Men droomt vaak over gave trips naar unieke locaties, maar voor de meeste stervelingen zijn deze mijmeringen zelden werkelijkheid geworden. Toen men bij SRAM besloot dat een aantal mountainbikers maar liefst zeven dagen zou doorbrengen op de wegen en paden van Nieuw-Zeeland’s meest Zuidelijke eiland was men dat ook vol ongeloof.
Totdat deze selecte groep gelukkige bikers daadwerkelijk op het eiland arriveerde om het gebied rond de Craigieburn en het Nelson gebied te gaan verkennen. Bekijk hieronder de video van deze trip en vergeet ook niet om het gehele verslag te lezen via deze website.
Picture yourself: pinned, silently drifting, surfing and jumping along some of the finest singletrack you have ever touched. The only audible sounds are of beech leaves heaving off pristine trail as tires smash its corners, take-offs and straight-shots. The humidity hanging in the air from the nearby Tasman Sea blows off your face, shoulders and hands as if it had never existed at all. This is perfection. This is New Zealand.
After a few days of crushing hot laps in the Queenstown Bike Park, our crew stuffed itself aboard the HouseMartin van and a relic we’d picked up from a local rental outfit in town. Our rig read 350,000 kilometers on the odometer and was the third and final instalment of vehicles we “tested” before leaving town. New Zealand is such a massive hub for backpackers and long-haul travellers that we couldn’t help but imagine the tales our pewter 10 passenger van, bikes in tow, had to tell under its remarkably intact exterior.
Manual transmission, right hand drive, questionable high-speed shudders and all, old reliable “kept ‘er pinned” throughout our journey; up and down shuttle roads, along the highways of New Zealand’s south island and all the way to the “top” (of the island) to Nelson. This van was a clear winner – and proved to be so as we watched Anka and Sven battle with periodic stops to pump a perpetually slow leaking tire of the HouseMartin van on our way up north.
We arrived in our quaint accommodations in the Craigieburn Range after driving nearly 7 hours past countless mind-blowing vistas. The plan was to ride up to the legendary Craigieburn Ski Field in the morning and to the descent of the adjacent Mt. Cheesman, about 16km down the road, in the afternoon. The crack of dawn came early and we all mobilized for what we knew would be a big day.
The pedal up to Craigieburn, via the Craigieburn Valley Ski Field Road, proved to be reasonable, and everyone chatted and threw around jokes on the way up. The 7-kilometer ascent toured us past Craigieburn’s winter accommodations and ticket windows, complete with “tow prices” ($50/day NZ for club members), all left in solitude to sleep for the summer. When we arrived at the top of our climb, the forest canopy parted and we were met with the panorama of an open scree-filled alpine bowl, complete with dozens of avalanche start zones and a couple of precariously placed tow lifts down the center of the terrain. Sven pointed out our route of travel: a skinny looking piece of benched singletrack that meandered along the alpine bowl in and out of forested areas and back into the heart of the valley we had just climbed out of.