The month of December brings around the close of spring and the official start to summer here in the southern hemisphere. Fresh green leaves, flowers and young livestock – signs of a world waking from a wintersleep – are now well established and into another seasonal cycle.
The growing season here in Queenstown is a short but intense one, as residents reach for the mower, hedge trimmer or hosepipe to keep on top of the rapid growth that their gardens put on. The smell of barbeques fills the air in localised patches around the town, and accompanied by the long evenings and spectacular light across the mountains, it really isn’t hard to see why summer never fails to capture our hearts.
Yeh, it really is this steep. Right to the top.
Our dry weather continues here. A patch of showers on Monday morning is all the watering the Wakatipu has had in a long time. The trails are fast and loose and it seems like after every ride my eyes are dry and burning from the dust. Although I’m not complaining… Snow in the UK? Already? No thanks.
However nothing marks the start of a two wheeled summer quite like the first round of Seb Kemp’s League of Gentlemen. It’s the first major gathering of anyone and everyone that rides here; a chance to catch up with close friends or make new ones. Spirits were high, as was the turnout, with Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains gracing us with an ever beautiful backdrop to the event.
The “Das Uber D” consists of a staggered descent of the Skyline hill, with climbs linking sections of DH together to create one very intense little event. This year the course took a different route, featuring one big gut buster climb from Huck Up onto the fireroad and all the way back up to midway clearing, some half a kilometre ascent I’m guessing. By the time you hit this climb you were feeling pretty sore, and by the time I got to the midway clearing I had a stitch so bad that I was moaning like a little girl, to the point where Lynne and Emily Weir thought I’d stacked and injured myself. Not this week anyway…
Coming into the open at the top of Fernhill loop. Mat and Neil keeping the dream alive.
The finish was down by Steamer Wharf in town, at Pub on Wharf, their first time hosting us. LoGgers were only allowed to stop their stopwatches after a compulsory beer chug, something which always goes down well when your mouth is dry as a bone and you’re gasping like an asthmatic smoker. Massive thanks to Chris and the crew for laying on a fantastic venue and of course free beer. It’s GC’s like you guys who make fun times possible! As the times went up on the chalkboard I realised that amidst all the excitement at the top of the hill, I had forgot to start my stopwatch… D’oh.
Most good times were hovering in the 19 minute mark, and then along comes Jim Hawkridge, Queenstown’s most insanely fit fitness freak, with a 17:42… Smoked ’em proper. What can you say to that? I was behind Jim for a good portion of the event and it was really at the start of the long climb that he put the time into everyone, coming in almost two minutes quicker than second place. Good work Jim.
Skyline: Unstoppable Hawk!
Unfortunatley there was a serious shortage of photos taken on the evening, my camera’s battery dying and no one else really bringing cameras. So instead I have decided to illustrate the event and Jim’s winning margin in true League of Gentleman fashion using Microsoft Paint. This took me ages to do, so I hope you appreciate it. Next LoG will be the Pump Track Party with the venue still to be confirmed.
The new pumptrack at Jardine’s was looking a little hammered the other day so it might end up going down at Gorge Road Jump Park. As always keep an eye on the League of Gentlemen Facebook page. Oh and while I think of it, is there a League of Gentlemen chapter just started up in Dunedin? Anyone from Dunners wanna share what you guys are up to? LoG fever is spreading!
Neil looks out to the native beech forest in the background, as the wilding firs creep up into the foreground.
On the weekend I teamed up with a couple o’ mad scots to ride the fernhill loop, but this time doing it in reverse by heading up through Wynyard which features a very long and very steep ascent through wilding conifers, made even harder by the switchbacks on the way up and also by the fact that you’re on your cardio limit most of the way up. As always though, the view from the top is breathtaking, and it’s also an interesting place to monitor the spread of wilding conifers in the area.
Mat, doing the deed that must be done.
The native beech forests are holding strong amidst the ferocious spread of Douglas Fir, but it’s clear to see from up there that New Zealand has a major problem on it’s hands as these trees spread and grow like weeds. My working week is spent working with trees and woody plants as an arborist and I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like the wilding pine problem that they have here in NZ. The firs grow faster than anywhere they are native to in the world. It’s not uncommon to even find these things self seeding in your driveway if it’s not used very much. If you head up there, do us all a favour, spend 5 minutes pulling out seedlings and saplings. A small and seemingly insignificant act, yet it all helps to keep on top of the spread.
That’s it for this week. Who knows what the next seven days have in store… Midweek Enzed 4.
Organic, fresh, free range and available at your friendly, local website on Dec 15th.
Photographer Simon Williams has just sent over some photos from the Dirt Park DH race in Wanaka, which was featured in last weeks MidWeek Enzed.
Check out www.siwilliams.co.nz for more of Simon’s work.