Sam Blenkinsop and Ox ride the ‘Oxtopia’ in New Zealand

Riding a hardtail down this steep, techy, secret trail in Christchurch, New Zealand is hard enough as it is. But when you’ve got World Cup rider Sam Blenkinsop chasing you down, the pressure is on! No wonder Andrew O’Connell AKA Ox takes a few tumbles on his way down Oxtopia. Just a shame that this track will be logged soon.

Here’s a few words from the man who helped build the track…


Words: Ox
I don’t want to sound like Abe Simpson but it was the summer of 2002 and I had just started sponsoring a 13-year-old Wyn Masters. I was passing through Wanganui where he was at boarding school & I caught up with Wyn. Wyn had his mate with him, this little blonde kid on a beat up budget Apollo hardtail. We went for a street ride & I was teaching them to manual. I knew Wyn had real natural skills as Glen Sisarich had put me on to him but I was still impressed with this blonde kids raw talent. Wyn was taking the piss and told me his name was Max! I thought he was Max for ages until I saw his name turning up in the results and I clicked that he was actually Sam Blenkinsop!

Regarding Oxtopia, the top half was built by the late great and sorely missed Flowrider (Dave Balderstone) with the assistance of James Rennie, Cam Cole and a few others but I’m not sure of the exact credits due. It is mostly off camber and takes advantages of some skilfully manipulated natural terrain reminiscent of the forest moons of Endor once you get some steam up.

It used to stop after the dip, there is a cliff band not far from there and it looked like it might be a dead end. Then a couple of years ago I started riding it and went for a good scout around on foot. I put the mongrel bank/corner feature in and the tricky traverse above the cliff. Pinky and Dan helped me chop out the track and before we knew it we’d traversed back under the cliff, found a chute and we’re at the bottom.

Mostly it is au-natural and raw, a paradise of pine needles. Somewhere you can get a really good needlework fix. I named it Oxtopia because it’s my happy place. Shame it is on death row awaiting the saw.

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