vacation

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.  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

Float planes, bear spray, wedding bells & Crankworx shenanigans!

We just got back to France after a whirlwind 2-week trip out to Canada for the annual Crankworx festival. This 10-day festival is usually a pretty busy time due to all the events, races & social activities, but this year it was crazier & busier than ever it seemed.

The week kicked off with our dear friends Steph & James’s wedding on top of the mountain, which was beautiful. A magical setting for a wedding, and a first for me, attending a wedding in kneepads, body armor & a smelly riding jersey. Vows were read from the book of Dirt, and sealed with some good old aged whiskey & champagne before all the guests rode down in procession behind the bride & groom with their new matching D3 TLD helmets & her veil blowing in the wind as she hit the jumps all the way down to the valley floor.

The week ahead was filled with commitments. Sven had a ton of events & photo shoots to do, and I had a few days of Ladies clinics & media rides lined up that I was doing for SRAM. We also had a ton of friends that were out to play from Oregon & from New Zealand, so it was great to catch up with everyone, just a pity it all happened at once. Needless to say our food & drinks expenses were astronomically high, as I think Whistler is the most overpriced resort town ever when it comes to food & drinks, I have no idea how people can afford to live there & eat? (and drink loads of wine..).

I ended up racing the Enduro race, which didn’t end up so great for me as I missed my start to the second stage, due to the liaison stages being far too short to reach in time, then on my way to the third stage, I ended up getting lost and not being able to find the start in time. The fourth stage was the only proper enduro stage that started on a new Alpine trail called Top of the World, which was a great trail, but due to me missing a stage, I ended up with a DNS. Apart from the final stage, this race was definitely a Super D race & not what I would consider an enduro race, which is such a pity as this mountain, has such potential to host the most amazing enduro event. Hopefully it will be a bit more enduro style next year, but all in all a good training day out on the bike.

Rebecca Rusch invited me to help out with her SRAM Gold Rusch Ladies rides & clinics that she was hosting, along with Lindsey Voreis, Katie Holden & Lorraine Blancher, which turned out to be a huge success, helping the ladies out there to tackle the Dh & XC terrain. We also had a Ladies Lounge on the top of the SRAM truck for all the ladies to get together, hang out, watch the A line race & of course drink wine in the hot sun in the middle of the day. Isn't that what athlete's are supposed to do? Check out what this Queen of Pain gets up to - she is one BADASS lady & runs an amazing women's program. http://www.rebeccarusch.com/

Of course riding the bike park in Whistler is super fun, but every year I try to ride something new that is outside the bike park, just to get away from the craziness of the festival. These rides usually end up being the highlight of my trip, and yes, this year the out of park trails once again proved to be my favorites. I finally rode Khyber Pass trail, which is the perfect trail bike trail, from the top of the world all the way down to Creekside. Our SRAM media ride was on the Yummy Numby trail & parts of Comfortably Numb, which was another amazing trail, offering a bit of everything & it definitely made you work hard for that after ride beer. Another new one for me was the Golden Boner trail, super fun & I love the name!

As the weekend of the Slopestyle approached, and the crowds got thicker, the brake bumps bigger & the lift lines longer, I decided that it would be a great time to get the hell out of there. They were expecting around 70 000 spectators to show up on Saturday to watch the Slopestyle, and the thought of that was just a bit too much for me. I needed to get away from all the people, the busyness, the parties & the socializing, so Jerome Clementz & I decided that it would be the perfect time to catch a float plane & head into the wild Southern Chilcotin mountains for some sweet singletrack trails & some much needed peace & quiet with the grizzlies. I have been wanting to get on a float plane since our first visit to Canada many, many moons ago, so I was as giddy as a 10 year old going to Disneyland for the first time. In the end it was just 3 of us who ended up going (Jamie missed the plane & Dan was afraid of the grizzly bears). Jerome’s friend Ben came to the rescue with extra sleeping bags, mats & cookers, and so we set off with ghetto packs, bear spray, a big air horn & foam mattresses strapped onto our packs with luggage straps & enough food & beer for 2 days in the wilderness. Now this was the Canadian experience that I have been looking for.

