Nelson

Home for the holidays & happy 2016 yo!

After quite a big break off the bike, it was time to pack away the gardening & DIY tools, and throw my leg back over my steed and get back to riding. I couldn't think of a better way to kickstart my summer riding than by jumping into the deep end and heading out on a big heli ride mission up Starveall mountain. An all time favorite of mine, in our backyard, which also just happens to be the very first heli drop we ever did when we looked at moving out to New Zealand, so it's quite special to me & always reminds me of why we moved out here in the first place.

The Starveall heli ride starts off on beautiful open tussock fields, with spectacular never ending views, and as you start dropping down, you ride through scree fields, massive rocky sections and eventually get to the tree line where you enter into the most beautiful, ancient, root cladded Beech forest that keeps you on your toes for the next few hours until you reach the river far, far below. To me, nothing quite compares to riding through a cornflakes cladded native beech forest with it's musty almost apple cider like smell.

Now that I was back on the bike, it was time to head to Nydia Track, one of my all time favorite places & tracks to ride for an overnighter with some visiting family who tramped in, while we biked. Nothing beats riding this track on a beautiful summer's day, catching glimpses of the turquoise water and the bobbing boats peeping through the podocarp forests, along the route. The best part of course is reaching On The Track Lodge, having a cold beer, amazing home cooked meals & settling into your cabin or yurt for the evening - not to mention the hot tub under the stars...

This photo above from Nydia Track, is what made me fall in love with New Zealand. The lush native forests & bush fascinates me & I'm in utter awe of it every time I set foot amongst these old, magical giants and to be able to ride my bike through these forests never gets old. They make me feel alive.

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Not that Sven & I ever need an excuse to head out on a road trip, but with my sister & her husband visiting us, we loaded up the trusty van and headed out on a roadie starting off on the beautiful East Coast to show them our new home country. We had a little evil plan to show them all our favorites, hoping to entice them to move out here. It's not hard to convince anyone of anything when the beauty of all these magical places, speaks for itself. The joy of having visitors, is that you become a tourist again and end up doing loads of things that we'd never do or have always wanted to do. It makes you see & appreciate so many other things and it forces you to slow down, something that we don't do often enough.

Our next stop was Craigieburn, for some more riding, hiking & cave exploring. The scenery out there is just breathtaking, and completely different to the East Coast. We hiked around and up and over some beautiful rock formations at Castle Hill, watched the sun setting and waded waist deep up and through a cave system with head lights. The riding is always phenomenal, the weather was great & we got to do a few bonus shuttles down cocaine Alley - the upside of having family who don't ride bikes, they can shuttle!

Early summers in New Zealand is not quite as warm as it's other Southern Hemisphere friends, but we got pretty lucky and kept dodging the rain. If anything, the low clouds adds to the mood & the beautiful lush rainforest really come to life in these conditions. I don't mind carrying gear with me to cater to the four seasons that we can experience in one day. It's exciting & ever changing. Theres no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing :-)

A highlight for me this summer has been the completion of the 85km long Old Ghost Road track. After 9 long, hard years of work and red tape, they connected the track for everyone to play on. We jumped at the opportunity to do our first ride through and immediately booked our bunks at the Ghost Lake Hut to go and experience this longest single track trail in New Zealand. We opted to do this over two days and one night which makes the riding a bit more enjoyable as you don't need to take quite as much gear and food along with you. What they have created up there in those mountains is just mind blowing, and I salute and thank each and every person that was part of this massive project. Bloody well done!

Of course riding with photographers, Sven & Duncan on such a perfect day, meant that it took us a wee while. They were like two kids in a candy store and just couldn't get enough of the spectacular vista's. I would recommend putting this one on your bucket list of absolute must do trails to experience. In my opinion, the West Coast is the best coast. It is just stunning, the riding is amazing, hardly any people live out there (it may be due to the huge sandfly population), but every single time we head out West, we are in awe of this place & what it has to offer, I literally have to pinch myself.

We've just decided to head further south, this time to Queenstown. Catch up with some friends, ride some new trails & to ring in the new year. Summer has finally decided to kick in on Christmas day, so it's time to pull out the vests, slap on the sunblock and head out (and drink some beers of course)! 

It's been great to be back at home, to have a bit of a break from the bike but it's been just as amazing to get back on the bike. I'm super excited about the new year and I've got some mega adventures waiting for me (I mean MASSIVE). It all kicks off around mid January, which is a bit bittersweet for me, as it feels like we've just got home, but time waits for no one and you need to just get on with it, make the most of every single day & be grateful for this wonderful life we get to live.

Peace out & happy new year to everyone!

Anka

x

Dodzy Memorial weekend of stoke.

