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Three days in the Queen's Town

23 February 2021

Words: Sam Shaw
Photos: Jamie Rochester (where credited)

Thursday 11 Feb

Up at eight am. Made a takeaway cuppa. Piled the bike and stuffinto flatmate Leo's van. Off to the airport for the 9am to Queenstown.

Arrived with no plan as usual - except to catch up with my old school mate Alexa who had (correctly) assumed the worst (me being unprepared). Gave me a lift from the airport to Arrowtown and caught up on the past two or three lost years over a hot choccy. Unleashed our bikes for a spin on the cycle trail towards Cromwell. South Island beauty blows my mind each and every time I head down here (there).

Bike prep

Back to John and Lizzies place in Arrowtown (my luxury lodgings over the next three days). Lizzie cooked a mean tofu bean feed to accompany a few yarns.

Friday 12 Feb

Cruised to the Unwind Café in the Town of Arrows to hook up with the old and local (haha John is not gunna invite me back). Then some random catchups with a bunch of young and local before eventually getting back to my not-so-hot chocolate.

Mops (Melissa Newell) and Cob the dog swooped in from Wanaka. We hit Coronet Peak for some yarns. I got out of the yarn hold and scored three hot laps of the XCO track for tomorrow's South Island Champs. My favourite kind of trail - straight up a big ass climb and straight down a fun descent. Nice and simple. Biked down Rude Rock and Hot Rod and back along the road to Arrowtown (an excellent finish to any day).

Straight back to spot x for another hot choccy and home to prep the bike and race kit for tomorrow's eventing. Another delish meal cooked by master chef Lizzie. More tea and more yarns before sleep.

Saturday 13 Feb - Race Day

Big sleeeeep-in as usual (only 9am but late enough to earn me gyp from John). Walked down to the Good Day coffee shop for a wake me up. Had a good session on the ukulele which got the neighbours pretty barred up (music turned up to max volume over the fence in retaliation). John took time out from coaching his rowing crew, just to give me a lift up to Coronet. Legend.

Yarns and warm ups and into the start gate for race briefing. We lined up and Jezza Christmas sounded the start whistle. Four of us took off from the get go and stuck together through to lap three. I scoffed a banana (having moved on from the all-carrot diet) then one of the younger riders peeeled off (pun intended) and three of us raced the next lap and a half.

Tight racing. Photo: Jamie Rochester

Finding the legs to pull away. Photo: Jamie Rochester

Stretching the lead. Photo: Jamie Rochester

Half way into the fifth and final lap I tested the other lads’ legs and managed to stretch out a 20 second lead by the top of the climb. I maintained that to the end to claim another XCO win. Very stoked!!

Podium time. Yasss.

Mops fed me during the race. She had an espresso that I was supposed to scull going into the final lap. Luckily she skipped the shot. I found said espresso after the race and the best way to describe this thing is that it smelt and tasted like a pack of cigarettes (I've never smoked in my life). I’m guessing it was about 5 to 6 coffee shots condensed into 20mls. Just being within a 3 metre radius could activate some serious bowel movement. Anyway...

A few friends from school came up to watch, so plenty of post-race yarns before getting back on the bike for another sash on Rude Rock and Hot Rod. This time though heading towards Queenstown and, naturally, the pub (for 1 x the haziest IPA).

After some more yarns, Mops, Nick, and I broke into Wynyard for some cheeky bike stunts before heading to spot x for a hot choccolato number 4. A bit of socialising and boom it's 10pm and I’m quite keen on sleep in my own bed so I pack up and bike back to Arrowtown (don’t tell Mops, but I had lights and was sober). Luckily John and Lizzie were still up when I got in. Yarns, tea and bed.

Sunday 14 Feb

Up at 7am to prove to John I wasn’t a bag of bones (he wasn’t even up yet). One times Harraway oat pancake and one times coffee before John and I headed down to the local rowing club to be social.

Like my bike shed, only tidier.

I then biked up Coronet to "watch the downhill" (National Series round 4). Ended up having yarns layered upon yarns (my jaw was about to fall off) before riding Rude Rock/Hot Rod for the finale and back to Arrowtown and Spot X for hot chocolate. Packed the bike into the box in 1min 40 seconds flat (John on the stopwatch). Jumped in the truck and dumped at the airport. Said my good byes and winged it to Rotorua. Low key stressful flight with two runway admin jobs on two separate flights and talk of lockdowns. That covid thing keeps on giving. Mum and Jack picked me up and dropped me at te whare for zzzzzzzz’zz.

Monday 15 Feb

7am work. Haha.

Weekend tally:

  • 5 x hot chocolates
  • 5 x backflippies
  • 2 x crashes
  • 1 x shiny gold medal
  • 1 x tired boi