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Wakatipu Wednesday Part 10

Jimmy Carlings Mid Week Enzed has been rebranded “Wakatipu Wednesday” to appease the internet haters out there. Ha.

Last week was a difficult week for many Australians. A cyclone, originally predicted as a category 5, smashed into Queensland destroying banana and sugar cane crops, and in the process ripped out people’s livelihood from under their feet. By the time the cyclone hit it had actually weakened to a category 3, but this is all irrelevant to the people who lost nearly everything. The effects of the cyclone were not only felt in Australia however. A bi-product of the passing weather system resulted in an unexpected heat wave sweeping across most of the country on Sunday; Timaru clocking the country’s highest reading at 40 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately for my French friend and I, we were out riding a hilly desert to the south east of Queenstown… 36 degrees with hot winds is not exactly what I would call “primo” conditions to go and ride an exposed, rocky and shade less venue… Ah well… Can see why the locals ride in the evening…
The small town of Alexandra is a deeply unique part of the country. Sat on the banks of the Clutha River, its landscape is a stark contrast to the luscious greens of most other parts of the Otago province. It’s an arid place; barely a tree stands on its rocky and dusty hillsides. Like most towns, it was founded on the gold-rush of the 1800’s. Now a major industry lies in stone-fruit and wine.

Given the geography of the area you can understand that the riding is very different. Neighbouring town Clyde has some technical DH tracks; you’d be best putting your gnarly boots on for a couple of the rock gardens. But we were on the hunt for a bit more XXC kinda stuff. Unfortunately most of the locals were away racing Nationals, so it was up to my French pal and I to suss out the trails for ourselves. As we found out, amongst the hills behind the Shaky Bridge Cafe lies a playground for both moto and mountain bike riders alike.

Upon setting off the first thing we realised was that we had picked possibly the worst time of the day to go riding. Leaving the car at mid-day it soon became clear that we were probably the only ones out riding for a reason. Less than an hour into our 3 hour play, I realised I had drunk most of my water, and my head felt like it was going to burst from the heat. As I said before, there is no shade out there. The only real vegetation is low lying scrub, mostly in the form of Rose hip and wild thyme which blankets the entire area.

We eventually managed to find a rock that cast a large enough shadow for us to seek refuge from the sun’s scorching rays. It was much needed. A few wrong turns here and there later led us onto what appeared to be moto trails, which weren’t so fun without some braaap between your legs. But the singletrack we came across was simply amazing. Make sure your brakes are covered as there are awesome little rocky sections which can creep up on you. It needs a locals knowledge in order to link everything up and to stop you from venturing into areas which aren’t worth bothering with, so if it’s your first time riding there, pop into Henderson’s along the main drag and see if anyone’s out riding.

By the time we got back to the car, our eyes were stinging from the sweat, our mouths were dry, but we had big smiles on our face. Alex is a great place to ride and if it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t finish work in time, I would definitely be tagging along on the weekly rides more often. I was hoping to catch up with some of the local boys to introduce you to them, but again, the call of the battlefield had lured them away from their hometown for the weekend. Hopefully you’ll meet these fine gentlemen before the season is out.

Now the man I shared this ride with has only recently rocked into town… One of the many joys of living in a place like QT is the constant promise of new friends. Two Frenchman recently rocked up, Clement and Maxime.

Individually they are good characters, with good stories and a great sense of humour. Get the two of them in the same room together and they are just hilarious. Clement Martin has been hacking his hardtail around NZ with his good buddy Maxime Bruneau for quite a few weeks now, but their travels have paused in the mighty Queenstown. Clement has had a deep involvement with the bike industry, having been on the frontline in Taiwan working for Commencal. His buddy Max you will also recognise from Seb Kemp’s Seasonaires article in Dirt – he’s the one who pissed and shitted in the woods for a whole Whistler season just to help him afford his onward journey to NZ. These guys… They crack me up…

Full name:

Clément MARTIN

Age:

26

How do you earn a baguette?

I guess you just walk down the street to the nearest boulangerie … should not be more difficult than that!

Favourite place to ride (in the world)?

Hard to say, Whistler so far, but there are loads of other spots that I need to check out.

Favourite place you’ve ridden in NZ so far?

Craigieburn.

What brought you to Queenstown?

Riding Mountain bikes of course.

Like it?

Pretty good spot yes! Loads of different things to ride and do and you can’t get tired of that scenery.

Bought a Gondola pass?

Nope

As a relative newbie to town, do you think the package that Skyline has presented is a good one?

