06 April 2021
The first of the new-format North Island 'Nomadic Weekend Away' all happened in the sweetest of rural settings on the banks of the Whanganui River - just 20 minutes out of town, at the end of a gravel road right on the water’s edge. A magic spot.
That Place is the inspired dream of business partners Tom Oskam and Michaella Laird, built on the retired land of the Oskam family farm. Although relatively new, That Place already sports a strong selection of new trails sneaking through the gullies of native bush and an array of berms, rollers, and jumps across the old grazing land. Tom creates the trails, while Mac (Michaella) is in on everything from marketing, trail building, and giving That Place the push it needs to get known.
Setting up camp with my loyal helpers Chris and Bob and their trusty Land Rover ambulance in a paddock by the river, the day dawned, and an almost still summer forecast had us excited for the coming weekend.
This event is for anyone, like really for anyone. Any fitness, any skill level - kids, family, old-timers and outright crazy shredders. The structure is informal with like-minded campers and riders coming together for yarns around the fire, for the entire weekend or just a night or two.
Saturday morning and we all naturally grouped before setting off to climb the 'Easy Ups' trail. I could see a long group of riders snaking below me - a pleasure to see such a great bunch of peeps turning up for a good time at a new location.
Coming to a midpoint on the climb and rounding a corner, unshackled in the trees was a fridge. Miles away from any obvious source of power, but a fridge nonetheless. Watching people open the door, and their delighted reaction was a blast. Of course it was stocked with Parrotdog craft beer for anyone feeling the urge for a wee refreshment stop. Or to help relax before taking on the scarier trails, or maybe to just add a touch of sublime to the flow experience.
The trail names are on point with the likes of Berrmie Sanders, Robin Woods, Devil Cult Vudu, Slammingtons into Lamingtons, to name a few. Tom’s infectious keenness is obvious from the style of trails created through to the introduction video he put together for the Nomadic weekend.
We continued to the top and from there split off to different trail options and grades, swims in the river, relaxing around the Old School Bus, and bites to eat before repeating the climb and sampling different trails in this new and undiscovered bike park. Fantastic.
Our Nomadic Dinner was served up at 7pm and consumed around the open fire. A wonderfully calm night - the smoke went straight up and we enjoyed a slideshow projected onto the side of my bus. Bob and Chris took the main stage, recounting their experiences on the inaugural Tour Te Waipounamu - a backcountry race down the length of the South Island from Cape Farewell to Slope Point. A sweet evening with a solid bunch of people who clearly were drawn together with similar values and aspirations.
And that is how it went, under a beautiful sky, supreme trails, and laughter bouncing back from across the valley.
Where to next in the North Island? The plan is to roll on to a new, little, or lesser known riding destination each year. There's plenty of great stuff happening out there amidst the broader mountain bike community. I'm so excited by the opportunities with new destinations for nomadic good times.
The South Island original will be held again at Craigieburn over Labour Weekend, 23-25 October 2021.
See you there.
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