it has the downtown feel of a tiny, cultured metropolis.

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HouseMartin got the vans and the arrangements in order to shuttle us all up to a local trail on top of Fringed Hill outside of (and overlooking) town the day after we arrived. This is one of Anka’s favorite “after work” rides, and while the challenge of getting to the actual trailhead was something we hadn’t yet experienced while in New Zealand, we were met with the usual stand-out singletrack we had grown accustomed to being introduced to. It was such a contrast from the terrain we’d seen in Queenstown and in Craigieburn, though: this trail had an older forest and gnarled roots everywhere. As Anka and Sven celebrated being back on their local trails, the rest of us awkwardly adjusted to riding over inconsistent roots and rocks and ups and downs; some of us met with the ground more than once, but still found a way to appreciate what this trail had to offer all the way to the Matai Valley.

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It was our final day in Nelson and HouseMartin chose to lead us out with a bang by booking a helicopter to access a trail that would otherwise take a few hours to get to by bike in the Richmond Mountain Ranges. We drove northeast out of Nelson and into the mountains again, along a dirt road and we parked at our “landing zone” in a quiet little campground along a river. This is also where we would end our day. As our pilot skillfully flew our group over a couple of trips to our starting point, we had the opportunity to experience the vastness of this region in New Zealand, bordering between the Marlborough and Nelson regions of the country, from above. As we waved goodbye to the heli, we all sprinted into the unknown of the trail ahead of us with an anticipation that had been fed by the immaculate network of trails we’d seen thus far. This…this was even better.

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The first few kilometers of the trail were high speed, benched and wide, with deep beech leaves spread everywhere. We were teased initially with this descent, as we soon began onto rolling climbs that graduated to full hike-a-bike terrain within a short distance. A short, but significant, burst of climbing landed us to “the top” of the trail according to Sven and Anka. We stopped for lunch and took for granted what we were about to ride. We were partially covered by forest canopy at this point and we sat along rocky outcroppings. It was hard to tell what we were about to ride. The singletrack further on was open and ripping, including root jumps and naturally bermed corners throughout. The beech leaves lay in piles along the trail and robbed us of just enough grip to fear the drifts we were getting into just as tires would regain forward traction to carry on. This was pure bliss.

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Our ride out on that final day sent us along a rolling 45-minute traverse to land us back to the old pewter relic and to a thoughtfully assembled BBQ, courtesy of HouseMartin. We regaled stories of our day – our near misses, triumphs and laughs. There was a sense, also, that we were all about to lose something, despite everything we had gained. This had been a perfect adventure through the Otago, Canterbury, West Coast, Nelson and Marlborough regions of New Zealand. We were all healthy, happy and had finished our week long affair with a fundamental appreciation of the absolute splendor of the country. It was cold and snowy in North America. Wait…why were we leaving again? We had barely scratched the surface of what New Zealand has to offer as a mountain biking destination. Sven and Anka of HouseMartin had meticulously designed a trip that brought us to as many heavy-hitting trails as we could access in a limited period of time. When it came time to say goodbye to our favorite South African buddies, we all felt a sense of appreciation and simultaneous sadness for having seen so little, while managing to cover so much ground. We would be back, and next time for longer; there was no doubt in anyone’s mind. The question was…could it come soon enough?

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Crankworx and EWS coming to Rotorua in 2015!

Mountain biking’s defining celebration is breaking new trail and setting the course for the future of the sport. Crankworx organizers announced today that world-class riding will kick off the 2015 mountain bike season with a brand new stop on the Crankworx circuit – Crankworx Rotorua. From March 25 to 29, 2015, the festival will alight in New Zealand for five days of two-wheeled competition, spectacle and celebration.
“We could not be more excited to be bringing Crankworx to Rotorua,” says Crankworx General Manager Darren Kinnaird. “The trails in New Zealand are out-of-this-world. Adding Rotorua allows us to grow the celebration and share what Crankworx is all about – it’s a gathering of the world’s best riders from all disciplines of mountain biking. It’s mountain biking at its most raw.”
Along with its latest festival, Crankworx will be transforming many of its biggest events into stand-alone series’, including the triple crown of slopestyle, a pump track challenge series, a dual speed and style series and a four-race Crankworx downhill series (two of which will be in Whistler). The Enduro World Series will also kick off the 2015 season in Rotorua as a part of Crankworx.

 The dream was to find the right home for our third Crankworx stop so that we could continue to share events that showcase the best mountain biking athletes in the world. Rotorua is beyond perfect. This is a game-changer.

“The momentum behind Crankworx is continuing to charge forward – it’s become more than a mountain bike festival. It’s become a culture,” says Kinnaird. “We’re now able to offer athletes and the world a series of events to get stoked about. The dream was to find the right home for our third Crankworx stop so that we could continue to share events that showcase the best mountain biking athletes in the world. Rotorua is beyond perfect. This is a game-changer.”
Rotorua has become known as the home of mountain biking in New Zealand. Red Bull’s magazine, The Red Bulletin, ranked Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa forest in the top eight mountain biking destinations in the world in 2013 – the only Southern Hemisphere location to feature.
“We are so stoked to be bringing Crankworx to Rotorua. Where else can you watch the biggest names in the sport throw down, then ride alongside them in the same day?” says Event Director for Crankworx Rotorua and Owner of Mountain Bike Rotorua, Tak Mutu. “It’s a chance not only to showcase the trails that have brought people from all over the world to Rotorua, but also the dirt, the culture and the spirit of the people.”
Mutu, along with Deputy Mayor of Rotorua Dave Donaldson, have been in Whistler taking in the 11th year of the fest in Whistler.
“Sitting here at the foot of the trails of Whistler it is easy to see what an opportunity this is for both of us.” says Donaldson. “In terms of global exposure for mountain biking events, Crankworx is number one, so securing the third international location is a fantastic thing for Rotorua. We’re so excited about what we can bring to this festival and to the mountain biking world.”

New Trails: Rotorua to Score Funding For New Mountain Bike Park

Skyline Rotorua is thrilled with Prime Minister John Key’s announcement that the Government’s Tourism Growth Partnership (TGP) will contribute $225,000 funding for the development of a new mountain bike park on the slopes of Mt Ngongotaha.

Mr Key made the announcement in Auckland at TRENZ, the New Zealand Tourism Industry Association’s international annual tourism conference. TGP is a Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) initiative designed to help grow international tourism in New Zealand. It specifically funds projects that are not only commercially driven, but which also deliver wider economic benefits.

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The Skyline Gravity Park will offer a year-round, gondola accessed bike park – the only trails accessible by gondola in the North Island. It will also be the only year-round, all-terrain mountain bike park in Australasia.

The park will provide trail options for all skill levels from beginners to advanced riders. Several mountain bike trails are planned, providing at least 12km in total. There will be dedicated gondola cabins designed to take up to four bikes and riders per trip giving initial capacity of 3000 downhill runs per day.

The park is scheduled to open in July. Skyline Rotorua will own and operate the site, working with commercial partners Multi Day Adventures who have helped project manage the development, and Empire of Dirt who are building and creating the tracks.

