Jimmy Carling wraps up the Summer season from New Zealand in his last Midweek Enzed report.
It never ceases to amaze me how quick the summer goes. No sooner have winter woolens gone back into the depths of cupboards do they find themselves being pulled back out in preparation for the colder temperatures. Autumn is continuing it’s vibrant display of colours and smells, not to mention the sight of the occasional smoking chimney. Industrious folk are out gathering their firewood or harvesting the last of their veggie gardens, as the sun sits lower and lower in the sky with each passing day. The clocks have gone back too, so now is the time to be savoring whatever light is left after work.
Here in Queenstown April can be a funny old month. Not only must one adapt to the changing seasons, but also to the loss of close friends. Being a rather transient town means goodbyes are a big part of life, possibly the biggest downside to living here. It takes time to build a relationship with someone, and even longer for that relationship to become a strong and healthy one. Webbo’s left, so has Dan Thwaite, Matt Wragg, Phil Golsten, Luke McCombie has headed back to Wellington… The list goes on. Such is the nature of almost every alpine town. Quiet season is upon us, but it’s a time to savour, to unwind, gather your thoughts and ponder about life. Soon the lifts will be running on the ski fields, the snow homies (or snowmies) will be decorating the mountains with their multi-coloured XXXXXXL snow clobber and mad winter house parties will once again be in full swing.
On the riding front the last few weeks have been amazing. Gorge road jump jam number 2 went off in style with standard madness from all who rode. Flips, 3 whips, 3 double whips were popping up all over the shop. Connor MacFarlane busted out a huuuge and previously un-hit gap, despite crashing on the first attempt and casing on the second. Seb Kemp’s League of Gentlemen saw it’s final two rounds take place. The first was the much anticipated MeagreAvalanche which saw participants set off in groups of 6 and went from the paraglider’s take off at Bob’s peak, just above the Skyline terminal, down the quad track, into the walking track, Ant’s track (very steep and tech in places which was also riding extremely fast at the same time being very loose and dusty), out from Ant’s into the midway clearing, off the bike to run with an egg and spoon round a set course, back on the bikes, into Turd Sandwich, V-line, Lower Turd, Wynyard Express, onto the walking track by the lake and finishing by the public BBQ’s.
Previously the V-Line chainless event acted as a seeding event for the Meagre, but apart from the top 6, no one could remember who finished where. Si Smith had won, Blair Christmas was second, yours truly third, Mat Weir fourth, Tim Ceci 5th and Kristian (can’t remember surname!) 6th.
With this in mind the six of us lined up to start things off… Firstly we ran to our bikes… Why not eh?! Inject a bit of Le Mans to spice things up. Blair got away first with me right behind him, and behind me, well, just clouds of dust and screams from the other boys that they couldn’t see anything. After some flat out firetrack action I pipped past Blair on an inside line through one of the hairpins, who then overtook me again on the walking track. Dropping into Ant’s track, I didn’t realise but I was about to have one of those mental snapshots that will stay with me for the rest of my life. We were hauling ass through Ants, it was the wildest and fastest ride I have ever had down there. There’s a particular section where, again, it quickly becomes steep whilst making a long, loose, rocky and rooty left hander. Heading into that I was right on Blair’s wheel and the view was out of this world. Kinda reminded me of the Dirt cover from issue 94 – This low, orange, evening sun scattering through the trees and dust, whilst at the same time seeing Blair at full throttle right in front whilst I ploughed through his roost right behind. Two corners later and Blair got bucked off though a particularly nasty switchback. A quick holler to see he was ok received a positive response, so I put full throttle back on and pinned it down to the midway clearing. Then the egg and spoon course… I pulled in, grabbed my egg and spoon and hit up the slalom track… A controversial tactic emerged however, possibly originating from previous egg and spoon events at school sports days back in primary school… A quick thumb on the egg ensured it wasn’t going anywhere! Hopping back on the Big(s)hit I ploughed on through the remainder of the track to the public BBQ area, where Mat Weir later rolled in, in second place with Si Smith in third. It was possibly the local race of the summer and much like the MegaAvalanche, everyone was sat round at the end with huge smiles and stories about the sheer madness they had just gone through. Good times.
The final LoG was the Uber D Fancy Dress. Being the last event meant ending the season in style, and top prize for Fancy Dress went to Gina Matete in her Bridezilla outfit… Freaky to say the least! But before proceedings could get under way there were two people who had to be punished by this year’s LoG organiser Graeme Cooper. First up, me, for thumbing the egg, and secondly Si Smith who rode the V-Line-chainless/Meagre seeding race on his dh bike, then switched to his all rounder for the Meagre itself. The rules stated you had to ride the same bike for both events. So, publicly, we had to down a dry weetbix covered in marmite before we could set off on the Uber D. Busting out a run of Skyline with what felt like tar stuck to your mouth was unusual, but in fairness we both deserved it!