We set off in Ben’s big old Ford truck (or Chevy...), on Saturday morning, as we had a bumpy 3 hour drive on a dirt road to get to the Tyax resort where the float plane was going to pick us up. Our plan was to get dropped off at Warner lake, ride to Spruce Lake to camp and then head back over Windy pass, down into the Eldorado basin & then up the Lick Creek pass to descend the long downhill singletrack (1800m, 17km) back to the Tyax resort on Sunday. The 25min floatplane flight was amazing. A dream come true for me, and something to check off that has been on my to do list for many years now. Unfortunately due to the wind conditions, we were not able to land on the turquoise water of Warner Lake and we had to get dropped of at Spruce Lake. Of course we were a little disappointed, but then again, we have to save something for next time. We got our small two man tent set up (for the three of us), unloaded our food into the bear bins and set off for a late afternoon exploration ride. We were out there, it was wild and you could feel it. Senses were on high alert as you came around every corner expecting to see a grizzly bear & we sang our way through the thick forest sections, just incase our presence came as a surprise to whatever was living out there. The wild flowers were stunning, and the variety of different landscapes & geology was beautiful.

Back at camp we got a fire going, and got all our food out to prepare for our camping feast. Our beers were chilled in the lake while we went riding & we stayed up late eating, drinking and speculating who had won the slopestyle that day & watching the most amazing lightning show in the distance. Of course this storm was heading straight towards us, and as beautiful as it was, we weren’t quite sure how waterproof Ben’s little tent was going to be. Some of us were planning on sleeping outside, but that changed as the storm just kept building and eventually it came crashing down right above our tent. It was a small tent, and the three of us were crammed inside with all our packs to try and stay dry as the rain came pouring down for hours on end. Of course the weather has been hot & perfect for 10 days straight up in Whistler, but Murphy had other ideas for us. We stayed dry for the most part, waking up a bit damp & tired from not being able to sleep. It was so tight in there, if one of us turned, we all had to turn in unison!

Our start to the day was a bit later than expected, but it was great to just relax and enjoy the morning. We had a big day ahead of us, and it was pretty slow going with all the gear, which forced us to do a lot of hike a biking on the technical climbs – good training for the upcoming Trans Provence race. The weather was perfect. Calm, clean & crisp after the storm and it was hard not to stop everywhere to take some shots. Once we got up to Windy Pass, we felt the need for more adventure and so made our way up to the shaley top of Spruce peak. Definitely worth the extra slog, just to find your own lines & make turns down the shale mountain all the way down to and through the Eldorado basin. We had one more pass to climb up to before the final descent back to the lodge. It was all so worth it, as the singletrack back down was pristine. Natural, fast, flowing trail. Nothing better than hitting a trail for the first time, pinned, not knowing what was around the next corner. It was bliss (except for my foam mattress bashing every tree I would lean into, and my pack pushing my helmet over my eyes).

All in all, a great little 2-day adventure away from it all. We got home late Sunday evening, just in time for a sushi dinner with a bunch of friends to catch up on the weekend’s happenings in the park & to start packing up to head back to Europe. It was a great 2 weeks, but I was ready to get back to France for some cheap wine & food. I can’t wait to get back out into those mountains next year, and hopefully Sven will be able to blow off some events to come and experience this beautiful playground with us. Cheers to Jerome & Ben for organizing this awesome ride & for letting me cram into their small little 2 man tent with them!

Next stop: Leogang for the World Champs!

Peace out

Anka x.

The Queen Charlotte Track - not just for your rental bike tourists.

Not wanting to do a solo 12h drive down South by myself to head down to Queenstown for all the bike festivities going on down there this past weekend, I decided to do something new that I still haven't done as a newbie here. I am still very much a tourist in my own new hometown, and absolutely loving it. I was ready for a solo mission. No rushing, no stressing, no waiting or chasing. Just me, myself & I to worry about and my bike. I decided to ignore all the local banter about how incredibly shitty the Queen Charlotte track is, and headed out there to find out for myself just how shit this track could possibly be. My friends let me tell you, it was quite possibly, the MOST scenic, spectacular 2 day ride that I have EVER done on my bicycle - and that says quite a lot. All the elements decided to work together to create the most spectacular day, and that doesn't happen too often out here with the NZ-5-different-seasons-in-one-day-weather (but, you know, Nelson is the sunniest place in NZ - that one is for you Jerome), but last weekend it was magnificent.

