Big post alert – As I sit down to type up todays report, I have that deep body and T Rex arm fatigue that comes replete with a sense of satisfaction that only an epic day on a Mountain Bike actually IN mountains can provide. For those that have ridden in mountains, you will knowingly nod and smile as you recall that sweet burn after a long day carving turns and having more moments of near disaster than you can possibly recall.
Once again, this was my first time ever to Queenstown… I’m not sure how I managed to avoid this epic place for so long, but its a crime against good taste and quality Mountain Biking that I have never made it here. Excuse me while I rave like a Justin Timberlake groupie until I wet my pants about how awesome it is. As I am flogged out, I will be relying heavily on pics today and less on wordsmithing, but then again, how can my words match up to scenery like this:
The M&M show had made the call it was straight to Coronet Peak to hit the trails up there, the goodness of traveling as a threesome (Er… Not that kind) is that it allows for shuttling! Yes, no XC nerdery here, it was all about the DH action today, or so I thought. Clearly all the Nomads were ready to roll, extra pumped given we seemed to have won the weather lottery on this trip:
Today was a big day, with around 2000m of DH action, so its best to split it into the tracks to best give a flavour of the antics and to make sense of the massive photo load shooting action to come.
#1 – Rude Rock
Also affectionately named ‘Cock Rock’ thanks to the reasonably felix rock formation halfway down the run, this is a purpose built MTB track that is reasonably new to the scene. Fuck me silly if the designers haven’t done an insanely great job of using the terrain and elevation. I would suggest however that this perhaps isn’t the best track to drop into first up if, like me, you need a bit of a warm up.
Its only 3.6km’s long, but its fucking full on… You never really get any rest on it given its flowing nature, high speed sections, braking bumps, berms, jumps and blind crests that you’re forced to take with more speed than you’d probably like to. Yip, this one will make you say FUCK involuntarily at some point, but you will absolutely enjoy the fuck out of it:
Speaking of which, Markus opened a giant can of whup ass today and served it all over my face. This terrain was a radical step up from Naseby and Markus was the first one to rise to the challenge by tearing not only the balls off Rude Rock, but also me in the process. To say I was rusty and tense to start with would be an understatement:
To be honest, it took me until my second run down RR to ‘get it’ (i.e. not want to shit myself and brake all the time), It takes a few runs to learn, but once you can trust the tricky bits, you can seriously let the thing rip:
It does feel like a very looong 3.6km’s though, which for the record I managed in 6.15 for my best time today, someway off the record of 4.48 down here by a couple of PRO’s, so I would be happy with a sub 6 at some stage. Its got a greater level of exposure than anything seen yesterday:
Markus wiped me out in both runs we did down RR, his commitment to the shred clearly outweighing my survival instincts, much to his Green Beret disgust:
As Rude Rock gets the most press and coverage thanks to its movie appearances, a few tips from my perspective:
- Probably don’t turn up from a long haul flight and have this as your first run… Could be your last of the trip if you do that. Warm up and play in gently, perhaps a recon run and then a missile attempt
- Someone said to me you can do it and ride back up to the top for more runs – Super fuck that, no way. Shuttle it, its HOT as a mofo up here in summer and you’ll probably have knee pads on, so you can get double the number of runs in. Also worth noting that it starts at the top of a ski field road that is a 8km climb at 9%. On a trail bike? Er, fuck no.
- The Nomad (not me FFS, the bike) was simply awesome here today and it reminded me of why I love it and won’t be changing any time soon. 27.5, beat it you punk.
#2 – Skippers
I think I have the name wrong, but whatever, it was a great little valley track that drops down into Skipper Canyon. I think that the start view says it all:
With my mojo damaged and me trying to nurse it back but still dad braking like a fucker, Markus decided the best thing to do was to drop the hammer and put me to the sword again, wasting no time in dropping in hard while I fucked around trying to turn on my Go PRO, yes, this thing IS on:
However, it seems we still hadn’t adapted the Nomad (me, not the bike) to the narrowness being dished up today:
Skippers is a totally different trail to RR, its narrow, has more exposure and while still fast as fuck, demands a lot more precision. I managed to keep up with Markus on the easy bits… Sort of:
Its worth noting that you spend the entire day in wonderment of not only how awesome the weather is here, but also how fucking insane the scenery is. I am a mountain scenery fiend of course, but even I was wetting myself at how epic it was. This went hand in hand with Markus getting thoroughly pained at my “Camera Break” calls:
An important tip – Do NOT ride down Skippers unless you have a shuttle back up or want to train for the XC world champs. The road out is basically sand and cuntiness and its a 7km climb or so. It would be a hatefest on a big bike and we saw people hating life pushing or riding granny gear back up as we cruised past in the M&M mobile.
