There’s a rather straightforward philosophical debate to be had about riding at Wairoa Gorge. Simply it boils down to this:

Quality or Quantity?

Locals will potentially beg to differ, but I’d propose that you can’t really have both (local pinners and people too young to know who John Tomac was are exempted). Once upon a time I used to go to Whistler and do 2 weeks straight with minimal down time and perhaps only 1 real rest day. Well, much like hoping coal mining jobs will become a thing again, those days are clearly fucking over, as after the first day in the Gorge I was feeling relatively beat up – Concerning, or as Dok would say: “Do some fucken weights you soft serve cunt

Considering I roll on Fox suspension and a bike that’s so contemporary you’d be excused for slightly pissing your pants with admiration, I should’ve really felt as fresh as a Rodfather sandwich, but this is the GORGE man. I realise that gushing over my equipment whilst saying I’m wary of doing 2 days back to back in the wGorge may push me into having to book space at a Cattery for my next trip, however, I wasn’t the only one who thought that given this was a 3 day fuck yeah boy’s trip, that we needed a mellow day in the middle of this gnar sandwich.

Luckily for my T Rex arms then that I had bludged my way into not only a premium cooked breakfast situation @ The Lodge, but also into a like minded group who knew we needed the Chill Compilation in between the onslaughts of Gnar reaming.

The plan was therefore to go for something JC Superstar referred to as a ‘Trail ride’, Wat Eva the fuck that is brah? While I didn’t understand what he meant, the Rodfather was literally frothing in the rear to get back behind bars:

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The Maxxis Aggressor gets another dubious question mark placed against its report card…

Speaking of frothing kit, a seamless slide into me having a quick side rant/wank about this thing here, as it’s been absolutely awesome so far, even more so since that DHX2 was bolted on and I fucked up all Jordi’s base settings like an ADHD monkey trying to fly an airliner.

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Yes, I know… The fucking wheel decals…

Given that I’ve jacked the front up with a 160mm fork and had 20mm of spacers under the stem (Roadies duck away to vomit up your Kale salads now), I had noticed that the steering was a little vague at times, which in Nelson can mean a date with tumbling down a bank at some point as you scream fuuuuuuck like you’re being slapped across the face with your crazy Aunt’s dildo. Wanted to avoid such a scenario (you should meet my crazy Aunt, you’d understand why), I dropped the bars down 10mm and whilst that may seem like a tiny change, the extra precision I got in exchange was impressive.

But enough of the bike wanking and Aunt shade throwing, I have a mellow ride to put lipstick on and there’s no better place to start than an action shot of Squid jizz…

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Step aside Sven, there’s a new player in town and he’s putting the HO into Photo

Day two’s agenda was about heading into Browning Hut in what would allegedly be a more mellow experience. Yeah… RIGHT. 9 dudes who had gone down the rabbit hole of seeing how many times we could fit ‘cunt’ into even the most straightforward sentences (I was suitable ecstatic) were totally going to chill and just spin it out…

With this in mind, the first thing we thought could get fucked was the limit on the number of people that a DOC swing bridge could handle at once, whilst bunny hopping on it, somewhat appropriate given some members of the group had actual swinging experience (Not naming names… Possibly rhymes with ‘Tod’). Given my penchant for conservatism combined with the fact I seemed to be the only one that remembered what happened to those Frenchie tourists in 2015, I decided to video the whole thing in the event shit went sideways, sadly for your reading pleasure it was a non-event…

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The Swingers in full form

So the point of this mission is to ride/push/carry/boulder scramble into Browning Hut, sit around looking at it whilst eating some Faux nutrition bar, get something Gram worthy for anti-social media wanking value and then having a competition amongst the group to see how many trampers/Hikers we could maim on the DH on the way out with a 2.5 Maxxis Minion (please leave your uptight ‘walkers are people too’ comments below). But before you can get to the carnage you need to take on the Bush:

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Bruce: “The walk to my dairy is harder than this for fucks sake”

It also meant we were all riding a trail that was pretty much blind to us, which is the ultimate leveller in Mountain Biking. For once I got to see what JC Superstar actually looked like when he’s not just resting at the end of the trail, doing push ups waiting for me… I think this is the first time I’ve ridden with him on a trail he didn’t have a hand in creating, it was confusing for everyone:

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“This does not compute, I wouldn’t have put this corner here”

BOOM, the Rodfather was on the scene again to indulge our inner narcissist’s beautifully, we had no idea where he may have been lurking (no, that’s not a Police statement), which meant you had to be looking your raddest the whole time, something JCS has no problems with.

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Framing this – Being in the same shot as JC Superstar as rare as finding the model of Maxxis tire you need

Get ready to get your feet wetter than a horny beaver heading into Browning’s, plenty of river crossings to be negotiated and we quickly learned that Bruce had no time for tip toeing across rivers like a bunch of ballerinas, he also claimed that 27.5 ain’t dead, given he can skin animals with a spoon I wasn’t one to argue:

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I wait to hand Bruce my ‘man card’ so he can make me eat it

I guess that its testament to the hardcoreness of the crew that they considered this a ‘day off’ essentially… funny that, as I didn’t see a mojito and a light testicle massage anywhere, which usually signals its time to chillax, instead it was a combination of portage and bouldering, thank FUCK I was an early adopter of the new Shimano ME7’s, that French rubber cuming in handy…

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“Don’t look at him guys, he’s not a real Kiwi if he can’t get up here”

Worse than that, at one stage I had to touch a Yeti… I made Fras sign an affidavit that these were indeed made in a different factory and then for good measure I only touched the rim (Yes, a speciality of mine).

