Well summer is in full swing now, and last weekend was a sure reminder of that. The miserable weather that has plagued the Wakatipu for the last few weeks decided to pack it’s bags and leave.
Episode 10 PT1 of Jimmy Carling’s NewZealand Diaries.
Saturday and Sunday were hot, very hot, which was fantastic as Saturday saw the annual Wynyard Frantic Freeride take place at Mini Dream.
The sets were riding very fast due to the ground being so tacky from all the recent rain. Numbers were seemingly down on last years event, mostly due to the fact that there was also a National on the same day in Dunedin, about 3 hours away. Kelly McGarry was absent which meant there was gonna be no front fliping going down, Luke McCombie was forced to watch from the sidelines due to a recent fall on the Wynyard Express DH which saw him break his collarbone and a few other locals were either working or in bed with a hangover… probably.
But it was an epic day none-the-less. I hadn’t ridden my bike an awful lot in the week leading up to it… No real reason, although going back to work after 3 weeks off over Crimbo has certainly been a shock to the system! So it was quite interesting going straight into riding mini dream, Was a bit wild at first, lots of overjumping and landing to flat soon made me realise I needed to chill a bit if I wanted to have a good day, but after a couple of runs it was all sweet. Matty Boombatty was microphone master and along with the Revolver sound system provided some big phat beats to keep the energy high, although I seem to remember he couldn’t stop going on about how good the sausages off the barby were, which in true Boombatty style led to him going off on an inuendo filled tangent about the quality of local sausage and how important it is to make sure you’re never without a good bit of pork!
Back in the jam there was so much good riding going down, Conor Macfarlane from Invercargill was first to start riding and made it known he was out to have fun. He canned and suicide-no-handed almost everything, then switched over to his hardtail only to bust out some perfect 3’s and flips, then hopped back on the big bike and carried on rippin’ it up over every line. Nathan Greenwood was super smooth and precise as usual, Bret Frew was styling up a storm and pretty much everyone was putting on a wicked show for the crowds. If you were there and rode I hope you had a blast. It was a pleasure being amongst so much good riding. One of the funniest moments of the day for me was as I was walking past some unlucky guy’s bike, who’s had taken a hard slam which saw his wheel end up fully taco-ed. Marty Anlezark is one of Queenstowns’ best bike mechanics and has recently set up his own workshop, and upon looking at this poor guy’s wheel I noticed Marty had slipped one of his new business cards in the spokes – classic!
But the biggest surprise and of course, crowd pleaser, was the fact that about three quarters of the way through the jam a few people decided it was a perfect day to ride big dream. Now in case you’ve been living in a cardboard box in the middle of butt-f*ck nowhere for the last few years, The Dream Track is the pinnacle of modern trail art. It’s the kind of place that a lot of people turn up to ride, then soon change their mind when they get there and see it for the first time. You might remember it from Drop In New Zealand a few years back, where Steve Romaniuk, Berrecloth and co were stunned by what Nathan Greenwood had created. But huckers beware, this is no place for big balls and no skill.
There have been many victims on the dream track, already a few this summer. I’ll let you know right now, I’ve yet to ride it. I want to, I really want to, but the thing with the dream track is that not only do you have to want it really badly but you also have to possess the mental stability to keep your head under control at such high speeds over such big jumps. Lately I’ve been thinking about it so much that sometimes I lie awake in bed at night with my heart racing, unable to get back to sleep. It takes precision, control and agility to ride the Dream Track. Some of the gaps are so big that even being slightly off target on take off can translate into being many feet away off the side of the landing and crashing through the trees.
But it’s not doom and gloom, when ridden correctly, the feeling is said to be unrivalled, hence the name given. Whilst chatting to Seb Kemp online recently, he advised me to have a “fearful respect” of the place but also that when pieced together in one pedal-free run, the rider is rewarded with an unparalleled feeling. Hopefully I can make it happen this year. Who knows.
Unsurprisingly it was Nathan who called dibbs on first run, and everyone was lined up by the road gap at the end to watch. A few girlfriends were stood around, understanding they were about to see something cool, but not really aware at just how impressive it would be. So in rolls Nathan, hits the first hip, into the step down, suicide no hander, into the huge double, no hander, and then finally over the road gap, calm as anything and again – no hander. The crowd go wild. I’d like to take a moment to say Nathan is one of the most accurate, pin-point-precision riders I have ever seen. You could put a coke can on the landing of an 80 foot gap and he’d land his back wheel right on the ring-pull.
Then in rolls Tom Hey, again who had been riding awesome all day. It took Tom a couple of runs before finally hitting the road gap, but then on about his third or fourth run he hit it, and man did he hit it. Tom landed about 25 foot down the landing! Nutter! But my hero of the day was Conor MacFarlane. Not only did he show huge versatility and a cool bag of tricks on Mini Dream, but he also decided it was time to step it up and ride the grandaddy like Nathan and Tom. Watching his first few attempts from by the road gap at the bottom, he was hitting the step down sweet enough, but then over-shooting the following double so much that he had no choice but to bail out of the final road gap. As time progressed and the runs were taking their toll, I honestly thought we weren’t gonna see him complete a full run, and after a while people made their way back down to mini dream to continue the jam.
Whilst at the bottom talking to Nathan, I just saw Conor come flying into the mini-dream arena at about 70kms an hour down the road gap run off, and everyone went nuts. I’ve never seen someone look terrified and exhilerated at the same time, but just from looking at Conor’s face, you could tell he had just experienced that “Dream” feeling. Well done Conor, the Wynyard Frantic Freeride belonged to you. And such a nice chap! Just writing about it, I’m feeling so stoked on what was an awesome day at Wynyard. So much so that as soon as I’ve written this I’m gonna go down the pub.