In this week's Frankly Thursday (it's probably a month since the last one?) we catch up with Jonny Waghorn, one of the few Kiwis who in a couple of months' time will be in France taking on the Mavic Trans-Provence multi-day gravity enduro.
Who is Jonny Waghorn? Reformed old-school mountain biker and honest nice guy.
How did you get involved in the MTB scene to begin with, and how long ago was that? Well my mum got me my first MTB for Xmas in 1982. She's a cool gal. In the mid '80s she and some mates biked from Sydney to Adelaide, and then up the Oodnadatta track all the way to Darwin. Mad-core. I have a tramping background and general appreciation for the NZ outdoors thanks to my parents, but I really didn't get hooked on MTBing until about 1988 when my old buddy Sam and I did some cycle-touring through the Molesworth, Rainbow, and over the Heaphy track. Then I entered the odd MTB race and I've had a bike seat firmly wedged ever since.
What's your 'Day job'? Computer nerd. Websites and related stuff mostly. Actually I work with good people at a good little company (www.3months.com), and they're supportive of my bicycle shenanigans.
Where are you based? Wellington
Best thing about living where you do? Variety and proximity of year-round ridable trails. I love that you can pretty much ride any hill you can see. And there are plenty of them close to the city. This means lunch time rides are a regular for me, and because they are short and punchy rides it leaves me energised for bigger weekend adventures.
Worst thing about living where you do? Oh probably the weather. Although it really makes you appreciate the good days. And the wind does dry the tracks out pretty quick after rain. We had an awesome summer.
Explain what the Trans-Provence is to you in one sentence - To me the Trans Provence looks like a brilliant mix of physical and technical challenge, with big hills to climb and even bigger ones to descend thanks to the "daily uplift", and beaut scenery and a fun nomadic life-style with French cafes for lunch. My kind of adventure!
What sort of preparation are you doing for Trans-Provence? Mostly a semi-structured mix of fun riding around Wellington. Building base fitness with bigger adventure rides with some walking and bike carrying - I've been warned! A bit of speed work soon, yech that always hurts. I think Hawkins Hill nearby is the closest I will get to Trans Provence style hills. It's got some good climbs and decent rocky descents, but is only a third the height of some of the hills we will cross during Trans Provence. I'm also doing a bit of trail running and some upper body work, you know trail building and such. I've repurposed some old DH bars into press-up bars for a simple quick-fix workout.
What are you most looking forward to in the Trans-Provence? Sitting on top of some of those big hills and taking in the views. And then ripping down of course! It will also be nice to meet some of the other riders. With only 70 or so entrants from all over the world it's a pretty intimate group. There are some serious pros, a few old friends, and a bunch of other like-minded folk.
What are you most nervous about (if anything?) with the Trans-Provence? Probably the level of fatigue that we'll have to deal with later in the week. It's a bit like riding a Karapoti every day for a week. Even though we're only timed on the predominantly downhill sections that's still 25 to 45 minutes of hard concentration every day. It's physical and everyone is riding blind - that is no pre-riding allowed.
What's your bike set up going to be for TP? I'll be bringing my Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc. The sweetest bike I've ever ridden, it's fantastic! Santa Cruz NZ has been helping me out with tech and some advice and I think the bike is getting pretty dialled. Fox 34s up front and reliable 1x10 Shimano drive chain down below.
What does a typical Saturday look like for you? Early trip to Le Moulin to get baguettes to placate the little people, Moore Wilson's for goodies to placate the big people. Then a couple of hours shred on the local hills. Followed by family time which these days has started to include them riding too. Then collect cold beer from Garage Project and cook a big feast from the earlier hunter-gathered ingredients.
What's your favourite trail and why? I really like Deliverance for its low down dirty techy fun, a little bit of mongrel. Also Red Rocks for its big mountain feel, views, exposure, and high speed fun. But probably my all time favourite trail would be Mr Toad's Wild Ride in South Lake Tahoe, California. I've only ridden it once and I was having a "find myself" moment a few years ago. There was an inch of snow at the top with mountain lion and bobcat footprints everywhere. A long sinuous climb weaving between granite boulders and redwoods followed by a 10km rooty rocky technical descent that ever so slowly gets less technical until near the bottom it's just a long line of perfectly linked smooth berms.
Favourite MTB innovation from in the last 10 years? I hate to be "that guy" but my dropper seat post has been a surprise to me. As an olde timey XC dude I learned to ride everything with my seat up high. Now with a dropper my riding style has totally changed and I think I'm having even more fun. New tricks! Clutch derailleurs are pretty nifty too.
Whats right with mountain biking? I'm loving the local WORD camps. They've got our four kids all riding stuff they would never have done with us so quickly. And now they're keen as to show us where to ride! Magic. I'm liking the good work Trail Fund NZ is doing too.
Whats wrong with mountain biking? I'm a little nervous about some of my local trails getting manicured and "dumbed down". But I also see that as a sign of success that there is demand from all levels for riding bicycles on dirt. There are still mangey challenging tracks for a curmudgeon like me, I just have to ride a little bit further to get to them.
All time favourite MTB rider? I was first inspired by the likes of Ned Overend, John Tomac, and Juliana Furtado. I'm looking forward to meeting Jerome Clementz at Trans Provence. I like what he says, he's a surprising athlete and doesn't seem to be a dick.
Who do you look up to? Smart people with good opinions, and good people with smart opinions.
Any shoutouts / thanks to? Yeah I'd like to thank Santa Cruz bikes for helping with my awesome bike, and Mud Cycles for the occasional local bike love. And to my lovely Belinda for helping make it possible for me to do three full-time things at the same time; working, family, and biking. A pretty good life!