It’s gotta be said again, people who rides bikes are pretty damn good people. You might have read some stuff on here from a bloke called Ben. He’s prone to posting pictures of fish, small children and stories about bushwalks. Ben’s a good mate of mine, who happens to have a good mate called Matt. You’ve probably seen Matt’s posts on here as well. A little less frequent, but often filled with quality music and wistful prose. I’m saddened to say that I haven’t actually met Matt in person, but if you can judge a guy by his facebook page (you can), then he’s a bloody top bloke as well. Now Matt happens to live in New Zealand, although a little further North of my current location. He also happens to have a friend whose name is also Matt. Matt has a mate called Julien, and also a friend called Mike (who’s friends with the other Matt too). So as you can see, there are lots of friends around here and all of them are bloody top notch people. It’s kinda like a big pot of friend-spaghetti, where everyone’s connected in various ways, be it pasta or tomato sauce. What does that mean? I have no idea, but I’m tired and I’m gonna stick with it.
The fact of the matter is that I spent just over a week in the beautiful town of Nelson, riding amazing trails with a rad bunch of guys and girls who I’d never met before, and with whom my only initial connection was another guy I’ve never met, who happens to know one bloke I have met. But that’s the beauty of bike riding isn’t it? The thing we harp on about all the time, that sense of community and the networks that open up in the blink of an eye and the turn of a pedal. I rolled into Nelson last Friday with no connections, and then first thing the next morning I was out riding the amazing Coppermine loop with a bunch of locals in the MTB-Buddies group (and some Australia navy ring-ins). An amazing ride that climbs gently along an old rail line before kicking down the side of a mountain in a series of endless rocky switchbacks and dippers that had me laughing like a madman (until I got two punctures five metres apart and spent a a good few minutes cursing, before continuing with the laughing). That drops down into a bigring smash down an amazing piece of flowing singletrack that runs alongside a beautiful river and leaves you feeling like your tyres barely touch the ground.
Beers and burgers at the Sprig & Fern (and Three Berry Cider…oh yes!) followed, and resulted in that amazing post-ride glow that you just never quite get when you ride solo. Entertained by Matt and Julien who’re two of the most hospitable and entertaining riders I’ve had the pleasure to meet, the pub became a permanent fixture in the daily schedule. The week progressed with more riding, including the lung-busting climb and vicious root-infested descent of the Black Diamond/Sunshine/Peaking Ridge trail which quite easily claims the title of least-relaxing and most mentally intense MTB ride I’ve ever done (but also a shitload of fun). A loop around Codgers MTB Park in the rain left me covered head to toe in mud and pine needles, and a trip out to the park at Kaiteriteri saw plenty of two-wheel slides and an insane number of switchbacks climbed and then descended, each one of them a joy. Things were wrapped up on Supplejack with Mike and his mates, with my lungs hanging out on the approach climb as I trailed behind guys riding Nomads with flat pedals and DH tyres as they chatted away, oblivious to the endless ascent. The ride to the bottom was wet, slippery, steep and technical switchbacks, one after the other that left me scratching my head and wondering how the guys in front even picked a line down. I slipped and tripped my way to the bottom, on foot more often than rubber, but thankfully surviving with my body in tact (if not my dignity).
Unfortunately the final ciders had to be drunk, the last burgers eaten and Nelson left to disappear through the back window of a bus. Behind were a fistful of amazing trail memories, a long list of rides for the next visit, and a bunch of new friends who turned a heap of good rides into great times.