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Skyline Rotorua general manager, Bruce Thomasen, says the funding grant is fantastic news, allowing Skyline and its partners to develop a world-class site.

“We are thrilled with the TGP funding announcement, as it allows us to develop a significant and extensive mountain bike park that is world-class, continuing the development of the Skyline Rotorua site to the highest possible standards.

“The ability to potentially host world-class mountain biking competitions, as well as appealing to all levels of riders – from leisure to adrenalin junkies – complements Rotorua’s status as a top location for these types of events and its international reputation as a premier mountain biking destination.”

Mr Thomasen says the new mountain bike park enables Skyline Rotorua to offer even more to visitors and makes the most of its unique location.

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“Our position atop Mt Ngongotaha gives us a unique set of opportunities and the Skyline Gravity Park is part of realising that. The site gives itself to mountain biking perfectly, with riders able to ascend in the gondolas and then speed their way back down on a number of trails.

“The mountain has previously hosted the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in 2006, as well astwo successful Rotorua Bike Festival Skyline Sprint Warrior downhill races, and the response we have had from riders and the mountain biking community has been fantastic. It is an exciting possibility to add to the list of international events hosted onsite.”

The park will offer half day passes through to a full year pass for unlimited gondola and downhill mountain bike trail access during opening times.

 

Video: Shredding New Trail at Skyline, Queenstown

The Queenstown Bike Park has got a brand new flow trail for 2014. Top New Zealand slopestyle rider Conor Macfarlane and Hutchinson UR team wrench Jamie Tilbury headed up to get their shred on in the fresh dirt.

Funded by Skyline Queenstown and built by the expert hands of Extra Mile Trail Building and Empire of Dirt.

Video: Ride Rotorua Top Ten Trails #6 – Tokorangi

This hillside, which felt the touch of the bulldozer’s blade not long ago, has become a real treat for Rotorua’s trail builders. Gunna Gotta, Corridor, K2 and plenty more have either been reborn or created anew on this slope, where the felling of the trees has left room for creative minds with shovels and dozers to have some fun.

Tokorangi is a treat; it was built in 2012 with permission from the local Iwi, Ngati Whakaue, and like it Gunna Gotta doesn’t loiter in the logged areas for too long, soon dropping into the native bush. It’s a fast ride, with pumps and jumps galore, but make sure you lift your head to take in the magic views across Rotorua before the trail heads into the trees and swoops down the steep side of the hill in a string of awesome 180-degree berms. We were lucky enough to score Tokorangi on a stunner of an afternoon, where the sun burst through the clouds just before sunset – it’s pretty hard to overstate how good it feels to soak in that kind of a scene before taking a rip down such a fantastic trail. Sam Osborne and Paul Gray from local bike shop and hire business Planet Bike show us how Tokorangi is meant to be tamed.
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The Ride Rotorua Top Ten Trails: Day 6, Old School Trails And New School Generations.

“I’m only working in the cafe when I’m needed, and to show my face so my staff don’t think I’m slacking off,” says local coffee shop ‘Zippy Central Cafe’ owner, Morgan Wilson.

“I am often out riding in the forest, surfing or out on the dirt bike,” when we asked about his sweet deal. Morgan chose Gunna Gotta, his most favourite trail in the Rotorua Redwoods Forest to guide us (school us) down.

Gunna Gotta, like chalk and cheese. One half is in recently
Gunna Gotta, like chalk and cheese. One half has recently been logged, whilst the second half threads through the deep worn in ruts lined with iridescent green moss.
Give it time, and the trees will be back engulfing the buff new lines.
Give it time, and the trees will be back engulfing the buff new lines.
Morgan from Zippy Central has been riding here for years, and it shows.
Morgan from Zippy Central has been riding here for years, and it shows.

Gunna Gotta is a bit of an oldie, and a real damn goodie. With recent logging activities, the top half of the track is unrecognisable to the track of old, but it’s another wonderful fresh beginning for the trail builders to sculpt and create a masterpiece of sweet singletrack.

Guys, girls, young and old. The forest is full of the widest variety of users, and the quality of talent and fancy equipment is astounding!
Guys, girls, young and old. The forest is full of the widest variety of users, and the quality of talent and fancy equipment is astounding!
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Mick pulls out of a whoppingly fast corner high up in the open section of Tokorangi.

We traded a local old hand on a rigid single speed for two young frothers from Planet Bike and headed over to Tokorangi for the second part of the day’s filming. We met Paul the uni student and Sam the triathlete for some mighty fast ripping down the sweet intermediate trail.

Paul, with a riding style reminiscent of Nathan Rennie.
Paul, with a riding style reminiscent of Nathan Rennie.
Sam, mountain bike racer turned triathlete calls Rotorua home, and after a season living and racing in Germany returns to guide school groups and visitors around the blissful trails.
Sam, mountain bike racer turned triathlete, calls Rotorua home and after a season living and racing in Germany returns to guide school groups and visitors around the blissful trails.

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Graeme Murray, the bossy boots director, film producer and local legend. Muzza Bobby would often be seen rubbing his hands with excitement when reviewing the footage, it's good.
Graeme Murray, the bossy boots director, film producer and cheery local legend. Muzza Bobby would often be seen rubbing his hands with excitement when reviewing the footage – it’s good. Everyone seems to know Graeme that we meet out in the forest.

Day seven, our final day draws near. Maybe we needed to nominate Rotorua’s Top 40 trails, and we wouldn’t have to go home so soon?

If you want to catch up on the trip thus far check out the previous 6 days here:

Day 1 – Flow Has Landed
Day 2 – The Shredding Begins
Day 3 – Brings Rain in The Forest
Day 4 – How Can Life Here Be So Good?
Day 5 – The Fastest Way To Be Shown Up By a 16 Year Old

 

The Ride Rotorua Top Ten Trails: Day 5, The Fastest Way To be Shown Up By A 16 Year Old

“I’ve been riding mountain bikes since November,” said 16-year-old Keegan as he proceeded to give a riding lesson to two blokes who’ve been riding for as long as he’s been alive. It simply made no sense to us at all; how could a bike with someone on it travel across a jump or through a muddy corner so fast?

Style for miles, and miles, and miles.....and miles. Keegan showed us how it's done.
Style for miles, and miles, and miles…..and miles. Keegan showed us how it’s done.

keegan

 

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Yep, that’s how you do it, Mick. Sorta….

For Day 5 of the Ride Rotorua Top 10, Keegan picked two jump tracks in the forest to show Mick and Chris around for the cameras today. It’s no wonder why, with a healthy BMX racing background and obvious natural talent, his speed and effortless style blew us away. He found rhythm and flow where we were blowing our feet out of the pedals and hanging for dear life. Mick did his best to emulate Keegan’s scrubs, but it didn’t quite work out….

Rotorua Top 10 Day 5

Huckleberry Hound and Little Riding Huck were the tracks on the cards for the day, and with Keegan flying so fast even the fancy pants camera (shooting super slow-mo at 200 frames per second) struggled to keep up – his riding at slow-mo was our normal speed.

