This day was full of best evers….best decision to enter, best ebike for me to use (Moustache Trail 5), best scenery, mountains and valleys not normally open to the public, best company and camaraderie out on the trail, best backflip off the ebike on one of those annoying “little pinch hill climbs”, little or no previous rain meant the trail was in mint condition and river crossings entirely manageable. Best support out on the trail from Campbell from Charge About Queenstown for the ebikes and superb volunteers at each of the aid stations.
In January I got cajoled into entering the 47km Motatapu Mountain Bike event, from Glendhu on Laka Wanaka through to Arrowtown. Before I knew entry was paid and flights were booked. Due to illness, injury and a raft of other excuses I knew my fitness needed a kick in the pants to be able to do the event and complete it. 2 months, I wasn’t sure if that was going to be enough preparation time. An aha shortcut solution to the problem of lack fitness saw me contact the charming Campbell Read from Chargeabout E-Bike Hire Queenstown to enquire if I could hire one of his Moustache E-Bikes for The Motatapu. The response was immediate, yes of course, in fact he would sponsor me a bike to ride for the event. Having this in the bag meant I could progress my fitness at an achievable rate and know I could finish uninjured, most likely tired and happy.
An early start in Arrowtown to catch the well organised event shuttle to Glendhu Bay saw a busload of riders quietly excited, milling about waiting to load their bikes. Unfortunately, a bout of motion sickness winding up and over to Cardrona found me unable to preload on liquid or fuels. The driver bypassed our delivery point and we enjoyed a somewhat scenic but tense return to the start village, some of the riders having missed their category start. As the ebike category was heading off on the last wave, I had plenty of time to meet my fellow team E-Moustache riders. I was so busy chatting that my team took off without me realising and as I saw then disappearing up the hill towards the start gantry I had to quickly power up and head off in pursuit, fortunately not hard to do on an ebike on turbo.
The ride itself was sublime, jeep track, grass pathways and plenty of puddle and river crossings as advertised. A gentle spin of the legs to start along a valley with 2 climbs fairly early on found us catching the tail mtb riders, a few kilometres on I caught my husband and a friend from South Africa who were at that stage about mid bunch. A long break by team E Moustache to assist with track safety and first aid at an accident, saw us hustling to keep ahead of the tail end riders. Dropping into the first water and aid station was a welcome sight, the hill beyond with ant like riders, many walking gave us the push to refuel before cycling on. At this stage I hadn’t really pushed the ebike, just cruising in the lower levels of pedal assist. Cam suggested I try turbo up the hills, haha, I never looked back, easy as, you still have to pedal your ass off, still ride with skill but you just get up so much faster. I now entered the pinch climbs with a rebel yell “ebike rider, on your right, hahahe, best day evahhhhh” as I stormed up each piece of steepish track. Comments varied from, give me a tow, you go girl, to lots of laughing and encouragement. Getting a bit cocky on one of the particularly steep, rocky and rutted hills I took off, over powered, under geared and weighted wrong. The backflip off a wheelie while impressive left me hanging sitting on my rear wheel and unable to dismount. 2 galant lads laughing their socks off helped me off the bike where I promptly landed on my butt. Applause by all surrounding me as I took a bow. This left me to chat and push a 25kg bike up a steep hill unable to find the walk assist mode. Cam rode past and at the top told me how to activate it, he didn’t stop on the way up to help as he didn’t want to break my stride! I think he was just laughingly punishing me for being such a dork.
A couple of other incidents that required our assistance meant we kept a steady pace over the course of the day. The great thing about the ebikes was when the proverbial had hit the fan, Cam was always able to shoot off to the next aid station and get help. At the top of the hill before descending towards aid station 2 a number of e-curious riders stopping to take a top of climb fuel break had a go on the Moustache, short spins down and then up. Opinions varied on if this would ever be their preference ride but all came back with big grins on their faces! I could have sold the bike a number of times. Post aid station 2 we stopped for a picnic where Queenstown District Councillors Alexa and Ann broke out the bacon and egg pies, salmon rolls, bliss balls, chocolates and more. I still had about 30% charge left in my battery at this stage but we still changed the battery out, this meant we had reserves for other riders should we come across them needing a top up to get to the end. Alexa finished the ride on one battery, she is lighter than me and rode the last 15km in eco mode.
Some have said they found the middle section of the course a bit tedious, just traversing long valleys, tussock tracks, personally I loved it. Gentle climbs, big sky country and another aid station. Once we started our descents we met the majority of the promised river crossings, most rideable, some due to water depth and not wanting to fully submerge the Bosch motors we carried the bikes across. Heavy and you had to make sure the bikes were placed downstream or the force of the streams and the weight of the bikes could unfoot you. The downhills post Macetown were really pretty as you barrelled your way through the gorge towards Arrowtown. Downhill relief but you couldn’t drop your concentration guard.
With a last crossing of the Arrowtown river, the end was a few hundred metres in sight, turbo, I flew through the track, up the last little slip and onto the finish line. BEST DAY EVAHHH.
Bonus, I won a spot prize in my drink bottle, thanks TeamCP performance training from Christchurch!
Really, the best day ever!