Sam's NZ Summer Diaries

17 min read

Enduro, XC, CX and wasp stings. Sam Shaw regales us with his NZ summer of content (so far).

XCO National Champs, Rotorua

15/03/2019 Mosque Shootings

Woke up and weeded the garden before getting on to trying to build my own website from scratch (not a tech guy at all). Drove into town for the first time in a while to pick up my South African mate who had just flown in, Sharjah Jonsson. Caught up with the Bike Culture boys and then headed to the office. Not long after, Sharjah (Charger) and I went for a cheeky lap of the XCO National Champs’ course and did some teeny efforts.

Back to the office for a bit where we learnt of a terrorist attack unfolding in Christchurch. Nothing more had come through at this stage. We headed out for the local Low Key Super D with the 50to01 crew, Selfie and Mike and as usual had a pretty good time (raced down Box of Birds). Got back from the Low Key prize giving and opened the news app. Immediately was confronted with the massive tragedy in Christchurch. 9 confirmed dead so far and many more injured. Shock. Disbelief. It was completely weird to be up here riding while Christchurch was in lockdown. We headed home to learn the full story of the Mosque mass shootings. Couldn’t absorb what had happened. It's not right. Thoughts and feeling going out to those families and friends that lost loved ones on this horrible day.


A minute's silence for the victims and families of the Christchurch massacre. Photos: Cam Mackenzie

16/03/2019 National XCO Championships

Had a morning of relaxing and resting up with a couple of pancakes here and there. Yesterday's tragic events on everyone’s minds here in Rotorua.

I geared up and headed out the door to the event HQ for warm-up. A lot of people doing the same and for some reason trying to do their pre-race efforts on the shared cycleway. I anticipated this might happen and should have spoken up. Ended up coming across two ladies that had been taken out by a younger rider doing sprints. They were pretty beat up. The rider just biked off. Shame on them for not making good with some help and contrition. Got some medical support and I continued to the pits for call up (for start grid rights). Caught up with some friendly faces on the way.

There was a minute's silence on the start line for those killed yesterday afternoon.

We then had the thirty second call, followed by the fifteen, and the starter. I slotted in behind Anton (Cooper) straight away. He then mucked up his start (uncharacteristic) so I pulled around him and was comfortably moving my way up the field to slot into third by the singletrack (Anton first, Ben Oliver second).


Photo: Cam Mackenzie

I felt comfortable following their pace. We started to put a gap into the rest of the field. Anton then put in an effort and I got a small taste of some proper speed. Hah. Went with them for a bit before sitting back to NOT save myself some energy and NOT go all out at the start of the race! Anton and Ben headed off and the chasing group (Josh Barnett and Conner Johnston) caught me (still feeling good and composed).

I rode with them until toward the end of the first lap before getting too sendy and burping most of the air out of my rear tyre… wata muppet. I lost a lot of time getting the air back in the thing and had dropped back from third to fifteenth and the back of the field.


Photo: Cam Mackenzie

With nothing to lose I decided more fun was in order. My legs were good, and spent every lap picking people off, all the way until the final lap when I caught the current third place (Josh) and snuck past. I got a gap between us before losing it, dropping my chain on a descent. Passed Josh again to finish in third Elite!. Stoked. Always love some champagne on the podium.


Bronze (but first-in-baggies!) behind these two whippets. Photos: Cam Mackenzie

Had huge catch ups with a lotta mates that had come out to support (great vibe with awesome heckling on course!) before heading out for a ride with Tyler, Tonicha, May, and Matt. Biked home for a delicious meal prepped by Andrea Murray.

17/03/2019 National DH Championships

Up early as (downhill doesn’t let yah sleep in) into my favourite gear, some shiny new Ranchsliders and Submerino l/s tee.

Woofed down a pancake and jumped in the car with Andrea and Fi Murray. Headed for  DH HQ. Jumped out at the office to pick up my bike and rode the forest to the shuttle pick up. Bumped into Jordan Crouch out for her marathon training. Paused for a yak. Managed to just sneak in two practice runs on the DH track (no way near enough practice). Was stoked with the course. It consisted of 50% new DH and 50% fresh trail. A sure recipe for all the brown pow you could dream of.

I struggled to hold speed though and was puzzled in a few blind rises and corners (were practice really helps). Kept it tidy for both seeding and race runs to have a minta of a time out there. The trails are running fast and there are so many shredders in town.

