The final days of the Yeti Trans NZ Enduro presented by Shimano
rewarded racers with the best conditions of the week – sunshine, hero dirt, and nine stages that put racers through the paces in Alexandra and Queenstown. It was a tight race until the very end – within seconds separating the podium and locals pushing the pace for the top riders.
“Despite so many variables thrown at us, it was an incredible week, and things ran really smooth compared to previous years. The riders were all super understanding on conditions and changing routes for their safety and made the most of it and an enjoyable for everyone involved,” Rose said.
After Day 4 was canceled due to winter flurries, Alexandra brought a breath of fresh air to racers and the 20 guest riders who were eager to share their local lines. Phil Oliver, owner of Altitude Bikes, has worked with Megan Rose for the last five years on creating an unrivaled day of racing in the semi-arid desert of New Zealand.
“We introduced one new stage and a few different alternative lines at the bottom of a few stages to keep things interesting,” Oliver said. “The terrain is a bit different than the rest of the Trans race – very few trees and just some bush bashing and pink dots to follow.”
Six stages ranging between sub-2 minutes to five minutes still felt like a long day with all liaisons pedal-powered. With names like Supercharger, TT, On the Rocks, End Trails, Hazard and Fifth Amendment, racers were dealt a full house of rock features and formations. The key to surviving: follow the pink dots – even when they seemed to lead you astray, they are always the safest lines.
“It was hard to keep focused on the pink dots and look ahead to stay on the line. But all in all, it was a super fun day. I felt a little bit rough out of the gate, but I managed to stay on my bike on all but Stage 4,” said James Weingarten (Denver, CO) Master Men 40+. Weingarten went on to win four and tie one of the stages.
A course hold on Stage 2 resulted in the Open Women’s leader, Sarah Rawley (Golden, CO) pulling out of the race after a crash severely dislocated her elbow and she took an ambulance trip to the Dunstan Hospital.
“The medic crew was incredible out there – especially Zoe who stuck with me for the rest of the afternoon through all the highs and lows of getting it reset and reunited with the rest of the race crew,” Rawley said. “Definitely bummed not to be finishing out the race, but happy they could pop it back into place, and I could hike up and cheer everyone on day six!”
Local shredder Bradley Harris swept all but Stage 3, putting over a minute into Tom Sampson (Boulder, CO) who was steadily clawed back 46 seconds from Jordan Powell (Melbourne, AUS) and 22 seconds from Nate Hills (Dillon, CO) throughout the day.
The final day of the week crowned the Yeti Trans NZ with three queen stages that wove in and out of Skyline Bike Park, to the top of the Ben Lomond Saddle, and back down to town to celebrate with beer, high fives and recounting stories and forging new friendships over the past week.
On Stage 1, ear to ear grins sent it down the newly adopted Squid Run – the little brother to the infamous Salmon Run that drops off of the summit of the Fernhill trails. Purpose-built to shred, Squid Run was recently constructed by the Queenstown MTB Club volunteer crew. Known for their hard-earned reputation to GSD (get shit done), QMTBC works closely with the Department of Conservation the local council and landowners in building new trails and maintaining the existing trail network.
“I had a bit of a get off on Stage 1 and lost from time,” said Jordan Powell (Melbourne, AUS) Open Men. “I know I lost some time and the final standings are one second between the top three Open Men. I’m quite nervous to see who’s won. Guess we’ll find out at the pub.”
Climbing to their final summit of the week to the Ben Lomond Saddle at 1,326 meters, riders soaked in their surroundings and all of the hard yakka (kiwi translation – hard work), tired legs, sore arms and every bump and bruise that accumulated from the week melted away.
“Nobody got a little bit mad for the hike a bike, the views looking at Lake Wakatipu were completely worth it,” said Cody Marshall (Edmonton, CAN) Open Men. “The last stage down was the best. I went into the thicket and did a little brush cutting for the team. I sasquatched the bike to the trail and am now drinking beers in the sunshine. All in all, an incredible week with my mates!”
The final turns down the old school Fernhill Roots into the bottom of Squid Run, capped the week with a super physical, rooty, arm-pump inducing descent. The top time was 9 minutes 40 seconds on the final stage, taking the seasoned trans racers off-guard with a much longer grand finale.
