Well… How on earth do you beat what went down yesterday? How is it possible to step it up again from a day like Rude Rock & Co when that in itself was a step up from the Naseby action? Simple:

Add a Gondola

Yes… Day 3 is about the right time to do away with riding uphill and head to the world of lift assisted shred action. Sure, you will feel a little freaky and out of place amongst a crew of killer shred machines on DH bikes, but don’t let that deter you – Especially when this is one of the few places going where you can pick up this sweet action, especially at this time of year! It was time for DN vs. Gondola:


The start of a beautiful thing… Hitting the queue right on opening time

Today was also the day that Markus had been wet dreaming of for some time… He was pretty serious about shredding the absolute fuck out of the Bike park. How serious? Well, when asked by one of his little people why he was putting armour on, he responded with a look of terminator like steel: “Because daddy is going to crash his bike today”. It probably didn’t help a stunned 6 year old for me to then whisper “You’d better hug daddy, he’s either coming home as Shredzilla, or in a body bag, so this may be your last chance for a decent hug”. Noted that DN commentary is probably not considered responsible parenting. We were therefore at the front of the queue and M&M were ready to rip:


“You want to stop for a fucking coffee? Harden up DN”

There was no time to waste! The all day Gondola marathon was underway and it only took a few hundred meters of the warm up track of Hammy’s to realise that this was going to be an excellent day. It may have been the warm up track, but fuck it was an absolute blast and it was also quite cool to be back in a forest today, a massive contrast to yesterday’s open mountain action. Markus wasted no time in transforming into a feral Shredzilla:


He won’t be happy until he’s broken something… Bike or bone

Well, I will say this – The place was fuuuucking dry and fast! An oddly different but excellent experience compared to yesterday, the common theme however was clear from the first two runs: Well made trails:


Markus riding his bike like it really is stolen

With Markus’ self preservation meter set to ‘very low’ and mine set to ‘medium’, I was struggling to get any quality video footage, preserve my MTB ego and not appear to be completely ragged when shit got freaky. As such, I had to resort to taking artisnale photos of the Nomad Carbon in the forest, classy:


Perfect machine in the perfect environment

It didn’t take too many runs to work out that I was on the perfect machine for this park and terrain… YES, a DH bike would have been better, but from a trail bike perspective this was absolutely the sweet spot for the Nomad Carbon. I can now fully appreciate the Mavic wheels as well, they were awesome today… Alas I can’t say the same for the wear rate on the soft Mavic tires vs. the rocky terrain. Wolf, we will come to an agreement.

Celebrity alert #1!!! – Mid morning I spotted in the queue in front of me for the Gondola none other than Rene Wildhaber, PRO Enduro rider and Red Bull athlete. They don’t hand out those helmets to just any fucker, so I thought it best to shoot a quick weird stalker pic of him:


This could be awkward if he turns around

Ironically it was his scene in the MTB Movie ‘Not Bad’ that gave me the fever to come and ride in Queenstown, so this was cool. Even cooler was getting to ride the Gondola up with him! It was an excellent chance for me to play it cool and not have another celebrity blow out like at Whistler. I lasted about 30 seconds before I blurted out “Are you getting some training in before going to Chile?!!”. He winced and politely managed the conversation as I tried to pretend I was cool at his star status without actually mentioning it directly… I may possibly need media training. He was a good dude though and judging by the way he rode into trails, an absolute weapon. It seems qTown is attracting a few PRO’s at the moment and fuck, why not when its rolling like this:


Another hard day at the DN office… No doubt more friends will ditch me today

Lap after lap we hammered it out… Vertigo, Thingamy, Original and Singletrack Sandwich were among a taste of the trails that we hit. There was a LOT of track to learn here, with different lines among them, whilst trying to keep up with a rampant Markus and it felt like drinking from fire hose while getting a golden shower from 10 elephants, in other words, full on. Not to sound like its a crush, but Markus was killing it today like a beast… He rode logs and jumped off them:



He jumped off every ledge and drop he could get his angry hands on:



And he even rode on narrow shit that went up and down and round corners for a loooong way:


Some more RAAAAAAAAA… With a side of RAAAAAA dished up for good measure

Yip, respect it. Not to be outdone, Multigirl muscled in on the action, with a private DN photo shoot. Actually, cheeky biarch just wanted to photo bomb my epic view shot like an AT special:


Outside elbow up girl

These shots are from the NEW trail that starts out from the middle hub… I’m not sure who built it, but it was fucking phenomenal and an absolute ripper. I don’t think I have ever jumped and railed a trail bike as much as this. Epic respect to the trail builders, superb job and an MTB stiffy inducing joy to ride:


Same shot, but free of photo bombing cheek

With lunch time on the cards, we bid farewell to mGirl and regrouped for a boys lunch and plan our afternoon session. I promise I didn’t take this shot because of the sunbathing action in the background. Honest. Markus’ plan was simple:


“We will ride until one of us is dead”

Given he had the armour, full face helmet and epic form, I suspected that was going to be me. But, before we could get into the next level shit, there was an alarm sounding! Celebrity Alert #2 – Tracey Hannah:


“Is that dirty cunt taking a photo of me?”

