In case you didn’t already know from my constant yarning – I’m in New Zealand for a bit of sunshine, site seeing, visiting friends and family and (of course) bicycle riding. Being on the opposite side of the world it’s actually summer down here which means sunshine, dry trails and swimming in the lake. Given the pure crapness of the weather at home it couldn’t have come at a better time …
The highlight of my trip so far came from a chance email to Perryn at Wanaka bike tours. I explained I was in town and looking to do a piece on Wanaka, 24 hours later I was blazing through the Otago skies in a chopper ready to take on a 4,000ft descent. As if the offer of a 4,000ft descent and a helicopter ride wasn’t enough I was also being invited along as on an all-girls trip – including World Cup racer Casey Brown and the UK’s Hannah Barnes. Tough gig eh?
The heli ride up was wild – the wind was up and we were told cheerily by Perryn that had we been a ‘normal’ group they would have cancelled but as they had a video and photo shoot to do the trip was on. Pilot Tim was cool as ice though and despite some huge gusts he got us on to the hill with no fuss. At one point he was hovering mid air pushing the chopper hard into the wind and going nowhere, it was pretty fun.
The trail down was … yep … wild and windy. There were a few narrow ridges where the wind made riding mega sketchy and the tactic seemed to be just to duck, keep the bike stuck to the ground and rolling. Despite that, the ride was incredible. The views of the mountains and the lake were mind-blowingly good and smashing a huge, rocky and exposed trail was – as the Kiwis say – “sweet as”. Mega high fives to Casey who spotted a gap in the epic wind and hit a gap over a gate – she was the only one to hit it and it looked amazing with the lake in the background. I’m saving the photo for the mag. The really special thing about the trip was that we were riding private land that Wanaka Bike Tours have got special permission to access – meaning fresh trails that haven’t had a hammering and aren’t on the tourist trail.
The day ended with wine on the shore of the lake, huge chilli wraps and – for me – a super fast lift across the lake in a motor boat back to the car. I did manage to get lost in the dark and had to rely on some locals for a rescue … But I’m saving that story for the mag. The girls stayed lake-side and camped out for the night then supped back home – apparently thats ‘stand up paddle boarding’.
HUGE thanks to Dan and Perryn atWanaka Bike Tours for inviting me along and to all the ladies at http://missionwow.org for letting me gate crash their trip.
Thanks also to Avanti for lending me one of their awesome Torrent2 trail bikes for my trip.
If you’re visiting Wanaka, give them a shout. You’re going all that way – why not ride something really special eh?