Sooooo, this will be my first blog post back since last year after the Trans Provence, which feels like a lifetime ago with so many changes & happenings since then, I don't even know where to begin, so I thought I'd do a bit of a brief summary of what I have been up to over the past few months.
The most exciting new happening & most time consuming occurrence was our move to Nelson, New Zealand! We've been dreaming of living out here since our first visit in 2006 for the World Champs, and we finally made that dream come true, and we LOVE it out here. Best decision ever made, and so happy to live in the mountains with the ocean on our doorstep again, with the most insane riding ever. Nelson ROCKS!
We were fortunate enough to arrive in Nelson smack bam in the middle of a 100 year flood - never seen or experienced rain like that before and we were worried that Nelson was going to slip away into the ocean before we even got a chance to live here. I guess it couldn't get any worse than that, so it was good to witness the worst and hope that it won't happen again for the next 100 years.
We had some good friends visit us in NZ - perfect timing for them to arrive for their summer vacation during these lovely rains. Jerome Clementz & Pauline Dieffenthaler toured their way around NZ in a campervan and Jon Cancellier also escaped the CO snow to visit us during the torrential downpours. Nelson was unrideable, so we all headed down South to Queenstown to get some riding done & did our first of many more to come Heli drops.
We moved into an "off the grid", eco, rental house out in Wakapuaka, about 10 min out of Nelson, with the most spectacular views out over the ocean and the hills. We have never, ever lived in such an amazing spot, and it will be a hard one to match someday. We are fully self sufficient, solar, rain water & a worm farm toilet system, which is just a nice way of putting that you shit into a bucket and the worms process it for you into worm tea, which you then in turn water your garden with and get massive sized apples - just kidding about the apples (not the bucket)!
We bought a taxi! Well it's a van, but it looks just like a taxi!
We've done heaps of riding out here, all new trails of course, all gnarly as hell, but o, so fun. They have some amazing trail builders here, dedicated to create some seriously amazing trails to a huge bike community. All these new trails have led me to some serious crashing too, just new, unknown trails, new conditions and locals that rip, that push you to go harder & faster and then it smacks you down hard when you least expect it, but that is all part of figuring out a whole new trail network system and trying to keep up with the locals.
Nothing like getting to a country that is right in the middle of their summer racing season, with everyone at their peak fitness and then trying to race against them when you don't feel so, em, peak, just quite yet. Nothing better than to jump right in and get started though. Our first event was the Super D National champs, where I got 2nd behind Harriet Harper - the machine, that was followed up by the Downhill National Champs the following day on a super fun, but pretty long, gnarly DH track where I ended up in 3rd place - which I was super happy about since I haven't had much DH time lately. A few weeks later we did the famous Coppermine Classic race, a grueling 40km xc race out here in Nelson, a must do if you live here. I underestimated the 40km a wee bit, and didn't go into it quite prepared like I would say going into a Cape Epic stage, but I learnt my lesson. It took me about 3h20min to complete, but I cramped all the way down the entire DH section where I was supposed to make up all my time! Well that didn't happen as I kept having to stop, and try to straighten my legs etc...o well, now I know, that my body always needs salt tablets to prevent cramping. I ended up 5th in my age group along with the other xc bandits, so I was happy with that. Sven killed it out there, so proud of him.
I have witnessed countless incredible sunrises & sunsets - the most spectacular shows that I have ever seen.
I have seen & discovered the most amazing birds, the flittering fantails, the giant sized Kereru pigeons, NZ King fishers, Black Swan's, Hawk's, the inquisitive Weka's, the list goes on and on. Still have not seen a bloody kiwi bird though....
I got my first ever mountain bike cover on SPOKE magazine! A great photo from the URGE invitational race in Cabo Verde.
We did the craziest, all day, epic, heli-drop, hike-a-bike ride, adventure ever with a great group of friends with many tales to tell...good one's and not such great one's.
The Sprig & Fern has become a Wednesday ritual with ginger ale beer & fish & chips. YUM
Finding a vinyasa yoga studio has proven to be quite a challenge. I ended up getting sucked into buying a month membership at a hot yoga studio and have never sweated so much in my life, hating every moment of it, with no possibility of enjoying my beloved savasana in my own pool of sweat. Thank god that month ended. Still searching for my Mandala yoga community out here...
We've seen many friends out here, Dane from Easton, the Coastal Crew, Nico V, Cesar R....pretty cool to meet up with friends from the other side of the world.
I was put on the actual SRAM athlete "BLACKBOX" program for this season for enduro racing - what a privilege & an honor to be racing for them. I cannot wait to get this season started.
My sister finally got to come out and visit me - I've been waiting for her visit for the past 12 years, so this was a really special time & treat for both of us. Eating, drinking & being complete tourists around town. She fell in love with Nelson, so I have a feeling that she won't wait another 12 years before she returns.
The Sombrio Cartel has become one of my new sponsors for this season - YAH!!!! I have loved their clothing for forever, and I cannot wait to start rocking their kit.
Two Orca pods spotted right in front of our house.
Sven is still in South Africa working the Cape Epic & I am sad not to be there racing this year. i always love the challenge of that race, it prepares me mentally for the upcoming season.
Lots of hiking in the most amazing native bush with gigantic sized tree's everywhere. Amazing to learn about all these new plants & tree's.
Sven has been killing it with his work, traveling about a lot, getting loads of covers and writing articles. His season started months ago and he has been pinned ever since, and won't stop for a little while until October sometime.
For now, there is a lovely, crisp chill in the air and with it comes the most spectacular, crisp, beautiful, calm days - perfect for riding and trying to build up those vital base miles for the season. The ocean is brilliant blue as it stretches out in front of me and the hills are getting more vibrant green by the day - if that is even possible. The season's are changing. The daylight savings time is changing here this weekend, a sign of Winter approoaching and a sign for us to follow the swallows and to get ready for our next stage - our European summer and a life of living in our beloved vanie, chasing races, events and a never ending summer - well European Summer anyways!
I am pretty sad to leave this little paradise, but also so very happy to finally have found our little paradise. A place that we can call home, that we LOVE & that we look forward to coming back to at the end of every crazy season. Cheers to new beginnings and to dreams that can really come true if you believe in them - it is up to you to make them happen!