Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sweet as...the SSWC'10 New Zealand report.

With daylight saving and jet lag conspiring to have me awake at 5am this morn', i thought i would use the time to put a few words down on SSWC 2010 in Rotorua, New Zealand.

The first thing you need to know about New Zealand is that it is a long way away. Unless you live in Australia, you're going to have to be in transit for quite the long time before you set foot on its emerald shores. As it happened, i needed a bit of headspace, so 38 hrs of sitting on planes or in airports was ok by me.



Once i rolled my toyota hire car onto Pukuatua Street it took about 2.7 seconds to locate Zippy's coffee place and a further 14 seconds to order a cup of liquid energy. About 4 seconds after that, i bumped into Damo and Libby from Cog Bike Cafe and despite my total lack of personal hygiene it was hugs and smiles all around. At that point i knew i was finally at SSWC 2010.

In short order, food was consumed and i caught up with the local crew of Anja, Tristan, Leif, Ollie and Rossco. Minutes (or so it seemed) later, my bike was together and we were flying along some of Whakarewarewa forest's famous, buff singletrack.



Created over just a few years, Rotorua's riding is extensive and seriously smile inducing. The elevation is not great, the trails are by-and-large flattering and the redwood forest with its myriad ferns is one of the most beautiful places i have ridden.



Of course, local knowledge helped me hit a lot of good trails very quickly, but if you were to visit, trail maps and local group rides seem incredibly easy to access.

After a fine meal with Anja's dad i retired, utterly broken, to bed. 48 hours+ with no sleep and then a good bike ride in fresh air will do that.

Next day we again hit the forest for some uplift action. Basically a big bus with a large bike trailer would haul our lazy asses up the hill, then we would bomb down. My bike repaid the karma by falling off the trailer and being dragged a ways up the hill, but the damage was minimal and i could easily keep riding.



The only issue was my numerous punctures, no doubt caused by removal of the tubeless rimstrips and replacement with minimal light strips that were doing a poor job of covering the spoke holes.



After, we went down to town for more refuelling at Zippy's just as some more of the usual suspects began to trickle into town. Jacquie Phelan was around - somehow remembering everyones name - Dejay, jake and the Ohio crew were around...



... and Chewie was busy cracking smiles and telling story. Billy and Morgan showed up after an urban bivi at the airport.



No doubt a few beers were drunk and then a few more. Then we did some 'bear racing'...dont ask, i cant really remember...









All too soon, there were chalk lines where the few had fallen and after a very late night pedal into the hills with a spattering of rain i again fell deeply unconscious. I could get used to this!



The blighty squad were in attendance and while they removed areas of skin on the street/luge in town or owned the trails, i got my bike back in working order...

Friday was a bit of a blur. I'm sure we rode. I'm sure beer was drunk. I'm sure we attended the pre race briefing and i'm sure we went to the incredibly accommodating Copper Donkey pub after that. Taxis may have mowed Possums down. All too soon it was race day. The course was some 20km ridden twice and after a huge rolling donut race start that saw me and John dead last (at least before some cheeky queue hopping - all in good spirit of course) the 900 or so riders ran for the hills. No doubt having 800 riders in front of you as you hit singletrack will lead to a little walking but the banter was well worth it. The sun was shining and the trails were wicked quick. Just as i began my second lap i heard some marshals talk of the race winner but i was just looking forward to winding through the trees again. As the heat increased, my water bottles ran dry and a couple of energy-beers robbed me of any impetus. I spent some time sitting in the shade watching riders whip by and on remounting to ride nearly had wee-jOn beheaded as i slammed into the back of my saddle due to an inopportune T-bone from a wandering rider. No worries! another few minutes in the shade settled the sicky feeling....

Costumes seem to be integral to singlespeeding in New Zealand...and there were plenty of good ones. However, it was an Aussie that stole the show just as it was a Kiwi (Garth) who pipped Schnell for the tat at the last beer slam. Aussie Heather took the honours for the girls and our Anja took 4th.



After a last minute ride around the end of the sulfur-belching Lake Rotorua...



... and a blissful wend through the redwoods it was time to bid farewell to John and Joni as they took off to tour the South Island and i jumped in the toyota to head back to Aukland for another 38 hour transition back to the rain and cold of Scotland.



Fortunately, my wife hadnt laboured in my absence and so: onto the next adventure...



Reflecting over breakfast in Hong Kong airport, i knew my time in stinky-town had been a most egg-cellent trip...

3 comments:

manchester trev said...

Good read, Rotorua is an amazing place, would have loved to have gone back for SSWC..... but Ruth's Uni comes first! I hope you had a go on the Street Luge, so much fun!

Simon said...

Sounds great Jon. Nice write up & pics.

Chipps said...

Nice report Jon. I'm glad someone could be arsed to get over. Covered in your usual detailed, yet chatty, style.

Hope to see you soon.