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UnderGround Turns 50

01 February 2007

UnderGround - The Golden Jubilee Edition by Arthur Smithers

Jubilees go hand in hand with the Queen and boy scouts - no, hang on a tick, that would be jamborees. Anyhow, for Ground Effect it is the realisation that we've churned out fifty of these UnderGround newsletters. Issue One was published in December 1994. The graphics and paper look a bit wholemeal and homespun compared with the current incarnation but the content and themes are still recognisable. The inaugural Ground Effect Cyclic Saga received front-page treatment along with a failed attempt to sell panniers. The Queen Charlotte Track was the profiled ride and Tech Tips provided DIY instructions for grease guarding your hubs and pedals - can't imagine defiling a Hope or Chris King hub in that manner nowadays.

Since Ground Effect's inception we've always had fun playing with the anarchy theme, willing an uprising of the cycling class! In our first catalogue, we coined the by-line 'Gear for the Cycling Revolution'. So it didn't take too many pints of Guinness to come up with UnderGround as the 'Unofficial Journal of the Cycling Revolution'. Barrie Cronin had fun with this idea and in 1996 a postcard turned up profiling "General Jose Barrientos Croniero, oldest and most feared leader of the Cycling Revolution." His creative misinterpretations of history have continued to arrive randomly ever since. At last count, ten of these 'Soldiers of the Cycling Revolution' have appeared in UnderGround.

Editorially, UnderGround has always been about information to fuel the cycling revolution, rather than just selling more gear. Ernie's Tech Tips help you get more out of your bike. Trail Tales covers events worth doing, eateries worth breaking a road trip for and land access issues, notably the lengthy campaign to reclaim the Heaphy. We try to make the lead stories about cycle tours and mountain bike rides useful as well as entertaining. It's always inspiring to read about a great trip and invariably is the catalyst for someone around here to scheme their own next adventure. Check out our ever growing list hot rides.

It's unfair to pick favourites but we couldn't resist letting each of the Ground Effect crew single out their 'desert island' ride...

The Queen Charlotte Track  Two or three days of gourmet singletrack around the Marlborough Sounds. Includes a boat trip, your pyjamas and togs are ferried to wherever you chose to doss for the night - a tent or backpackers - and restaurants will feed you and do the dishes. Bridget

Craigieburn  Half a day's fill of riding just a hop and a skip from Christchurch. Dog friendly so Bella gets to lope around with me, oh and from Lyndon Saddle down the luge is the sweetest singletrack ever. Cam

Wakamarina & Cullens Creek  We pitched the tent at Canvas Town then drove back to Onamalutu Reserve to ride the Wakamarina. Dinkum backcountry riding that includes the longest singletrack descent in NZ - 800m over 2.5km! Love those switchbacks. More singletrack on day two along Cullens Creek to retrieve our car from Onamalutu. Cherie

Wharfedale Track  15km of benched singletrack through beech forest within an hour's drive from home. No big climbs, technically challenging but not intimidating. A full loop through the Lees Valley is 70km with a lengthy stretch of shingle road. I prefer to rock in and out, doubling the singletrack to a greedy 30km. Colleen

Kenebec Pass  Jillian and I did a pre-kids road trip through Colorado and Utah. It was all magic but a section of the Colorado Trail from Kenebec Pass back to Durango was a highlight. Started with a hefty 4WD climb then morphed into singletrack and 7000' of cruisy descent back to Durango. Frase

Zongo Valley  There's something about a decent traverse - a destination provides purpose. This gem across the Bolivian Andes stands out. We started at a desolate and freezing campsite on the altiplano with llama decorating the landscape, then slid over a 5200m pass to plummet 2600m down a paved Incan trail into the lush Zongo Valley. Was all the sweeter as we're pretty sure we were the first to mountain bike that route - the Incans never nutted out the wheel thing. Guy

Heaphy  Forbidden fruit for now, but the best multi-day trip in NZ with 70km of singletrack winding from Golden Bay to the West Coast. Logistics can be a hassle - two parties swapping car keys in the middle was the standard solution, although the best trip I ever did was riding there and back over two days. 140km - wahoo. Laurence

Touring France  I think, through a cloud of vin de pays, I can recall four cycle trips around France and must have the full suite of Michelin maps. Everything about it is good - markets with fresh produce, quaffing local wine, camping or staying at cheap hotels laden with history, the absence of traffic on 'D' roads and the generally good attitude of drivers - shouting "allez allez" rather than trying to squeeze you into the soft shoulder as often happens here. Steve

Down the back of Bedford Row is a well-used E61 Rocket espresso machine, a couple of scruffy old couches and a map of the South Island pinned to the wall. A lot of time is spent back there scheming. When taxed with choosing just one favourite trip, the conversation soon turned to great rides in waiting. Heading overseas is always exciting - the Trans Alps and Trans Rockies races loom on the radar, as does a decent spell around Chamonix or Lake Garda and, at the risk of counting our chickens, plans are afoot for a celebratory staff trip on the Heaphy in a couple of years time. Fingers crossed.