From Dirt Issue 109 – March 2011
I had to come back, I had no choice really. After a much anticipated, then disastrous crash ridden short first visit to New Zealand, I vowed I would return some day and hopefully the tables would be turned.
Looking back every racer has their highs and lows. For me ’06 World Champs in Rotorua managed to be both. My race run was the low light of my already pretty dismal (or comical depending on whose perspective) racing career, yet it still made the highlights reel on New Zealand national TV, unfortunately it was the highlights reel that featured four of the week’s worst crashes, two of which just happened to be mine mid race run. I don’t think this was the kind of media coverage the sponsors were after.
The next eight days of the ‘dream’ holiday were spent looking out of the window of a rented camper van that I could barely lift myself into and out of without my back freezing up while my wife Anka, hiked, jet–boated and bungee jumped herself all around New Zealand. Awesome.
Somehow the next four years shot by in a heart beat: work, family gatherings, friend’s weddings, all dictating our off–season travels, but when the snow started falling in Oregon early October, it was time to book the tickets for some endless summertime Kiwi fun.
With so much riding on offer all condensed into two relatively small islands, which combined are only the size of Colorado, we hatched a vague itinerary over a few late night Skype chats with Caleb Smith, New Zealand editor of Spoke magazine. He provided a couple of ‘must do’ rides both on and off the beaten track and a list of local contacts in each town who would all be sure to try break us (they often succeeded) on their best and toughest local trails. Roughly ten days to be spent on the North Island and another twenty on the South Island, all super flexible, our schedule dictated only by the quality of trails, ‘flat–whites’, pastries and an abundance of scenic freedom camping spots to sleep at>>