It proved to a be another magic day in the Redwoods, with the raining whizzing away to reveal blue bird skies. To cap the afternoon off, we headed back up the hill for a social ride with Gaz Sullivan from Nzo once again; it was a great way to cap things off – a day of riding with groms and god-fathers.

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The Ride Rotorua Top Ten Trails: Day 4, How Can Life Here Be So Good?

It’s also the variety of trails here in Rotorua that makes the experience so damn good, and today proved that to us, with our first run down the hill on a particularly cool trail; Boulderdash. Aptly named, as after a long fast run through a felled area of the forest with step downs, high speed open turns and sneaky double jump lines, we hurtled into a mine field of boulders.

Bryce Shapley from the local Specialized dealer, Cycle Zone chose this one as his pick, and valiantly led us down the track with ball-tearing pace.

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Bryce from Cycle Zone showed us his pick of the forest. Here he assures Chris that the track is safe, and ‘just follow me’.
Hugging a cliff littered with boulders, the brand new track is super wild!
Hugging a cliff littered with boulders, the brand new track is super wild!
Mick drops into a dicey corner on the expert line, Boulderdash.
Mick drops into a dicey corner on the expert line, Boulderdash.

With bluebird skies, and a morning out of the trees in the open, we ripped about on machine-built perfection for the cameras.

Bryce, all limbs and raw speed. On a track like this, you can lay off the brakes and relish in the fine work of the creative local trail builders.
Bryce, all limbs and raw speed on his dialled Specialized Enduro 29. On a track like this, you can lay off the brakes and relish in the fine work of the creative local trail builders.
The whole Challenge Block has about four different runs down it, from 1.4km to 600m.
The whole Challenge Block has about four different runs down it, from 1.4km to 600m.

From the machine built swopping lines of the open terrain around the Challenge Block, we took a ride up to the very top of the forest to the natural native forests of the Te Tihi o Tawa track with the local legend we all love, Gaz Sullivan from NZO. Two very different tracks, just a few minutes ride from each other in the forest.

Gaz Sullivan from NZO, local legend and a formidable singletrack pinner.
Gaz Sullivan from NZO, local legend and a formidable singletrack pinner.

He’s loved by many for a variety of reasons, besides from making hardy mountain bike clothes he supports the scene passionately, and is so frothingly pumped to show us around his favourite trails. And his pick was Te Tihi o Tawa, the lushest most slippery almost spiritual experience you can have in this forest.

Gaz told us a few historic stories of the local Maori people, and the stories behind the names of the area and trails. Then led us into the moist forest like Pied Piper.

A few showers through the night made for a few puddles, and questionable traction surprises galore.
A few showers through the night made for a few puddles, and questionable traction surprises galore. Damian Breach snaps another beautiful shot in the forest, we love the man.
Gaz threads through the greenery, as it leans over to take a look at his planted and powerful style.
Gaz threads through the greenery, as it leans over to take a look at his planted and powerful style.
Some are slippery, some are grippy. Just don't trust your own judgement, best technique is to hope for the best and hang on!
Some are slippery, some are grippy. Just don’t trust your own judgement when your tyres hit the roots, in our experience the best technique is to hope for the best and hang on!
Chris soaks up a bowl hole at full extension on the Pivot Mach 6.
Chris soaks up a juicy bowl hole at full extension on the Pivot Mach 6.

Filming on this track offered us a unique opportunity to stop and look around us instead of whizzing by the beautiful old forest. The ferns and vines are so thick, building this trail is a feat of amazing perseverance!

Everything grows on everything in soils so rich here, it's about as green as the world can get in here.
Everything grows on everything in soils so rich here, it’s about as green as the world can get in here.

Cheers, Redwoods!

The Ride Rotorua Top Ten Trails: Day 3 Brings Rain in The Forest

“You’re not made of sugar, and Split Enz is way more fun to ride with a bit of rain, mate!” says Saul Webb from Avanti Plus, Rotorua. Saul was our guide for the day and he chose arguably the most iconic and mesmerising trails in the forest – Split Enz. Those who know this trail will most certainly know the feeling that goes along with riding it, it’s a special experience.

So lush, if you stand still too long you'll risk growing into a punga tree.
So lush, if you stand still too long you’ll risk growing into one more punga tree.

Filming on this track gave us the opportunity to stop, pause and take in the surrounds, it is simply amazingly lush and beautiful deep in the forest. Everything is growing, and if you were to take one step off the track and your foot will disappear into the loamy undergrowth that acts as fertiliser to the massive canopy above.

Moments after dropping in, you begin to make involuntary hooting sounds.
Moments after dropping in, you begin to make involuntary hooting sounds. Especially this day, with a little more water to make those roots slipperier than you would expect, and so much bloody fun.
New signs, same giddy anticipation at the Split Enz trail head.
New signs, same giddy anticipation at the Split Enz trail head. Mick’s eyebrows can’t contain their excitement.

Saul aboard his Scott Scale converted single speed chose this track because any time he rides in the forest he makes sure he rides Split Enz. No wonder.

Damian, with many years of shooting World Cup mountain bike races in all types of weather, shows us his hands free brolly technique.
Damian, with many years of shooting mountain biking in all types of weather, shows us his hands-free brolly technique.
Heaven, Split Enz.
Heaven, Split Enz.
Anyone recognise this corner?  The three-man camera crew captures the good times.
Anyone recognise this corner?
The three-man camera crew captures the good times.
A rare break in the canopy.
A rare break in the canopy.
This leaf won't be round for long as it turns back into the dirt, at a fast rate.
This leaf won’t be round for long as it turns back into the dirt, at a fast rate.

We’ve seen a few clips of the videos taken so far, and can’t wait to see more!

 

The Ride Rotorua Top Ten Trails – Day Two, The Shredding Begins

Yep, that shoots 200 frames per second. This equals juicy slow motion footage!
Yep, that shoots 200 frames per second. This equals juicy slow motion footage!

“I’ll have a double macchiato and one of those ridiculously delicious white chocolate cheesecake things please,” says Mick Ross, with eyes full of mud and that bewildered expression of complete hunger flat.

Brad from Mountain Bike Rotorua moments before tearing our legs off down Be Rude Not To.
Brad from Mountain Bike Rotorua moments before tearing our legs off down Be Rude Not 2.
New signs makes for much gooder navigation.

We were in between shooting video on the iconic Be Rude Not 2 and the wild downhill track Thanewha, seeking some sugar and caffeine in the Redwoods Forest, at the one stop shop/café/bike hire/workshop/pump track, Mountain Bike Rotorua.

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Fitting in with the Rotorua locals with a Subaru (pronounced: Su Barrr Roo) wagon and a bike rack, and rad number plates.

Day two began early strapping three brand new 27.5″ test bikes to our Q Spear bike rack and finished late into the evening with a Crouchers IPA and a juicy Burger Fuel with Kumera Fries. With grey weather blowing in and out of the forest, making for that spooky and lush forest that is classic Rotorua.