Later had a post weekend blowout on fast food before blobbing on the couch. Found some energy and gathered Alex and Sharjah for a trip into town to catch up with the crew at the Pig n Whistle (it is St Patricks day after all). Got turned away. Transpires internationals need a passport to abide by alcohol licensing laws (lesson learnt). We ended up in a family-friendly place and sat down for night coffees (no effect on Alex). The Bwookie swung by and joined in for tea before heading home for an early night.

18/03/2019 back at it

Commute into work today to get back at it. Christchurch on the mind. Off to the local mosque with work mates.

Kara-Eminem-Nui XC-Concert-Enduro Wild Wellington Weekend

01/03/2019 Friday, the quite

Chill day at work with an easy commute in and back home on the Soma Steely. Lunch break consisting of a DJ (dirt jump) sesh at the Dodzy Skillz Park. Headed home to pack up me bike and gear into Paul Van Der Ploegs very well set up cardboard box (cheers maaate) and the rest into my wheelie Osprey baggy (advert :D). Jumped in the truck and off to the airport (thanks for the dropoff Bwookie). AMAZING, sunset oh my glob. One of those that you take heapsa photos of, and they all look the same.

Arrived in Wellington at 9.30pm to the Ford Raptor (thanks for the pick up Dee) and off to the Wellington home with Bubbles and the dogs.

02/03/2019 Karapoti, Red Zones and Eminem Soup.

'Nice' early start. Jumped in the truck with XC bikes on board and headed up the Hutt to Karapoti Park for a day of fun (type 2-10 fun). A wee warm up before lining up at the start line on the wrong side of the river (the organiser's favourite part surely, making everyone plough through the water).

The gun fired and we bolted. I managed to win 'picking the deepest line'. Emerged right on the tail of the eventual winner Kyle Ward from Oz. I set the pace on the initial tarseal section before Kyle jumped back in front to work the bunch for the next 5 kilometres. By the time we got to the first hill it was Kyle Ward, Glen Hayden, and Meeee at the front of the race.

About 10 mins into the climb Kyle took off as I struggled to find traction on the steep, damp terrain. I resorted to sitting on the seat (a pet hate). Glen and I were left to fight for the scraps, but as we peaked and rolled across the top of the hill Glen got a flatty (mwahaha, nah not the way you want to beat someone - but shit happens and we've all suffered that fate before).

I was now alone in second. Slid my way down the mossy rock garden and came to Devils staircase to find Kyle not far ahead hiking his bike. I got to within about 10m from him and then as we crested Devils (1000568m vert) he boosted as if the race had just begun. I had no return boost. Struggled all the way to the end in the red zone.

Managed to hold onto second place overall and happy to land a fourth fastest time in the record books (2:13:13ish) (coming for you Anton). Kyle smashed it and was only a minute off Anton's Record (in 2:08:50ish). Bubbles also had a minta race finishing in a sub three hours.

Pooped as we hung around for prize giving with a couple of swims in the river and some beersies.

Straight back home after Prizegiving for a responsible quota of beer before jumping on the train to the Westpac bowl for the most stacked NZ concert, ever (in my opinion). Hill Top Hoods supported by Eminem! (big fan of both, fangirling). Back home on the train for some Rick and Morty before bed.

   

03/03/2019 Wainui Enduro, the storm post storm

Coffeee first. Geared up and back on the XC bike for a day of enduro. Caught up with a lot of familiar faces and rode around with POC man Robin for the day. A good way to unwind after a big Saturday (rip). Happy to take a second place in my age group to the local pinner Jesse Csesh (Bubbles also second in his age at Karapoti and today).

Packed all the gear back up. All kinda organised (thanks Osprey). A quick afternoon tea with Bubs, Dee and Bradshaw then a detour to New World bakery on our way to the airport. Thanks again for the drop off Deebubs (note to self - make sure to just high five people if they are in an awkward place to hug). Jetted home and straight to Hell's Gate for some relaxing. Huge sleeps.

04/03/2019

Multiple coffees to ward off the zombies stalking me in the office.

05/03/2019

Day in the field with Mumsie searching for rare plant populations. Great day, loving this job. We found what we were looking for (no U2 here) and a couple extras (top secret) along with major sunburn.

Took the Bwookie out for dinner at Skyline. Lucky I starved all day so I could eat around thirteen meals and really impress her with my capacity for gluttony, and with my post-dinner complaints of stomach pain (aliens trying to make their way out?).

NZ Enduro 2019

06/03/2019 Wednesday

Up and at em, straight into shoving gear into the Surf for 5 nights of crashing bikes. Wahyoo. Biked into work for a day at it, with a post work effort sesh on the bike with a little run for good measure (XC stuff postponed until next week). Bwookie and Sarah Fox turned up in the Surf. We pointed ourselves at Palmerston North for the night. Compulsory multiple swim stops on the way. Arrived at Matt Miller's house (MTBPHD (#plantbased)) around 11 that night.

