The sound of fresh coffee beans grinding is a familiar alarm clock by now. The ‘smell test’ is how you determine which shirt to wear. Two–dollar beers from last night are oozing from my pores and it is time to go to work. We’re on week three here in Queenstown with a ten–man crew to capture a TV show called Drop In. A mountain biking lifestyle show that gives its 1.3 million viewers (per episode) a behind the scenes look at pro bikers personalities and showcases each persons unique riding style.
Shooting its fourth season the boys have decided upon a new location, a change in scenery from North America. The target is New Zealand, a country made famous for its love of sheep and adrenaline…sometimes enjoyed together. Like any good crew every person fills a niche and rounds out the team. Randy Spangler is the all smiles veteran that rips better than punks half his age. Darren Berrecloth is a name that was quick to see ink when he brought his BMX infused riding to mountain bikes. Steve Romanuik brings a pinner–DH style with a hint of life–is–good credo. Mike Kinrade is the plum dropper from the B.C. interior that keeps his head out of the clouds. Shawn Denny is a trials rider who could easily make it in the stand up comedy world. Also to make sure we scored the goods we invited Kiwi local Nathan Greenwood, the creator of Dream Track in Queenstown, and our own Tama Easton, the tour coordinator, a guy who has ridden the entire north and south island. The idea is to load up two RVs and hit up some of the more popular riding spots like Queenstown and Rotorua, as well as try to find some undiscovered gems that only a handful of locals whisper about in secrecy.
So like any road trip there is always adversity to face, but we faced our largest before leaving Canadian soil. There we were, all sitting on the plane stoked to get the trip underway. It was a quick flight to L.A. then off to fly 13 hours to Christchurch in NZ. All was good; film hand checked, bikes boxed and checked in specially for us…sweet it’s time to kick back and enjoy the experience. But wait, what this? We have to get off the plane…what the hell! Ten minutes earlier a sketchy man was escorted off the plane by security, and besides a few quick questions by police we thought all was good. We were wrong, the sketchy guy had apparently uttered threats of a bomb as he was being taken off which catapulted us into a 12 hour delay and sent Mike the producer scrambling to re–book eight flights to N.Z. the next evening.
Our tyres touched down in Christchurch a day late, but we had made it and the stoke was back. We quickly see the potential in NZ, it is huge, massive scree slopes dropping to the plains, crazy rock formations that made movies like Lord of the Rings epic, and backdrops that look like they’re paintings all make for great locations. But the biking scene isn’t quite as ambitious as the landscapes that shadow it. With only four million people living in a country that has slightly more square kilometres than the U.K., New Zealand is a untapped resource that forces us to bring out the shovels and picks to create some freeriding playgrounds…the riders are stoked.
That’s not to say there aren’t rippers here, because there are. We run into them in at every location we go to. But similar to riders from the U.K. or Europe these riders are heavily influenced by the race scene, which creates a totally different style track and approach to what our mostly Canadian crew are used to. Stunts pepper the trails throughout B.C., ladder bridges, hips, tables, berms etc. are the norm in Canada. Here in NZ speed rules and the melting pot of mountain biking with our crew and locals is all caught on video and photos. Dropping in…
The sound of fresh coffee beans grinding is a familiar alarm clock by now. The ‘smell test’ is how you determine which shirt to wear. Two–dollar beers from last night are oozing from my pores and it is time to go to work. We’re on week three here in Queenstown with a ten–man crew to capture a TV show called Drop In.