We filmed with Katie O’Neall, one of Rotorua’s most seasoned and speedy cross country racers and the burly shredder Brad O’Malley from Mountain Bike Rotorua as they showed us their pick of the trails in the forest.

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Changing forests mean a fresh start for new trails, and exciting visits to the trails each year when we make the trip over. The new Be Rude Not 2 is a fast, open track with enormous berms and gobs of flow. Ohhh yea, it’s a good one!

With the working forest always changing, as trees come and go the trail builders can have a new opportunity to carve fresh trails into the terrain without massive trees as obstacles – in fact we’ve heard that the plantation is re-planted around the mountain bike trail network over here, cheers to that!

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Mick tips it in. Berms around here are more faithful than a ten year old labrador with a dependancy complex – you won’t wash your tyres out on these whoppers!

Then we hit up the downhill track with local racing champ – Lewis Hamilton and his dad, Dave (clearly his dad, the likeness was incredible). Lewis proceeded to make us look like beginners on road bikes, as he lit up the greasy and steep downhill track, straight after his Canadian campaign of Whistler and World Cups. Holy moly he is fast!

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Hamilton senior telling Chris that Mick sucks on a bike.

The slow motion video of Lewis fully whipped sideways is mental, say tuned.

Crouchers Galaxy IPA, cheers to the Redwoods.
Crouchers Galaxy IPA, cheers to the Redwoods.

 

 

 

The Ride Rotorua Top Ten Trails – Day One, Flow Has Landed.

With one short hop, skip and a jump from Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra, Flow has landed in the familiar and exciting township of Rotorua ahead of the Ride Rotorua Top Ten Trails filming project.

Duty free, the only time it's ok to sample spirits before lunch. Farewell Sydney in Spring.
Duty free, the only time it’s ok to sample spirits before lunch. Farewell Sydney in Spring.

Flow’s own Chris Southwood, Mick Ross, Damian Breach and Pat the Porpoise (the laundry and catering guy) will join ten groups of local folk as they show us their top ten juicy trails in the Rotorua Redwoods Forest.

Here's to that great feeling of a jumping on a plane to Rotorua, where singletrack nirvana is awaiting us.
Here’s to that great feeling of a jumping on a plane to Rotorua, where singletrack nirvana is awaiting us.

First stop is riding the downhill race track and the revamped Be Rude Not To trail with local downhill and cross country racers. Sounds like great times, let’s hope we can keep up! We will be filming ten two-minute web edits over the next five days, so get ready for some sweet moving pictures coming your way leading into this summer.

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“What’s that smell!?”
Swapping springtime in Sydney for lush flowing trails of Rotorua, good deal.
These things happen, we don't know why..
These things happen, we don’t know why..

 

Trails: Christchurch Adventure Park

The Christchurch Adventure Park is the working title of the project to create the world’s first purpose built, year round chairlift accessed downhill mountain bike park on the Port Hills near Christchurch, New Zealand. Select Evolution, a developer focused on creating exciting new adventure sport destinations globally, leads the project.

The ethos is simple; we aim to produce the world’s best quality, most accessible downhill mountain bike park in the world. Building on our experience of similar operations worldwide, this will provide opportunities for all levels of ability and knowledge, from total beginners who require equipment rental and skills instruction to the world’s top downhill mountain bikers in search of the perfect destination for training and competition.

In addition to this, the park will host a range of complimentary attractions and activities to ensure a broad appeal, including a restaurant, retail, ziplines, sightseeing and a mountain coaster. All will be sympathetically designed to blend with the beautiful natural surroundings of the Port Hills as part of an overall program to reintroduce a range of native plant species to the area.

(This content was originally posted on the Select Evolution website)

 

Flowtorua: Come Ride With Us in Rotorua and Taupo

Flow and Two Wheel Tours present Flowtorua!

 

Take your mountain biking to the next level this October, and join Flow Mountain Bike’s Mick Ross on a five-day mountain bike adventure on Rotorua and Taupo’s finest trails, in style, in class and with nothing to do but ride.

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This fully catered trip with Two Wheel Tours will change your life!

 

Two Wheel Tours is offering up to sixteen riders the chance to ride New Zealand’s best mountain bike trails. This land based fully catered mountain bike tour ensures you ride the right trails and experience the best of New Zealand’s mountain bike scene scene.

We ride all the best trails right from the hotel, spend time improving bike skills, mechanical knowledge and ride as much as you want.

Five Day Tour Highlights

Make your own way to Rotorua

Depart Sydney Tuesday morning – arrive Rotorua, via direct fight, and be on the trails that afternoon.

Other highlights include:

  • Ride the legendary Whakarewarewa Forest trails
  • Day trip plus guides to Lake Taupo’s W2K trail
  • Day and a half of shuttle runs in Whakarewarewa
  • Guides on all rides
  • All breakfasts and dinners
  • Cold drinks, including beers (!!!!) available in bike room
  • Snacks – fruit, muesli bars and chocolate available in bike room
  • The drinks and snacks will also be available on the day trip
  • Staying in the one location in Rotorua in a 4+ star hotel

Included on Tour

  • Four nights and five days on tour
  • Met at Rotorua Airport by twowheeltours staff
  • All Ground transport in NZ
  • Bike build and storage room
  • Transport of bikes in purpose made trailer
  • Mechanical assistance
  • Laundry day mid-tour
  • Rotorua MTB Mankie trail map

Here are a couple memories from our trip in March.

Can’t think of anything I would change. The weather was great and the trails were mind-blowing. Before going on this trip I new it was going to be good, but I never expected it to be soo much better than expected. This trip exceeded all expectations I had.  Ravi (March 2013) – Flow NZ MTB Trip

Book Now – twowheeltours.com.au/australia/nz-rotorua-taupo.html

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Just chilling on Lake Taupo, after a blissful and mesmerising descent on the W2K Track.
Lake Taupo, days like this are unforgettable. You'd be Mad If You Don't.
Lake Taupo, days like this are unforgettable. You’d be Mad If You Don’t.
Riders of all level of ability are welcome, with two guides to help show around the trails.
Riders of all level of ability are welcome, with two guides to help show around the trails.
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Plenty of this… Flow!
The world renown Redwoods Forest in Rotorua is absolutely heaven to ride in.
The world renown Redwoods Forest in Rotorua is absolutely heaven to ride in. And the views around Lake Taupo will take your breath away.
Shuttle passes are also included, so jump in the bus and you'll  be up the top of the juiciest bits before you can say, "kumera fries, bro?"
Shuttle passes are also included, so jump in the bus and you’ll be up the top of the juiciest bits before you can say, “kumera fries, bro?”
Juicy, juicy.
Juicy, juicy.
Want to ride these world famous trails?
Want to ride these world famous trails?
Ride with local legends like Gaz Sullivan from NZO and Mark 'Cabin' Leishman.
Ride with local legends like Gaz Sullivan from NZO and Mark ‘Cabin’ Leishman.
Great dinners at local restaurants, breakfasts, post-ride refreshments and snack are all included.
Great dinners at local restaurants, breakfasts, post-ride refreshments (pictured) and snacks are all included.
We stay at the Millennium Hotel, yes that is a spa. Plus the itinerary is dialled, leaving it all up to you to just ride, ride and ride.
We stay at the Millennium Hotel, yes that is a spa.
Plus the itinerary is dialled, leaving it all up to you to just ride, ride and ride.
Have an L&P or a Macs Gold when in NZ.
Have an L&P or a tasting rack of local craft beer, it’d be rude not to.
Woooooo, come and join us!
Woooooo, come and join us!
Cheers!
Cheers!

