An unlikely cast of riders road trip their way through NZ's South Island. Normally freeriders and downhillers don’t mix. The two groups of riders have a mutual respect for each other, and they have a lot in common (on paper, at least), but normally they travel in different circles. We set out to change that this past winter by inviting top freerider Graham Agassiz to ride with a few of the world’s best downhill racers in the mountain bike paradise of New Zealand.
We had a motley crew of characters on our voyage, including 10-time DH world champion, Frenchman Nicolas Vouilloz; world cup DH stars Sam Blenkinsop and Cameron Cole; Caleb Smith of Spoke Magazine; ace photographer Haruki Noguchi: as well as Dylan Dunkerton and Kyle Norbraten of the Coastal Crew. We hit some of the South island’s best destinations including Nelson and Christchurch, we did some downhilling, some trail riding and built some slopestyle-sized booters. The trip was a rare opportunity to see the contrasting styles of the best riders in mountain biking. Where Blenkinsop powers and thunders down the trail, Vouilloz is light and smooth and doesn’t look like he’s going fast. Agassiz, on the other hand, pops off of everything, slides around every turn and laughs the entire time.
Every rider was outside their comfort zone at some point during the trip (Aggy bonked pretty hard on a six-hour trail ride), but the riders learned a ton from each other and went their separate ways with a newfound respect.