One of the nice aspects of Trans NZ is that its essentially the Goldilocks of Multi day ENDURO races. Just like the overall race length, each day isn’t too short, nor is it too long either. Yes, they have managed to hit it right in the honey hole in terms of overall hardness, something anyone can be proud of as you can imagine.
You won’t face 11 hour Trans Provence days of epicness, but nor will you feel short changed either… Having some afternoon time for general faffery at a race like this was a weird, but welcome situation. But given all this, it left me more than a bit surprised then just how fingered I was feeling when I awoke for Day 5.
One of the key challenges faced by the Trans NZ crew surely has to be how the fuck do you come up with race stages in a place as iconic as Queenstown that everyone hasn’t ridden a million times already? I will admit to a slight bit of smugness that surely I would have seen a LOT of the terrain being used today, even if I was about as local as a cross dressing Kangaroo.
But once again Megan and the team were far too wise to fall into that high-usage trap… The Stage ninjas even employing the ultimate tactic of unleashing a new trail on us to snub out any trail arrogance and keep the racing as blind as one can manage in this part of the world. And yes, that included UP as well as down.
Given this was the only day we would race in qTown proper, there was of course widespread fantasising about getting into that sweet Gondola cabin and gliding up towards the waiting embrace of the Ben Lomond zone, and yes, we would get our chance to feel that warm gondiegasim, but first we had to earn the fuck out of stage 1.
It only took about 10% of the way climbing up the access road to work out A) why they make it so cunty (to sell gondie tickets) and conversely, B) why we all buy gondie tickets. If I was feeling a little fingered before leaving the relative comfort of Pinewoods, then by the halfway point I was knuckle deep finger banged by the the 2.4 km climb that felt the need to average 16%… Yes, it was enough to separate me from my rad riding herd as well, like a David Attenborough nightmare the weakest/hairiest wildebeest lagged behind.
If I thought that was a shock mixed in with a cold start to the day, then Stage 1 was going to slap me about my detachable helmeted face with a real reality check. It took about 5 seconds to go from #Ionlyridepark to “what the actual fuck is this trail?”
I fucking love new trail, but ideally when I’m warmed up and not racing it blind… And not being passed by 2 Canadians, who clearly gave no fucks that I was a wannabe local that wasn’t local at all, or that I had dedicated a lot of time to thinking that I had crushed this park and ridden all its lines, which would be true, apart from most of the lines we seemed to be racing on. Winner.
When we did finally end up on Thundergoat, trumpets sounded and angels lap danced me, for about 2.4 seconds until I woke up and realised it was cut to fuck from a whole summer of mental rad cunts who only wear singlets shredding the utter cunt out of the place. This was like coming home from a hard day at work to find NWA filming a home made porn flick… Concerning.
After making my way down stage 1 like a dodgem car impersonating a bent slinky, I was more than grateful to take the preferred way back up to start the next Liaison: Gondie! And fuck, if I knew how far we had to go, I wouldn’t have turned into a cheesedick and pulled this move:
So as you can imagine given this is the final day of Race reporting AND its Queenstown on a sunny day that its going to be a bit of a photo epic. But, as you’ll soon see, this is not only excusable, but somewhat mandatory when the view looks like this FFS:
But don’t fucken roll your eyes at me, this shit was contagious and everyone was getting in on the qTown love, once I had caught up to the crew of course. Doug showing his appreciation for the vista’s that Day 5 was ramming us with:
But there was still plenty more to come… The trek towards freshness continued unabated, something that pleased Johan greatly, seen here in his relentless pursuit of elevation. It may not look like it here, but I was forced into the good old Trans Provence pack horse carry routine on more than a few occasions in this scenario.
At around roughly 1,200m, it wasn’t the highest peak we had scaled all week, but fuck me with a shaved ferret if it wasn’t one of the most insane views… Which is no easy task (the view, not the ferret thing) given it was competing with Craigieburn and Coronet… Oh, and Alex. If like me you incorrectly called yourself a New Zealander and had never been up here, then get fuxing that error ASAP, before it snows:
And then finally, it was time for NEW trail to be destroyed. How new? Like, fuck, hours new… It had been officially finished around 9pm the night before! Talk about rewriting the book on what a ‘Mountain Biking Community’ should look like, massive respect to the qTown MTB club for being absolute GC legends and not only finishing the trail, but then letting 110 of us rip it to shreds in various states of fatigue and speed. In the latter category, Carl was frothing for fresh loam and his winners beer:
I had been dropping in a few riders after Carl most of the week, attempting to pursue Johan, Doug and Katie down in quick succession and to little result. But I shall confess that the hike up the Mon-Ton had left me feeling a lot more empty than I had expected. After lying in the whole alpine tussock scenario eating pretty much everything in my Evoc pack, it was time to get into this fresh as fuck new trail/stage.
As they say, timing is everything… Whilst mine had been pretty shithouse all week, I did manage to get my stage start timed perfectly to get caught in the crosshairs of the Drone (not something often said in Afghanistan), and whilst it did give me a slight John Connor complex, your inner narcissist can’t help but be happy with the resulting footage, especially on THAT ridgeline:
As sexy as it looks from the air, down at ground zero shit was getting real… With open sight lines and some flatter ridge runner sections, this blast rewarded those that stayed off the brakes and let it rip like fuck, having said that, I didn’t get the feeling we were at the really new part yet:
We got a good combo of well defined vs ‘fuck am I going the right way?‘ trail up on the Ridge, despite broken ribs, Jase from 208 Media was still on point up in the Mon-Tons to capture the banger shots, even if I was trying to work out exactly where the racing line was here…
I’d had the sense that big Jake from Melbourne on his stunning Evil Insurgent was hunting me down as we navigated the ridgeline of fury. Sure enough, all it took was me to blow a key sweeping turn to pieces and he was shooting through. Not to worry, I needed something to chase any way:
Oh man, then we were into the freshness… Actually, put a capital F on that for as fresh as absolute fuck. I suspect I was in the top 75 of the first riders to lay rubber down on this bad boy. As you can see from its newness here, riding this stuff was an odd combo of ecstasy (its great) and guilt (we were wrecking it), so pretty much like how Daniel Craig felt when he chopped Jude Law’s lunch with Sienna Miller… Except the view here may have been even more scenic?
