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November 2012

locals and visitors



Living near a forest full of mountain bike trails is good, and never more so than when visitors arrive.

Last weekend was a great example, and served to remind us what is special about bike riding and a very few other sports which can be competitive but don’t have to be.

Friday evening was a lap of the forest with three houseguests, one a World Cup cross country racer, one with World Cup racing on the track in her CV, and another with a mountain bike tour company to take care of. We rode around for a couple of hours just enjoying the warm evening air and the flow of the trails, with the yawning gap between their athletic abilities and my own lost in the flying dust of the trails.

The next day we headed into the woods again, joined by a few more people including a complete all rounder, another couple of World Cup competitors, a bike designer and a downhiller at the very top of the pyramid: a guy who has stood on the top step at a World Championship and may do so again.

Once again, the difference between the world’s best and someone like me would be measured on a clock using the minute hand. Or maybe an egg timer. Or a calendar.
The point is, we descended at hugely divergent speeds, but got to the end of each trail with equally satisfied looks on the most important dials: our own.

Sunday was Moerangi Trail, the gang was mainly locals with a few visitors hanging on. Shuttling from Rotorua was deluxe, trying to complete the ride at Smail's Pace (Annika was on the front) was never going to happen so I cruised along, amazed by the huge trees and otherworldly landscapes they stand on.

Sharing the local with out-of-towners is great. Going to somewhere cool and being shown around is arguably better: no matter how good your local dirt tastes, somebody else’s sampled for the first time is hard to beat. That is why I am looking forward to scouting around Wellington’s fabled trails with Bike Wellington’s Ash Burgess. I hope I can keep up.


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