As I look out the window I’d be forgiven for thinking this wasn’t really my first repatriated summer since 2009… Trees appear to be almost sideways and Mother Nature is once again confirming how much she fucking hates people camping or enjoying their holiday breaks by finger banging most of the country.

Initially my delusions of summer grandeur were working out quite nicely, as I teamed up with Instagram to be a total smart fucker through most of November and December with a buffet of “Look at me out riding in the sun” narcissism that encouraged people as much as it enraged them. However, come official holiday time and the worm has not only turned, but also mouthed “Get some of this cunts” from its tiny worm lips.

You’ll be pleased to know I haven’t been immune to such doses of weather beat down, which nicely slides us towards a couple of the more useful ‘summer’ riding tales as I grapple to get the first Dirty post of 2018 out the door before every fucker goes back to work to commence questioning their existence (Ed note – Based on this drafted opening and publish date, clearly I fucked that up). Two big days on the bike, but as I shall try and convey, two extremely different vibes along the way.

A trip to Bandit land

Upon returning to the Homeland I somehow got it into my head to say “Fuck yes” to pretty much any adventure that is offered up to me, under the theory that it will somehow align to the glorious picture I have in my head about getting back to real riding now I’m home. As such, I was easy pickings when Johann suggested we tackle one of the Lake Taupo trails which I’d never done, or indeed never heard of.

The Waihaha (LOL) section into Waihora is pretty much in the middle of fucking nowhere… Not quite a Banjo playing vibe, but not far off. Don’t fuck up your organising plans, as there’s no mobile reception anywhere near the carpark – Something that will play utter havoc with your social media wanking efforts. All I knew about it was what I had managed to glean from this cartoon map:

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Cartoon maps – Filling people with confidence since… Never

One thing I did know is that it wasn’t quite pissing down, but it wasn’t far off and any visions of a dusty mission into the bush were snuffed out faster than a millennials hope of getting out of a New Years music festival without an STD. Given Johann is a beast with a Viking like name, it was predetermined that we’d be doing the out and back mission, theoretically 60km’s… Which didn’t sound so bad when I said yes, but as my Jawbreaker lenses commenced being obscured by rain, 4 hours suddenly felt like a long fucking time. But at least the vista’s were worth having wet gloves for:

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The Hightower loving its diet and the conversion to ‘Trail mode’ – AKA, just fucking mountain biking

So let me get straight to the point here, as if you ride this trail it won’t take you long to probably come to the same conclusion I did. If you’re nostalgic for mid 90’s mountain biking style, then this is the trail for you. Remember back in the day when the word ‘Flow’ hadn’t been invented, we all rode Cross Country before it was called XC and ENDURO was something you did on a Moto.

Yes, its definitely made by people who wear bandanas under their helmet, for people who wear bandanas under their helmet… If you know what I mean. If you don’t then let me drop the subtlety and confirm that this trail is as XC Bandit as fuck, which isn’t always a bad thing, but in this instance its somewhat perplexing.

Prepare yourself for 4 hours of flat turns, closed sight lines, constant undulations and about the same amount of flow as your 90 year old granddad trying to take a piss (Love you Granddad). I think I spent the first hour waiting for a berm to appear, or any semblance that I was riding a Mountain Bike in late 2017, but after the 1,078th micro effort out of a corner which made no sense, I determined that it was to be a day of full Bandito mode. But what was lacking in flow radness was partially offset by the beauty of the area, something that will definitely please those with an Attenborough fetish:

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“And as the water gushes forth with creamy like appearance, it reminds one of what collectively happens every time Santa Cruz release a new bike…”

The advertised 30km’s to the end of the trail oddly arrived after 25km’s, which I wasn’t sure I was thankful for or mildly ripped off by, either way, it felt like kind of a big deal based on the scenery that we were presented with once a million flat turns finally gave way to the epic lusciousness of Lake Taupo:

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Epic views ruined by my amateur stick placement

The end of the trail has a somewhat Jurassic feel to it and the appropriate thing to do is stop for a picnic allegedly. Alternatively you can enjoy this serenity by taking lots of photos and Gram storying the fuck out of it. There’s also the option of getting a swim in I guess, unless its pissing down or feels more like winter, which is what we first world endured.

I would say that given the number of matches you have to burn powering out of 4,569 corners that didn’t need to exist, that on a hot day a lake dive would be the priority.

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Mmmmmm… Moist bush

This natural picnic spot also allegedly doubles as the boat pick up to take you across to the other Taupo lakeside trails, which is something that requires advanced arrangement. That wasn’t something on our agenda however, and it was time to double back and see if the return leg would ride with any more flow than the way out…

Er… NO. 