“This was my second year of volunteering at the Trans NZ and the people, the variety of trails and being able to push yourself out there – whether you’re racing or volunteering – is what makes the experience so unique,” said Loretta Mitchell (Rotorua, NZL). “Spending six days with the same crew forges new friends and is what brings me back every year!”
For those who still hadn’t burned through their entire glycogen stores, more bike laps were in store before the festivities, debauchery and several rounds of “churrrrs” commenced in downtown Queenstown.
Weingarten had a commanding lead all week long and maintained his composure to finish Day 6 with a 3 minute 29 second margin ahead of Kashi Leuchs (Dunedin, NZL). A guest rider by the record of Sir Roy Gruenpeter, threw down the fastest times for the Master 40+ Men on Day 6, but for now, the sheep shirt wearing rider will remain a mystery.
Annelie Marquette (Brisbane, AUS) rode steady all week long, with a win on Day 3 and putting 3 minutes 57 seconds into the rest of her field. She flew the turquoise flag all week and proudly walked away with a Trans NZ emblazoned Silky saw.
The Open Men’s category left some surprises to be revealed. With one second separating first and second place, and one more second between second and third, three contenders nervously fidgeted with pints in hand. Like in a beauty pageant, second runner up, Powell gracefully accepted his unexpected boot from the top of the podium. Sampson came in as first runner-up, and Hills took the bouquet and gave the traditional speech, thanking all of the volunteers, racers, mountain bike clubs, and of course, Megan Rose for one helluva week.
Full results can be found here
These recaps wouldn’t be possible without the late nights and creative angles that the media team brings to the event each and every year, sacrificing life and limb to bring you photos, videos, and stories from ground zero.
And most important a huge churrrr to all of the racers who rolled the dice and traveled from near and far to share their week and create experiences of a lifetime with other mountains bikers from all walks of life. When it comes to trans mountain bike racing, you can come to expect the unexpected. But one thing is for certain, you won’t return the same rider.
Registration will open for the 2020 Yeti Trans NZ in mid-September. The event will undoubtedly return as a six-day event and Rose is already scheming up plans to continue to shake things up. For more information email email@example.com or subscribe to the newsletter at www.transnz.com.
RESULTS DAYS OVERALL RESULTS
1. Nate Hills (USA) 1:40:54
2. Tom Sampson (USA) 1:40:55
3. Jordan Powell (AUS) 1:40:57
4. Zac Williams (NZL) 1:42:49
5. Mark Frendo (AUS) 1:42:52
1. Annelie Marquardt (AUS) 2:18:11
2. Margaux Elliott (USA) 2:22:08
3. Ashley Watling (CAN) 2:23:48
4. Chloe Quilliam (GBR) 2:26:43
5. Jasmine Swanson (CAN) 2:27:11
Master Men 40+
1. Jamie Weingarten (USA) 1:46:19
2. Kashi Leuchs (NZL) 1:49:48
3. John Cobb (GBR) 1:50:30
4. Ali Quinn (NZL) 1:50:54
5. Karl Peel (AUS) 1:50:59
ABOUT MEGAN ROSE — Megan has been riding and racing bikes all over the world for 14 years and organizing bike events for the past 10 years. She splits her time between British Columbia, Canada and New Zealand, running Trans BC Enduro and Trans NZ Enduro races. Over the past six years, Megan has personally raced in over 40 enduro races, timed over 65 days’ worth of enduro races, and organized 30+ enduro races. Megan and her team look forward to bringing you the best of the best from all of these perspectives.
Writer's Note: As they say, you win some, you lose some. Despite not finishing my fourth Yeti Trans NZ due to dislocating my elbow on Day 5 in Alexandra, this past week will be a highlight of the year, surrounded by some of the most incredible humans you'll ever meet on a bike. Every day I pedaled with new friends, was challenged by the conditions and terrain, and got to dive into the depths behind the scenes of what makes this event tick. Despite the media team's 30 percent attrition rate this week, we managed to churn out recaps and squeeze out every ounce of sunrise and sunset shooting in addition to running around the course all hours of the day. A huge churrrr to Digby Shaw, Dane Cronin, Ben Duke, JC Canfield, Nate Hills, Kristina Vackova and of course Megan Rose and Nate Corrigan for your tireless efforts. See you on the next round, limbs intact and ready to shred!
~ Sarah Rawley (Golden, USA) Open Women