The Madsen brothers, Mac and Cooper, sons of Craig and Marg, two little (not so little now) rippers that I’ve had the pleasure of watching grow into fine young men who both adore riding bikes.
I first met this family three years ago when as a cycle tourist riding through New Zealand I was asked by them to come stay, hang out and ride bikes, Mac and Craig had not long finished riding the whole length of the North island, it was all Mac’s idea and it was to raise money for charity. Quite an achievement for the then ten year old, especially as they had elected to ride on their fat bikes.
Craig and I met through my involvement with the Kiwi Brevet but our friendship soon transcended bikes due a mutual love of photography, our second week together involved the whole family looking after me after I got ill, and for that I’m forever grateful.
This visit was to be different, lots of bike rides, good times and amazing barbecues…
Day one and Cooper, Mac and I headed out into the mid day sun, dirt tracks, river crossings and woodland singletrack, two hours of the boys showing me ‘their’ trails and I was toast.
Day two and an early start for Craig and I to beat the heat, a little morning fog made for some atmospheric views over the farmland, a couple of climbs saw us ride above the mist and the still active volcano Mt Ruapehu came into view, stunning.
Forty kilometres of this (via a fabulous coffee shop that sold the best Mango smoothies in the world) and we were done, at least I was, apparently not though as Cooper was keen to get me out and show me more of his training trails, he’s hoping to start racing later this year and is very happy to show his speed at any opportunity!
Day three dawned already hot, we had planned to check out some disused mountain bike trails, the boys hadn’t ridden these before so it was going to be part exploration part enjoyment. Turned to be mostly enjoyment as the overgrown trails were fantastic, flowy, sinewy singletrack descents, shaded fire road climbs, with the odd boggy bit to keep you honest.
More waist deep river crossings to wade through were a refreshing break from the heat, the water coming off the mountain good enough to drink from. Eventually we had to head home, we’d been out for almost five hours, covered thirty kilometres and climbed almost 600 metres, the cold drinks back at home well earned.
Even this wasn’t enough for the boys, they wanted to then spend the afternoon doing wheelie practice, it took some convincing to make them rest up after this mornings efforts, so instead they carried on digging and refining their jumps in the garden instead.
This summer has been unusual for New Zealand, temps high up in the twenties or early thirties for a good six weeks now, this has proved to be the perfect weather for my acclimation in preparation for the Tour Aotearoa, although I’m hoping it will cool down some by the start date.
I’m hoping that if I’ve got the timing right the boys will be able to come and meet me and ride for some of the TA route, by then I should be able to match their pace!
Words & pictures – Steve Makin