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Opposite ends of the spectrum

 

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I headed out to the barn with no idea what to write about except the obvious: the hill we look at out the window has now got a gondola-accessed bike park on it.

The full story on how the Skyline Rotorua MTB Gravity Parkcame about is long and circuitous. Suffice to say that if you took the best five ‘park’ trails you have ever ridden, and squeezed all of them on to one hill, you are still a fair way short of how much fun is hidden under those redwoods.

The fairly short runs, coupled with the rapid turnaround of a quick gondola ride back to the top, means the buzz is still there when the second run starts… this attraction is new and unique.

It would be no problem to use the 400 words these newsletters generally contain to expand on the wonders of the Skyline venue, but when I cracked open this morning’s email vault there was a note with pictures, that came from the other end of the mountain biking phenomenon.

An Australian Dobies-wearer wrote to say his shorts performed well on a mission he took with a colleague, into the wilderness of the East Kimberley on fat bikes.

A couple of things about these photos rang our bells: we spent two years driving around Australia in the mid 80s. We drove 50,000kms, camping in our 79 Nissan van. We explored as much as we could, including a lot of missions on our mountain bikes, which except for the tyres and brakes were a lot like the fat bikes in the pictures: simple, rigid hard tails. Back then National Parks were on the menu, we would usually ask first, but rangers were so surprised anybody would attempt to ride their walking trails on a pushbike they would often give us pointers. Good times.

The other thing is that here in Rotorua (and heaps of other places) our young sport has become so popular it has government funding for trails and bike parks, and your non-mountain biker cousin can march into a place like Skyline, hire a full-on downhill bike, and hit up some trails. Which is great, that could even turn her into a mountain biker.

But out there in the wild, people are still doing pretty much exactly what we were doing 30 years ago: seeing how far a simple, self-propelled vehicle will go, off the road and off the map.

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Modern fat bikes in an ancient landscape

WP120814c Our (t)rusty Nissan E20 somewhere in northwest Australia

WP120814d Bike ride on a National Park walking trail, Katherine Gorge, NT