This is how it works to ride this trail - which in itself makes it very exciting & special, as you cannot do this anywhere else.

You catch a water taxi from Picton and they drop you off at Ship's Cove - the start of the trail & Captain Cooke's favorite hideaway spot. This takes about an hour to get there, as the taxi stops at various other little bays and inlets to drop off newspapers, food, people, mail and your luggage. Yes, they drop your bag off wherever you are staying for that evening so you don't have to slog your stuff along with you (RAD).

Once dropped off at Ship's Cove, you then start the ride - 71km which you can choose to do in one day or take as long as you'd like with various options along the way to camp, stay in luxury or at backpackers. The start had a pretty steep climb to begin with, but in untouched forest with magnificent trees and views over the sounds. I opted to do the ride over 2 days, so I could check everything out, take photo's and just enjoy the moment. Thank goodness I opted for this, because with views like these, I stopped  A LOT.

The ride was just super fun, some rocks & wet, rooty sections, wet clay dirt, no trampers, no other cyclists, I had this amazing track all to myself, and you could let it rip. I had a massive perma grin plastered on my face all day. I kept moving along at quite a steady pace, and it still took me about 4h30min to get to Portage and the Debretts backpackers where I was staying for the night. It was not as easy as everyone makes it out to be, quite a bit of climbing - 52km later with about 1500m in climbing. A definite monster of a day for your average rent-a-bike type tourist biker.

Of course DeBrett's backpackers was on the top of the hill, so another climb up to a lovely house overlooking the Pelorus Sounds. There was a note on the door stating that they've gone to the beach, but to go inside and make myself welcome. So I went inside and found my backpack waiting for me in my room - now that to me was just amazing. Not too many places in the world that you can still do that. I guess I found my room. The great thing about staying at a backpackers, is that you can splurge on dinner & drinks, and that is just what I did at the Pelorus resort hotel. Dinner, wine, my book & the last sunset before daylight savings time kicked in - which sort of means the end of Summer...

After about 10 hours of sleep, I woke up bright and early to a very calm, very clouded in morning, beautiful in a completely different way again. I headed out and upwards for the next hour or so, with really steep switchbacks and hills to climb, until I got right above the clouds. It was magical. Once again, there was no one else around, and I had this scenery all to myself. The joys of only being allowed to mtb on this track during the off season. Perfect.

The vegetation changed quite a bit, and you could see farmland and Picton in the distance, meaning that the trail was coming to the end. There were some really wicked downhills, more magnificent views and sort of a sad feeling that it was nearing the end. The last 20km went by way too quickly, and before I knew it I was in the little sleepy town of Anakiwa - where the QC track ends. It was rather busy with a triathlon going on, kayakers paddling about, a bus load of older Americans from a cruise ship took up the entire town and they kept getting in all the triathlete racers' way, clogging up the transition area to take photo's and it was all just a bit too chaotic to end with. I wanted to be back on the trail, far away from everyone, but the trail has ended and I had to wait for my water taxi ride back to Picton, which was one more cherry on top to finish off a wonderful weekend of riding. Six and a half hours of total riding, 71km and a fair bit of climbing - about 2100m was a good weekend of riding in my books. For all you local QC track haters, do yourself a favor and actually go and ride the trail - I guarantee you'll like it :)

Once you arrive at Picton, you just pick up your bag again - that is so cool. After a quick lunch & mandatory flat white, I hit the road back to Nelson. A quick hour and a half trip through beautiful vineyards and farmlands and endless mountain ranges with endless possibilities - so much potential out here on our doorstep, in our backyard. My mind is racing, working over time to make plans & plot adventures out here. I am inspired again, I want to show people these trails, I want to share what I get to experience on my bike. Could this be the beginning of a new exciting venture...

Peace out & thanks to my bike for being such a great model to work with. Never complaining or whining.

Anka x.