07/03/2019 Chursday

Up and at em, four of us piled (Bwooks, Sarah, MTBPHD and me) into the Surf and off to Wellington for brunch with Deebubbleys and Murphy before lining up for the ferry with all the Walingtonians en route to #NZenduro.

Off the ferry (no spews from the team) and straight to White’s Bay to set up camp and register. Rain is on its way. Old mate right next to our campsite decides he hates people and starts off mumbling and cursing (quietly, loudly). He throws a piece of bread at us (yum). I head over to consult and he walks up quickly, as if we’ve been on the rark and his favourite team just lost the World Cup, stopping very close to me (luckily no violence - the team quickly assembles behind me for support). We chat and he is very upset. I apologise for ruining his evening. We settle back into the camping. The old geezer jumps in his van, does a rarky (a mean skid) before stopping within talking distance of us. He winds down the window and says "I'll see you later" (picture - he has spikey short hair, a wife beater and seems to be on acid/rark). We spend the rest of the night shitting ourselves. Luckily we never see him again.

08/03/2019 Friday NZ Enduro Day One, Whites Bay Stages

Up and at em. As promised, it is raining - a lot. We don our wet weather gear and head down for the briefing. The day has been shortened from three to two stages - Double Eagle getting the chop. It was pretty warm though, and spirits were definitely undampened.


The deluge. Photo: NZ Enduro 

We headed off uphill for numero uno. Luckily everyone left quickly so there were no queues at the top so I dropped in nearly straight away. This was easily my best stage of the weekend, staying high on all sections and finding the grip. I came away with a second.

Stage Two was a different story. I started out very confident and nailed all the high lines on the first half. It then changed to steep greezy shoots with a smooth dirt surface, crash bandicoot came out and I lost a wee bit of time (off down the bank). Guy Gibbs came past and we had a very gentlemanly exchange of places, “Go Guy! Go past" (Me). "Oh are you sure?" (Guy). "Yes! "(Me). "Oh thank you very much" (Guy). We later enjoyed jolly fine scones and a cup of tea!


Photo: Richard Goldsbury

Charlie Murray, Gruff Tomos and I rode back to the campsite avoiding the shuttle option and found a bonus singletrack for the day down to camp. The rain kind of stopped. We had beersies and I took a dip in the ocean before we packed up and headed to Pelorus. Re-established camp, fed ourselves and hit the sack.

09/03/2019 Saturday NZ Enduro Day Two, Nydia Bay Stages

Up and at em. It is raining, again. We put our wet wet weather gear back on and head out the tent flap for a day playing in the rain. I had a reasonable first stage on the Bridal Track with only two crashes (sheesh) and managed a sixth place.


Bwookie charging. Photo: Tony Hutcheson

After a wash in the ocean, we made the honest climb to the start of stage two. I had a mare/joke kind of run. Managed to slide out on a flat rooty corner, connecting with the ground and loosing my bike over the side. I peeked over to watch it tumble again and again until out of view. Hmmm, I couldn’t help but laugh. I chased after it for some 50 plus meters. It had annoyingly managed to avoid every tree (sorry Transition, no scratches though). Put the bike on my shoulders and hiked back up to finish the stage.

Lunch break at On the Track Lodge in Nydia Bay. Yum (chilli beans - farts on farts), a few hot drinks and then off with Matt and Gruff. After an hour or so we got to stage three. I had a grand ol' time (way more relaxed now after stage two's antics) sticking to highlines and no crashies! What a piece of trail in the wet.


Photo: NZ Enduro

Stage four was wide open and short and a fast way to finish the day. On the bus with Charlie for some very intermittent chat. Retrieved the truck and headed back for another night at Pelorus. Dinner out with Mike Robertson at the Havelock mussel café (I am allergic to shellfish). I sat there sweating up a storm before forcing the team leave and go somewhere safer. Fish n Chups it is, and back home for an early night.


Photo: NZ Enduro

10/03/2019 Sunday NZ Enduro Day Three, Jentree

Up and at em. No rain, but low cloud, The heli is cancelled :(

The NZ Enduro famously culminates with a heli shuttle and three stages down the Whakamarina Track on the final (highly weather dependant) day. As a backup, the Leovs (Jentree Mtb ) put their hands up for all of us bikers to enjoy racing at their farm. We all piled in for a wicked day (huge thanks).

Stage one and we of heckled all the old farts and amateurs. Enjoyed some carnage on the first corners before dropping in ourselves and causing more carnage. Consisted of steep dropping turns, rocky flats, and some flow. I had a good controlled run.


