Golly the weeks are flying by. Here is chapter 11 pt i of Jimmy Carling’s New Zealand adventures.
Rather than try and give you a detailed meteorlogical report on the weather, I’m gonna sum it up in the form of a scene from one of my favourite films, Sexy Beast. It’s the beginning bit where Ray Winstone is sunbathing in his budgie smugglers by the pool. Cue deep-toned cockney accent: “Oh yeh… Bloody ‘ell… I’m sweatin ‘ere… Aaah…….. Roastin’… Boilin… Bakin’… Swelterin’… Its like a sauna… Burnin’ on my stomach… Huuh… Who wouldn’t let this up… It’s ridiculous. Tremendous… Faaan-tastic. Fan-dabba-dosey… tastic.”
Yes it really has been that good, some say too hot. Except for one day last week, and of all the days, it would be a Thursday. And trust that on that Thursday, after a beautiful and hot day, the skies would grey over and throw down lashings of rain right about 5 o clock. Just in time for the next League of Gentlemen! The event had to be re-named for obvious reasons to “Suicide Slip n Slide Snakes in the Grass”, which was an old school duel slalom held on the grass above the Frankton Beach.
Conor Macfarlane, making the trip up just for this event along with all the others from the Invercargill Massive.
Dedication to a two dollar un-race!
At first it looked like the rain had got the better of everyone; no one turned up at 630pm. But slowly the riders gathered and in no time we had a cold but fun two wheeled soiree on our hands. The course was as follows: Start on grass, round a tree, round another tree, wide around the next tree, round the outside of the orange cone, then round the other cone, then through the finishing cones. As you can see, this was a man’s track and no place for the faint of heart.
Webbo. Pinning it on grass LoG stylee.
Having had a ball busting day at work I was favouring the alcohol side of the League of Gentlemen Series. Magners cider was the tipple of the evening and despite being a big and bulky bottle I managed to hold on to it just fine whilst practising the track. Alcoholic? ME? Never! Riders names were drawn at random and placed into heats, of which I lost my first one, which I was stoked about as it meant more time on the booze. There were some interesting heats, having both just bought GT Sanctions, and both being ginger, Si Smith and Tim Ceci had a battle of epic proportions and it was Si who eventually got one over on the boss. Gradually, crash after crash, victory after victory, the riders were slowly whittled down to just a few. It was getting pretty rowdy in the losers circle too. The combination of beer, rain, wind and cold meant heckling conditions were at the absolute optimum. Stack of the day has to go one a-piece to the Weir brothers. Mat for getting Mallet finger within the first few minutes of practise, and Pete for his front-wheel-washout to “oh-shit-it’s-suddenly-gripped” to high-side-almost-face-plant-into-tree. How you didn’t break your neck is a mystery! If you braved the elements, spectator or participant, then pat yourself on the back and open a cold one. To say the most was made of a truly shite evening (weather wise) is an understatement! Just mind the litter next time, thanks to those who stayed behind to clear up the few empties.
So for those who have been paying attention to all the juicy NZ news that’s been pouring out this summer, you’ll have heard a lot of talk and hooha about a wee bike shop called Vertigo Bikes. Now I figure everyone understands that they play a pretty significant role in the local biking community, whether your needs be a cable ferrel or a heli bike trip to remember, so I figure it’s about time you met the man behind it all, Mr Tim Ceci.
Tim has very deep roots in biking, a quick flick through the old skool photos dotted around the shop is testament to that. Whether it be razzing a little 2 stroke MXer as a nipper, rocking the lycra and pads through the fashion-faux-pas years or going head to head against the likes of Titley or Cheesey Pete in the old SAMS races in the UK (Do your homework kids if you don’t know who they are). So how did he end up as Grande Fromage of a bike shop in Queenstown, NZ? Best ask him I suppose.
Years living in NZ:
Brief history in the sport?
I started out mainly doing motocross as a kid, which sparked a huge interest in mountain bikes. Entered my first race in 97 which was a SAMS DH (Southern Area Mountainbike Series). Carried on doing the SAMS for a while, mainly against the likes of Cheesy Pete and Titley! Ended up getting sponsored by a local bike shop who sorted be out with a GT STS and shortly after I won an MBUK downhill race on the south downs. Funnily enough after all these years I’m back riding a GT again! I’m loving my new Sanction. Pang has started a trend…
Any claims to fame?
Not sure if it’s a claim to fame so much as a funny story… But once at a SAMS race Cheesey Pete was bike surfing, y’know, one foot on the saddle and other on the bars. He must’ve made it look easy but I remember having a go and just binning it so hard. My bars went into my groin and had I not been in so much pain I may have had the opportunity to be embarassed!
What made you leave the UK?
After I finished university I went travelling in 98. Simply put I made it to NZ and fell in love with the place. I popped back to the UK briefly but what kept me coming back was Skippers Canyon. When I used to race SAMS the tracks were very short, and the first time I raced Skippers I won it in 7 mins 15 seconds. It was just epic, nothing compared. I returned to NZ on a work visa and set up the shop in 2000. It’s moved around a bit, we’ve had about 5 different locations. But we’re very happy where we are now.
You must have seen some big changes since being in QT?
Where to start?! Inititally when we set up it was just two of us guiding sporadically, but over time it just grew. I’ve had the likes of Justin Hauvakinien guide for me, as well as Paul Angus who used to race world cups and who still guides for me now. Having riders like these work for you is a privilege but also gets word out about the place. Over the years there has been a gradual increase in riders in the town and now it’s at the stage where Queenstown is really getting the recognition it deserves. Vertigo has gone from two mates doing occasional trips to a fully functioning guiding company and bike shop. Speaking of guiding, if anyone fancies a radical change of lifestyle, can hold a conversation as well as ride a bike, get in touch. As long as you’re not an idiot and feel you can bring something good to the table we always welcome new guides. It’s hard to find long term employees in towns like this and we try to keep it like a big biking family.
Describe your role in the MTB community now:
I pretty much run Vertigo Bikes flat out, however, with the closure of Coronet Peak, and the arrival of Zip Trek Eco-Tours from Whistler operating above our skyline downhill tracks, we felt an upgrade of the old Vertigo track was needed. This is both from a community and a business point of view. The MTB locals have gained an amazing new trail and Vertigo Bikes has a valuable resource to guide on. Personally and professionally, my aim is to promote a passion for MTBIng to a wider community. It gives me the best buzz to show a novice rider some of our more adventurous trails and see them at the end of the trip begging for more.
Where would you like to see MTBing headed in Queenstown?
That is an obvious one for me to answer as the question I get asked most frequently in the shop is ‘how much is a day pass to ride the gondola?”. So for QT it would be back to the future as in the early nineties MTB bikes were allowed on the gondola – but there were no MTB trails.
This caused conflict and the eventual exclusion of MTB’s. So I would like to see the expansion of future trails on Skyline Hill both by Vertigo and MTB club and public access to a zoned Bike Park. This would benefit both the MTB community and the community as a whole with the tourism it would bring.
Best part about your job?
The satisfaction of building Vertigo into a highly succesful business from a one man band and hobnobbing to having visiting pro’s that we get to take riding and filming on our tracks. Generally hanging out with a bunch of good dudes who ride and enjoy the outdoors. The Vertigo end of season road trip has become an institution that we all look forward to. The last few years on opening day of summer, Pang has said ‘only 182.5 days until the road trip!’
Wannabe Sam Hills telling us how amazing they are. NB let your riding do the talking!
Anyone you’d like to thank?
All my staff that do an amazing job in Vertigo Shop.