As soon as we wrapped up our 8-day Juliana video & photo shoot, we barely had time to do laundry & wash bikes before we headed out to Wairoa gorge for the DME. A weekend filled with good friends, great memories and amazing bike tracks in the middle of nowhere surrounded by beautiful native forest. I wasnโ€™t feeling tired at all, after filming non stop for the past 8 days, and leaving for Chile for a big race on the Monday following the DME, but I wasnโ€™t going to miss this for anything โ€“ knackered or not, weโ€™re going to the gorge to ride or race or hang out โ€“ whatever you like to call it โ€“ enduro-ing these days. The skies opened up for an entire day & night only to leave all the really techy tracks even more techy & slippery, but the sun was out and it felt like the perfect summer weekend. The tracks that we raced on this year were some of the hardest ones built out there and the slippery conditions made it really fun and also really unpredictable and bloody scary. Saturday was super fun, catching up with everyone, and riding some new tracks. I thought that by Sunday things would have dried up a bit more, but in fact it ended up being even more slippery. My goal was to get down the mountain, have fun, try not to crash too many times and to get to Chile on Monday for the Andes Pacifico stage race.

Well it started off well, and it ended off well, but the end of my 2nd run was pretty great until right near the end where I lost all my biking skills and crashed myself silly for a wee while and even getting jammed up in-between some trees. Not ideal, but no damage done, except for some major bruising. I knew right then that there was no chance of getting on the box that day. The girls that ride out here are absolutely amazing bike racers & riders, especially on the gnarly shit. One small mistake with this lot and youโ€™re off the back. Of course you feel that little bit of disappointment โ€“ that is normal, otherwise you wouldnโ€™t race, but that was washed away quickly when you think about the actual reasons for being out here in the first place. This is not about you or I or us, or racing this is about the great memories of an amazing friend & person, and celebrating everything that he was so passionate about. Cheers Dodzy for creating such an amazing playground. In the end Rosara smashed us to take the win, with Harriet in second place and Gabby in third. Super happy to see Gabby up on the podium โ€“ it made my day & I knew that this was a special weekend for her. Justin Leov took the Elite men's win & Sven got a pretty sweet looking first place trophy for the mantelpiece that we don't own - well done everyone!

Thanks to everyone for another amazing weekend of playing on bikes!

Next it was time to do laundry and pack up to head out to Chile. Andes Pacifico, here we come!

No better way to end a day of shredding & racing bikes with good mates.

Fire, Salad, Dog. Juliana does Nelson.

Fire Salad Dog. Juliana does Nelson. Cable Bay campfire.

Itโ€™s been a while since Iโ€™ve had the time or the energy to actually sit down and type down some thoughts. Itโ€™s been hectic to say the least. My off-season has not been โ€œoffโ€ or slow by any means. Iโ€™m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as February is nearing its end, which means Iโ€™ll get a few weeks of actual off-season downtime, I mean training. It sounds like Iโ€™m winging โ€“ donโ€™t get me wrong, Iโ€™m most definitely not. I wouldnโ€™t want to change anything about my life. Iโ€™ve loved, absolutely loved every minute of every day โ€“ well the 6am wake upโ€™s got a bit old, but that is so ingrained in my body clock right now, that I find myself enjoying all the early mornings and waking up with the birds and the beautiful morning light.

Letโ€™s start at the beginning; it will be short and sweet, I promise.

The best lounge ever.

The Juliana Bicycles product launch happened over here in Nelson โ€“ very exciting stuff. Gary Perkin flew out here a few days earlier to shoot the entire Juliana bike line up. We took each bike to a well suited, different looking location to best portray each bikes characters and chose a different theme/story line & outfit for each bike. That was full on to say the least, as there were 6 bikes and myself which meant early mornings & late nights, but we got it done in 3 days and we had a blast. There were 2 firsts in that weekend for me; first time on a 29er (which I surprisingly loved, shhhh) and a first time on a hard tail (which I also enjoyed). Never too old to try something new โ€“ like they say; do something that scares you everyday (that would include hard tails & 29ers in my books). Even though I tried & enjoyed them, I wonโ€™t be trading in my trusty suspension bikes any time soon though, but I can appreciate and see the need and the right place for all the different models that I rode.

Summer days.

Katie Zaffke โ€“ the new Juliana Brand manager joined us later along with the Anthill film crew to capture our womenโ€™s backcountry adventure that we were heading out on for the next 4 days. We had an awesome crew of girls, all of them from such amazing, varied backgrounds and all of them Santa Cruz riders/racers & adventurers for many years, so it was just fitting to have them all join me on our new Juliana Bicycles adventure โ€“ promoting strong, interesting, badass women who can ride bikes properly. I mean were talking ER doctors, bird researchers & hydrologists that also smashes any sort of bike ride and race for fun on their weekends โ€“ how awesome is that.

Nydia Track lunch spot with the girls.

So this is heading for a longer piece than I anticipated, so summing up the amazing 8 days of the Juliana video & photoshoot, here goes:

Not a bad view.

Awesome bikes, amazing friends, a lot of riding, pushing, repeating and waiting. Many early mornings, lots of driving, late fish n chips dinners, too many flat whites, camp fires, bird watching, tree deciphering, learning, watching, laughing & vajazzling โ€“ donโ€™t ask! Banter, shredding, Go-Proโ€™ing, crashing, laughing, bonding and showing the boys how to ride little bikes โ€“ Juliana Bikes. I no longer feel sad to not ride a Santa Cruz branded bike โ€“ I love my Juliana Bicycle and feel really proud and special to be able to represent the finer side of the best bike brand in the world.