Photo: NZ Enduro


Photo: Tony Hutcheson

Up to stage two and the longest of the day. Five minutes with a lot of flow and a few jumps here and there (super fun). Another goodie for me staying in control again. A spot of tea and scones before the final stage (three).

We sat at the bottom and heckled everyone into the stream crossing. It involved a big open sprint into/across and the stream about 5 meters from the finish We watched and cheered at least 5000 crashes before heading up to do the same ourselves.


Bwookie at the finish. Photo: Tony Hutcheson


Finish line carnival. Photo: Richard Goldsbury

There was a lot of talk in attempting to pull up and jump the stream, but no one had yet tried. Peaty, Brady, Selfie and I were keen. Just before his start Selfie pulled a sicky and said (word for word) "I am too weak and scared to try the stream jump" (kind of what he said). The rest of us gave it a nudge, with Peaty being the only one to actually make it clear (still a mad dog).

 
Photos: Tony Hutcheson

That stream crossing was an undoubted highlght of the whole weekend and drew the kid back out of everyone (the heckle scene was nuts). We finished up and enjoyed some chill time before packing the truck, and heading to the ferry for the trip back across the ditch.

Sleeps on the ferry before driving off to fast foods and Palmerston North for a 2am arrival.

11/03/2019 Monday fatigue

Done with the up and at ems! Said laters to Matt and headed home, via the big Lake (gotta get that swim time) Dropped Sarah off before heading to work, and then to the Bike Shop to organise the XC rig for the National Champs this weekend (very stoked on this build).

Biked home to meet back up with Bwookie to unpack and dry out all the geersies. Sleeeeeep.

12/03/2019 Tuesday fatigue

Biked into town with a classic flat tire to kick start the day. Lucky them Enves are strong. Huge thanks to Bike Culture/Wideopen/Transition for helping prep le XC rig while I was away getting chronic fatigue at the NZ. Looking forward to too many more pies after using this thing.

Into work to try get something done. Many sleeeeps. Shhh.

XCO Republic, Rotorua

Saturday #happygilmour

Nice wee sleep in for a change. Got up and did an easy spin down to Okere Falls and back, followed by a wee pilates routine. 12pm breakie and then into some very formal attire for George and Eden Gilmour's wedding. Headed out to Lake Tarawera with the Bwookiie (looking beautiful - as usual getting all the credits here).

Forecasted cyclone passed by some other poor town and the weather turned out minta. A starry evening with not enough beers and too much food consumed (sober D duties). Home by midnight :)

Sunday #makexcgreatagain

Up nice and early diving headfirst into some oaty pancakes before heading out the door. Arrived at the XCO Republic HQ held at Scion (ex FRI) in Rotorua (and right next to my office) to watch Muma Bear race. Got on the mic with Tristan for some Q&A during the women's morning race. Awesome to see Josie Wilcox on form! And Mumsie also tooting out some power (with the old geezer feeding her).

I geared up for a quick warm up before being called to the line and off we went for 7 x 4.2km laps. I started off not feeling the best so held back, but not enough to lose sight of the lead. I sipped on water (thanks Mumsie for the feeding duties) for the next two laps and ate some lollies/electrolytes. Comfortable sitting in fifth.

On the third lap I lost sight of the lead and took in a caffeine gel to try get the body back. Luckily it worked. From then on, I steadily clawed back into the groove heading out for the final four laps.  Worked my way up a place each lap. I took another gel on the fifth lap (currently in third with the two leaders Connor Johnston and Max Taylor ahead).

Started to really feel normal again, by the final lap I was good to go and had caught the current leader, Conner Johnston. I put down a solid pace to put a gap on him and extend it to the end of the final lap. Super stoked to work through this race and take a win at this first XCO Republic event (also a non profit fundraiser for the junior U19 squad to compete overseas). Even more stoked to lay down the fastest time on the final lap. Awesome to have so much local support out on course and the old geezer in my ear at the peak of each climb.

Caught up with number one supporter Ross and we had a recovery fast food before hooking up with the Vegans (Tyler, Tonicha, and Liv) for Tyler's twenty eighth (so ooolllld).

Monday #ecology#1

Back into it collecting bat monitors and trying to analyse the data. Snuck in a cheeky run and some skipping before jumping in the truck with a happy Bwookes (POC package day). Headed to Cambridge for Morgan's twenty second birthday. Home nice and late.

Tuesday #careerchange

Back to Cambridge for a 4WD course then back to Rotorua to dress up as a Minotaur for my new career as an actor.

