Yeti NZ Tribe Gathering 2014: Rotorua, New Zealand

Yeti NZ Tribe Gathering 2014: Rotorua, New Zealand

tribe: noun, any aggregate of people united by ties of descent from a common ancestor, community of customs and traditions, adherence to the same leaders, etc.

Over the last weekend of October I spent my time as a guest of a tribe at an annual gathering… packing up the car and heading out of the city, I was in the process of delivering my tribe (or rather, my children) off to the care of Aunty, I’d soon be joining a new tribe for the weekend… one I knew little about.

The gathering of this tribe took place in Rotorua, New Zealand, which is fast becoming not only a local destination for mountain bike riders, but also an international destination of note. The tribe I would be joining was the owners and riders of Yeti Cycles mountain bikes and the local distributors and some guests.

I arrived in time to set up my tent and grab a beer, by Croucher Brewing Co. a local Rotorua based brewer and highly recommended, and meet the hosts, Kashi and Joel from Black Seal, the New Zealand Yeti distributor and Rotorua local Megan and before too long it was dinner and time to meet the rest of the tribe. I was surprised at how far many of the tribe had travelled to be there, from Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington… all in New Zealand, so I thought Mark from Brisbane, Australia was keen to have come this far to ride… until I met Keith from Singapore! And that really captured the theme of the weekend, people making the time to come together and ride, and talk… and laugh… there is lots of laughter at a Yeti Tribe Gathering.

Post dinner, we got the programme for the weekend, post dinner was a chance to mingle, the next day was going to be a couple of options of trail riding for the day, there would be a hill to climb, another meal and the following day, a morning at the Skyline Rotorua downhill park.

The next day was an early rise, as we had to ingest breakfast and be ready for the shuttle bus to collect us at 7:30 am and collect a special guest along the way, who we’d be picking up at the airport, Rosara Joseph, Yeti Cycles Enduro World Series rider, who just completed her tour across the northern hemisphere and collected a well deserved overall 7th place for 2014.

Our destination was Lake Okataina, the Western Okataina loop trail, and a here Megan revealed more details about the hill… we would be facing a 350M+ climb on a dual use track… this was not the usual Rotorua groomed trail… this was back-country. It’s also time to pause here to properly introduce Megan Dimozantos, an elite mountain bike rider who specialises in endurance events… generally anything under 50km is considered just ‘going for a ride’… It was not a hill… it was just about a fucking mountain!

What goes up though, must come down… and down the trail came, through New Zealand native bush consisting of rimu, totara, rata & kahikatea. Lot’s of native birds and the track was brilliant… rough in places, but a lot of fun. I mis-judged a rut, which spat me off the bike and into some gorse bush. At the time, I was sure it most of the damage was done to my pride and soon enough we had arrived at the beach for lunch.

The lunch break was an opportunity to eat sausages wrapped in bread and tomato sauce and discuss bikes, components, tires and the general things that enthusiasts talk about when in the company of like minded. Also there was a lot of trying out different bikes and discussing their merits, as the selection ranged from 29" to 26”, hard-tail and full suspension, including a brand spanking new Yeti Cycles SB5 Carbon that distributor Kasha was riding, with almost 2 dozen riders, the choice was wide. The consensus was the new Switch Infinity suspension is very smooth… like Barry White smooth and many were tempted to peel out wallets on the spot.

Post lunch the tribe broke into two, some riding back via the Whakarewarewa Forest and others catching a ride back to take some scenic activity in Rotorua.

As riders returned in the afternoon it was time to ponder some more delicious Croucher beer and what makes mountain biking so much fun… seems it’s not just what you ride, but where you ride and who with. There were lots of tales of accidents, near misses, broken parts and dodgy repairs and dodgy mates… it was about sharing and bonding with the tribe… and soon enough it was dinner and then time to break out the post dinner 12” bikes for a variety of challenges.

Our final day, we were allowed the luxury of breakfast starting at 7:30 am… which was enough time to break up and pack the tent before the rain arrived, consume coffee food and pack up the cars and head to Skyline Rotorua, for a half-day of gondola uplift and well planned tracks back down the mountain. Now remember my fall from the day before… seems it was more than my pride damaged… I’d also bruised three ribs, so my riding was curtailed due to pain and reduced ability on the bike.

Reluctantly I parted ways with the Yeti Tribe Gathering and headed back home… it’s a great tribe to belong to and if you get a chance, take it.

Many thanks to: Kasha and Joel from Black Seal (Yeti NZ), Megan (for organising the Rotorua venue, catering and great guiding), Croucher Brewing Co. (for the beer) and the rest of the 2014 Yeti Tribe who gathered.

Source: blurred

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