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New Zealand, 9 tracks in 3 weeks

With Nasty Nick Hill

 New Zealand With Nick Hill

9 tracks in 3 weeks

 

As soon as we found out ‘Nasty Nick’ was heading to New Zealand with his bike we asked him to take some pictures and keep a note of his experiences. Here is how Nick and his bike got on in the other side of the world

Bmxtalk asked for an account of my experience of taking a Bmx on holiday. Riding would have to fit in between catching up with friends, a wedding, 8 days in a camper and 5 days in the north island. The only stop I requested was Queenstown, on the South island. What had initially attracted my attention were the trails, famously spread across the world of social media. WOW!

Conspiracy was rife with comments  varying from astonishment to disbelief. Gorge road trails, with a bit of research I was keen to drag a bike there. With trails as a background spanning 20 years and the latter 5 being racing, TRAILS IS SHOUTING.

The 2013 World Championships was held in Auckland, and with internationally respected pro’s; Mark Williers and Sarah Walker. Other race track opportunities would bound to spring up. Mostly being less effected by weather and easier to find. TRACKS IS TEMPTING? 

The Equipment.

I chose the durability of the faithful steel custom FBM for trails, I had made back in 2010. Based on a Steadfast with cantilever mounts, a longer rear end, slackened angles and a 1/4″ longer top tube to accommodate the ’69’ seat tube angle. Perfect trails race bike, for coming up short, rattling over uncertain terrain and being knocked about travelling. At home spinning out on the track and roasting the trails. 

The Hong Kong Jockey Club

There is a Bmx track! Seven miles direct from the hotel. An active club with a race series and regular sessions looked promising.

How to get there? The network of highways that are laced in between would discount the somewhat foolhardy idea of navigating by bike. Train could be an answer but still there was a mass of highways to negate. With a little time at hand I weighed up the logistics of going there on the way back to the airport. Sense won, and so explored the more usual sights. A few things came to me in hindsight. Google translate app could of been used to maybe suggest to a taxi driver to pick me up after a session? The more usual maybe making use of a concierge, to communicate effectively my Bmx mission. Language was hard. I learnt ‘Umg Goi’ which we thought meant ‘thanks’. Actually meant ‘United Kingdom’ or ‘Boy’, depended on how you subtly emphasise the sound you make. That would explain, no reaction, response whatsoever when used, no eye contact either. ‘Che che’ would served better, which is thank you, I’m a bumbling Englishman.

 bmxevolution.com.hk

Another thing I picked up on, was Bmx Evolution who sponsor Milton Keynes national team, whom I am a member, was based in Hong Kong, and have a connection to the track. It was amid a working week and could not bring myself to impose. What are the chances? It really could of not been set up better, if there was a little organising on my behalf instead of winging it, I would be better off. Also giving the reassurance to the wife, instead of leaping in to the void. There was only a few hours spare and fear of missing the flight to Syndey won. The next riding opportunity would be grasped with more single mindedness after not even trying. 

Onwards to Syndey for a short stopover, while our bags transferred to the Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand. 

Landed at 1 am, and got mentally ready for boarder control. Seemed to come across Bmx before, the recent world’s and Olympic status of the sport must finally coming in to effect. The guard however did taken exception to a well travelled looking gentleman. Dirty boots, carrying food and a general lived in look, did not go down well. They are protecting a Eco balance for their agricultural export industry. 

Customs cleared, we ventured in to New Zealand.

Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island. 

Being a large city, my attention was drawn to riding possibilities. Mountain Biking was mentioned when a desire for my chosen recreational sporting pursuit arose. Although ever present, it was not what I was after. When an opportunity presented itself just before a wedding we were going to attend, I found Bexley Park. 

Finally get to ride, determined not miss this opportunity I resurrected the bike from it’s polar opposite world sports cocoon. Bearings have popped out of the 90’s front wheel, a distant memory surfaces about a similar problem in Australia 14 years prior. The memory becomes more vivid on reassembly, trying to press bearings in using only an axle and nuts. The rest of the bike goes together without a problem. 

