Our New Zealand correspondent, Jimmy Carling, will be bringing you weekly mountainbike news every Wednesday from down under in Kiwi land in our Midweek Enzed feature.
Here’s the first philosophical installment:
Think about this for a moment. Somewhere in the world, the sun is rising. The dark of night is being replaced by a new dawn, and this new dawn is presenting fresh opportunities to all forms of life . It is presenting to people the chance to make something happen. Using nothing more than opposable thumbs, the mind and the world outside the front door, this new day brings with it undeniable truths. The world will be different at sunset. Socially, environmentally and politically, things will have been tweaked, adjusted or worked on.
Some will go to bed smiling, others crying, some won’t go to bed at all. The frame of mind we will be in when we go to bed will largely be due to our actions throughout that day. We will be presented with challenges and choices, some big and some small. Yesterday has already influenced today, and tomorrow will be decided by what we do in the next dozen hours.
For some, and most, the day will be taken on in a somewhat removed mindset – lights on and no-one home kinda’ affair. Trundling along with the current, not really questioning it, not really understanding it, but enjoying the view along the way none-the-less. Many will continue to be dissatisfied with what is beyond their front door and most of these “many” will continue with life as it is, unhappy but also unwilling to do something about it.
But not all of them will. Today a few will wake up and look around and decide that what’s around them no longer bears any truth to their existence. They will look to the horizon and wonder what’s beyond it, then they’ll decide they’re gonna go and bloody well find out what does lie beyond it. These people are about to take their life and do something with it, not really sure of what it is they want but extremely sure of what they don’t want. These people are about to live. They are about to invest proper time and effort into their own life in order to reap the ultimate rewards – friendships, experiences and memories.
Switchbacks on Coronet.
Here in New Zealand, Queenstown’s biking community are these people. Like minded and level headed, they understand that true wealth lies in ones’ heart and mind. They know that it is not the things that we own but the decisions that we make that define us and that it is not the money that we earn, but the time that we spend, that leads to the purest happiness. This two wheeled community are a small and dedicated family, and are my favourite people.
For those who missed the Midweek Enzed‘s last year, this weekly Wednesday feature documents the riding scene in what is an extremely beautiful part of the world. Founded on the gold rush of the 1800’s, the town was named so as it was deemed a place so beautiful that it was fit for the Queen herself. Now the real gold lies in the lifestyle that is enjoyed by every single Queenstown resident.
As Emily Johnston said in her recent Whistler Seasonaires webisode, it isn’t a case of waking up and deciding what you’re going to do that day but rather deciding what you’re going to miss out on.
Fancy a 440ft bungy jump? Go for it. Feel like a jet boat ride through narrow canyons? It’s up the road. Maybe you’ll go for a ride, have coffee with a mate, then go for a 15,000ft skydive, followed by mega-lash wine tasting experience with some pals out in the Gibbston valley? It’ll be a busy day, but it’s possible!
However, despite there being so much to do in such a small place, it’s not all in your face. Walk 5 minutes out of town and you can find peace and quiet. Take a book, a packed lunch – take nothing at all and just stare at the scenery. There is as much or as little as you want to do. Spoilt much?
Of course the big news humming around town this summer is the announcement that the Skyline gondola is opening to bikers. It would be wrong for me to say that there aren’t a few issues that need ironing out, but for a town that has worked so hard for so long to re-gain access to the gondola for bikes (like in the early 90’s before an accident involving a walker and a rider saw two wheels being banned from lift access) it is fantastic news.
Currently Nathan Greenwood is flat out building a mellow punter style trail to ensure that all abilities are catered for. The trails already on the hill favour advanced riders, but now an easy line will be available for less able riders. The current price for a season’s pass is $NZ475. The opening hours are from 10am until 8pm, so plenty of time to get your runs in. However the main points that have raised significant concern are that, firstly, there is NO patrol on the hill. As I write a solution has not yet been found. But this is a major issue. If you bin it bad enough that you are unable to get yourself off the hill, you better make sure you got some good buddies around you as your fate will largely rest in their hands.
To quote the ginger one – “Wakatipu basin oh wait no its Jimmy’s anus!!”