It’s good to open the trails to everybody by using the gondola, Mountain bike is a great sport and I think any kind of opportunity to show it to the larger amount is a good thing. The trails are still in good shape so far, but this can´t last forever without maintenance … I guess this will have to get more organised and it will evolve will trial and error…

I’m still impressed by the community of rider here, even though there was no gondola before.

Can you tell us a little bit about your former position for Commencal in Taiwan?

I used to be in charge of Quality/Control and development with Commencal’s frame makers and assembling factory.

What has been your favourite part of working deep in the bike industry? And your not so favourite part?

The best part is definitely to be where everything is happening, you look around and there are frames everywhere. Developing the new Supreme DH was probably the most exciting project. Being there to see the first new prototypes is for sure some of the best time! Not so favourite part is to be in between your boss decision and the suppliers position, they most of the time did not go along, not always easy to deal with that.

After NZ, where’s your next stop?

Back in France, beginning of June, probably racing the Maxi avalanche in Andorra mid-June.

Who snores loudest, you or Max?

Max of course.

And finally… Who makes the best chocolate chip banana bread out of Max, me and JT Huck? And why?

Max for the Banananess! JT Huck for the texture and chocolateness! Yours will have to improve for the next round bro!

Full name:

Maxime “sideshow max” Bruneau

Age:

24 yrs young

How do you earn a baguette?

Making pizzas and French braking around

Favourite place to ride (in the world)?

So far, Chilcotins BC Canada

Favourite place to ride in NZ?

Craigieburn (close Arthurs’ pass)

what brought you to Queenstown?

I felt like skipping winter and its snow business to keep biking down under. Thanks or because of Whistler I knew couple of people that have been doing summer back to back for years going from Whistler to Queenstown so I guessed I would like it too. By couple of people, i meant particularly my huck brother Jamie “JT huck” Tilbury and Seb “brown snake master” Kemp. Queenstown segment in Follow me, pictures of the place and friends already here.

Like it?

I love it, the place is so beautiful and full of Good Cunts always up for a bike ride, canyoning, stream crossing, sheep shagging, banana bread or beers

bought a Gondola pass?

Nope, but shoulda coulda woulda?! I think I’d rather not get one and ride all Queenstown has to offer and get fitter riding up “everything”.

As a relative newbie to town, do you think the package that Skyline has presented is a good one?

From what I’ve seen and experienced elsewhere, I would say that it’s alright. It’s the “First” year they are doing it so there are the goods and the bads. (Qt bike scene was so far used to ride up and didn’t mind it but it could be changing in the next few years…)

You lived in a tent in Whistler so you could afford to come here… Was it worth it?! And how was a whole season in a tent? Bears?!

It was well worth it! Got myself a plane ticket and a new bike ready to go. I then travelled with Clem around north and south island for about 3weeks and rode some nice trails as in Rotorua, Taupo, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington… Made it to Qt and already met many GC to go play with. I’m getting used to the rain (making my hair even curlier) and there is a lot more to come.
THE season in a tent was something! It started quite cold and rainy in June and then summer came to warm me up a bit! I got to ride my bike a lot that’s all matter in the end, but it was thanks to friends that it happened to be possible. My tent was only a room that a bear wanted to check out once while i was riding, he must have been cold because he almost stole my sleeping bag after tearing my tent open! I roughly duck taped it and went to bed.

Where’s your next stop?

I still haven’t decided yet but comes June it will be either Whistler or one of Les Gets, Morzine, Chatêl.

Who makes the best chocolate chip banana bread out of you, me and JT Huck? And why?

Me, budget and banana-ness wise

Who snores loudest, you or Clem?

I don’t think any of us does snore… i might be sleep talking though

Also big thanks to all the people that helped us out on our NZ travel so far like Crazy Jones, Rob, Bryn, Jon, Mc Gazza and Sha, JT huck, Much appreciated guys!
Could you fit something about our awesome roommate somewhere and her rusty ****…oops clips! that would be “much appreciated”!

Unfortunately The League of Gentlemen V Line chainless race was postponed due to bad weather… Terrible weather in fact. So tomorrow is the day for all you gentlemen out there! LoG Facebook for details. Oh… and I suppose you’ve noticed the new name eh? It was a fair point, no point in calling something “NZ” if it’s just mainly about Queenstown. But seriously, to some of those who ran their mouths off on the comments last week… Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?! See ya next week for more Wakatipu Wednesday.

Jimmy

From Rachel Atherton’s Twitter:Mega morning up in the hilltops of Queenstown.breathing hard but having fun.

The Athertons are out in Queenstown at the moment so might pop up on Wakatipu Wednesday soon. Stay tuned.

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