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March 2016

Taking the title home

Southland Secondary Schools Champs

On the 16th of March I went down to Winton for the Southland Secondary Schools Champs. I was super happy with the result, coming home with a win in the U16 age group against boys a year older than me. My bike was awesome again and I put aero bars on for a super aero position. I swam really well, a big improvement from South Island champs and came out of the water 5th.

Reuben Thompson Outside Sports Athlete NZ

I biked pretty well with the fastest split again keeping my bike split winning streak alive for the whole season. I came off the bike second and had a lot of time to make on 1st. I caught him in the last 300m and put on an attack to keep away from a sprint.

"I finally nailed a race and I couldn't be more stoked with my training in the lead up to nationals".

I have my school tri next, which will be good fun with a mountain bike instead of road. Really pleased on the way my swims been tracking in the last few weeks, hopefully all goes well again next week!

Reuben Thompson Outside Sports Athlete NZ

By Reuben


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Butcher & Slaughter Grid tyres.


I’ve been running a Butcher grid front and Slaughter or Butcher rear (Slaughter for most things, Butcher when things are really wet, or really deep dust) for the last two seasons on my Specialized Enduro 29.

"They offer the perfect balance of weight, sidewall support and puncture protection for the type of riding I do".

I have used these tyres for everything from racing and DH runs in the bike park to back country missions and they have yet to let me down. I did flat one once, but I had let the sealant dry up and they tyre sealed up once I put some fresh stuff in there.

Tom Lamb Outside Sports Bike Ambassador NZ

Photo Credit: James Clark

At around 1kg per tyre (for the 29” size) they aren’t the lightest out there, but I am willing to sacrifice a bit of weight for the stability the stiffer sidewall offers along with the confidence to push them hard when things get chunky.

The only downsides I have come across are that when the mud gets really thick both of these tyres fall down a little, the butcher doesn’t shed the mud well enough and the Slaughter doesn’t have the tread to deal with it, however I have some Hillbilly Grid tyres coming for the winter so hopefully the carcases will be just as tough but they will deal with the thick mud a little better.

Tom Lamb Outside Sports Bike Ambassador NZ

The only other point about Specialized Grid tyres is that there are two levels of Grid casing with Butchers, Slaughters and Hillbillys sporting the heavy duty Grid casing and Purgatorys, Ground Controls and Fast Traks coming in a lighter weight version. Better for the weight consious who still need some protection but not quite as resilient as my favorites.

By Tom Lamb


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A love/fear relationship with biking.

Specialized Healthy catch-ups at Cardrona

One bright Sunday morning, 60 or so women from around Queenstown and Wanaka gathered in Cardrona’s clock tower square armed with mountain bikes. These women were of all ages and abilities; on bikes old and new, Cross-country, enduro and downhill alike. Some came with friends, others began the day as strangers, but the one thing we all had in common was a love of biking.

Or, in my case, a love/fear relationship with biking.

Specialized Healthy Catch Ups Outside Sports NZ

Upon arrival, we were offered a pre-ride check with one of Outside Sports’ top notch bike mechanics, Bryn.

It’s always reassuring to know that your brakes will stop you, and your wheels aren’t about to fall off before you set out!

There was also an array of shiny new Specialized bikes on hand as demos for those in the market for a new bike, or just interested to see how a newer model compared with their own. Then our generous hosts, Cardrona, handed out complimentary lift passes to one and all. Legends!

Under the cloudless, Otago blue sky we were given the outline of the day and the option to join one of three groups, under the instruction of a collaboration of Cardrona bike instructors and Outside Sports guides: Group 1- aimed more towards beginners, were to focus on body position; Group 2- intermediate, on cornering; Group 3- advanced, on line selection and being generally extra rad.

I knew for sure my issue was with cornering, so I joined Group 2 led by Andrea, Ali and Tony (one of a couple of token male guides) and we started off down the meandering green-rated trail “morning glory” to the Whitestar express.

Specialized Healthy Catch Ups Outside Sports NZ

I have skied Cardrona many times in winter, but this was my first experience riding it on a bike and I was impressed with the transition from a wide, straight ski slope to a flowing course of bermed corners and undulating straights, peppered with small rock features. This was also my first time riding a chairlift with a bike, and my visions of hugging it tightly across my lap for fear of dropping it on someone’s head were quickly assuaged with the realization that there are lovely lift operators on hand to hook the bikes onto the chair in front; all I had to do was sit down, enjoy the view, and have a nice chat with my new chairlift buddies. Top tip: it can get a bit chilly on the lifts so take an extra layer!

