So I couldn’t get up the gondola to the Queenstown Bike Park this weekend but I’ve been promising my girlfriend a nice, leisurely ride to the pub.
There is, after all, more to mountain biking in Queenstown than flying down a mountain on a bike with your arse on fire.
A quick glance at one of the excellent trail maps available in most town centre bike shops reveals dozens of tracks and trails dotted around the resort.
There is a clear route to Jack’s Point Clubhouse, where I know for a fact they serve beer.
We hire a couple of bikes (no, I don’t own a bike) from one of the shops.
I ask for a “normal” bike. Shop bike man replies “hardtail?” Jargon. I stare at him blankly and offer no response. He brings me a normal bike. Victory!
My girlfriend is a little perturbed at the feminine shape of her bike frame.
“I don’t want a girls’ bike!” (She is from a cycling family, you know – they even race and stuff). “It’s not a girls’ bike, just a smaller frame”, bike man replies.
Off we go. No, wait. Helmet, check. Puncture repair kit and spare inner tube, er, there’s a small pouch under the seat – probably in there, check! Pump, check. Water, check. Wait, map, sun cream, phone, emergency numbers, Allen keys – Jesus, check, check, check, check, bollocks to the Allen keys – off we go.
Frankton track. Easy, green, mostly flat, some fun downward slopes on the Kelvin Heights side. Not much to report.
Then a blue track around the golf course and through the woods at Jardine Park. It all gets a bit difficult here. Lots of rocks, trees and narrow sections. A few times a rock stops me dead, with the stem of the handlebars connecting joyously with my groin. We have to get off and push several times.
Finally out of the trees and it’s a long, beautiful, undulating gravel lakeside track all the way to Jack’s Point. The downhill slopes are great fun and you can pick up more speed than necessary, but the uphill sections are torture considering the sun and general lack of fitness.
For me it’s a tiny window into the world of the Tour de France. At some points, it’s so painful I’d gladly neck a handful of steroids even if meant disgrace in the eyes of the world’s media and my family and friends.
Reach clubhouse, drink, consider phoning friend with van but instead head home on long downhill roads to Frankton track and Queenstown.
Note to self: must do this every weekend, and, earned beer tastes better.
For more information on downhill mountain biking and learning to ride, go to www.vertigobikes.co.nz/skills-classes