The track has a blisteringly fast first straight, even on flats on a trails bike. The berms were up there with the best shapes. Flowing second straight with pro section leading in to a technical third. Final straight not as tight and only slightly more mellow. This is a national standard track. There is a warm up roll in next to the start hill with no gate which sent you at good warm up speed to the first obstacle. The modern post Olympic sized start hill’s can send you and seven others at a speed that may prove challenging. This first straight had large lengthy fairly mellow backsides to accommodate this, perfect. At slower speeds you could ride over or have to hold a long manual. Riding on your own obviously not recommended, but on flats and riding within my ability, the track threw up no surprises. Really good track and a great first impression of what New Zealand tracks were like. Getting there was easy and stress free, almost relaxing. 

https://www.facebook.com/North-Avon-Christchurch-Bmx-Club-153985061282782/

Off to a wedding for cultural exchanges.

Christchurch continued…

On further research Bmx tracks are listed in cyclingchristchurch.co.nz under information, under ‘where to ride’ fairly straight forward. Linking up the names to places was a little more tricky. The distinction between a dirt track and a Bmx track is a little blurred. 

I had a day free with a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado to investigated. I somehow found a location of some trails. Directions were easy just head north to Kaiapoi and they were just off the main road. Spotted them from the road and turned in. At about the point of too late to turn round I realise that it’s someone’s home with backyard trails, complete with wooden roll in. Not wanting to be caught I reversed out of there. Awkward. I had a few more locations to check out so headed back to Christchurch. 

This is what I found, another national standard track with a pro section. Downhill and really fun, lots of lines and different obstacles to play around with.

Kyle Park, Hornby. A good session was had here to make up for a couple of ghost hunts. Christchurch is easy to get about, but is quite large.

The first straight now cuts off the dog leg shown here, and with the addition of a pro section.

Next stop, Washington reserve Sk8 park. Just happened upon this place. The first though was, I could of easily put a skateboard in the golf bag. 

Had a lot of real street, mini, midi and gradually built up to vert bowls.

North Island, New Zealand

Rotorua, Lord of the Rimmers

Flew from Queenstown to Auckland . $60 excess on the golf bag bike, pppffftt, oh well. Travelled down to Rotorua in another monster truck SUV. On highway 1 drove past the National cycling velodrome in Cambridge, looked like a pump truck next to it, probably a track somewhere too, but with the tight schedule and time short, stopping was not an option, as we were missing a Maori show as it was.

Rolling in to Rotorua saw a downhill zorb track and another skyline gondola. Beneath were some crank works obstacles visible.

Arrived just before dark and got this shot of the geothermal activity, just behind the Holiday Inn. 

A free tear off map revealed the location of a Bmx track, within riding distance!

With the car being used by my travelling companions to visit Maori land the next day, I would be free to roam. Track first then explore the gondola area. 

A national standard track U inside a U, with a pump track and trails. Host to the national championships in 2012. The pump track was a welcome addition to loosen up on, with 6-7 turns of good shape and direction change. 

The trails had wooden roll in with a step down. I had a sense of others had felt when they had to drop in at my trails with a similar step down. Visions of the front disappearing and impacting on the front of the backside was the fear, with no transistion, it would be a hop. It worked seamlessly though, threading landing perfectly. 

The track started with a step up step down triple, double, semi step up table in to a long outside U. Split on exit outside pro line, inside step up step down, then two larger taller doubles. Third straight consisted of two doubles a roller then double. The last straight, step up table to pick up double to quad rollers and a table to finish. No room for a finish line, it maybe wishful thinking that the finish line is the table? The holy grail of finish lines with a victory waft, an actual look back and exciting mid flight battles for the line. At the end of the finishing straight was a building with 1 to 8 at the base.

Being only 5 years in to racing this set up is a new one on me. On further investigation I am reliably informed on its use. Finishing places at the end of a race, so anyone can raise an arm and protest. Seems like a nice time to immediately reminisce the battles that had taken place, for about 30 seconds or so…

https://www.strava.com/activities/434846512

https://www.strava.com/activities/434846513

Next up was the pump track at the bottom of Rotorua’s gondola.

The best pump track I have ever ridden. Started on a bridge over the finish line with two lines so you could effectively race a mate. Dropping in, the section of berms and rollers were for gaining speed in to the last straight after an almost 270 degree berm. The rollers were fun to jump or manual and mix it up.

https://www.strava.com/activities/434846508

Auckland, New Zealand

Puni 

First stop, Sunset Coast Bmx. Rolled down the unsurfaced road surrounded by farmland. 