A typical scenario would involve someone having to call an ambulance, the ambo driving from Frankton to the bottom of Skyline access road, then driving up to wherever you are roughly, then having to come walking through the woods to find you. You could be in for an ordeal, and that’s before you’ve experienced the local hospital service – an experience in itself… Eh Webbo? The second issue revolves around trail maintenance. Erm… What trail maintenance? So far there is to be none with the exception of the Vertigo trail being voluntarily maintained by Vertigo Bikes staff and the new trail that Nate is currently building also being maintained. The rest of them will get ridden to the death.
The third peculiarity lies in the time of opening. Spring runs from Sept-Nov inclusive, summer runs from Dec-Feb and autumn goes from March-May. The gondola is due to open on the 24th of Jan, just in time for the last month of summer, and set to close on the 29th of May (3 days before winter). To give you an idea, the last two years have seen the first hikes of the snow season happen in early May. So if you wanna go for a ride on the 28th May at 7:30pm, you will need lights, your favourite woolens and possibly a few lumps of coal and a carrot so you can decorate your snowman at the top. But with all of this said, we all maintain a glass half full attitude. We have Skyline investing time and money into mountain bikers and a new door has opened to the two wheeled community. Everyone is excited and so they bloody should be!
Great news also lies in the fact that Seb Kemp’s League of Gentlemen Un-Race Series will be continuing. Last year’s ringleader and QT’s favourite postal-courier Graeme Cooper is once again at the helm, although has decided against running the show on his tod and instead has invited numerous people to help in the running of the events, a wise and applaudable decision. The current dates are as follows:
Dec 2nd: Das Uber D – Skyline.
Dec 16th: Pump Track Party – Jardines Park
Jan 6th: Snakes in the Grass – Frankton Beach
Jan 20th: Really Railing Rally Race / Pin it to Swim it
Feb 3rd: Chainless Vertigo
Feb 17th: King and Queen of Skippers
March 3rd: Super D – ALEXANDRA
17th March: Das Uber D Fancy Dress – Skyline
Bring 2 bucks, self timing device, beers and a smile. Remember cheaters cheat themselves. More details check out the LoG facebook world fan page – http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/theleagueofgentlemen
Of course all the national events as well as local jump jams and freeride events will be taking place throughout the summer. Keep an eye out on the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club website for dates and details – www.queenstownmtb.co.nz. If you’re in town and not a member, then JOIN. Support the club. Trails and events don’t just invent themselves. This year members get their flash new membership cards which entitle them to all sorts of perks around town… Like discounted beer! Whey!
If you kept up with last year’s webisode’s then you will remember my main steed was an old Bighit. Well… It was emotional, but I’ve decided that things were no longer working out between us and it was time to move on. Love big bikes, but I’ve grown tired of how un-versatile they can be. I wasn’t quite prepared to drop down to something like 140mm all round, still a bit lean for me yet. Eventually I made a bit of a bold decision and imported a Lapierre Froggy 518 (No Lapierre dealers in NZ) from the bike shop I used to work at back in Guernsey in the Channel Isles. Cheers Ian! She’s 180mm of ear to ear grin and I’m so glad I made the switch back to single crowns. She’s still a bit heavy but, surprisingly, goes uphill well. Plus there’s plenty of places to shed a few pounds. It handles like a dream and the large is a perfect fit for a gangley 6ft 2″ bugger like me. Frog and I have been inseparable since our first ride. It’s love.
Simone Smith loves her camera!
One of the most recent rides we embarked on saw a gang of us headed up Coronet Peak to ride the old XC downhill. Amazingly, despite not having any maintenance for almost two years, it’s in great condition. I’m not sure it’s the snow in the winter or just the fact it doesn’t get ridden so much since NZ Ski close the lifts to bikers. It’s a slog of a climb up, but the view from the top is just breath taking. It was biking in it’s purest form. Good friends, good trails, great views and lots of laughing. The laughter was mainly directed at Simon Smith’s pink camera and it’s white leather case with hip attachment. See for yourself… At least he’s comfortable with his sexuality. Fnar fnar. The evening was rounded off with a flat out and very sketchy run of Zoot track and then an arse bearing aero race down the coronet peak road.
And on that note, I’m going riding.
Until next week chums.