Age is no issue for Griff Addington
Words Julian Addington | Images Heidi Addington
Griffin — My name is Griff, I am 51 weeks & 6 days old, 72 cm tall, 10.23kg and wear size 20 flats. I ride a 10.5kg single wheel trailer with a 2.34m wheel base and full steel roll cage. Features include a halo headset, five-point Travis Pastrana racing harness, mud shield and a Westcoast rain cover. Out back I’m running 200mm SR Suntour suspension with 47Psi, two volume spacers and one click of rebound. Dadda tells me it’s all about the sleep to shred ratio (SSR), plush enough to take a nap, not so plush that I miss all the action up front. Speaking of up front, all this ebike chat is so 2019, I have my own external human power supply (EHPS). Its voice activated, so the louder I shout, the harder and faster it goes.
6:02am – I was going to start yelling at 5:59 but I thought an extra 3mins might make all the difference to my EHPS.
6:03am – Nipple. The only way to start an epic.
6:20am – Blueberries, Oats, Banana.
7am – Out the door with so many layers I can barely walk.
7.05am – Find trailer under deck. Check for stray chip.
Dadda — Griffin was born in November 2018, bundle of joy and all that, but I must admit there were some concerns. Just about everyone we had bumped into made a comment like “life will never be the same” and “bike adventures will be nappy changes” blah blah. We decided to focus on what we could do: as it turns out, that’s more than we expected. Here are a few snapshots from some of the adventures we’ve been on recently.
Queen Charlotte. Deemed a good test case for our first multi-day ride. 72km with the ability to have some shorter days, the ease of staying in lodges and having gear transported between. We took the ferry to Ships Cove and hit the trail. The combination of the awesome new climbing track out of Ships Cove and the mighty Zerode super granny gear saw us top out with big grins all round.
We learnt that timing ‘Griff stops’ are essential. After trial and error we now follow a loose program that consists of chill/play/food until 8am and mobilise by 9am. Get a good hour under the belt before 10am snack, then another hour riding, stopping for stray weka, random stones, weird leaves, and anything else that might take a toddler’s fancy. Then it’s head down grinding for two hours while the Griff sleeps. He has an amazing motion sensor, maybe due to the various adventures he’s been on in utero, that when one stops its instantly play time. Talk about the perfect whip your ass resistance trainer.
Heaphy. Griff’s 1st Bday. We knew it had to be adventure related. Trailer was the obvious choice, and given November is now in the Heaphy riding calendar year, it was a match made. The Heaphy track is rightly named as an epic. 80km of beautiful singletrack across some of NZ’s most diverse landscapes. Home of the takahē and with recent trailerfriendly bridge upgrades, it really is the perfect place to take a toddler.
The biggest lesson from this trip was adventure chips. When it’s snowing, getting dark, and you’ve been pounding the trail all day, you need something, anything, to keep Griff distracted while you punish the last few km’s to the hut. We now carry a solid supply of adventure chips (baby friendly and organic I promise).
The Old Ghost Road. The champs that built the original mining track out of Lyell must have had visions of 1yo’s in chariots. It’s 100% ridable with no corners that jack-knife the rig. The next day was a different story. Dropping down past the Ghost Lake Hut, we made the first couple of switch backs, took a straight-line mega avalanche style between a couple more, then it all hit the fan. The native forest section didn’t go much better with janky rocks and roots bellying us out every couple of meters. The fore-aft movement is the trailer’s biggest weakness, crest a large tree root or rock and the 250mm clearance over the long wheelbase just doesn’t cut it. Go for the pin-it-to-win-it option and you inevitably have granite rock vs roll cage with poor little Griff stuck in the middle. Heidi did the hard yards that day, walking behind the rig lifting it over the various objects every few metres or so before running back to get her bike. It took us two hours to cover 3km. Thankfully Griff slept through the entire ordeal.
By the time we hit the Skyline Steps, life was rather easy, we ended up leaving Griff pinned in his seat, maybe his first experience of sky diving as he hung against his five-point harness, while I managed the front and Heidi death gripped the rear. A few minutes later we were at the bottom.After a bag of adventure chips, high fives all around, we knew the crux was over. The descent from the Skyline Steps to The Boneyard is a #NZmustdo, pure ecstasy for almost any level of rider: corners with the perfect trailer radius and a surface mirror buffed, we were “weeeeeeeee” all the way to Stern lodge.
Paparoa. Given the delayed opening to the full track we rode in and out from each end in two separate trips (saving the middle section for a future adventure). On New Year’s Day we rode into Moonlight Tops Hut from the Blackball end. The track is well benched with a good gradient but we quickly learnt that the surface is littered with the perfect 20-inch trailer wheel blocks. You couldn’t find a better chock for your ‘83 Hilux parked on Baldwin street. Energy sapping is an understatement. With Griff aboard the technique was simple, punch max watts between switchbacks, dial back the gears, recover and repeat. The whole time Griff was just chatting away, completely oblivious to the fact that his pilot was about to combust with catastrophic engine failure.
Reaching Ces Clarke Hut just above the bush line felt like the finish line. Another impromptu ninja warrior course was set up for Griff using the hut mattresses while we recovered. With the jug on the boil, it was the perfect spot to chill before tackling the new section of track across the skyline to Moonlight Tops Hut. It was all we could wish for. A well contoured track winding its way north as close as practical to the true ridge. Griff’s eyes scoped the huge vista, picking up the smallest of native birds miles away, and “wowww”ing as the Tasman sea came into view.
A few weeks later we were back to ride from Punakaiki to the new Pororari Hut. After a few bombs into the waterhole and some weka chasing (by Griff), we reached the top in time for an amazing sunset. With Griff safely tucked into his home modified sleeping bag come snug sheet, we hit the sack dreaming of the pristine Westcoast singletrack (and Griff of his next bag of adventure chips).