But the Real Loam Ranger was waiting for us once we hair pinned our way back into the beach forest, this was the final nail in the variety coffin on this trail, we had not pretty much experienced everything from swooping open rocky ridge lines, to brand new benched single track rammed with berms and now we were surfing through what appeared to be Dirty heaven. Place it worth its overpriced housing stock:
All this goodness was shagging me out though, at a much faster rate than I expected too. Only one more stage to go in the race at this point, but the gas tank was sounding more than a bit hollow when you knocked on it.
As far as litmus tests go, its a good indicator that if you crash in liaison stages of an ENDURO race that you’re either fingered, or just a bit shit. Or, as you can see here, possibly both. I gave myself a little pep talk, out loud:
So then, from the first queuing up 5 days earlier in Craigieburn, it was time to get my Queduro on for the final time in the race and take on stage 3. I will admit at this point that I was quite looking forward to having it done and dusted.
I know its supposed to be a mix of “I want it to end, but I actually want it to keep going“, which was absolutely a feature of Trans Provence… But this week had held a different vibe for me personally and I was quite keen to get through the last stage intact so I could enjoy the Trans NZ Pilsner. The racing vibe for me not really what it usually would be.
I’d been behind the 8 ball all day with my regular rad riding crew, so instead took the chance to capture some video and photo moments of them dropping in, coming soon to a shredit near you. Doug wasn’t hanging about and was keen to rip into the grand finale for the week.
Finally it was my turn to drop into the stage that would signal the closure of the week of South Island ENDUROmania. Another blind race run in an area I mistakenly thought I knew quite well… And fuck, I’ve run out of superlatives for the qTown trails, so allow me some lazy blogging as we marvel at this Go PRO screen grabs of trail that is even better to ride than it looks:
Roots + Grips + Magic cornflakes + magic tress + dry = Mind blown to fuck
My excitement of getting through the week without crashing myself back into hospital was becoming more tasty in my mouth as I made my way down the final stage of the week. I even made it through the section that claimed the collarbone of one of the Media team. But, never count your crash test chickens, as there’s always a root out there waiting for you, and no, I’m not talking about Friday night work drinks either:
As you can see from the scuff marks on the right in the above pic, I wasn’t the first person, nor was I the last apparently to let their front tire fall foul of this little off camber mob. Confession, I couldn’t actually be fucked getting back up at this point, and not just because it was as awkward as it looked…
To be honest, eating a bit of magic cornflake shit didn’t freak me out so much, but it did make me feel a bit tired… And also with a slight taste of “Fuck this” in my mouth. I wasn’t racing any more, I was just working on getting to the end and having a break! It was a very leisurely regrouping scenario here, a bit of a walk, dropped a few ‘Cunts’, bent the stem back straight and then casually remounted.
Luckily for me none of this negativity managed to fuck up the best photo of the week, massive credit to Digby Shaw for this banger:
I had no idea what this trail was, allegedly the ‘Fernhill loop’, but it was one of those trails that spat me out onto Hammy’s somewhere back in the bike park, giving you that “Ah, that’s where that trail comes out” moments. From then on in it was classic bike park action, just with conservative and tired arms.
I sort of rolled through the rest of the stage, just enjoying my final blat through the bike park… Results well and truly irrelevant, highlighted by the fact that this was my worst stage result all week. A last couple of jumps down Original for good measure and then it really was the Finish…
The only thing to do was find my GC riding crew and get busy fisting everyone with the excitement of having made it through a BIG week. Extra vigorous fist for Carl, who held the overall lead to take home the WIN in Open men… Legend as fuck:
The only thing left to do after a day of banger qTown trails and a subpar racing performance? Slowly sip away at my Trans NZ finisher drop…
Given my level of shagged outness, I declined the offer to push/ride back up to do the Salmon run that the boys were going to do in the afternoon, a rare case of realism winning out over new trail fever. I think the Day 5 results best reflected how perhaps I hadn’t lived up to my usual motto of “The longer it goes, the better I get“. Clearly Day 1 was my day:
- Stage 1 – 48th
- Stage 2 – 51st
- Stage 3 – 56th
- Overall Day 5 – 49th in 26.38
And to the usual ‘Dirty unrealistic comparison’ to race winner and ENDURO power couple of the Carl & Katie show to provide some perspective on daily stage results:
- Carl’s overall day 5 time – 20.34
- Katie’s overall day 5 time – 25.29
I won’t dwell on my fade to black approach to the end of TNZ, plenty of time in the post race wash up post for that action. Instead, its over to the TNZ media team to bring all this raving to life with moving pictures:
This post is already embarrassingly long, so I will save all the gushy thanks to the wrap up report, but a massive congrats to Carl for taking the overall win, Katie 2nd in Women’s and to Johan and Doug for the solid top 20 results in a stacked field. Oh, and thanks for being awesome to roll with all week.
Stay tuned for the wrap up ravings and some dubious tips etc… In the mean time I have to finish the explanation for why I’m not in South America at the EWS opening rounds. Watch this space!