 

Interview: A Face of Back Country NZ – Ditte van der Meulen

It’s hard to say which one is more famous – Ditte van der Meulen or her orange bike. Ditte’s pedalled that effervescent icon through some of New Zealand’s roughest backcountry and straight into the pages of photographer partner Dave Mitchell’s Mountain Biking South and Mountain Biking North guidebooks and calendars, and Ground Effect catalogues.

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So how did this quiet, low-key physio from the Netherlands come to be the face of backcountry mountain biking in New Zealand?

Finding the trailhead in Kiwiland

 

“I’m a physio and there was no work in the Netherlands when I finished my training, so I did a whole lot of travelling, working in different countries in Europe and Middle East. Then I thought, ‘Hmm… where else could I go?’ I’ve always been into the outdoors, and I met quite a few New Zealanders in Saudi Arabia, and they said ‘Oh, come and have a look at New Zealand.’ And so I did, and I stayed. 

I picked up my first mountain bike in New Zealand, actually, in 1992. Being Dutch, I’ve always biked – as in commuting to school, to university, work, you know, dah-de-dah, but never as a sport. But I managed to score a locum at Mt Maunganui, and got in with some people that were into mountain biking. I got to borrow a bike and I never looked back.

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I travelled around New Zealand for a bit. When I permanently immigrated here, in 1995, I decided to come to Christchurch because the work was here. I was doing a duathalon on some mountain bike tracks at Bottlelake Forest, and I was racing against a girl and we were really level. We ended up talking after that and she said ‘I’m in the Canterbury Mountain Bike Club. You should come for a club meeting.’ And so I did, and I did a whole lot of rides with the club, and that’s where I met Dave.”

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Going feral

 

“Basically, you had to prove yourself to be invited to come riding with Dave’s inner circle. You had to prove that you weren’t just, you know, a flat rider, so to speak, and that you didn’t mind carrying your bike and doing a bit of harder stuff. I definitely remember the first trip we did. I guess I qualified because I wasn’t moaning and I wasn’t too far behind. And that’s how I got into the group that Dave was biking with. That’s how it all started. 

I like backcountry, big trips. A bit of carrying I don’t mind, and climbing rather than flat riding. I’m not very good at the flat. I like singletrack as well, of course, but not obviously man-made singletrack. A variety, really. I think the most I’ve carried my bike has been a two and a half hour up-hill, on no track, on tussock, basically. 

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We try and go as light as possible because otherwise it’s just really awkward, especially if we’re doing a lot of climbing or singletrack. Dave and I can just get away with a 25 litre largish daypack each if we’re doing an overnighter. We take just one tiny little sleeping bag each and an inner, and a coat and a change of clothing for in the hut – one pair of long johns and one top. That’s about it – the rest is all food. We’re cold at night quite often, especially if the fire in the hut is not that good or there is no firewood. We sacrifice a bit of warmth for comfortable riding. 

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If anything, sometimes I take too much. But you just never know what the weather is doing in the backcountry, so I tend to take a little bit too much and then end up carrying it. I have only ever in my real, real early days been caught out in shorts in a southerly here – I should have taken longs, which I didn’t do. But that was before I got to know that the Canterbury weather can change. Now I tend to dress for the carpark and then take stuff off.”

Hardcore five-star accommodation 

 

“Dave and I bought a campervan, and it’s been fantastic. We still only really go away if the weather forecast is good, but with the campervan we can arrive late and we don’t have to put a tent up, we just pull up and roll our bed out. It has allowed us to go away more. With the campervan, we’re away three out of four weekends in the summer, I would say, and the odd winter weekend. Yes, I definitely recommend it!”

The oranje beest 

 

“I have a Giant Anthem. I had been riding a 29er for quite some time. I’ve always been a hardtail girl but Dave has just talked me into full suspension. On our last holiday I was on a hardtail and Dave was on a full suspension, and I could see that he was a lot less tired than I was at the end of a ride, and it looked more comfortable. So I got myself one and I must admit he was right. 

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It’s just a cross-country bike, with only about four inches or so of suspension. It’s been great. It climbs really good. Because I want a bike that climbs really well. It’s a lot more comfortable, and I’m not completely worn out after a long day. I’ve still got a 26er hardtail as well. If I go for a ride by myself after work, I might use that. But for bigger trips, it’s the Giant full suspension.

That was the other thing: these Giants come in real boring colours, and I said, ‘I don’t want to ride a grey bike like so many others.’ So Dave organised it to be painted. It’s sort of coppery orange now. Very nice. Being Dutch, orange is my national colour.”

On being recognised…

 

“Sometimes I see the Ground Effect catalogue and think ‘Oh, not my photo again’. But I always have a helmet on and it’s only people that know me that recognise me, otherwise it’s ‘Oh well, it’s just another mountain biker’. I have different helmets and packs, and a couple of bikes – one is orange, but one is silver-looking. So I look a wee bit different in different photos.

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Dave and I do get recognised at times. We’ll be out on a trip and people will say ‘Oh, are you guys the Ground Effect guys?’ – from the photos, I guess. And I go ‘Yes, he’s the photographer.’ “

Mountain Biking North and South with Ditte

 

“One funny thing that somebody asked me – she said, ‘Have you done all the rides in that book?’ So yes, I have done all the rides in both of Dave’s books. (For the record, that’s 75 backcountry trips, totalling some 3670 kays, with around 64,601 metres of elevation, assuming Ditte did every ride just once.)

I reckon people in New Zealand don’t utilise the backcountry. I guess they find it too hard to organise or do, or don’t know how. A few people have given some good feedback on the books, where they’ve read about these so-called missions and they’ve gone and done them. So Dave’s books have made it a bit easier for people to go and do it. But we hardly see anybody when we are out there – get out of the bike parks and ride backcountry.

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Most rides are on Department of Conservation (DOC) land, so there is hardly anywhere that you need permission. Most of it is all ‘Oh, just go and do it’. There are lots of Conservation areas that have just sort of gone over into DOC hands. So read up and go and do it. That’s what we do, you know. We just get a map and read up and think ‘Oh, that would be cool to do,’ and then maybe check with DOC and see if we can, and then we just go and do it.”

For more of New Zealand back country, check out Flow’s Going Wild feature, or track yourself down a copy of Dave Mitchell’s Mountain Biking South and Mountain Biking North

 

 

Motorbikers Wreck Mountain Bike Park

Members of the Marlborough Mountain Bike Club are faced with hours of manual labour to repair damage to the Conders Bend Mountain Bike Park outside Renwick after it was repeatedly ridden on by motorcyclists.