Its not every day you see a PRO Women’s DH world cup racer. Trace is petite, blonde and cute… Until she unleashes her best full ocker accent and just so happens to be in a bad mood (because, who wouldn’t be pissed off at being paid to ride their bike in Queenstown to prepare for world cups?). She also likes to break bones, so any thoughts of a PRO crush were fleeting, especially when moments later we had Celebrity Alert #3!!! Loic Bruni:


Damn shredding body guards keeping the DN paparazzi at bay…

That’s Mr Bruni, World Cup podium regular, second from the right. I’m not sure if he was ignoring me or Trace, but when I went to get a photo he lit the afterburners and rode off at full gas on his very strangely tapped up bike… Clearly someone doesn’t want to anyone to see what he’s riding. We did see him later on for about 1.5 seconds as he went past us in the trail hub like the TGV, but one with rockets and on fire. The afternoon was basically the Markus tour of stepping it up to steeper and harder shit:


My brain melts at how much new track we rode today… Can’t even remember which one this was

We hit Armageddon (aptly named), rock garden and Ants Track, which is where I pretty much found the limits of steepness that are tolerable with a 67 degree head angle. It did teach me that while there is a lot of fun and fast stuff here, there is also plenty of action to scare the shit out of people as well, so no worries about being bored. Try to avoid hitting the trees is also a solid piece of advice that I didn’t manage to convert:


This came to a stop in about 0.05 seconds… So should have gone right…

We were about 12 runs in at this point and the arms and body was starting to feel a little smashed to fuck… Perhaps Markus would get his dream of breaking something/one? Luckily for me though, his rig was equipped with SHAM components, so naturally it was only a matter of time before something let go, in this case a repeat offender:


Another quality moment brought to you by SCAM

With the end of the day looming it was feverish repair mode deployed down at Base HQ and then jamming it in for the final runs (but, you NEVER call them the final runs so as not to jinx shit). It was at this point that we made the call to reverse the order and get Markus on chase cam duty, which was good as we got approx 45 seconds of footage before the camera went dead. Cock:


A rare sighting of me giving it some

Being relentless chased by Markus seemed to work though, as I rode the absolute fuck out of the thing, essentially on the precipice of disaster the whole way down… I rode the fucking wheels off the Nomad Carbon (not literally wolf) and surprisingly managed a top 10 for the new trail, which proves what it can do having a scary man chase you down a hill. I got to the bottom of the final run blasted to fuck, but stoked off the charts – An absolutely macking final top to bottom run to cap off a brain melting day of awesomeness in an excellent park. Fucking beers were more than called for:


Two sips in and yes, I am basically rolling

Yes, I am grinning like a goofy monkey with the worlds worst helmet hair, but then again after a day as awesome as that, a beer in the hand and a view like this, how can you not grin like a muppet?


Time to move DN Global HQ to here…

Ok, so I only had a day here, but here are my tips for hitting the Gondola action. The first one is obvious: GET here ASAP. I’ve only scratched the surface around these parts, but this place is absolutely excellent even after two days and needs to be on any Mountain Bikers list:

  • Bring goggles – Clear ones. Its as dark as fuck in the forest and dusty, so they are a must. So glad I left my ones at home… Dick
  • You can do a full day here on a long travel trail bike, but if you want to do a week or so, then a DH bike would be the way to go. The braking bumps do take their toll and the bikes got an absolute hammering today. I think we did around 6000m of DH and man, I heard a lot of scary noises and big impacts, so think through your plan and arm up accordingly
  • Check when the Gondola is open – It closes for bikes on peak holidays, so don’t get caught out!!!
  • Its like a very mini and condensed Whistler, but without the massive shit yourself factor. There is plenty of stuff that is fast, featured and fun, but if you want to step it up and scare yourself, you can easily find that as well
  • It usually runs 9am to 5pm, queues were pretty good today to be honest and you never feel like its a problem. Its not a fast uplift set up like Whistler, but its a much shorter transit to the top station, so balances out. We managed 14 runs which included lunch, my photo faffing and a broken chain repair. To be honest, any more than that and you’ll start to get into diminishing returns territory, or a mistake that will precede a trip to A&E
  • My final tip – Don’t let me have three beers after 8 hours in the sun and then let me teach your kids table manners, may go badly:

Kids love the choke on the Pizza gag, parents less so…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.