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It wasn’t the best reason to be at Auckland’s 440 Bike Park, but a funeral in the family meant a last-minute trip to Auckland and a spare Sunday to boot. I convinced half of the family that a day spent out near the beach at a shuttle-accessed MTB park was a good plan; Emma and Elliot bought it and out we headed. It was my first time at 440 and I’d thought I might shoot a photo or two, but after my first race run in the searing heat and the off-the-charts fun factor that the trails provided, the bag stayed in the car until prizegiving.

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Like all good enduros should be, the vibe was super chilled. Matt Walker even popped down to the nearby swimming hole between stages for a quick dip. SRAM provided free Frujus and free race support as well as shade and beanbags; after the racing was over Dave Meikle (Cannondale and GT’s NZ product manager) sparked up his three 20L kegs of homebrew for those old enough for a little post-ride recovery drink.

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My 12-year-old son and I had no idea what to expect hopping off the shuttle bus. Event mastermind Byron Scott had informed us that a trip to stage 1 and 2, 100 vertical metres above the shuttle drop-off, was the best way way to kick things off, beating the heat of the day. Surprisingly loamy off-camber roots greeted us for the first couple of hundred metres before the trail kicked into bermed-up, flowy radness. But keeping on your toes is the name of the game at 440; around every corner are little surprises, they come in many forms but mainly consist of small doubles, rock drops and bus-stops. Elliot and I, both racing blind, did our best to maximise these features but given that the Saturday was practice, local knowledge would have been a bonus. However, only two crashes between us (both mine) over a six stage day shows that both 440 Bike Park and the event are pretty much suited to riders of all abilities. Hell, I even got my best result of all time, a 7th in Masters 30+.

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