Johann had the hammer down and I was busy thanking the cycling gods I had put the Hightower on a significant diet whilst also concluding this is a trail that really calls for a full XC machine, which was perplexing as this type of shit is definitely not my bag. Having said that, variety is underrated and with Andes Pacifico creeping closer, I can’t begrudge any days out which put me under the pump. Whilst I’ve slagged all the hard work put into this trail a little, there’s no denying the scenery is something legitimately special and probably its best asset:

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Now THAT’S a fucken waterfall

I understand that the two hardest parts of a trail like this are obtaining funding and then access to the epic landscape, so its mildly bemusing that having slayed those two beasts, the actual end trail build result is slightly “Meh” to ride and not really contemporary in terms of what most people look for these days. I don’t want to say ‘monotonous’, but…

Don’t get me wrong (which you probably have at this point), some serious fucking effort went into building this trail and that’s to be appreciated and respected, the only tragedy I see is that for most people I suspect this is a one off ride. Unless you’re marathon XC training and need 3 plus hours in the saddle, its not a trail you’ll eagerly sign up for to ride regularly, which is a shame as it should be. Worth a one off if you’re in the area, but take it as a scenery mission as opposed to a day where you’ll be fisting your hommies.

If it was dry you could probably get away with riding it on a <<shock/horror>> Gravel bike potentially (may want 40’s on), but given the stop/start nature that may be a bit of a chore to be honest.

At the other end of the spectrum 

Given I was hanging around the Central Plateau like a sulphur cloud assaulting your nostrils, I dialled up the local GC’s to see what was all the fucking way up. In my mind another day of whipping around Vegas seemed like an ideal solution to get me firmly back into the ENDURO vibe after I was infected with Banditry from Waihaha.

However, JC Superstar had other ideas: “How about we go and ride Te Iringa?

I didn’t really have a clue what he was talking about, so I politely & vaguely tried to steer the convo back to something which would result in me giggling my way down Heart of Darkness in Rots, but then The Creator hit me with some real talk which stopped me in my tracks: “Its probably one of the top 5 trails you can ride in the North Island

Compliance was swift – Given this muthafucka knows more about good trails than I do about swearing, it was a compelling concept to say the least.

As it turned out, Te Iringa is actually something of a legend piece of trail around these parts, but most definitely not an everyday kind of ride. Firstly its fairly remote, secondly its an out and back scenario again and lastly, this is starting to get into some bad ass bush out here, so no mobile reception to speak of. Much to my horror this meant I had to actually interact with the people around me, which I agree is alarming, but as it turned out I was rolling with some tremendously Good Cunts for the day, so all was not lost.

Again it was a case of meeting real humans that previously only existed to me as Gram Avatars, Ash, Welly Ranger and the aptly named ‘Pilsner’ the Trail Dawg confirmed that muthafucken good times were in store:

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Welly Ranger navigating without a dab in sight… While Pilsner eyes up taking the ENDURO dawg line

So in essence Te Iringa is an out and back of about 15km’s – Up, down, turn around, Up, down. But such a summary rapidly becomes completely irrelevant once you disappear under the canopy of what can only be classed as stunning native bush. It doesn’t take long until your mouth starts to hang down like a wet knee pad as you marvel at the sheer awesomeness of the area you’re riding into. Naturally there is only one thing to do when feeling overwhelmed by the stunning beauty of nature – Burn cunts who aren’t there:

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“Unlock… WhatsApp…. Rodfather… Send 5 photos… caption: ‘This is amazing’… Send”

I mean, seriously, this place is so magical I’m fairly certain it would turn even the most ardent Fox News watching, Trump voting dumb cunt into an environmentalist. Its rammed with trees and associated fauna that you definitely don’t see every day, in a location that I wouldn’t have even considered riding in unless the rad mofo’s I was rolling with had suggested it.

In an over-stimulated world, this is a genuinely fabulous place to spend some time – Exhibit A:

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The Ranger on Native patrol

Oh, plus the actual riding is, well, fucking banger. Allow me to elaborate here using The Creator as our muse. When he’s not busy being Zoro, JC sure does do a mean Seb Kemp impersonation:

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I think this style alone warrants a trip to Canada to eat maple syrup

Patience is required however, as the trail starts out with a long climb that’s either a bit of a first gear grunt, trials riding or for me, walking. If you’re used to spinning up gravel roads to hit your DH runs, then this high revving technical single track climbing will have you blowing out in the early stanza. Its then punctuated by equally technical short DH moments, with some dodgy portage thrown in to give you the total backcountry experience.

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JCSS does an excellent job of masking me fucking up the drop in

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Or in Trans Provence terms, this wouldn’t even get a mention on the briefing notes

However, this initial mission up and along then eventually gives way to…. Well, how do I describe it? One seriously fucking sensational downhill run. Even riding it completely blind it won’t take you long to work out how awesome this trail is, especially considering it wasn’t specifically built with mountain biking in mind. I’m specifically leaving out the Go PRO footage from this post, we’ll save that for another day, but the downhill run to the creek is an absolute must-do gem of a trail, especially ridden in a train with your crew.