#3 – Coronet Peak Enduro trail
Here is a BIG call: The Coronet Peak Enduro track is absolutely one of the best man made tracks I have ever ridden… In fact, in a horrendously narcissistic fashion, its almost like someone went into my brain, pulled out my ideal track and stuck it down like lego on the side of a mind numbingly beautiful mountain. Case in point to give a taste:
At the risk of being accused of being a pussy, its not as steep as Rude Rock or as narrow as skippers, but like a slutty version of Goldilocks, I found this one to be just right… It had the most awesome variety of all the tracks we rode and even Markus agreed that it was absolutely stunning and the most FUN. Its a bit random though, as its a 25 min ride/push up to then come straight back down it. Its a XC geek type work out, but worth it given the view from the top:
Given I am ramming this post incessantly with scenery shots, here’s one looking the other way as well as you scroll down yawning and thinking about how much you hate me:
To get the ball rolling, we dropped into what we thought was the Enduro line, but turned out to be the Downhill champ line, which appears to have been built to snap carbon trail bikes in half. Assisting in almost killing myself 3 times, I dropped in with my forks locked down to 120mm travel and my rear shock locked out. Yes, the video to come is quite hilarious, especially if you like laughing at incompetence. With that debacle cleared up, we were back on the line we had come to shred:
This King among tracks had a LOT of switchbacks, which allowed me to deploy my secret ‘Elbow up’ weapon, used to devastating effect against Markus, who took to impersonating an oil tanker in the technical corners, thus allowing me to keep him in check, until ultra high speed commitment was called for in spades:
I was all over him like a bleeding hemorrhoid, like a couple of cruise missiles we tore down the mountain railing berms, hitting the jumps, smashing the rock sections and willing each other on in a symphony of shredding. It was like an out of body experience in some sections and the MTB mojo was pumping. Until I got wildly off line and looked at the rock I shouldn’t have looked at, this is the moment before I come totally unstuck and unleashed a few C Bombs, it’ll be in the video:
This is a MUST DO track if you’re here… Its a bit of a trek to the top, but massively worth it coming down, especially if you’re with a crew as this one lends itself well to high speed precision flying. Its fun factor made it the track of the day for me, if not the trip!
#4 – Zoot track
After another run through Rude Rock, where I managed to clock my best time but still get taken apart like a Lego mini fig by Markus, it was on to Zoot track for a run. If I am correct, this is the track that Gee Atherton and Steve Smith did in “Follow me” and its a great run:
The trickiest thing about this one was the number of lines to choose from… You really need to hit it a few times to work the different lines, more than a few times I found myself on the line of death, but its a blast with step down after step down and a great way to drop down to the next shuttling pick up point.
The afternoon session
Yes, it was swap over time for Markus and Multigirl and at this point being double teamed didn’t seem to be as sexy as it had originally sounded (If any girls are nodding in an understanding fashion, then full respect). Not only was I regretting my 4 hours at Naseby yesterday, but Multigirl of course wanted to head back up to the top to do the Enduro run. Even a few gels couldn’t stop me feeling utterly fingered by the top. I had to fake multiple photo stops to retake photos I already had from trip 1:
But, I wasn’t about to complain about another run down the Enduro trail and Rude Rock, so it was on… Well, sort of, I was flogged out, but its interesting how well you can ride when you just try and be smooth and not push. No imperial evidence its faster, but it generates a lot of satisfaction when you glide through a berm perfectly as you know you should.
What an insanely awesome day… What melts my brain even more is that we haven’t even really scratched the surface here. I know its still building here, but fuck, this places is absolutely rammed with riding options and excellent tracks. I am ignoring my self loathing for not coming here before, but I intend to make amends over the next few days! Tomorrow is gondola day and some more BIG tracks, my arms are already nervously shitting themselves… Today will be hard to beat!