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Embracing the Backyard

with RAE MORRISON, Liv Racing Collective

The start of 2019 seems so long ago now, the world seemed normal.

My off-season had gone extremely well, I had a new coach and training was going great with a new focus on increasing my power. I was also fresh out of Crankworx Rotorua with a win so confidence and excitement was high heading into the season. All the flights, rental van and accomodations had been booked for the year with our first stop being Manizales, Columbia.

COVID-19 started as a distant rumor, but we quickly realized the virus had gained in seriousness and was spreading at a rapid rate around the world.

One week before we were meant to fly out, we got the email saying that the first Enduro World Series Races in South America had been cancelled. I went into a mad frenzy cancelling lodging, rentals and flights with my travel agent. In the meantime, the virus had spread to New Zealand and the country went into full lockdown for four weeks. Our lock down was reasonably strict, everyone had to stay at home except to get essentials like groceries or doctor visits. We were allowed outside in our neighbourhood to get fresh air and exercise, but no “dangerous/ high risk” activities such as mountain biking, hiking, boating, surfing, fishing etc.

Sven Martin Photos.

Making Do

Because I couldn’t go mountain biking, I had the opportunity to get a bit more creative with training and tried new things I never had the time for previously. Our gym, Tasman Performance, was super generous and let a few athletes borrow some equipment the night before lockdown started so we set up a bit of a home gym with some weights so I could still workout each day and follow a set program.

I also got out on the road bike and managed a lot of riding around the neighbourhood close to home, doing plenty of hill repeats up the hill we lived on. I even went on a few runs with my flatmates. The next day (and even days later) I could barely walk.

Finally, a huge bonus for me was I was able to do heaps of skill work on the bike. I set up cones on my driveway and analyzed my body movements with the basics such as corning and bunnyhops. I made such a huge improvement that I started making some videos for Liv, breaking down the skill in a step-by-step process. The videos were super fun to make and it was really rewarding to have such positive feedback from others following the tutorials. I was helping myself get better and the fact I got to help a few others in the process was awesome.

A Growing MTB Scene

The Nelson mountain bike scene was shut down for a month, so when the lock down restrictions started lifting and the trails opened up, the scene absolutely boomed. The stoke on every face I saw on the trails was just pure happiness. Everyone was much more appreciative and grateful for the riding we have in our town and I think it really cemented how awesome riding bikes is.

This new growth in biking has also seen a boost in trail digging, several new trails have been granted and built since lock down with a few more still to come. Riders who build trail also went to work during lockdown. I am lucky enough to be able to ride at my friend’s private property they built themselves when everything was shut down. As soon as lockdown ended and the restrictions were lifted, I went to visit, and have since spent a lot of weekends there for epic rides and barbeques. I love the native bush and the various styles of tracks. My favorite is a jump line where the jumps get bigger and longer as the trail goes on, which has been great for my personal progression. They also have raw, natural trails that are “fun awkward.” It’s an amazing place to practice off-camber corners, endo turns and janky roots and has been great for my sill practice. The views are also pretty special.

Watch me ride my friend's private trails HERE>

I know for me personally after not being able to ride and taking a step back really made me appreciate and be so happy with my lifestyle and the fundamental joy of riding a bike. Coming into this season I am a lot more relaxed and just stoked to be able to travel and race my bike.

Henrey Jaine Photos.