(As appeared on the Marlborough Express. – http://www.stuff.co.nz/marlborough-express/news/9078151/Motorbikers-wreck-mountainbike-park)

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Messed up: Marlborough Mountain Bike Club committee member Kevin Wilson inspects the damage to the Conders Bend Mountain Bike Park tracks by motorbike riders.

Club president Mondo Kopua said that only mountainbikes are permitted on the purpose-built track, but illegal off-road motorbikes were unfortunately not a new problem.

“We are really disappointed that this damage has been done. There are members of the club who have put in a huge amount of time and effort to develop those tracks,” said Mr Kopua.

The damage was spotted on Wednesday morning by club secretary Alana McLucky. She suspected that something even larger than a motorbike may have been through the park, cutting up the normally smooth and flowing corners.

Marlborough District Council drainage and floodway reserves officer Steve Bezar said that while he had not yet inspected the damage, there had been problems with motorbikes being ridden on the track in the past. “Unfortunately there are people out there who think they can do what they like. We have also had problems with vandalism like the sign at the park being smashed, which happened again the other day,” he said.

The mountainbike park is a joint collaboration between the club and council, with much of the funding and manpower coming from the club.

“It’s a great resource for Renwick people – they don’t have to come into Blenheim to ride a mountainbike park. The guys who built it did a really good job and the tracks are suitable for all ages,” Mr Kopua said.

He had himself encountered motorbike riders on the track while he was there with his young children, who were frightened by the experience.

The number of working hours and possible cost involved in the repair work was not yet known.

 

Video: Wookie in The Wild, MTB in NZ: The Kiwi's Episode 1

In the first episode of The Kiwis, The Perfect Line head out with local Downhill racer Sam Perry – the ‘Wookie’ – to sample the steep, tight and technical downhill, fast flowing single track and freeride trail-galore that is Christchurch, New Zealand. Wookie in the Wild, MTB in NZ : The Kiwis, Ep. 1

Trails: Skyline Queenstown Has Announced Details of a New Trail and Season Prices

Skyline Queenstown has announced details of a new mountain bike trail as it launches its season pass prices and information for 2013/14.

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Starting at the midway clearing and gradually flowing through Queenstown bike park, the new $75,000 trail is going to complement the steady gradient of Skyline’s other green trail Hammy’s, providing riders of all abilities with an alternate option to the base of the gondola.

Skyline General Manager Lyndon Thomas said he was “delighted” to be able to offer local riders and visitors a new experience.

“For many bikers in Queenstown, New Zealand and even Australia, we’re the location of choice, so we’re really pleased we can increase the number and range of trails we offer and provide these riders with more thrills and the same convenience factor of a gondola ride back up the hill,” he said.

“Since access to these trails first opened, we’ve seen the continued growth of mountain biking as a sport, creating a significant economic benefit for many businesses throughout the region.

“This is a burgeoning market and Skyline quickly realised the importance of additional investment for both the company and for Queenstown tourism.”

Work will commence shortly after the season opens on Thursday 26 September 2013.

Skyline Queenstown is home to the Southern Hemisphere’s only gondola-assisted bike lift, providing direct access to 13 world-class mountain biking trails and varying terrain for all abilities in the Queenstown Bike Park.

The 2013/14 pass prices and dates have been released on www.skyline.co.nz/queenstown/mountain-biking/

This year, in an initiative to harness the growing interest among youngsters, Skyline Queenstown is offering Season Passes to local Wakatipu High School students at a special rate of $249.

The mountain biking season is scheduled to close on Sunday May 4 2014.

Prices for an adult half day pass start from $60 and there are full day, multi day, season and half season passes available. Details are available on the website or by calling +64 3 441 0101.

Rotorua: New Hotel, Mountain Biking Facilities at Waipa

Plans have been announced for the development of a mountain biking hub at Waipa – which will include a hotel, retail outlets, a cafe and permanent mountain bike and toilet facilities.

Red Stag Timber will start developing the mountain biking area next year, with construction of a hotel complex to begin as early as 2015. The area will also include a two-storey facilities building with around-the-clock security.

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Red Stag’s former staff village site, across the road from the current carpark, will be cleared and divided into lots, with the company hoping the 14ha site will become a “tourism hub”.

Red Stag chairman Marty Verry said the development was long overdue as mountain bikers had long been demanding better facilities at Waipa.

He said he and his late father Phil had for many years had a vision of what could be done at Waipa, and that plan had been “dusted off” again in the last couple of years.
The decision to base the New Zealand Mountain Biking Centre of Excellence at Waipa had spurred the company back into action, he said.

Rotorua District councillor Dave Donaldson said the council had been negotiating with Red Stag for “some time” over the future of the site and he was pleased agreement had been reached.

“It looks exciting for Rotorua, it’s long overdue to have some decent facilities there.”

He said a “dusty carpark” and portaloos “didn’t cut” it for the site, especially now it was to be New Zealand’s official mountain biking base. Rotorua had an international reputation for the sport and could not afford to rest on its laurels, he said.

He said the hotel and all other commercial enterprises in the development would be down to Red Stag with the council responsible for the toilets and carparks. The toilet design has been confirmed, and includes a track running over top of the toilet block.

Rotorua businessman Ray Cook has long been an advocate of the value of mountain biking to the city.

“It’s a major tourist attraction for Rotorua,” he said. “All the other centres around New Zealand have played catch up to Rotorua – we need to keep ahead of the game.”

Mr Cook said he hadn’t yet seen Red Stag’s plans, but supported any development of the Waipa facilities.

He said he hoped the council would prioritise building the toilet block, while sealed carparking was also good news.

Mr Cook said he wasn’t sure about the demand for an on-site hotel given the abundance of accommodation in Rotorua.

“When people come mountain biking there is more to it than mountain biking – [it’s] the whole experience.”

http://www.rotoruadailypost.co.nz/news/plan-for-mountain-biking-hub/1939313/

Video: NotBad – Official Trailer

This is a tale of epic adventure. A tale of seven brave riders who set out from the four corners of the globe to gather together under one roof in a town located at the ends of the earth.

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A tale with no beginning and no end but where a few things happen in between. Things like eel fights. Yeah that’s right… f’n eel fights. So watch this movie. Why? Because it’s ‘Not Bad… 30 days of bicycle tomfoolery in New Zealand’.

A new short film from the crew who brought you The Collective, Roam, Seasons, Follow Me and Strength in Numbers. Starring: Brandon Semenuk, Brook MacDonald, Brett Rheeder, Cam McCaul, Andrew Shandro, René Wildhaber and Ryan Howard.

Not Bad is produced, written, directed and edited by Anthill Films and presented by Trek in association with JBL, Shimano, Bontrager, and Pinkbike.com. Additional support for the film was provided by Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Destination Queenstown, Good Fortune Collective and Immersive Media.

NotBad – Official Trailer from Anthill Films on Vimeo.