CLOSED, confiscation of property will follow! Oh for goodness sake! 12,000 miles, 45 minutes out of Auckland and a barbed fence has halted progress. I think I may of stumbled on the equivalent British Cycling. Described as the high performance training centre and with an 8m hill and an adjustable berm jump setup seemed to fit a national training centre. The track was fast, fun and accelerating was easy. The berms had plenty of lines. With the threat of confiscation I did not hang around.

https://www.strava.com/activities/435848479

The next track was on the way back to Auckland, In Papakura.

Really fun, but exhausting. Proper run out of steam on the last two straights. Five turns which change direction enough to make racing interesting. Never been on a track that endurance was a problem. Even doing laps of Peckham in the CK Flash MBE training sessions seemed easier.

https://www.strava.com/activities/435848490

This was hard to find in the giant maze that is Auckland. An actual 80’s track! Is this a heritage site?

Surprisingly fun, with the flat pedal first turn and downhill. Much more pedalling involved, but not as much as you would think due to the scale of the track.

https://www.strava.com/activities/435848476

Next up was this beaut. East City Bmx track.

Proper fast first straight, maybe to do with drop in steeper backside off the start hill. Looks severe, in the picture, but with an 5m elevation, gave a real boost. Coupled with ultra smooth concrete which had been used on the hill and on the berms, well fast.

Modern track with becoming more usual step up to double at the end of the first straight. The track had signs saying please don’t ride the track as it was under construction. The track was finished, it was the surrounding fencing, or lack of supervision that I boldly surmised for the request not to ride. I did not hang around for fear of being told off, but got a couple of really fun laps in, perfect track.

https://www.strava.com/activities/435848481

North Harbour Bmx track

First off, really nice set up. National standard. Undercover start hill including the pens behind. Another faultless track with a pro set. First two straights were large and shallow so no surprises or difficulty was had, would make for close racing. The third changed it up a bit but with space for a few good cranks. The fourth straight was technical and fun was had linking up and trying different lines.

https://www.strava.com/activities/435339907

Queenstown, New Zealand

Gorge road trails. After mucking about on the skyline luge I was desperate to have a look for real, the virally famous trails. Being near the end of spring, I thought there was a good chance they’d be running. I rolled up to the visually famous trails.

CLOSED, too wet and dry. Gutting, but that’s trails. A world apart from the funded, staffed, catered and revenue generating outdoor pursuits Queenstown. Hidden behind one of the vast landings was a dude resurfacing. They had been untarpped, the takeoff’s all done so far since winter. A lot of unpaid hard graft is done by a core of six locals in their spare time while funding a living during working hours. I asked if I could look around, and was greeted by the familiar phrase “go hard!” Which from past Australisian experience is a very positive response. I found another local working another landing who was the main visionary behind these trails. Hard to describe his feelings on the viral phenomenon, which he did not ask for. A few more rocked up or appeared, introductions were made and I offered help with a landing. Which was altered from having a stepped down backside. I was keen to familiarise myself with the methodology of construction of arguably the most visually awe inspiring iconic trails. The offer of a beer was humbling and touching to be welcomed after passing the unwritten trails rider test. 

Tails were told of local legends and lines they had ridden. Transfers and tricks that were spun. Getting to know some of the locals, and surprisingly connections could be made back home in the small world that is trails.

Getting involved. Photo credit @camcam_camcam

One dude that rocked up you may of heard of @kellymcgazza. The absolute unit that destroyed his bike back flipping a 70ft canyon, at the Energy Drink Rampage. 

Tragically Queenstown lost this local legend recently. RIP Kelly McGazza. 

Summer in full swing. Photo credit @kyle_rides_hoysted

Just visiting this place, I wanted to live there. Wow. Really sound bunch of locals at the soil craft end of things. If anyone goes there you have to respect and acknowledge the people who give so much to the community of Bmx, even if it to inspire your own trail craft. The trails had lots of warm up lines graduated up in scale. The main lines had massive vert berms into transfers and hips. They flowed seamlessly.

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