This was supposed to go up yesterday, hence the “midweek” in the title, but Billy’s off foraging in the woods and I’ve been busy commissioning videos for the coming year (check back for more on this, you’re going to love it!). Anyway, it’s come that time of year when a bunch of lucky gits swan off to somewhere dry to ride bikes for months in the sun, then send us words and photos to really rub it in. Introducing Jimmy Carling and Luke Sergent…

Words: Jimmy Carling
Photos: Luke Sergent

So… here we are … November. The world cup has been and gone, the tears have almost stopped flowing from Dr Peat’s historic champs victory (Sheffield steel for life baby!) and the transition into the off season is virtually complete. Of course, while the latter is true for those reading this in the northern hemisphere, where I’m living, things are only just kicking off. Spring lambs are losing their cuteness by the day and are just becoming regular fat sheep, the blossom from flowering trees and shrubs is being replaced by fresh green leaves and most importantly, the trails have woken from their winter sleep to receiving lashings of TLC from excited local riders. This special, unique part of the world to which I’m referring, is the land of the long white cloud – New Zealand.

This new weekly supplement to the site marks the start of an extensive insight into the rides, riders and post ride activities that make this place unlike any other in the world. You’ll have to excuse a major bias to Queenstown and the central Otago part of the South Island, but over the coming weeks you’ll see why this part of the world has captured the hearts (and minds) of those who live and ride here.

Built on the gold rush of the late 1800’s, Queenstown was named so as it was deemed a place so beautiful it was fit for the Queen herself. Since then the all the obvious gold has gone, and the only true gold you’ll find lies in the hearts of those who have worked tirelessly to make mountain biking what it is here. There are too many people to start naming them all. They all have day jobs, but also possess the passion and guts to take their spare time and put in hundreds if not thousands of unpaid hours managing the politics, driving diggers, slapping spades and raking soil. Thanks to people like this, New Zealand is no longer just a place to skive off the winter. It is a premiere mountain bike destination in its own right.

Enough of the talk. You get the idea. Recenty the Vertigo downhill track, which is situated on Skyline, has had a complete makeover from Nathan Greenwood and the boys from Vertigo Bikes. Think serious digger action as opposed to light spade work… Combing existing trails with new sections through previously unridden parts of the woods, V-Line as it has affectionately been referred to, has drawn a lot of attention from both amateur and advanced riders alike. Due to its smooth, wide and jumpy nature it can be either plodded or pinned and allows for fast progression for less experienced riders. It’s not everyday you see smelly, knuckle dragging dh-ers being followed down by Mr and Mrs Smith with their 2.4 children. It’s a huge difference from what was there before. Skyline features a lot of technical trails and as such was only previously ridden by the more core bike enthusiasts, but the range of riders now hitting up Skyline can only be a good thing for the growth of the sport down here. Here’s to a successful summer!

One of the additions to “V-line” – the creation of some super-g berms. Yeeoo! My old Bighit may be 3 years old and been the victim of some harsh abuse but she still goes.

Dan Thwaite, of Vertigo Bikes Queenstown and Ticket 2 Ride BC, samples part of the new lower section, as the steam powered T.S.S Earnslaw chugs on by in the distance.

Matt Wragg manages to stop thinking about aussie women long enough to float a wee stepdown!

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