When Blair suggested that I duck over to New Zealand for the 2006 Avanti and Specialized dealers conference I didn't need to be asked twice. Not only would it be a great chance to check out the latest release bikes but also I would be able to catch all the action of the 2006 World MTB Championships in Rotorua. It is a tough job but somebody has to do it...
We were picked up by bus from Auckland airport and as our bus driver knew we were keen to get to the conference he pointed the bus towards Rotorua and stepped on the gas. Unfortunately a local police officer was not so impressed and booked our enthusiastic driver for speeding. Still we all appreciated his efforts!
Steam rising from Rotorua's famous (and smelly) hot springs.
Once in Rotorua it was into the hardwork of checking out the latest gear from Avanti and Specialized. A couple of the guys from Specialized USA had made the trip over to NZ to share their knowledge. It is amazing how much thought and design Specialized puts into their products and my head was left spinning from all the tech info they have to backup their product.
One product that really impressed me was the latest generation of the Specialized Epic Mountain Bike. Anyone who has ridden an Epic in the past knows that there is no other dual suspension bike that performs as well. Despite this Specialized have found ways to improve this bike with a next generation Brain shock. I'll save the technical spiel except to say that by tweaking the internals of the brain Specialized have created a shock the switches automacially between locked and active moods quicker than ever before meaning you won't loose any power in that sprint for the line. If you think that means a heavy bike then think again, Switzerland's Christoph Sauser (who took Silver in the Elite XC) was riding a 9kg Specialized Epic in Rotorua, I know people with heavier road bikes.
Sauser's 9kg Epic in the trainer.
Of course no trip to New Zealand would be complete without a hike across a random sheep paddock. On the Friday afternoon I had decided to check out the action in the 4cross finals. Unfortunately I missunderstood my friend Stu's directions to the course and had to backtrack for about a kilometre across sheep paddocks to reach the course. This would have been fine except that when I finally reached to track I had to jump one last fence... as luck would have it I misjudged my leap and rather then sailing over with grace and style I crashed to the ground right in front of the thousands assembled to watch the race. Still after dusting of my pride and bleeding shin I enjoyed a great afternoon watching the world's best riders mix it up on a very gnarly 4cross track.
Yes I'm clumsy.
The 4cross start gate.
Specialized had also flown a fleet of the brand new S-Works Roubaix road bikes over to New Zealand for us to try. These bikes are simply amazing with more vertical compliance then any other road bike on the market. Basically this means a more comfortable ride then ever before without sacrificing stiffness, acceleration or weight. They are able to achieve this great ride using their Az1 carbon manufacture techniques that eliminates alot of excess Carbon that adds weight to the standard lugged and moncoque carbon frames on the marlet. Of course being Specialized bikes they look darn good to.
The new S-Works Roubaix.
The whole weekend was a really great experience, they only thing I regret is not getting to smaple the local Redwoods mountain bike trails. Maybe Blair will give me some time off later in the year to go back...
A few more photos...
New Roval wheels
Specialized Pro Liam Kileen with Tim.
Aussie Trials champion Joe Brewer.