February 16th, 2013
Nothing feels quite like finishing a 100km race…I’d imagine. I’ve never done more than 50km, but I’m notoriously lazy and strictly non-competitive unless I’m guaranteed to win with minimal effort. The good doctor Jimmy ticked off a century today and he’s got the grit-filled grin to show it. Nice work ol’ boy.
As for me, I took to the hills after too many days riding the gondola and forgetting what it feels like to actually pedal up a hill for longer than three minutes. Within 30 seconds of leaving the house I’d been attacked by a bee, we’d lost Michelle, and Neil couldn’t figure out how to use the gears on his borrowed bike with its big, silly wheels. After moments of chaos we regrouped at the supermarket to meet up with our guide Nick, who was still drunk from many hours of debauchery the night before. Things were off to a good start.
A few KM of tarmac had me quietly cursing my tacky 2.4″ tyres and feeling less than confident about the backcountry mission ahead. Luckily it wasn’t too long before we hit dirt, and Nick seemed to be vaguely aware of where we were heading. Many rides with Ben Storer has left me eternally wary of the words “I’m pretty sure it’s this way…”, which are inevitably followed by a long, steep descent towards a dead end and a sentence starting with “Oh, actually…”. We hit singletrack in good time, and from there things were looking up…literally.
Moonlight Track winds its way above the Shotover River behind Queenstown, with some pretty steep drops off to the side and a narrow path that would be little more than a goat track if it weren’t for all the mountain bike tyres that roll over it. It kinda goes without saying that the mountain biking in Queenstown is pretty epic, and the views are best described the same. When you duck around the side of the hill and find yourself away from the main roads, the mountains open up before you and it’s hard not to drop your jaw. The trail dipped into an awesome descent, with the only real line becoming a narrow rut intersected by jutting rocks and covered in a good dose of sheep shit. Guaranteed that whenever the line did open up, your chosen path would have been neatly defecated on by the local farm animals. Just roll on through, it’s the only real option. We hooked down and back up again, before a brief stop for photos and jelly beans (any excuse to rest is good by me). Naturally things were going to smoothly, so Neil decided that a spontaneous puncture would liven things up a little. I promptly planted myself in the shade under a bush and didn’t complain a bit.
We carried on along more narrow, technical trail before hitting 4WD road and beginning to loop back towards Moke Lake. A few steep climbs in the hot sun had me swearing and whinging inside my head. If there’s one thing I hate whilst mountain biking, it’s riding up long, dusty fire trails in the hot sun. Luckily the ride was far too good and the scenery too amazing for it to have any impact on the good times. Plenty of pedalling and a relaxing lunch under the trees lead us on to Moke Lake, where more gravel road carried us on to the top of Gold Digger trail. Queenstown Mountain Bike Club do a lot of amazing trail work, and Gold Digger is one of their newer projects. A rad 2.5km descent back towards town, winding its way through a variety of terrain and flora. Plenty of tight corners (in a good way), sections of fast, pumpy trail and some awesome surrounds make it a damn fine trail that I’m super keen to ride again.
From there it was back to town along the Sunshine Bay track, before booking in for a bloody huge stone grill steak at Pog Mahones. Safe to say there was a fair amount of red meat ingested at that table. A decent cow somewhere gave its life for a damn good cause.
The question now it, where to next?
(I totally stole Jimmy and Michelle’s photos for this post.)