Now I’m back into familiar territory on the Kapiti Coast, it was time to indulge in some MEGA old school action. So old school in fact, that we’re talking about the very genesis of the modern day Dirty Nomad.
I can still remember when dad introduced me to my first ever Mountain Bike… Up until that point I had only had BMX’s, but when I was 11 he presented me with the Scott Sawtooth MTB and unwittingly, kicked off an obsession that is raging stronger than ever 24 years later. My trusty sawtooth looked just like this:
The Sawtooth was AMAZING – It had GEARS! And fat tires and you could ride anywhere on it! It was a revelation and I couldn’t get enough of it. It was more than a bike though, it was a chariot to freedom and exploring. Thanks to my lax approach to risk management and dad’s parenting style that placed an emphasis on self governance, it wasn’t long before I was heading a LONG way from home on the Sawtooth into the hills. On reflection, there is NO way kids would be allowed out into what looks like Wolf Creek territory these days, but nothing was holding me back then.
After a while, the Sawtooth was ground into the mud that I loved riding in, ably aided by epic hosing action and thinking the coolest thing ever was riding your bike into a deep river, any concept of ‘bearings’ or oil was completely lost on me. The death of the Sawtooth gave rise to the Scott Boulder, a major step up. It pays to bear in mind that I was in full mini Nomad get up back in these days, but fuck, I knew Helmet peaks were cool, just wish I had known how cool beards were back in those days:
What’s the point of all this? Well, back in those days THE track to do from home was the Mangaone Walkway from Te Horo to Waikanae. At 6km’s each way, it wasn’t a long ride, but back when you’re 13 this felt like the most epic ride you had ever done, assisted of course by a hard tail MTB that weighed as much as a modern day DH bike… Puny legs and shit skills also chipped in to make this an all day adventure. There was nothing more bad ass than heading out with a snickers bar to conquer the return loop.
As the years went on, it then became the training ground for the Nationals, with Spanky and I heading in there to try and dominate the track and each other. Yip, I knew every rock, root and blade of grass in this place, it was the home track. Lets ignore for a moment that its a walking track and may potentially be mildly illegal to ride on, I had never run over an elderly person in there that didn’t have a nice word to say.
So, I can’t remember the last time I had ridden in there and with not much else on the agenda, it was time to head into the delorean time machine to head back to the old proving ground to see how things had changed.
I had noticed that the opening 2.9km climb had been turned into a Strava segment, so I was duty bound to take the KOM… And, with an effort that made me feel less than healthy I managed to take it out, who owns this Mother F?! Honestly, I suspect I was quicker when I was 16. Clearly shit had changed a LOT, as the last time I rode through here none of the trees you see in this photo were there:
The river crossings also seemed a lot more serene and less challenging than they used to…
But, one thing that had not changed was the way the scenery made you feel like you were in the middle of nowhere:
Once you wind through the valley floor its out of the grass lands and into the Native bush single track. I’m not a plant and bird type of person really, but I can appreciate that this landscape is pretty cool. Made even cooler with an Enve DH bar and a Garmin in the shot:
This section of the track used to be ALL action… This is where you would get into it with your riding buddies and try to trash the shit out of each other until someone crashed or gave up. Oddly, it was now a lot smoother and sedate than I remember it… A combo of trail work and the Nomad Carbon ironing out any semblance of resistance like a two wheeled terminator:
I can still recall being WAY to young to watch the movie ‘Predator’ and then riding in here not fully appreciating that there was no such thing as a killer alien that would gut you like a pig and take your head as a trophy. Thanks to way too much sugar and a fear I was being stalked, I did use to tear through here at warp speed:
Realising that this trail didn’t quite have the same buzz when you’re an adult who has ridden in Whistler and Trans Provence, it was time to head home via the grassy valley again. Spanky, you may recall blasting down here full gas a few times:
The final part of the ride was always the most sought after – the Mangaone ‘Kamikaze run’… Back down the first climb, 2.9km’s of hard pedalling 4WD DH track. The scene of numerous high speed battles, which oddly never ended in disaster, a surprise given the approach was to ride as close to each other as possible, pretending to be pro downhillers racing the Kamikaze eliminator:
As a spun home I realised that there is a reason that we continue to progress and ride in new places… Its important to respect the old school haunts one used to roll in, but its hard for them to keep pace with heightened expectations that are fuelled by progression and travel. Woah, talk about getting philosophical on it! And not even a single C Bomb in the whole post, sorry gang, will try harder tomorrow.