Giant 2W Gravity Enduro Rotorua

Weekend warriors and local thrashers will rub shoulders with world champions, Olympians and former international stars in this week’s inaugural Giant 2W Gravity Enduro mountain bike event in Rotorua.

With online entries closing on Thursday, organisers already have several hundred super-keen riders chasing $45,000 in cash and prizes, ready to tackle 18.4km of timed downhill trails as the curtain is pulled on the 10-day Rotorua Bike Festival.

The gravity enduro format is booming overseas and has piqued the interest of a number of world-class Kiwi riders, including Olympian Rosara Joseph, fellow cross-country champion Mike Northcott and former world cup downhiller Jenna Makgill.

Makgill is also a two-time winner of the Cycle Courier world championships and admits the endure enjoyment factor is providing huge motivation to get back on her bike again.

“I’m super-excited as Whakarewarewa is one of my favorite places to ride and has been since I was a grom in my cross-country days,” Makgill explained. “It is also the only place I have ridden in the last year since taking up mountain biking again – man it rocks! The concept is awesome as I like the idea of a few timed areas but how you go about getting there is completely up to you, plus you can go out with friends and do it. It’s a lot more attractive to the average Joe, who just loves to ride yet knows there will some boys and girls out there faster – I’m big on the idea of participation and getting people involved.”

Tokoroa’s Northcott has won seven national titles in cross-country and single-speed and has represented New Zealand 14 times, including at the 2006 Commonwealth games in Melbourne.  But the 31-year-old concedes his cross-country career is winding down and he was looking for something new to start racing without the same pressures of performance.

“I’ve always enjoyed the going-down part – and hitting the odd jump or two – of riding the most and with the fitness from all the years of cross-country racing, these new Gravity Enduro events look like way too much fun to pass up,” Northcott said.

Top local hopes include rising Rotorua cross-country rider Sam Shaw and Simone McGregor, another experienced Whakarewarewa campaigner.

The Giant 2W Gravity Enduro features four race stages which must be completed in a 5 and a half hour window.  Unlimited shuttle passes are included in the entry fee to get riders who do not wish to ride up the hills to the start of each stage.

All competitors will start and finish on Eat St in the heart of Rotorua’s restaurant district, with riders rolling out in groups of five every 15secs, heading along off-road trails into the forest to complete the race stages before returning via the same route.

And it’s not just New Zealanders eager to sample to incredible downhill trails of Rotorua.  American professional Brian Buell is just one of a number of overseas riders who have signed on to compete.

“Downhill has been my main focus until recently but this year I’ll be competing predominately in Enduro events throughout New Zealand and North America,” Buell said. “The endure discipline is really taking off and there is a lot of support behind it in the mountain biking industry, while the events also provide the most riding for your dollar and leave you extremely satisfied at the end of the weekend.  I’ve heard great things about riding in Rotoura and I’m really looking forward to being a part of it.”

A strong contingent from Australia will be riding, including four members of the Kempsey Macleay Off road Cyclists (KMORC) club in New South Wales, thanks to a reconnaissance trip two years ago by president Jayson Shelley.

“After enjoying the flows of Rotorua so much, I realised how dumbed down our tracks had been and how fitness was favoured over skill,” Shelley said. “While many of the New South Wales Gravity tracks are still cross-country orientated, the chance to race Gravity on the Rotorua tracks was right up my style and we’re  pumped to get back over.”

Event director Neil Gellatly will release the closely-guarded course details at the race pack pick-up and late registration, which is at the More FM Bike Expo in the Rotorua Convention Centre on Friday and Saturday, plus Brew Craft Beer Pub on Sunday.  Late entries will still be accepted up to 9am on the day.

Going Wild

My partner Chris Turnbull and I had been living in Australia for four years. The singletrack scene in Australia is plenty varied, with something to please every palate, but during our visit to Dunedin, NZ, I wanted to take my bike backcountry Kiwi-style.

After a week of scooting out for quick rides on the local trails between rainy spells (very Dunedin), Chris and I were ready for something a bit different.

We got up early, our sights set on the Otago high country, about an hour and a half out of town. With the tank of the Toyota Hilux full of fuel, and our tummies full of coffee and servo pies, we headed inland. The roads got quieter and narrower. The Old Dunstan Road, where our bike ride was to start, was a winding shingle road at the base of the Rock and Pillar Range. [private]

On route to the trail head.

Chris and I chatted about the tussock-land we were driving through. The tumbling slopes and gently curving ridgelines of the range shone like beaten gold under the wide, pearly sky. From the road, the range looked like a Graham Sydney painting, all smooth, soaring planes and flawless skylines. Nothing like the kinds of environments we usually rode through in Central Australia.

We pulled up at our trailhead – a narrow four-wheel drive track up to the skyline. Chris looked about. ‘No cafes, no hordes of people: it’s not a bad spot,’ he said.

‘Yeah, but will the riding be any good?’

‘Only one way to find out.’

We grabbed the bikes off the back of the track and loaded our packs on our backs. I paused by the truck for a moment to watch Chris begin his ride up the hill.

The track, really no more than twin muddy scratches in the hillside, twisted and buckled up the tussock slope. As we slowly ground our way up the hill we discovered the damn thing got stealthily steeper. We dropped through the gears, heads down, lungs screaming. Chris slowly pulled ahead. Mercifully, he paused on a flatter section to take in the views and catch his breath. I slowly huffed my way up to him.

The wind in the tussock as the trail winds up the hill.

‘You alright?’ he asked.

‘Yeah.’

We were aiming for a ski hut called Big Hut. We planned to have lunch there before retracing our steps to the truck.

‘Might. Be a. Slow. Trip,’ I added.

Chris nodded. The track might have been made by four-wheel drives, but it was no highway for mountain bikes, and the riding was proving more challenging than either of us had expected. Keeping the wheels turning on these rutted tyre tracks, over gravel, tussock clumps and gnarled roots, was way harder than cruising along on groomed trails.

Riding through a Graham Sydney landscape.

Chris looked up the hill at the climb ahead. It was hard to tell where the true top was, but the climb would definitely steepen before we reached the tops.

‘We’ll see how we go.’

We got back on the bikes and resumed our slow plod upwards. We stopped often to catch our breath and check out the views.

Up close, Sydney’s idealised rolling hills were packed with texture and movement. The tussock-lined hillsides are punctuated with species of native hebe and lichen, and piles of sharp grey schist. When we got to the tops, the wind was brutal, tearing at us and buffeting the tussock so it ruffled up like choppy water.

It was mid-summer, but we were riding through mud, water, and even divots of snow in shady spots on the track. Chris had perfected sand-riding when he rode through the Simpson Desert a few months ago, so the white fluffy stuff barely registered as an obstacle to him. Not to be beaten, I screeched along, hoping my momentum would get me through the snow too. But when I tried to follow Chris’s tracks through a longer patch, I lost traction in the slush. I dabbed a foot and stepped straight into a puddle of icy water.