Riding bikes.

Thank you to everyone that made this happen, to all the boys that had to put up with us and to all the girls that gave up their time to make this video shoot a reality. Hoping we all look really fast & that all the women go forth & buy Juliana bicycles!

Cheers Harriet, Anja, Katie & Bob & also CJ, Matty, Mike, Boyd, Sven, Gary & everyone else who made this happen.

Finding art in all the "right" places.

Who says you have to go to the big cities and the snooty galleries to look at art?  

Well we havenโ€™t been near a big city or a snooty gallery for months now, but we have been deep in the mountains on overnight outback rides and finding pretty amazing pieces of "artwork" in the most unlikely of places. Now, these pieces won't sell for thousands of dollars, but they are just a delight to find when you least expect to see them out in the whop- whops. Just another reason why I am utterly and completely head over heels in love with New Zealandโ€™s backcountry huts, and I cannot wait to explore & overnight in many more of these hidden gems next summer.

 

If you've ridden some of the sick trails out in the Craigieburn area, you might recognize some of these.

 

The best part about these finds: you donโ€™t get into trouble for taking photoโ€™s of them, so snap on!

 

Cheers to the artists!

Oompa Loompa

Alienhead

Sunshine heart

Blue man group

Mad hatters

Sexy Alien Puppets

Crack Spotters

Hunter punter

Cabin Porn

bikes, burgers, beers & a bit of racing in Queenstown.

Fergburger chowdown What a great week of riding bikes, racing, hanging out, full moon yoga in the park, stunning sunrises, warm sunshine, swimming, drinking beers, racing down rude rock, shopping & eating massive Fergburgers while being surrounded by the most spectacular scenery wherever you looked.

Team Trail Fund

First up was the 6-hour enduro Super D race that Rosara Joseph & I teamed up to race together in the super competitive womenโ€™s category of teams of two. We were team Trail Fund NZ (www.trailfund.org.nz), and I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.ย  Not wanting to let down my Olympian XC teamie, I was getting a bit nervous, and even more so after our first lap when it was revealed to me that this was going to be way more of a xc race than anything else and not at all the track we thought it was going to be held on (which was nice and downhilly). Anyway, not having much of a choice, I gave it everything I could and we managed to clock 13 laps over the 6 hours of racing. I was knackered, but it felt great and we took the win! (Hats off to Rosara who almost died the day before after her carbon bars decided to snap while descending at mach speed).

6 hour Super D

Yippeeee!

The rest of the week was spent exploring old and new trails, shuttle runs, xc rides, coffee shopping, eating & free full moon yoga in the park with gluten free cupcakes & wine aprรจs savasana โ€“ thank you Lululemon! (No wonder their sports braโ€™s cost what they do).

Enduro racing

Next up was the Enduro race, which consisted of 4 super fun tracks, two of them were super pedally and 2 of them were proper, fast, flowy enduro tracks which made for a great combination of racing. There were also two pretty long liaison stages in-between and made for an all round super social, fun day of racing. The racing was super tight and that made it very exciting, especially when I ended up with a mechanical during my 3rd stage. A quick MacGyver fix managed to hold up so I could race the last stage, but in the end, I finished in second place only a few seconds behind the winner. Harriet & I ended up getting the exact same time down the last stage โ€“ Zootโ€™s, with a time of 1:55, which was really close to the top menโ€™s times, so I was very pleased with that. Cheers to Harriet for taking the win & to Rosara for third place. We rocked it.

Queenstown beauty

Cock Rock, I mean rude rock!

Of course a week of riding bikes will cause a few casualties - Boyd hit a tree, really, really fast and is nursing a fractured pelvis, Simon has another gimp shoulder for a few weeks after not agreeing with a gap jump, Sven tore his shoulder ligaments and wrote off his new helmet. Healing vibes coming your way!

Exhausted after a pretty jam packed week, it was time to pack up and head back home to Nelson to hopefully catch a few more sunny days up there on the bike before the Winter sets in.

Cheers to Queenstown!

Trail Fund NZ

The Old Ghost Road trail comes to life!

[youtube=http://youtu.be/_Fx4Ugdri5Y] In the North West corner of the South Island of New Zealand a ghost is awakening. A long-forgotten gold miners' road is being revived as a tramping and mountain biking track. Connecting the old dray road in the Lyell (Upper Buller Gorge) to the mighty Mokihinui River in the north.ย  The 80km-long Old Ghost Road will traverse virgin native forest, tussock tops, river flats and forgotten valleys.

 

We cannot wait to get out to the West Coast & ride these new trails! They look soooo sick! Cannot believe this is in our backyard either, could be the perfect spot to spend Christmas or New Years. Stoked ;)

 

peace out.

Anka