In the Uber D almost no one rode the set course, a few new trails had just been built that needed to be ridden in a bit more, so most just made up their own route. Of course, this meant all times and positions were completely meaningless. It was really just an opportunity to ride with people you might not see for a long time, so it was worth savoring. Once again, Revolver provided the venue for the apres-ride booze and raffle, but also came the sad news that the place was to close. As you read this, the doors should have been shut for the last time. Very, very sad. Their role in the mountain bike community has been the stuff of legends. A combination of factors have forced the decision, but rather than dwell on the negatives, I’d like to publicly thank Revolver on behalf of the local crew and riders the world over who have been on the receiving end of Johnno and Matty’s generosity. You have been amazing hosts and have given us all many great memories. The bar may be closing but the legend will live on forever. We wish you all the best for the future and all the health and happiness under the sun.
Finally the Preston Russell Law, 7 Hours of 7 mile took place on a chilly yet beautiful autumn day. The course was extremely tough; very tight and unforgiving. To be quick you almost had to ride it at about 70% per cent pace but ensuring you’re shifting was spot on. The easiest way to loose valuable time was to be pinning it on the down’s and not be braced for the short, sharp climbs that popped up out of nowhere. Riders could enter as teams or as solo competitors, so I teamed up with Dan Thwaite as a duo. However, Dan was rather ill and I was surprised he still wanted to have a go, but after 4 laps by me and 2 laps by Dan he was destroyed. The thought of doing the remaining 5 hours solo with no training didn’t appeal in the slightest, so we were forced to pull out. Here’s the official report from the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club:
“The Preston Russell Law 7X7 mountain bike race course consisted a 5.3 km lap with over 220 metres vertical of climbing per lap. A new link trail, called “Satan’s Corridor”, provided a lot of entertainment as some riders elected to ride off a 4 foot high rock drop, others taking the easier, but still difficult, chicken run. Crash of the day went to Queenstown’s Mike “Fergburger” Kelly, who decided to land on his head rather than his bike over the rock drop smashing his helmet in half. Luckily for Mike, he has a thick head, and he won a new helmet as a spot prise.
The men’s team was won by vivian+espie singlespeeders. After leading early in the race, vivian+espie team rider Bernard Robinson broke his chain, which cost the team dearly taking them into last place at the end of the second lap. R+R Sport team took advantage of this and lead the men’s team section for most of the day. After a few more mishaps, both Brent Herdson and Garth Weinburg crashing in Satan’s Corridor and Gerrard Wilson losing his gloves, the vivian+espie team regained their composure to catch up and overtake R+R Sport in the last few hours of the race to take the win on 17 Laps (90km with 3,740 vertical climbing – the height of Mt Cook). R+R Sport team finished second on a very respectable 16 laps.
The women’s team was won by the “Brake-Hose” on 12 laps and the mixed team section was won by Wanaka’s “Racer’s Edge” on 15 laps.
The solo entries was a hard fought race between Queenstowner’s Jim Hawkridge and last years solo winner Mark Williams. Jim had a 6 minute lead on Willy for much of the race, but Jim punctured with 2 hours to go Willy overtook Jim to take the win by 8 minutes. Both Willy and Jim completed 16 laps (that’s 85 km’s with 3,400m vertical climbing) within the 7 hour time slot. Awesome effort guys.”
Awesome effort indeed. To bust out such fast lap times for seven hours, over such a course requires an astounding level of fitness.
So really… That’s about it. What an amazing summer. An amazing summer all captured by Matty Boombatty and condensed into one action packed dvd…To say it was hugely anticipated is an understatement as Summer Sessions 3 rocked the house in Revolver. The premiere was on April 1st, and it was packed out. To think everything in the film has been shot either in Queenstown, close to Queenstown or featuring Queenstown locals, well it just goes to show what a wicked crew there is down here. The BASE jumping in this year’s film is unbelievable. Not only did it feature some huge cliffs from the West Coast, but the boys had also been to Malaysia to jump off numerous high-rises. You have to see it to believe it. It goes to show that true madness is not of the head, but of the heart. Other highlights included Mat Weir on the Ben Lomond Ridgeline (one of my favourite sections, it’s got a healthy dose of soul in it), the hardtail section, Si Smith on Holy Trail and Seb Kemp’s 29er section around Twelve Mile. Regardless of what you think about 29er’s, one thing you can’t argue with is this man’s ability to get the most out of it. To say he’s pinned in his section is an understatement. Good work fella.
So I suppose, for now, this is me signing off until next summer. Huuuge thanks to everyone who has made it so special, whether you’ve been at the forefront of event organisation, helped dig at the trails or been an applauding spectator. You all know who you are. Also, if you like what you’ve seen through the Midweek Enzed’s then why not get saving and get your lazy arse out here next summer. Life is, after all, incredibly short. I’ll leave you with a collection of photos to sway you if you can’t make your mind up… Enjoy.
Peace and happy riding.