Determined to share the fun, I baited my dares with care: ‘Hey, Chris,’ I called back after trying to ride through a treacherously deep snow slough. ‘Ride through this section without putting a foot down and I’ll buy you two Kiwi beers and a whole bottle of Central Otago pinot. You won’t even have to share.’

Nic gets her feet wet in the summer snow (melt).

Chris pulled up at the beginning of the snow-melt and slush. Clouds reflected off the still water, making it hard to gauge the depth of the puddle. Chris eyed it thoughtfully – not a good sign. Then he wheeled his bike up off the track and rode through the knotted clumps of vegetation and rock on the side of the track.

‘You don’t get any pinot for that,’ I said.

‘I know, but I don’t get my feet wet, either,’ he grinned.

Time was getting on. Aware we were due back in town for dinner, we slogged up the climbs and ripped down the descents, expecting to see Big Hut at any moment. But the tops just seemed to roll on and on.

Eventually, Big Hut came sight, just across a shallow valley. We could get there by following the track, which continued on and then arched back around, or we could try going cross-country. I knew Chris had been itching to try riding through the hebes and tussock. With the clock ticking, I voted for the most direct route too. We lifted our bikes over a barbed wire fence and set off at a renewed pace.

The hut book: ‘The biking is tricky.’

Turns out, riding off-road – proper off-road – is hard. We had to dodge prickly Spaniards while trying to hold a line through lumps of tussock and rock and over knotted ground. About 60 metres from Big Hut, the ground got soggy – a marsh. No wait, a creek. Full of snow-melt. We were walking our bikes by now. Chris turned to me, one foot in the water, the other still raised, to ask if I had found a drier way through. No such luck.

At Big Hut we wandered around the building, eating at full speed, trying to refuel for the return trip.

When we finally grabbed our bikes and started to reverse our steps across the marsh to the four-wheel drive track, things were not looking good. We seemed to be going slower than before. For all its gentle-looking rolling tops, the Rock and Pillar Range is still an alpine environment, and the weather can clag in at any time. This was no place to get caught after dark in just cycling gear.

Chris stylin’ it through some of the last remaining snow patches. Lucky it was mid-summer as it would have been far worse earlier.

When we got back to the four-wheel drive track, the wind was battering at us and I was so cold and tired I was moving in slow-mo. Chris handed me some beef jerky. I chewed on it methodically and then fished a gu from my bag. I was so stuffed I swear I could feel these new sugars and grease hitting my blood stream.

Then we got back on our bikes.

Lucky for me, despite the undulating ground, the track did have a governing gradient. We fairly flew across the tops. When we paused for one final fuel stop before starting our descent proper, Chris pointed to the truck, parked far below.

I tried to follow his gaze: ‘Where?’

‘Over there, look. That white dot.’

It was miles away. Then Chris looked at me, and I nodded. We pointed our bikes down the hill and started the final descent.

Going downhill, those same steep, loose-shingle scars demanded even more attention. It would be so easy to lose concentration and choose a line that disappeared into one of those deep water ruts, sending me flying. Mud flicked up, the flecks splattering my bike, my arms, even my face. I rode on.

Chris arrived at the truck just before me. We dropped our bikes on the ground, pulled off our backpacks and collapsed on the ground, panting and laughing.

It might not be what we’re used to, but backcountry riding is berloody fun.

NOTE: The Rock and Pillar range bike trip is described in Mountain Biking South: 41 Great Rides in New Zealand’s South Island, by Dave Mitchell (Bird’s Eye Guides, Craig Potton Publishing, 2010), available through Ground Effect www.groundeffect.co.nz 

Chris outside the ‘Big Hut’. A great little lunch spot and well out of the wind.

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Interview: Kelly McGarry Drops By

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Kelly McGarry would be terrible at hide and seek. He’s six foot four and with a mane of red hair that would put your average viking to shame – there’s not much chance of missing him.

‘Hey, has anyone seen Kelly?’

McGarry is also NZ’s finest freeride export, and for the past seven years he’s been travelling the world, completing in slopestyle and freeride contests, making a name for himself a rider fond of big lines. He divides his time between two of the best riding destinations on the planet – Whistler and Queenstown – meaning he doesn’t have to worry about winter ruining the fun.

While in town for the X-Up Freeride Festival (sadly cancelled due to Mother Nature’s tantrums), he dropped by the local jump spot to have a chat.

These are decent old jumps – the bigger kickers are a good eight foot tall, with gaps that most would think twice about. Only, when Kelly rode them, they looked small. His bike looks small too, almost like it has 20″ wheels, and he chucks it about; it didn’t take too many runs through the big set till he was 360ing and flipping.

360 table over the big one.

In between runs through the jumps and sips of Coopers Pale, we asked Kelly about how the freeride scene is changing, where it’s going next, which riders inspire him (Darren Berrecloth) and why we should all make the pilgrimage to Queenstown NZ.

One-foot table over the hip, looking far too relaxed.

Anton Cooper and Cam Cole tackle Mt Fyffe

What happens when you take one professional XC rider and one professional downhill rider and send them up a mountain above Kaikoura, New Zealand?

We weren’t sure either, but that is exactly what we did in December with current Junior World XC Champion Anton Cooper and 2006 Junior World Downhill Champion Cam Cole.

Descent
Anton Cooper, Martin Frey, Darryn Henderson and Cam Cole race down from the summit of Mt Fyffe, Kaikoura, New Zealand.

To make conditions even more volatile we threw in five-time New Zealand downhill champion – turned business professional – Darryn Henderson. He is 47 these days, but still has the mental aptitude of a teenager the instant he touches a mountain bike.

Martin Frey joins the, aghhh, this is awkward … fray. He’s a German XC racer visiting New Zealand to learn some tricks off Anton or at least devise some ways to poison him.

Mt Fyffe is 1600m tall and rises straight above the Kaikoura coast. It’s a hell of a climb, but the descent is oh so creamy.

If you think there will be blood then you’re right. There is blood and lots of it.

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Cooper
Anton Cooper (just days before his Cannondale Factory Racing announcement) near the summit of Mt Fyffe, Kaikoura, New Zealand.
Mt Fyffe
Anton Cooper, Martin Frey, Darryn Henderson and Cam Cole on the summit of Mt Fyffe, Kaikoura, New Zealand.
The summit
The summit of Mt Fyffe, Kaikoura, New Zealand.
Darryn Henderson
Darryn Henderson climbs a technical section on Mt Fyffe, Kaikoura, New Zealand.
Summit
Anton Cooper, Martin Frey, Darryn Henderson and Cam Cole on the summit of Mt Fyffe, Kaikoura, New Zealand.

Deans Bank – New Zealand

The Lake Wanaka region of New Zealand is renowned as one of the upcoming mountain bike hot spots of the world, with over 500km of tracks on offer.

Justin Leov rides the Deans Bank trail, in Wanaka, New Zealand on a beautiful Autumn day. The trail is a 12km loop (approx 45 mins) accessible to riders of all abilities with incredible views of the surrounding mountain amphitheatre and into New Zealand’s largest river – the mighty Clutha.