Specialized Healthy Catch Ups Outside Sports NZ

At the top, more lifties handed us back our bikes and we got down to business. Our coaches, who unbeknownst to us had carefully eyed our warm-up run, explained (with a rather comical reenactment) how we were currently steering the bike in a very awkward fashion. Instead, they expertly demonstrated how to move the bike under you, turn with your body, and look ahead round corners. After a short trial on the flat we moved on to an easy blue run “afternoon delight“- the perfect practice run as it gently snakes its way round corner after corner all the way back down to the base building. During this run, we were each afforded the opportunity to ride in front of one of the coaches for a section and receive individual feedback on our progress.

As we headed down to the bottom of the chairlift for the second time, I was far from alone in noticing an instant improvement in how cornering felt.

Empowered, we decided to take our new skills on to the harder blue runs.

Specialized Healthy Catch Ups Outside Sports NZ

“Grasshopper” cuts a narrower trail through the tussocks. With its ruts, rocks, and rugged steeper sections I felt as though I was challenged to the highest point of my abilities. Where before I might have hopped off and walked a stretch I didn’t like the look of, there is something about the company of like-minded women of a similar ability that encouraged me to keep hanging on to my bike for dear life, brakes screaming, scraping my bottom on my back tyre, and I rode that whole trail like a boss. Well, except for a tiny moment where Ali yelled “keep left” at me, which my brain interpreted as,

“Stop! You’re going to die!”

With ear-to-ear smiles and adrenaline coursing through our veins, we decided to stop for lunch. In accordance with the “healthy” part of Healthy Catch Ups, Cardrona had put on a special dish of falafels on a bed of a variety of salads with a juice. While I don’t normally order vegetarian meals on purpose, it was absolutely delicious and fueled us for the afternoon of riding ahead.

Specialized Healthy Catch Ups Outside Sports NZ

The afternoon session was a more informal affair, with the option to carry on with the instructors or go off with some friends. I chose to stick with my group, and as we looked back down on Grasshopper from the chairlift we wondered where the tricky rocks and ruts were now that had so troubled us before. The steeps looked like nothing from a birds eye view. We were much braver going in to it this time, and cheered on as others who had walked parts the first time now rode the whole thing. Andrea showed us around a nice selection of challenging blue runs that afternoon, stopping occasionally to tell us what the next stretch held in store for us, or sometimes not telling us and just enjoying watching us ride over things we never expected we would manage.

Many went on to finish the day with the 7km ride down the grassy mountainside all the way to the Cardrona Hotel in the valley below, but after a fantastic day of riding I was happy to enjoy a leisurely drive down the winding gravel road.

I went up the mountain that day with the aim of having a fun bike ride. I came down encouraged, emboldened, and equipped with new skills which I can’t wait to try out on those tricky sections where I’ve got off and walked before on my usual rides, and with some new friends to ride them with too.

Specialized Healthy Catch Ups Outside Sports NZ

Specialized Healthy Catch ups take place on the last Sunday of each month at different locations. Follow the facebook page: www.facebook.com/HealthyCatchUps, and head into Outside Sports for more info.

See you at the next one!

By Christy Brennan

#HealthyCatchUps #WhereAdventuresBegin

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Young Athlete Reuben takes on the Triathlon Champs

Triathlon Champs

Outside Sports sees a big future ahead for local Queenstowner, Reuben Thompson. We are hugely impressed by his riding ability at such a young age and look forward to supporting and following him on his journey.

Here's what he had to say about his recent competition, the South Island Secondary Schools Triathlon:

On Sunday 6th of March I competed in the South Island Secondary Schools Triathlon Champs. I was racing with the older boys in the U16 age group after racing in U14 last year. I came out of the water dead last.... Probably my worst swim ever! I hadn't realized that yet however and jumped on my bike feeling pretty good.

It was my first race on my new Specialized Tarmac and it flew!!

Ruben Thompson Athlete Outside Sports NZ

I passed all the stragglers and caught to the third bunch at the start of the second lap. I did some work for them for half a lap before making my move for the second group. I didn't quite catch them but had made up some serious time.

I had the fastest bike split of the day but still had some work as I was still back in 8th. I ran pretty good and got back to 5th before the finish. I'm pretty happy with the result, I did better than I thought I would for the age group and the competition there.

Ruben Thompson Athlete Outside Sports NZ

My new Tarmac was absolutely flawless.

The feel was amazing and the stiffness was something completely different to my previous bikes. I am racing again next week at the Southland Secondary Schools Triathlon Champs in the U16's. I would definitely like to win and its doable with a good bike and run but my swimming isn't up to scratch with the other guys yet....

Huge thanks to Bryn, Jacques and Outside Sports for all the new gear and my Specialized BG fit. 

By Reuben

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