Back in the day, and the day I am talking about is way back, mountain bike races were the best way to find places to ride. The Kennett Brothers had yet to find their calling, there were no ‘parks’, and a lot of weekends were spent blundering around in the bush, looking for bits of trail that felt like we thought they should when we wheeled our new-fangled mountain bikes out of the bike shop.
Blundering around in the bush has its attractions, but finding somebody else who will do it on your behalf should be encouraged. Primitive race organisers evolved a few years after mountain bikes, but before many trails, so they had to be explorers as well as promoters.
Entering their races served two purposes besides the obvious benefit of paying to spend several hours in discomfort: their discoveries became ours, and they were incentivised to explore further.
The race organisers were primitive, so sometimes their discoveries were only slightly better then the desperate messes we got ourselves into unaided, but following an arrow into a dubious looking slot between the gorse bushes is a lot more appealing if you have a number on the bars, which implies a race, a finish line, and therefore a definite way out. Those days are long gone, and today we have more places to ride than time to get to them all.
But still, there are some places that are remote and challenging enough that it can be simpler if you can enter an event to enjoy them for the first time.
That is why we are getting in behind the Nzo TrailBlazer, an event to be run on the Pureora Timber Trail on February 2, 2014. The Timber Trail is 85kms of singletrack and old logging tracks that stretches from Pureora in the North to Ongarue in the south, and snakes it way through ancient forest and across numerous bridges, some of them huge. There are three distance options, and a relay option too, so that the 85km full distance can be raced by a two-person team. Transport is available as an option to make logistics easy.
The Nzo TrailBlazer is an introduction to an amazing piece of bike-friendly back country, and a mountain bike marathon that is mainly singletrack but not technical. We’ll keep you posted on how things are shaping up over the next few months.