We're not ones for new year's resolutions or predictions here at Spoke. Looking back is a lot safer bet than gazing into the future, and boldly stating that this is what's going to be the next big thing is fraught with the danger of getting it totally wrong (who knew Segways wouldn't replace downhill bikes?), and being blamed for hoverboard fires is the last thing we need.
So instead, we asked a few of our regular contributors and staff writers to quickly scribble down some things that rocked their mountain bike world in 2015... and when I say 'quickly', I of course mean a couple of weeks, and in Rod's case it could be next week. He probably wants his own personal post, likely it is that he'll have a list longer than his arm and possibly another bike by then too.
Product: WTB Breakout Tyres. Took me by surprise last summer and became
my firm new favourite for dry riding, and now after a winter on them they
defied my expectations and proved that they're a great all conditions
option. Predictable, phenomenal grip, and super durable. Well worth a
slight weight penalty.
Moment: it's now become a cliche and unoriginal, but who couldn't help
but smile when Aaron Gwin managed to win a World Cup race chainless?
Trail: The inaugural NZ Enduro event was my first opportunity to ride the
complete Nydia Bay trail. Some parts scared the bejesus out of me, it was
tough to ride at race pace, but it was equally exhilarating. So much so
that I'll be back in 2016 for seconds.
Here are a few off the top of my head...
Crankworx and EWS in Vegas. (And the new tracks left by the EWS.)
NZ Enduro with chopper access to Native singletrack and riding with many of the top EWS riders.
Aaron Gwin winning Leogang without a chain...
Aaron Gwin leaving Specialized.
Trail bikes in general - because they are all amazing now (even the shit ones).
The best thing in 2015 for me was getting involved with a trail rig, a Specialized Rhyme. Having only ever really ridden a lean XC hardtail before, I was amazed how much fun could be had with 6 inches of travel, a dropper-post and a set-up that feels so capable of riding everything! There’s even pink on the paint detail…
To be honest, it’s like I discovered a whole new world of mountain biking, a totally different riding experience. My skill level has jumped leaps and bounds, I feel safe and ruthless all at once, and I’ve since met a whole bunch of rad people all on the same buzz. Thank you 2015 – the year of the trail bike. PS: I still love my hardtail, especially on the up hills...
Crankworx & EWS in Rotorua
Wide rims i.e. Wheelworks Derbys
The first Tranz NZ Enduro.
Trend of wearing goggles with half face helmets.
Fluoro is enduro. Everything going bright, bikes, gloves, helmets, clothes, googles etc etc...
The increasing popularity of and participation in Enduro.
Just riding Along: Riding bikes has always been about fun, and shouldn't be a chore to hit heart rates, shave grams off the bike and set 'PB's on some whack website (or whatever, I don't know, or care, how that stuff works). I've learnt (or more so, come to accept) that no matter how unfit you are, how much your bike weighs or how slow up a certain hill you are, it's always going to be fun just riding, and anything else is superfluous and should be banished from any thought process involving a ride. Free your mind and your legs will follow.
Riding new trails is great, but riding old ones can be just as good. Discovering Tasmania's Blue Derby trail network was a highlight of my year, the work being done there should make it a must-do destination for Kiwis as well as mainland Aussies. But just as much fun was returning to trails that shaped my early riding experience, after not having ridden them for a couple of years. Not much had changed, except me. Having a different mindset can make the familiar new and exciting and despite the heat and flies, my old home trails (and good friends) still managed to put a smile on my face.
Here's to all your adventures, new experiences, old friends and fantastic trails for 2016.