After four days of world-class single trail adventures, the fifth competition day topped it all off. To close out the TransNZ Enduro in the fashion it deserves, organizer Megan Rose could not have chosen a better venue: Queenstown. The unofficial capital of fun sports, the town in the midst of New Zealand’s Alps offers the best possible conditions to celebrate the highs and lows of this multi-day event with a proper send-off. Three stages were on order before this year’s TransNZ winners could be appropriately celebrated.

Queenstown – Final in fun sport’s capital

After four days of competition, it is getting increasingly tight at the top – contrary to the assumption that after 114 race kilometers, the gaps would increase. The close times at the top and respective performances prove the opposite. Only a few seconds over the course of more than an hour and a half of timed riding time may be the difference between three places in the standings. If you would like to secure your spot or even try to move up, you need to ride on the cutting edge on the last day as well.


Having already surpassed my self-set goal – a decent place in the middle – and being more than happy with a 7th place finish, the last day is all about securing my ranking. Not really easy when the fast Frenchman Tito Tomasi keeps dangerously close to my heels, trailing by not even two minutes. Tito rode an extremely strong race up until then but had to deal with a mechanical problem on Day 3, which pushed him back into midfield on one of the special stages.

tnz day 5 DS-13

The length of the timed stage about to begin wouldn’t make things any easier. Only three stages are scheduled, but an overall distance of 18 km with 1,720 vertical meters on most challenging trails increases your chances to lose precious seconds due to technical problems or crashes.

Ready for the last action

The morning does not bode well. I had been sitting at the computer until late at night trying to bring the daily email craziness under control. After only four hours of sleep, my alarm goes off. My eyes are small, my fatigue is big and my motivation is … – well, not that bad actually. Even though my body is telling me the opposite, I am actually almost longing for this day, the first day where it is going to be almost exclusively downhill. From the very beginning, my plan had been to really make the last day count.

Captura de ecrã 2016-03-3%2c às 03.28.12

Surprisingly, I breeze through the steep uphill to the top gondola station with power and ease – fully motivated to attack the last day with the necessary determination. Nevertheless, I am aware of the fact that a crash could wipe out my result in a heartbeat. 3,2,1, go! I start moderately – fully wake up first, find the flow first. Slowly, I am getting into it, but as the intensity of the impacts on the bombed out bike park track increases, I can clearly feel the exhaustion in my body – but I press on. I pass one rider after another on the track. Just as I enter the last pedaling section, I suddenly push into nothing – shock. Looking down I realize the problem – the chain guide, the chain has come off.

Not sure how far I need to go to the finish, I stop to take care of the problem. Precious seconds pass. Nervous and exhausted, it takes what feels like an eternity until I finally get the chain back on the chainring. I jump back on and sprint on – but only for 50 meters, because right after the next turn is the finish. I can’t believe it – what bad luck!


Stage two takes us to one of the highest altitude trails above Queenstown, rewarding us with a stunning view over Lake Wakatipu. The following stage initially takes us through rugged Alpine terrain and leads us over a newly constructed flow trail, as new as they can possibly get. According to the “just in time” mentality, construction was finished literally the night before. Finest loam paired with natural dips, waves and slopes guarantee riding fun second to none.

tnz day 5 DS-1

But the highlight of the day is the classic among the local mountain bike scene, the by now internationally renowned “Fernhill Loop”. This is where quite a few masterpieces of mountain bike movie history were filmed, Dan Atherton’s part in “3-minute gaps” among them.

The trail is best described as a gigantic root carpet – maximum stress for equipment and rider. One last time where you give it your all and power through – then it is over. The fun on the downhill outweighs the strain and the about seven-minute-long shaking tour nearly flies by. It is over, unfortunately.


After 132 kilometers, the last TransNZ meter is done. The result: to be one awesome experience richer and to have discovered trails which, as a European, you are hard pressed to get under your treads. And the strategy for the day worked: Despite minor mechanical issues, there were no crashes or other technical defects. My result: 7th place. Time to celebrate. To this end – cheers!

Words: Maxi Dickerhoff Photos: Maxi Dickerhoff, Trans NZ

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.