Wakatipu Wednesday - Over and Out
Jimmy Carling brings us the last installment of Wakatipu Wednesday AKA MidWeek Enzed from Queenstown, New Zealand.
Just want to say a big uppety massive thanks to Jimmy for bringing us these interesting and inspiring weekly updates from the Southern hemisphere. They have certainly made all of us at Dirt want to book a ticket to NZ.
We hope you have enjoyed them as much as we have.
Wakatipu Wednesday - Over and Out
Words and photos: Jimmy Carling.
Sat in my bedroom and looking out of my window, I'm watching the low evening sun begin it's "magic hour" display of colour over Coronet Peak. As the colours transition between bright green and golds to hot reds and oranges, I'm reflecting on what has been an unbelievable MTB season for this small alpine town in the south of the Southern Hemisphere. The success of the passed warmer months can be measured in so many different ways.
Let's start off with the weather. In September last year (the first month of spring) we were having our first rides dressed in just t-shirt and shorts. The spring turned out to be hot and dry, and by the time summer officially began we were all pretty bronzed and the trails were already getting beat up. Summer continued with mostly good weather, and now in autumn, we are being blessed with perfect blue skies and warm sunny days. There's always someone who'll bitch and moan about weather, but I don't think we could have had it any better given the fact that we live in the Roaring Forties on a relatively small and exposed island.
Socially speaking, it has been another great summer of making new friends and meeting new people. There seems to be a magnet attached to QT that pulls and draws in good folk from all around the world. Some of these new friends are moving on soon, but already there are plans in place to meet up somewhere else in the world later in the year. There's too many good folk to start listing them all, so all I can say is that to everyone who I shared a ride with or laughed over a beer with - Cheers! Meeting people with a passion for life and a "get up and go" attitude never gets tiring.
Finally the summer has been an astronomical success for the entire mountain bike community with the highlight, of course, being the opening of the Skyline Gondola to bikes for the first time in 14 or so years. The popularity of the sport has exploded, and as I have said before, biking is no longer just something done by small groups of die-hards. Whatever your level of interest in mountain biking, it is now more accessible and progressive than it ever has been before. The local community has also benefited hugely from the likes of Sven Martin and the Atherton’s passing through and not only giving it the thumbs up, but doing so with genuine enthusiasm and respect. It can be easy to take your surroundings for granted, but when praise is piled on by the likes of the afore-mentioned people, it makes you step back and realise what a truly great place this is to live in and to call home.
This last week saw two brilliant events take place. The first was the final League of Gentlemen which took place up skyline... in fancy dress. We were supposed to be doing an UBER D, but due to everyone just wanting to fuck around and play silly buggers, and also the complexity of some costumes and the fact they didn't really lend themselves well to riding anything other than a smooth straight line (I'm mainly talking about mine here!), it was decided we'd just do a mega-train down Hammy's track. The Clunge Bus (based loosely on a bus company that operate tours around NZ to hormonal and horny gap year students... and cougars) blasted off down the track bouncing and scraping over every slight undulation. Shortly after the mega-train of LoGgers chased it down, and what followed was possibly the most harrowing and hilarious run of skyline I've ever had. The Bus had a nasty habit of jamming my brakes on when it hit the ground, but once I got used to it, she was a dream to drive. The laughter was non stop all the way to the bottom. Cheers to everyone who came along. It was a great end to the season. A huge thank you to Graeme Cooper for all his organising efforts. Coop will be standing down next year after two years at the helm, so on behalf of everyone, cheers! You've done an awesome job big man.
The second event was the 7 hours of 7 mile endurance race. A beautiful day greeted us just as warmly as the laid back atmosphere and chilled beats. The course was full of flow and well thought out. I was one member of a 4 man team, with Maxime Bruneau, Seb Kemp and Clem Martin completing the unstoppable force of Team Mo Limits. Despite being extremely hung-over we actually French-braked our way to second place in the team event. Seb won a prize for best skid, I won a prize for best shorts and Max won a prize for making his shin look like a vagina with his pedal. A successful day. The team event was won by Team SchoferHofer (only two men!) with Team R+R+Token French Guy taking third place and eating humble pie in the process after dissing my bike and saying it would never pedal well around the course. Ha!
"The womens team category had only one team, the Queenstown Muntas who completed 13 laps, whilst the mixed team event was won by Racers Edge with 15 laps completed. The women's solo category was won by Erin Greene with 14 laps done, whilst the Men's solo category saw Tim Rush, Martin Macdonald and the ever unstoppable Jim Hawkridge take first, second and third respectively. Awesome effort from everyone involved and a huge thanks to the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club for putting on a superb show!"
But... it's still not over yet. The "Queenstown Mountain Bike Festival" will be taking place in April with three main events to be had in the form of an "Elite only" DH race down skyline, an enduro UBER D style team/solo event in the Ben Lomond Forest and also an xc event entitled "The Tour de Wakatipu". The programme caters for all abilities and we're all looking forward to it.
That's it for this year's Midweek Enzed/Wakatipu Wednesday. In fact, it's most probably the last weekly Queenstown feature you'll read from me. Whilst I'll endeavour to keep the Dirt readers posted with significant local happenings in the future, I shall be standing down from doing weekly reports next summer in favour of pursuing other local interests and projects. I've enjoyed playing a part in exposing this gem of a place to a wider audience and it has always given me a buzz to see pictures of our mountains, lakes and good friends going up on the website. I hope you've enjoyed what you have read and, even more so, I hope a small portion of readers make it out here in the coming years to sample the beautiful life that awaits. Once your flights are booked all you need to pack is your bike, a sense of humour and some respect.
A bit brief. But goodbyes are always hard... Enjoy the summer!