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“I want to hear you say it Daddy F”

If you fancy yourself as a bad ass Danny Macaskill trials type mofo, then you’ll quite enjoy the ride into Browning hut, mainly as there’s plenty of nasty little slow speed tech sections wanting to stall you out and break your hip from that low speed melt down crash. Its a good chance to practice your uphill bunny hopping and put your balance under the pump. The whole way in/up I was licking my beard with anticipation of bombing back down it in the very near future as I tripped over yet another mossy root or stalled out on some Native gnar.

Fresh off confirming that you can indeed “Milk anything with nipples“, the Rodfather was revelling in this terrain, showing it was a test lab for what you can achieve with Huck Norris inserts and 8 PSI in your tires. You can see from the look on his face that this is a man that when he says he’ll try anything once, he really fucking means it, in this moment I saw the intensity that I am clearly lacking in my riding personified… Its like a Honey Badger crossed with Theresa May, an alarming prospect when you think that through:

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“Those eyes… I see you…”

So now that I’ve managed to make the grovel in sound like climbing Everest nude on a diet of gummy bears, here is the climax of Browning hut. You’re not alone in being mildly underwhelmed… Not even a German in sight:

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“Where are the coke’s? This is fucken bullshit… Outside is fucked”

To the #outsideisfree people, enjoy that pic above with about $90k of bike and kit casually making itself at home and getting busy being as un-free as fuck. Double that again when you count the Rodfather’s camera equipment and bumbag contents. After realising there was no free wifi or 4G up there, it was time to GTFO ASAP, alarmingly, we definitely saw a Sasquatch on the first shredable section:

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Fully lurking and camouflaged as a tree trunk

I’m going to include this photo so that you can show your kids as you shake your head and explain to them this is NOT how to ride a painfully contemporary ENDURO slay machine… What the fuck is going on with those arms? Where is the attack position? Why aren’t I manualing something? Disgusting… I blame these customer linkages…

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Cornflakes for morning tea

Let’s call on someone who does it correctly – When I grow up in about 10 years time, I want to be like Aaron. Not because he’s smiling all the time like a well supplied meth addict, but because he always appears to be pinned and/or airborne. Allow me to elaborate in this mildly uncomfortable homage montage.

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Actually just about to stop, but looks like its take off time

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Throwing shapes, doesn’t give a Huck

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Huck off bro, where did that shit come from?

The sweaty, curse ridden, root tripping over, boulder scaling and trials style inbound journey was now being rewarded with sweet shred and hiking trail annihilation. What looked sketchy as we hiked in was now being dispatched with ruthless shredfficiency, plus much hollering as the Ream Team train cut multiple lines through the natives. The fact that you could take multiple line choices as you chased your pecking order buddy down the hill bringing much frothing to the fore.

The stoke was so high that you can see the moment where Sugar Daddy Fras actually reaches ENDURO climax with the final bump of the fist of the run…

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“Can’t… Keep… My… Eyes… Open… Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”

That group stoke had bubbled over and instead of heading back to the lodge to eat another 18 packets of chips and continue our group discussion on optimum rim width, do 29er DH bikes signal the start of the apocalypse and why are Russians so good at Money Laundering, we decided to head up late in the afternoon and do “Just one more run“, which in MTB parlance roughly translates to: Disaster waiting to happen.

I promptly obliged and drew the first decent blood of the weekend on some random DH track, which prompted Bruce to once again begin sharpening his knife in the hope that the weekend may not be wasted with not skinning something… The Rodfather was ready for the inevitable sandwich making.

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Madeira prep and confidence levels going super well at this point

After we’d all had enough artisanal home brew beer from the Rotovegas craft crew to kill a small donkey, we decided that it was the appropriate time to stick some unsterilised metal into the wound to see what would happen.

Given that the Rodfather had already stabbed himself with a knife Bruce had recently rammed up a deer’s ass (True story, shit gets real out there in the bush), I figured that helping Aaron qualify as a Gynaecologist by attending to my gash was a fucking great call. He was amazed that I actually thought he was a Doctor, something that sounded exceedingly valid after the non-descript pills Bruce had given me post crash, the only markings on them were ‘Dr Huxtable’. Feel so sleepy… and warm…

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“I know my way around a chainsaw, so this will be sweet bru”

Bruce was slightly disappointed that he wasn’t going to be able to react the whole Jim Hopper Predator scene, I was somewhat relieved that I would live to sort of fight another day… And what a day that awaited, back to the Gorge park goodness for what was essentially a unicorn: Some potentially dry runs!

But how would it go being back in the Gorge on Day 3 with T Rex arms feeling a little depleted, confidence that was confused we’d already had 2 big down the bank diggers and a shrinking ego that kept reminding me a VERY expensive and largely non refundable trip to MADeira was only a week away… Stay tuned for video and story to cum assuming I can still type after the next 4 days of EWS fever.

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