With nearly 27 kilometers in my legs and about 1200 climbing meters and similar numbers for the special stages under my belt, the TransNZ adventure was to be continued for its second day with a weather forecast covering the entire range.
Leaving our Flock Hill Lodge base camp, the shuttle took us up the valley again from where the riders had to battle their way back home across diverse terrain including some very challenging trails before we were transferred by bus to Queenstown which is about a 6-hour drive away. But let’s start at the beginning.

If you missed the first part, you can read it here::
Exclusive Race Report from the TransNZ – Part 1.

tnz_TransNZ_Media_#beautifulnature TransNZ_Day_3_iPhone_epics-2754 AT_TransNZ_Media_Tito_Tomasi_from_France_seems_to_be_used_to_multi_day_races

Day 2 – bordering insanity

The Edge, the name says it all! This is going to be it, the trail of the day and at the same time, the challenge of the day – on the cutting edge of the abyss. After a lengthy first special stage and almost one and a half hours of uphill pedaling, we arrived at the Craigieburn ski area. From there, a flowy trail alongside steep chutes and across rough gravel took us to the start of special stage number 2, an exposed trail called “The Edge” which lived up to its name.

Trans-NZ-Day2-6 Trans-NZ-Day2-5

We ride in a dense forest, with a massive drop down to the valley to our left. But no, that’s not enough, the trail is dug deep into the mountain side which means that there is barely a handwidth of room between the end of your handlebar and the mountain. A handwidth, determining victory or defeat, flow or crash. Full concentration and every fiber in your body is tuned and tense. That is the only way to accurately master the already challenging, but also very fast trail.

Trans-NZ-Day2-3 Trans-NZ-Day2-4 MB_TransNZ_Media_German_Maxi_Dickerhoff_flat_out

We make it – at least most of us. The occasional crash does happen, luckily without major consequences and collateral damage. Via two more special stages, we savor our way back to base camp where our luggage is set out neatly in front of the buses, ready to go. We leave Flock Hill Lodge and the Canterbury region. Our trip takes us across New Zealand’s Alps, to the Otago region and the capital of outdoor fun sport – Queenstown. This is where we find our new home for the next few days: Pinewood Lodge

Day 3 – is there anything more wicked?

When you hear Queenstown, you automatically think of numerous action videos of renowned DH stars who shred the surrounding trails with full-force hell-bent action. But we remove ourselves from Queenstown’s bike attractions and head towards the backcountry.

tnz_TransNZ_Media_#flowline TransNZ_Day_3_iPhone_epics-2738 Trans-NZ-Day2-1

At New Zealand’s favorite ski area – the Coronet Peak with an altitude of 1,649 meters, we climb up in the opposite direction over its flowy runs – where one of the longest descents we have seen so far this race awaits us. What we just achieved through sheer torture on the uphill, we now need to annihilate in our battle against the clock on the downhill. Surrounded by icy shrubs and bushes, where frost reflects the sun’s rays like a disco ball, the gun goes off in bitter cold altitude. It is hard to really find your flow, as the early morning chill penetrates our tired bodies. This makes the climb to stage 2 which gets you warm even more welcome.

MB_TransNZ_Media_Maxi_Dickerhoff_whips_it_out_at_SP1 BN_TransNZ_Media_Sarah_Rawley_flat_out

Trail number 2 starts in challenging terrain: steps, rocks and a fast high-speed section with washed out brake bumps eat up your strength initially. Then, the continuous pedaling sections consume your last reserves of energy. As you continue, the trail weaves around the mountain, sneaks into a dried-out valley, which is literally being baked by the sun, now high in the sky. The trail is long, really long. So long that I feel uncomfortably lonely after a while. Did I go the wrong way or miss a marker? No other riders around me for far and wide. Damn, I should have paid better attention at the riders’ briefing up on the mountain and not indulged in posting narcissistic selfies. As long as I am not positive, I will go full speed just to be safe. Then, finally, I see riders, who started ahead of me, laboriously climbing a steep ramp. I’m on the right track and not lost, Thank the Lord. The trail mixes it up again for the next few minutes, alternating torturous sprint sections and high-speed hucking at its finest.

Steep rocks rock!

After a longer break at the supply station I continued my day. After completing a longer climb, two more special stages, and a shuttle transfer, I reach the starting point of the last special stage. THE special stage – the one of which even the furthest traveled participants can tell wild tales. The trail down to the valley is supposed to be steep – real steep.


A local guide waiting at the start of the stage confirms it and briefs the riders insistently of what awaits them: “It’s steep – I mean, it’s steeeeeep!” Well, from up here, it really doesn’t look that bad, but the ratio of the slope length to the vertical change gives me reason to anticipate differently. I trust the guide’s words and prepare for the worst.

3,2,1, Go! I start easy, no point in using all your fire power at the start sprint. First turn: enter, a crank turn, and my eyes pop out. Ok, this is steep – full concentration is on order from now on. I try to brake, but the fine sand on the dried out ground doesn’t allow much deceleration. It is key to find the right flow – to surf across slippery terrain and to slip around the turn by giving perfectly-timed brake impulses to your rear wheel. It works! But the concentration required for this trail eats up a lot of what you have left – slowly, I can feel me strength diminishing. From turn to turn, I become more and more anxious to spot the finish line. And then – finally – just before I can barely hold the handlebar anymore, I can see a small crowd of people in the distance deep underneath me. That has got to be the finish line. Thankfully, the trail keeps opening up a little, and I can take my fingers off the brakes and focus on the gravity force driving me down. With hardly anything left in the tank, I reach the finish line of this special stage and get my time stamp. I made it, I finally made it!


Not quite, because of what was yet to come should prove to be the highlight of the day. After what felt like an eternity in the sun, talking shop and philosophy at the finish line, we finally pull ourselves together and set off towards the day’s set point. How could it be any different – the route takes us on to another trail down towards the valley. Since New Zealanders apparently can’t finish a day on the bike without crossing a river to make it count, the race organizers would have been hard pressed to find a more suitable route back. Riverbed massacre 2.0 – never before have I ever crossed a river on my bike so many times in such short intervals. And since the trail is so flowy and fast, each crossing is done at top speed. Obviously, the organizers wanted to make sure that no rider was going to reach base camp with dry feet on a hot and dusty day like this one. Whether you like water or not, the trail itself yielded ear-splitting grins from every participant. Flow at its finest – combined with full-force shredding.

There simply couldn’t have been a better end to the day. As we finally reach the meeting point of our day’s stage, our Swiss colleague Hans crowns our experience with the following words: “I really can’t think of a better sport right now!” With inspiring voice, he throws his oh so true statement out in the open where it is confirmed by all those who are present, giving happy and content nods.

With this in mind, we are ready for the last two days!

Words: Maxi Dickerhoff Photos: Maxi Dickerhoff, TransNZ

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.