Archives: New Zealand

Motivated by Snakes

Motivated by Snakes

I’ve been in Christchurch since March 10th, and New Zealand since December 18th, and my home, Sheffield feels like a long way away. I miss the Peak, I miss my mates, I miss Wharny, I miss all of the thisisheffield crew, I miss my family, I miss Bragazzi sandwiches, I miss the open moorland and the quirkiness of loam against shin, I miss getting sweaty in a nightclub watching my favourite DJ, I miss watching in awe my favourite bands, I miss riding to a mates house and chatting shit, I miss the hills and tram network of the city, I miss bluebells in the woods, I miss hating mainstream politics, I miss that awkward right hander on NEMBA, I miss wet summers and warm winters, I miss cramming into a van and emerging somewhere new, I miss the banter of riding on a bad day, I miss the banter of riding on a good day, I miss the sweat and leg-ache of pushing a DH bike uphill…

But like someone mentioned to me once whilst I was lamenting about being back in Sheffield “How can you tell if a plane is full of Brits? You can still hear the whining after the engines have stopped!”. New Zealand is pretty special, especially for riders, epic backcountry singletrack or urban-esque Super D or council funded mountain bike parks. Life is full of distractions, too many at times, work, television, religion, food, film, news, fashion, culture all seek or so it seems to takes us somewhere else, somewhere more exciting, but a reality check is needed, and something I make a conscious effort in doing. Our culture dictates we have to wait for a future, save and earn, pray and heaven, plan and travel, vote and submit, work hard and holiday. Something is missing, our imaginations run dry and life becomes mundane, and we look for a way out, we miss experiences, we miss finding out our limits, our expectations and our boundaries. Our existence is what we make it, it will never be elsewhere, no matter how many films we watch we won’t be in them. We have our noses pushed against the windows of commerce and told ‘this is life’, but to be honest I don’t accept such thought and such practices, I want life, I don’t just want a slice of life, I want the whole fucking bakery.

I find it hard to stop myself missing Sheffield, but when I have access to such riding like the ‘Anaconda’ in such beautiful settings it makes my ‘missing‘ a whole lot easier….


Justin has left the building….

Justin has left the building….

Justin has left the building, just like Elvis, and by the time you read this he’ll be with his rightful owner Mr Rob Stokes. The love affair between Justin and I was never in a vacuum, we we’re free, and he showed me some great times, the gleaming shaft of the air shock, the sound of the forks compressing when riding hard and the firm but forgiving saddle that slid between my legs.

Just being able to ride a bike anywhere at anytime is something I’d forgotten but Justin rekindled that for me. I always felt anxious when riding DH on my own, rather than relaxing into the riding I felt like I was on edge, and enjoyment came only later when riding with friends. Maybe Justin was my friend, someone to hold my hand when things get out of the ordinary and guide me out of the rough into the serene embrace of stability and competence.

For a further insight, here are some of favourite intimate moments with Justin:

Riding him for the first time in the Sheffield Dual Series. Where Rob handed him over to me, then flying over to New Zealand.

Competing in the Wellington Super D race – 13th in Masters after suffering for a week with a bad head cold and leaving the track down a bank after clipping the wrong side of a root. Pedalling so hard into the finish I thought my head was going to explode.

The primo Alpine singletrack of the Craigieburn Forest Park. Alpine Beech forest is something of a New Zealand trademark, the smell and the feel of the loamy wet soil under tyre, where any corner makes you feel like a hero.

Riding the Queen Charlotte Track in a storm with my partner Jen, 71km of singletrack through the Marlborough Sounds. Any ride that starts with a boat journey is a guaranteed epic.

Being in Nelson with my mate Lilly (the girl shreds hard) up in the Coppermines and then riding on the following day in the Hira forest on life-affirming trails.

Not staying on the bike on a long gravelly left-hander and getting cellulitis in my knee and having a dose of Entonox gas on New Years Eve. Not as dramatic as Sam Hill’s World Champs crash, but definitely on a par.

The giant podocarps of Whirinaki Forest Park, a forest described by David Bellamy as ‘one of the great forests of the world’. Nuff said.

Getting up at 4.30am on Christmas Day and ascending Ben Lomond above Queenstown and then riding on pristine soil and tracks back down into the town in time for a feed and a flat white well before lunch.

Discovering the joys of commuting back home from work….

Justin has been a great addition to my life, but now he has gone I realise I don’t miss him – he’ll live on and travel to the world’s best riding, he enhanced my life and was never a hindrance, but I had to make room in my heart for another addition to my life…..but more on that soon…..

My current commute home….

My current commute home….

I’m currently working in the Port Hills in Christchurch, New Zealand. My work takes me all over the place, and seemingly the world (though Canada would be a welcome addition to the list!), and as a result I arrived in Christchurch a few weeks after the February 22nd earthquake to remedy the loose rocks that surround many parts of the city.

It’s not often I get the chance to ride home from my work place, normally the confides of a power plant or a some equally inhuman environment don’t lend themselves to an area of amazing singletrack….

Many of the tracks in the Port Hills are still closed due to the huge amount of rockfall, and as of yet there are no signs of them being re-opened anytime soon…..

This track, Anaconda, is a Port Hills classic, fast and flowing with amazing views, and this is my current ride home….enjoy!

Queenstown, Ben Lomond, Injuries and Boredom….

“Was I bored? No, I wasn’t fuckin’ bored. I’m never bored. That’s the trouble with everybody – you’re all so bored. You’ve had nature explained to you and you’re bored with it, you’ve had the living body explained to you and you’re bored with it, you’ve had the universe explained to you and you’re bored with it, so now you want cheap thrills and, like, plenty of them, and it doesn’t matter how tawdry or vacuous they are as long as it’s new as long as it’s new as long as it flashes and fuckin’ bleeps in forty fuckin’ different colors. So whatever else you can say about me, I’m not fuckin’ bored.” – Johnny, Naked, 1993.

I am sure that there is a relationship between boredom and psyche, when riding becomes boring we stop riding, we lose our psyche…..but is it really boring? Perhaps we lose our psyche because we have failed to apply ourselves, and failed to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about why we do the things we do? Personally speaking I can’t remember the last time I was bored riding a bike when I made a choice to ride not out of obligation but because I desired to do so…..this desire keeps me refreshed, keeps me psyched.

Me on Ben Lomond ridge. Photo: Sven Martin

We are so lucky in Sheffield; in fact, any place we can ride our bike out of choice is very lucky…..I cherish having that in my life as much as other fundamental things; the roof over my head and the beautiful woman I love to wake up with each morning. I wonder how it is even possible to become bored of riding when so many possibilities have yet to be reached, there is always something new to learn: the way the bike feels round a turn, the way in which you finally see ‘the line’, the way you realise you don’t actually have to brake for that section. Our brain is intrinsic to our body….inseparable, and as human beings we are capable of conceptual thought, we can apply those thoughts, we can envisage and project ourselves into the future….maybe this is this is all it takes in order to get the psyche back?

Continue reading

Back to top