Well, better late than never here… Trans NZ may have wrapped up a month ago, but tradition demands the summary post is still pushed out the Dirty chute for your bemusement. I’m in a slightly Jekyll & Hyde mood on this summing up post for Trans NZ, mainly as it boils down to this split:
- This is an excellent event to do if you’ve never done a multi day ENDURO race
- This is probably not the best way to get back into racing if its your first ride back from serious injury
For the sake of an impartial review though, I will focus more on the aspects of #1 than the more obvious #2. I’ve already wanked on enough about folding mentally like an origami Nomad/turd, so I shall refrain from more self-critique on my riding. Instead, lets focus on the good shit by diving fork first into the BIG rocks of why you want to get your ass to Trans NZ in 2017:
This is an awesome ‘mates race’ – Self seeding race stages, no time limits on the uber-scenic liaisons, shared accom: It all adds up to the perfect recipe to hit this race with your GC Crew. Get the gang together and reference that shit on the entry form, there were plenty of rad riding crews hitting it together. I was lucky enough to get inducted into a golden unit, even if I think I wasn’t quite fit enough to keep up!
This is an awesome ‘beginners’ race – And fuck no, I absolutely don’t mean turning up on your 29er hard tail lathered in fluro Ground Effect clothing. But, if you’re already a rad ENDURO cunt and want to do a multi day race, then this should be your first port of call for sure.
I wouldn’t go as far as saying that its ‘easy‘, fuck no, but the days were on average about half the length of a Trans Provence day to put it in perspective, with significantly less hiking as well. So, if you’re planning multi day forays and want to get your technique down and everything, then think about hitting this as an excellent way to pop the cherry. As I previously mentioned, its a Goldilocks event where they’ve got the balance right between awesome riding, but not a death march. The afternoon faffing time was massively appreciated. Whilst on paper it wasn’t as hard as some other races, I still left feeling pretty fingered and that I didn’t need a Day 6.
The South Island grand slam – If you’ve never been to the South Island of NZ with your bike, then not only is your soul probably undersized, but you may also be concerned about how to take in some of its most glorious monuments. Remove those dilemmas in one pincer movement by signing up for TNZ. Nelson area aside, you’ll end up getting the smorgasbord of some of the best/most iconic spots that the South has to offer, at a time when I personally think the weather is awesome. A massive bonus if Mon-tons give you a stiffy:
Life is made pretty easy for you – Megan and the TNZ team have got this thing locked down, making you feel at times it was an event in its 6th year, not its second. Its super user friendly, massively well organised but yet surprisingly chilled out. All you have to do is turn up with your bike and shit, then follow instructions. Just don’t end up on the big bus from Craigieburn to qTown for the transfer at the end of Day 2. Buses are cunts 98% of the time, so nail a van with your posse.
The accom at Craigieburn is all good, qTown will see you billeted at Pinewoods, an MTB classic spot and amenities are sweet at both. Vertigo bikes in Queenstown do the mechanical support and if they’re rad enough to do 3 overnight Reverb rebuilds in one go, then they can pretty much sort anything. Makes it a shit load easier spare parts wise as well. They can even sort your bike while you spend 3 hours in the Fergburger queue.
The riding – If you didn’t pick this up during the daily race reports, then in summary: The trails are fucking rad. They’re peppered with all the usual classics that you never get tired of riding, but then there will be enough new stuff for most people that you’ll be stoked on adding a few trail notches to your ENDURO belt.
There’s nothing in the week that is really too scary or technical… The EDGE will make your starfish tighten, but to be honest most of what we rode is pretty amateur friendly. Its not like sleep losing moments in Finale thinking about how the fuuuuck you’ll get down some bits.
The best part? Variety! Over the 5 days the riding is like a Tommy Hilfiger ad in terms of diversity, which makes for a rad week. There’s something in there for every type of shredder.
And now, let’s have a wank about equipment and bikes
A little bit about the winning bike… A Giant Trance. Yes, that’s right, not a Reign, instead a 140mm machine that if we follow the marketing guidelines correctly, we’re supposed to call a ‘trail bike‘. Furthermore, that rear shock had so much air in it that it was only getting about 70% of its travel, Gwin styles. Aside from the wheels, it was stock as fuck… Once again proving the adage that riders with skills don’t need as much travel:
It probably helped that Carl pedalled the utter fuck out of the thing, which goes to my point about the week not being super gnar and pretty much requires you give it some hoof. No coasting down super steep slopes for 5 days. I didn’t debut too much new kit on this trip, but some notable kit mentions and points:
Bell Super 2R helmet – I really didn’t want to like this helmet if I am being honest: It’s peak is not to scale, its insanely ubiquitous in ENDURO circles (that’s cuntspeak for every fucker has one) and given my Giro sized head, the fit didn’t feel 100% right to start with. But, begrudgingly I have to admit that after 5 days of hot and heavy ENDURO work, that this is a pretty awesome lid.