Aside from the cornflakes crunching beneath your Minions as you carve through native bush, I think the main aspect that makes this trail so much fun is that it doesn’t have exposure to one side and a ledge to the other, like so many contour sidling trails do these days. There’s something about being smack bang in the middle of a forest that encourages or even demands hooliganism – Something JC Superstar was more than happy to oblige with.

Ok, so I’m going to fold here and try to paint the picture of the awesomeness of this cornflaked run of endurogasmic delight with a few gPRO screen grabs, utilising our favourite action model:

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JC & The Sentinel treat log jumps like they’re mere twigs

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High speed fern frothing

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Digging deep into the skills bag to reach in and keep up with this Bad Motherfucker

Holy FUCK yes that’s all one trail, which unwittingly leads you to not only the divine promised lands of trail magic as you involuntarily holler your way down the native clad spine of the range, but it also delivers you to a banger of a lunch spot where you can lounge about and talk excellent shit about how you just carved, roosted, loam rangered and generally had an awesome time getting to the creek. To be noted, it was a lot colder than it looked here, so take a jacket:

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I can confirm I was the only person eating food that came in a packet

However there is a price to pay for all that gratuitous Native trail porn & shredding, and the climb out of the creek heading back the way you’ve just come will pay you right the fuck out. Cold legs, full belly and a gradient that makes you say out loud “Fuck, I’m sure it wasn’t this steep on the way down” as you pant your way back up can be a cunty mission at times.

Whilst I grimaced, The Creator was drawing inspiration from the surroundings and to put it in his own stolen words from the Gram, this is the kind of splendour that engulfed him: “Iridescent green ferns, soft puffy moss, damp cornflake beech leaves. Te Iringa dreams” His words are extremely fitting given the surroundings…

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Ash cruises through another OMG section while The Creator works on his Predator routine

This is indeed Nature at its absolute finest, as I hope the images I’m ramming in here are managing to convey. Even if the trail wasn’t that good, you could still come here to just marvel at the general joys of being alive in a time where we have carbon fibre everything. But the trail is also that good, kind of like insane artisanal chocolate sauce on gourmet ice cream that doesn’t really need it… Which is exactly what I wanted to eat when I was dragging my hairy ass back up to the final DH:

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“If only I could lose as much weight as my bike”

The final DH back to your parked car has a totally different vibe, significantly rougher and more technical, so worthy of a gel to maximise the radness. It’s got more exposure and rough roots than a Harvey Weinstein work party, plus some stuff that will make you go hmmmm in a few spots.

You’ll be pleased to know that the low hanging stump that almost decapitated me and did claim my Go PRO has been removed by Welly Ranger and JC, yes, these rad dudes rolled with a foldable saw in their packs, so while I sat around having PTSD flashbacks to a broken neck, they removed the offending assassin.

So a few quick fire tips if you are planning on riding Te Iringa, look at me on the fucking soap box given I’ve ridden it once, but regardless, here’s my overly conservative opinions for your grill:

  • No mobile reception generally, so have a contingency plan, or be prepared to spend a night in the bush/die if shit goes sideways and you don’t have a plan. This feels like more of a mission than the Taupo lakeside trails, plus we didn’t see anyone else all day
  • Its a reasonable drive out of Taupo, so be prepared for that – Take plenty of supplies to shovel in your first world pie hole
  • Don’t let the short distance fool you, this thing takes about 3-4 hours depending on your group and the volume of photo taking and faffing you engage in, which given the surroundings is a shit load. However, to be noted, a ride like this isn’t about rushing it, its to be savoured and you need to marinade in its goodness, so just tell loved ones/work cunts that you’ll be gone for the day
  • Don’t ride like a total cunt and fuck yourself up, as per the above points, getting you out would be very tricky and rather time consuming… Hint hint, get a personal locator beacon
  • Make sure as fuck you do the DH down to the creek and then have lunch there before turning around
  • If you have to toss up between the lakeside trails (such as Waihaha above) and this, then muthafucka – THIS.

Quick bike froth moment – The post diet Hightower got a work out over the Christmas period and fuck me with a rabid squirrel, it funnily enough works exceedingly well back in a more ‘Stock‘ mode if that makes sense. Lighter, less travel up front and without insanely heavy DD tires on and its personality is shining. I’d forgotten how nice it is to have a bike that lurches forward, but even with this skinnier approach to life, it hasn’t really given up too much in terms of being able to handle itself, so good times across the board.

Until I get my shit sorted out on the video front, here’s a significantly more professional shredit including riding some several notches higher in the speed department… I believe some people were upset about the Moss destruction in here, which makes sense given it’s 2018, but let’s face it, that moss died for a rad cause:

Holy shit – First post of 18 out the door, its time to try and get my blogging mojo back so I can at least get the mission briefing up for the first big trip of the year, which is now <<fart noise>> less than 4 weeks away… Watch this sweaty space.

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