2W Enduro, Rotorua

08/02/2019 Friyaya, pre race rituals

Full day in the office, writing site descriptions, using Google Earth, and all the layers of maps. Headed out for a small ride over to 2W Registration at Waipa carpark before cruising the 15km commute back home to catch up with the last-minute guests: Rae Morrison and hubby Jesse Patel, along with huge-y Paul Van der Ploeg, Ryan Mckay arrived later-on after bedtime. Had a team dinner, made sure the bike was running minta, and hit the pit early.

09/02/2019 Satdee, race day

Team breakie with everyone, kinda all actually doing our own thing here, hah! Ryan off to a café, Rae and Jess had already eaten before I woke up. I had a pancake, and Pauly inhaled an array of small meals. I packed up a bunch of gear for a night away and headed to Waipa carpark, the 2W event HQ.

Very chill start to the race as per usual, Ryan and I teamed up and headed out for a huge-y day on the bikes. Stage One, Tihi o Tawa, was a wake up but I somehow managed to get it together and catch a few riders.

Stage Two, Hatu Patu, started well on the native singletrack and then progressed to dry dusty trails where I struggled to hold corners. Better than stage one though!

Stage Three - New DH line. I successfully ran wide into the tape a couple of times  so opted to run it again (2W allows this, so may as well :D). Second run better, but still not feeling right on the bike.

Stage Four, Corners, still waking upppp.

Stage Five, Eagle vs Shark. After a sausage sizzle break at the top of the hill I was feeling good and rode this feeling a lot better than the previous stages. Linked my turns a lot better and felt way more comfortable.

Then off to the final Stage Six, Hot X Buns. All was good until one of the final corners, and I found myself riding the tape again. A cheeky repeat fixed that up and then it was back to event HQ.

50-60 odd kilometers of riding and some 1700m elevation GAINS. Cramp free after sucking on GU nector all day. Happy to finish fourth overall and second in the senior men. Begun my career as a journalist with John Colthrope and interview some of the riders post race, even securing a job with the KOM kings Colon Lucas. 

Packed gear and myself into the Hilux and left Rotorua headed for Palmerston North with a swim-stop at lake Taupo and fish n chips at Waioru (tastes better the more inland they get em). Made it to Matt Miller and May Sasikunya’s whare for the night.

NI XCO Mtb Champs

10/02/2019 Sundee

Arose at 8am for breakfast tahi and back to sleep until getting up again at 11 for breakie rua. Prepped-up Dad's XC bike, did a gear check... ah forgot my lycra -  baggies it is! (lucky everything else was present and accounted for). Fed the body a coffee before heading to the race venue. Kept cool in Matt's van and caught up with many familiar faces before warming up at 1.30pm, with a 2pm race start.

It was HOT-as maaate and was peaking by about race start, with not many clouds in the sky and a whole lotta dust out on course. Race call up (managed to sneak into the front row) and without much delay the gun went and everyone boosted for leader's rights into the first trail. I sat back on the start sprint and was instantly relegated to tenth. After inhaling dust for half a lap I somehow was feeling alright so decided to make a move forward. By the end of lap one I was back on the leader's tails.

Photo: May Sasikunya.

For the second lap I sat in before putting in an attack on lap three to leave the current second and third place riders, Josh Burnett and Glen Hayden. For the remainder of the race I extended the time gap and secured the win. Super stoked to defend my title keep the winner's jersey. And good to see the XC scene growing again.

Photo: Ryan Hunt.

Photo: May Sasikunya.

 

Headed directly to the river for a swim and fast food with Matt and May before making the trip back to Rotorua for a big ol shleep.

11/02/2019 Mondee, annual wasp run

Up at six to meet up with co-worker Angela for a day in the field out at Kawarau (Tarawera Forest Park) searching for Carex Lucida and Royal Fern.

I managed to bust up a wasp nest in the middle of a wetland. Tried to bolt (tricky when you're flat footed in a water hole) but fell face first into the firing zone.  Scrambled again and managed escaped amidst the the holla’ing and hooting. Got me-self stung five times on the bottom lip, and also on each arm and on my torso. I looked pretty funky, so took myself to hospital to be sure I was ok.

 

 

I checked out ok so headed upstairs to visit Pauly (backstory, he broke his leg in three places on the 2W over the weekend) and Bubbles (back-backstory he broke his ribs and body at the Dodzy Memorial Enduro). I gave them much entertainment with the new botox. Then home and straight to bed.

 

12/02/2019 Tuesdayla Chronic fatigue onset

Spent the day asleep, true potato form.

 


UnderGround email List