Around for a few years and increasing in popularity is the multiple-day enduro event. An example of this is the Trans NZ race, organised by the same crew that organises the Trans BC multi-day enduro event. Across multiple days and covering terrain on the South Island of NZ from Craigieburn through to Queenstown, the event uses blind raced trails that don’t have any opportunity to practice.
A contingent of Aussie racers made the trip over, including James Hall (aka Cannonball), Paul van der Ploeg (aka Vandy) , Michael Ronning and Matt Harrington. With trails on tap, a crew of mates, amazing scenery and a bit of snow to contend with in the first couple of days and a couple of international guest riders including Wyn and Ed Masters, what more could a racer ask for?
The Aussies fared well, with Paul coming in 4th and James coming in 5th place overall in Elite, with Jerome Clementz taking the top spot. Michael Ronning took 2nd place in Masters 40+ and Matt Harrington in 4th place 40+ Masters.
After the race we talked with Cannonball about the experience and his upcoming plans!
GDU: Was that your first time racing the Trans NZ?
Yeah, first time, but I doubt it will be the last.
GDU: What made you decide to race the event?
So many friends had raved about their experience riding theTrans NZ for both its riding and good vibes, so it was close to the top of my bucket list, timing just worked out for me this year.
GDU: Was it good going there together with an Aussie crew?
Yeah, it was great to head over with another good local mate and the Shimano Australia crew including Ronning and Vande for some friendly competition, support and shenanigans. But it’s not only your own crew, it’s also all the amazing people who have traveled from all over that are just so pumped to be out riding , challenging themselves that make these types of events so great!
GDU: What was the highlight of the event for you?
The trails! The diversity of trails and various trail conditions throughout. Nothing beats the huge smiles, high fives and trail tails just after you finish a stage.
GDU: How did it feel to come away with the 5th place?
Pretty bloody awesome, there was some fast local and international talent here and some impressive young Kiwi riders competing, so it was a tight battle between a few of us.
GDU: Would you attend the event again?
Yeah absolutely, this, and add all the other international Trans-Races to the bucket list now!
GDU: You could call this a warmup round for your EWS campaign this year, what’s the plan for you in 2018?
Yeah I certainly counted it as training in a big way, with 22 blind stages of riding it’s perfect for reading trails at speed.
For 2018 I’ll be racing Bike Buller next week, EWS Chile & Columbia March/April. I’m registered for the Austria EWS and Mega avalanche, so hopefully make my way to those mid year. But my big focus is on Whistler EWS in August. It was one of my successful races last year so I want to focus on being as best prepared for it. Then later in the year I’ll race the three aussie EWS continental rounds. A lot to get excited about!
Photos: Matt Wood
More info on the race can be found on transnz.com