Sh!t, Cr@p, poo, turd. What ever you want to call it, no one likes getting dog poo on them when they’re out and about: whether that’s on a bike, or not.
So, you can imagine my dissatisfaction when, the other day, I was riding on one of the legitimate Tinakori tracks, and found myself getting face splatted with dog turd.
It was firmly stuck in my front tire. The saying stuck to you like Sh!t is not wrong, I had to look at it for the next 30 minutes. It was, almost a legitimate reason to cane it down one of the illegal tracks, just to get it off.
So what of this rant?
It is this. It is all very well complaining about illegal tracks and their issues (the brunt of which seem to be dog walkers) but I think we have a former issue here that needs to be addressed.
Some (and I say that with conviction) dog walkers do not respect their environment, so why should I respect their complaints?
Battle Hill is the site of one of the last fights between Maori and early colonial forces in the Wellington Region.
So it goes, the battle took place between Ngāti Toa, and a colonial force of European troops, police, and Ngāti Awa allies over several days in early August 1846, on a forest ridge.
The colonial force did not have much luck at all and in the end retreated, by this time however the Chief of Ngāti Toa, Te Rangihaeata had fled.
With the resistance over, the colonial forces had essentially won and pushed out the last of the Ngāti Toa.
Now over a hundred and sixty years later we faced a battle of our own and a battle between friends.
There is now a mtb trail up on Battle Hill and it’s long and flowy with loads of opportunities to show off your skills. six of us, with varying levels of enduro bikes managed to conjure up three laps on the marvelous dirt.
Nick had his camera out (after getting two flat tyres) and got some great snaps.
‘Instead, we are working with the lads at Dirt Merchants to make this year’s Polhill Enduro epic. The kids’ Mini D, previously part of the Mt Vic event, will shift to Polhill. More details in the coming weeks.’
I have to say i’m gutted, I was looking forward to getting a good position this year.
Last month I splashed out on a new set of Rockshox Pike forks for my Yeti, they cost me a small fortune. They are the best thing since sliced bread (but that’s another story)
You may be upset to hear that I bought them from an English online store, for half the price of what they would have cost me if I had bought them in New Zealand.
It is sad but the trend among mountain bikers is to buy from online stores, because it is cheaper, and why wouldn’t you – it saves you money!
However, I am a rolling oxymoron. I am quite happy to part with the reddies in online stores, but not so happy to buy anything in New Zealand, for fear of paying too much.
You do obviously get those die-hard Local Bike Shop (LBS) spenders, who would rather spend their money propping up the local community (and good on you).
But it’s not really propping up the LBS, it is in fact probably feeding the greed of a select few who are monopolising the bike trade and making a killing. I would suggest these are the importers, distributors or middlemen.
Bike prices in New Zealand
Mountain bikes are now almost certainly cheaper in New Zealand than anywhere else, and this is partly because of the NZ dollar being strong (although weakening now) and their growing popularity which has driven up demand and meant importers can order more (economies of scale).
Bike part prices
So why are parts so expensive in NZ and are they in fact more expensive than say the US or England?
Generally speaking parts from an LBS would be comparable anywhere you bought them in the world, there may be slight fluctuations.
However, large online stores can reduce costs by operating out of cheaper premises, away from the high street. They can buy more stock because they have larger premises to store it, and because they have a far greater footfall i.e. anyone on the internet can access them, they can sell more. Lastly because their operating costs are less they can reduce their profit margins on each sale, further reducing the cost to the consumer and making their shop more desirable.
So where is New Zealand going wrong ?
We need one of the bigger bike shops to take a risk.
It’s no use Nz shops selling stock online for the same price as you would in the shop on the high street. This is typically what online sellers do in New Zealand. They have a small shop and sell the stock they have in the shop online.
Someone needs to buy bulk and direct and reduce the cost of parts for everyone or get the distributors or middlemen to take a pay cut. Get the ball rolling with a few cheaper parts (e.g. Shimano gear) and then build from there.
It’s clearly a big ask, but until it happens we will be stuck with expensive parts and looking overseas for our gear.
The second was in Napier at the Pan Pac Eskdale mtb park. This place is one of New Zealand’s hidden gems. Based in the same style forest as Rotorua, it’s more raw, but equally as fun, with just as many tracks to explore.
You have to get a permit to ride there, and my own poor planning led me to have to f!$k around on my iphone for half an hour with minimal coverage trying to get one.
I’m glad it did though, because as I was about to set off a car pulled up and Amy (as she is now known) asked whether I knew the area.
Explaining that I didn’t, she immediately yanked her half made bike out of her boot and put her helmet and gloves on.
After another twenty minutes adding handle bars and other things onto her bike, and Amy donning a perfectly acceptable outfit, for a summer picnic, we set off into the unknown.
By this time it was 7.30pm and after getting lost and light fading we had still not made it up to the trig at the top.
I was getting quite worried, but of course but on the bravest face I could to my new comrade, who explained to me that she didn’t usually go off into the bush with strange men.
At last, at about 8.45 we made it to the top and smashed it down some unbelievably good single track, with mini-gaps, step downs and drops. Altogether well worth it.
The third ride was along the Rimutaka Rail Trail from Featherston, Wairarapa, all the way to Petone, Wellington a 60KM haul (which I was very proud off until Mr Hammond told me he had ridden the whole 140Km loop).
The Rimutaka-Rail-Trail is 22 kilometres of the original route of the Wairarapa Line. The start is a grueling 8km climb up to the summit.
On the way up I passed an 82 year old man donning aviators and a proper old skid lid. No competition is bad competition, but moments later, not to be outdone by a young whipper snapper like myself, the old guy passed me.
I said to him, ‘either i’m going slower, or your going faster’, which is when I saw the electric motor attached to his 20 year old bike. He said ‘this thing can go a lot faster than this’ and off he sped.
I managed to catch up with him in the tunnel as he t!tted around with his lights, so I got the better of him in he end. As I said, no competition is bad competition, but all credit due to him, he was an absolute legend.
Eventually I veered off the main trail up to tunnel gully and down one of the secret tracks called beeline, and then made my way down the Hutt River to Petone.