In the late 90’s and early 2000’s there was ONE event or trip that I looked forward to above all others… I would hang out for it massively and couldn’t wait for the boys to get together and head north. Yip, we would load up the trucks/Landcruiser and head north to Taupo to hit Craters of the Moon for some old school shredding.

These trips still stand out for me as some of the best I have done, and that was because of the crew that was usually in attendance – The Lizard, The Prez, Spanky and the man who never surrenders: GARY. We were either on hard tails or very early Full Suss MTB’s, but none of that mattered as at that time, hitting these trails with your crew was the shit… We also had the fitness and the forest wired to make it an epic occasion every time we went away.

As such, I felt it more than appropriate to head back to Craters of the Moon to start the NZ summer of riding at such a historic spot. WOAH, times have changed! I guessed it had been about maybe 10 years or so since I had ridden in here and fuck it was different! Firstly its a proper MTB park now with maps, signposts and custom built trails, but more than that, the forest has changed so much I had the weirdest sense of Deja Vu when riding along – it was like I knew the trail, but at the same time it seemed totally foreign to me.

I had also forgotten that this terrain isn’t overly rewarding to BIG bikes like the Nomad, this is very much 29er or Santa Cruz 5010 Carbon territory, so it was quite a work out on the beast, but massively good times whenever the terrain turned downward… Also looking tight with the new Mavic ENDURO wheels on:

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The colour co-ordination between frame and wheels is an on-going debate

A plug for Mavic here – These new ENDURO wheels and their matching tires work very well, especially in loamy shit and the slippery stuff, which was the order of the day given rain had passed through, the Roam tires saved me a few times when things got loose as fuck on a view like this:

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Basically the moon of Endor

Or this… Tree’s don’t move much after all… But far out I LOVE this terrain, it makes you feel like a hero even if you’re not riding like one. The sweet pumice dirt makes love with your tires and you get the benefits:

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The classic Craters view… Not as fast as it used to be…

The usual order of the day back in the 90’s would be riding through here with the Lizard right on your back wheel screaming “ONE MISTAKE” at you, until sure enough, you made one mistake and he would have you… His Lizard stiffy whacking the top tube as he blitzed passed whilst you got busy unpicking yourself from the tree you had hit. Riding these trails alone didn’t have the same buzz, but with the MTB mojo still on the comeback trail, I was happy to cruise solo.

One of the most legendary trails here which was always the scene of massive battles and high speed terrorising was The Buzzard! It was the one trail we all hung out for, the prize of the trip whoever ruled this piece of track. The Nomad made it feel a lot easier than it used to be, but my memory of it was a bit vague, so no doubt I was a lot faster when I was in my teens, check it out here:

So, not a dry start, but a blast none the less and great to be back on the NZ MTB scene, make that Nomad Dirty:

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“I’m too dirty to be rolling in a bus FFS”

Super cool to have a quick reunion with Craters, love the terrain and pumice dirt and it was good to have a few nostalgic flashbacks to those old school days with the boys – this one is for you lizard, Spanky and Prez!

Weather forecast is generally looking shithouse, so I need to search out some dry riding action… I had forgotten this time of the year can be average summer action in NZ, so fingers crossed it sorts itself.

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