Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The cost of entry is a process that only rewards you once you start the trail. The first pedal turn, taking you into remoteness, is filled with mixed emotions; you rarely know what the outcome of the day’s proceedings will be. The adventures of the day will unfold in front of you, and it’s up to you how you handle them and, more to the point, handle yourself when things go pear-shaped. The learnings from a day out in the field, exploring the backcountry, can be applied to most other aspects of your life. With limits being stretched, it’s important to really know your crew before heading into the back of beyond. I believe your choice of people is one of the most important components of any backcountry adventure.
For this adventure, our crew comprised Ellie Chew, photographer Robbie Dalziel, and myself, Liam Friary, to document the days’ affairs. Ellie’s riding background is complete with racing BMX at the highest level, doing forward flips in Nitro Circus, sending it at Farm Jam and shredding trails on her mountain bike. There’s no doubt she’s passionate about bikes, and whenever she’s on, her smile is infectious. For this adventure, she jumped aboard the new Specialized Stumpjumper. With its newly refined carbon frame, lower weight and improved pedaling performance, the Stumpjumper is more versatile than ever before. For this trail, which has quite a lot of elevation, it was a terrific technical climber—the shortened travel and new carbon flex-stay suspension has pumped in a healthy amount of enthusiasm, giving it a load of pop and agility for darting through snaky singletrack. All of this made the bike uber playful on this particular trail; Ellie was popping off every natural feature the trail could offer. The all-day pedal-ability mixed with the flow of the Stumpjumper was welcome for this adventure ride into New Zealand’s backcountry.
Learn more about the Specialized Stumpjumper
Read part 1: Backcountry Prep