The Pioneer Recap

20908_eventimage_resized_792b69df5df849572638e86bea6543b4The inaugural Pioneer was a grande success as the Kiwi’s had all there ducks in line and treated us 250+ riders to a sweet 7 day race through the Alps of southern New Zealand.  As far as scenery goes its tough to beat the drastic Panoramic views NZL offers with its open landscape, turqoise blue lakes and glaciated mountains.  Riding wise the race turned out to be a bit tougher then the profile suggested as the Kiwi terrain was rough and slow going in many spots with many creek crossings and steep rough four wheel drive tracks through grassy fields.

Teammate Spencer Paxson and I had a solid Prologue finishing 2nd behind the World Class duo of Anton Cooper from NZL (U23 World Champion) and Dan Mcconnell from AUS (World Cup winner).  Stage 2 our race hit a road bump as Spencer flatted early on in the stage and the deep dish rim wouldn’t accept any of the 3 tubes we tried putting in as all the valve stems were a bit stubby for the odd ball wheel.  This created a dilemma as we finally got a small amount of air in there and limped to the first feed zone to find a proper tube with an extended valve.  We ended up near the back of the race after losing around 30 minutes and had a long day ahead as we slowly clawed our way back up to 4th overall on the day but lost loads of time on the leaders.

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From this point on our goal was a stage win which we would come close to in a couple sprint finishes with Dan and Anton but kept falling short.  Eventually we had our day on Stage 7 claiming victory and solidifying our GC position in 2nd overall with the other Kona team of Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon taking home 3rd. It turned out to be a great Kona Team training camp with the racing just making up a small part of the good times.  Fellow Jasperite, Steve Brake joined us for the week to drive the van around between stages and added a good factor to the event with his wisecracks and free living attitude.

These sort of races are where its at as after every day of riding we would end up in a deluxe camp often by a lake and have the afternoons to swim, relax, eat and enjoy the company of the other riders as they came in.    Not only was it an international bike race but even more so it was week long camping trip with a bunch of cool people in a great setting.  Even though New Zealand is a English speaking country there was still a language barrier as apparently our accents are bit different.  Trying to ask the catering company for a bowl to eat my post race cereal one day in turned into an odd conversation as they thought I was asking for a IMG_2508ball.  Hmm, no sir, why would we have a ball, we’re a catering company.  The conversation went back and forth a while until I pulled out my phone with a picture of a cereal bowl on it.  Definitely a first world type of problem,
The days after the race in the New Zealand tourist mecca of Queenstown were solid as my friends Erin Green and Tom opened up there house for me to crash at.  We road our bikes a lot on some awesome trails, ate loads of food and did a lot of lakeside chilling.  This was highlighted with my first ever DH shuttle run as the local Kona shop, BikeAholics    leant a Process 153 trail bike so I could join them on there group ride down the steep slopes of Mt Coronet to Arrowtown.  It was rad, the Process trail bike ate up everything in its path, all I had to do was hold on down the steep ass slope!   By Wednesday it had been 14 straight days on the bikIMG_2543e so I left the rig at BikeAholics to get tuned back into race shape and took off to Wanaka to visit some friends for a couple days of hiking and SUP.  It was perfect to refresh the mind and pretend being a 14 year old again horsing around in the summer sun

On the way back through Arrowtown I made a pit stop to visit my friends Jim and Brenda Argan from Jasper.  They are the parents of one of my best friends (Dane) growing up and took us out as little kids on some of our first big bike rides and mountain hikes in Jasper.  They were at the Stage 7 finish line which was de ja vu to last year at Singletrack 6 as they watched every stage.  After wining 6 out of 7 races with them at the finish I’m trying to sign them up asa good luck charm in future races!

IMG_2532Now up in Christchurch, the final plans are being formulated to head up to Rotorua to take on the 24 hour World Solo Championships.   As of now all the pieces of the puzzle are scattered around a bit but they are all there to be put into place and make next weekend one for the history books.  As for now theres a whole lot of R&R going and I couldn’t of landed at a better place then my mates Marcus Peters house as his family has offered the use of there attached guest house to recharge the batteries for a few days.

I’ve always heard about the legendary Kiwi hospitably and have been blown away with all the kindness this trip.  It will be hard to repay all of you but there will always be a giant welcome mat layed out in Canada for any wary travellers!

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