Aside from the convenience of not having to travel with two helmets, the real bonus is out on course, where avoiding the two helmet scenario has massive upsides. This thing certainly shits all over the MET Parachute like its name is Klaus, even if that chin bar isn’t ‘certified’. Great ventilation, easy to use and when you have it on it basically feels like a DH helmet. Certainly not as cool as the Troy Lee D3 of course. Only downside, apart from looking like an ENDURO minion with everyone else, that Go PRO break away mount does it’s job a little too well… Vaporised within a few days, even without a crash.
Tires – I didn’t think about tires at all before heading to TNZ, but as everyone else seemed to be thinking about them or talking about them endlessly, clearly I need to mention the topic. Indeed, people were changing to fresh rubber mid week of course, not something that crossed my mind. If anything, I should have gone for a faster rolling rear tire, something like the new Minion SS which people were running. There’s nothing so gnarly all week that you need massive rear knobs, maybe aside from the Corotown stage.
The rest of the time its fairly smooth and you’ll want something for the pedally parts, so unlike shore leave in Manila, don’t overdo it on the big rubber. Bear in mind, Carl won on Ardent’s, a tire most ENDUROphile’s would have vomited on if you suggested they strap a pair to their bike for a weeks racing. I stayed with the now ultra reliable combo of the Mavic Charge 2.4 upfront and the WTB Break out 2.35 rear. This odd pairing has now gotten through EuroEnduro 1, Trans Provence and EuroEnduro 2, including 2 EWS rounds, with zero drama.
Fox DHX2 rear shock – This thing seems to get the most attention on this site and the Gram, so its worth mentioning that I backed off the HSC and LSC one click and sped up rebound on both HSR and LSR by 2 clicks, both changes feeling pretty awesome for this terrain. I have no idea what that all means, and neither will you as I haven’t published base settings, but fuck it sounds good. #thanksfornothingcunthead
And now the moment you’ve really been waiting for – The Bike Porn. As you’d expect, the place was rammed all week with steeds so contemporary and hot it made your eyeballs want to boil. Basically one room where the value is greater than the GDP of Syria:
Setting aside my one eyed Santa Cruz crush for the moment, here are a couple of bikes that stood out during the week, unfortunately I missed the pic of Jared Graves actual Yeti SB6c anniversary bike, but here are some awesome rigs.
Evil Wreakoning 29er – Piloted by B-Rad, shredder and Evil Employee, he was seriously on it until destroying his arm on Day 1. This bike is super hot and not just because of the colour, 160mm 29er? Fucking A:
The Ghost – Ridden by an equally giant German unit, this thing stood out due to its crazy frame anger, construction and awesome finishing. A rare and unique looking machine:
Santa Cruz Bronson – This thing was pimpin, brand new and top of the line. If you were on the fence about wanting a Bronson, then this one would give you the final ball tickle you’d need to drop the hammer on the Visa card. Its awesome in the flesh and probably the best pick in the SC line up for a race like the Trans NZ, terrain wise (That’s not an admission the Nomad was overkill).
Evil Insurgent – Its fair to say that if Santa Cruz lost the plot tomorrow (think: President Trump) and I had to evacuate to a safe zone, then I would probably be queuing up for one of these. Like the Wreakoning above, the finishing on these things is massively cool and they just look ready to smash it. This example ended up being wrapped around a tree and obliterated on the final stage of the race, but up until then it looked amazing:
Push it real good – I almost didn’t notice this Nomad, but its hard to go past that PUSH Elevensix rear shock. Not something you see every day, but every single time you talk to someone about this shock clouds part, trumpets sound and general gear frothing ensues at a prolific rate. Must be something in it:
A massive Dirty thanks to Megan and the awesome army of TNZ volunteers that made the week excellent, I always feel the need to take my Dirty cap off to people who have the metaphorical balls to put an event like this on. Mountain Bikers can faff like fuck and moan about trails at the drop of a seat post, so massive respect for the people who give up their time and put a huge amount of effort into this new breed of adventure race.
A huge shout out and chur to my GC riding crew as well, the Carl & Katie show, Johan and Doug were golden to roll with for the week and whilst I was silent on the liaisons mostly while trying to keep up, it was cool to hang with a group that loved the riding massive amounts and knew a thing or two about shredding the house down.
If you haven’t done it, I suspect Trans NZ 2017 will be a sell out pretty quick so don’t muck about and make sure you tap that shit if you’re keen on doing a 5 day ENDURO race. I would be keen to do it again but only with a crew of rad mates and instead think I will target the Trans BC in 2017, again run by Megan and Ted, so its bound to be another quality gig.