THE ALLIANCE

So you may remember the video of the TURD SANDWICH trail thats been posted up on all your favourite social networking and the best websites recently. A superbly flowy looking trail in Queenstown, NZ that was handcrafted by a group of motivated renegades who call themselves The Alliance. Well I took time out from Christmas day drinking to sit down at my terminal and have an intercontinental four way interview with some members of The Alliance.

The four members I had the pleasure of chatting with was Tom Hey, Paul Angus (AKA Pangus), and Simon Smith (AKA Ginger Si AKA The Most Eccentric Man in Mountain Biking™ AKA The Fiery Torpeadophile) who all work for Vertigo Bikes in Queenstown. What follows is a candid and very relaxed interview into the how, what, where, and why of The Alliance which was conducted on FaceBook Chat about half way into a bottle of Herradura Antigua. Apologies for the nonsense.

Simon

Ah penis man merry xmas!! What do you wanna know?

Thomas

How was sexmas? Fire away, and ignore everything Ginger Si says

Paul

Monsieur kemp, huckman. Alliance assembled!

Seb

Welcome The Alliance. Thank you for coming on-line long enough to do this shit show. Apologies for slurring. I’m drunk as shit. I’m a day behind, so its Christmas day and there’s fuck else to do but drink or work. First up can you give me a SHORT idea of what the fuck the Alliance is whilst I pour myself another Tequila…

Thomas

Happy Christmas invertopenis. Turd Sandwich created The Alliance really. I was working with Nath (Nathan Greenwood) on the new highway and spotted that sweet zone and went scoping after work. Pang mentioned he wanted to do more building this year so I scoped the whole line down and we set to work. We then had a bit more help in the form of one ginger idiot and some Scots and called ourselves The Alliance as a joke. Two digs to get in, miss two and your out. So if someone missed two then we would heckle them till they came out again. Ginge is currently out as he’s missed three. Ah mate!

Paul

HAHA! Well, the alliance came about by accident really, me and Tom were talking over sushi one night and I had a revelation that I wanted to spend the summer building new trails in QT and ease back on the riding a bit. After a few scoping sessions up Skyline we started the soon to be named “Turd sandwich” trail. We wanted to build something that was more natural and less berms/jumps and concentrate more on flow and technical riding. Over the weeks word spread and momentum gathered and more people were turning up to help, and The Alliance was formed

Simon

The Alliance is group of riders in Queenstown New Zealand looking too expand the trail network in the area. We are a group who dig not for our selves but for the greater good of mountain biking in the area.

Seb

Ginger Si you are so philanthropic considering you are no longer part of The Alliance due to slacking.

Simon

HA I’m the president!! I deal with the big decisions, world domination etc. I’ve been on many a solo missions up the hills. Tom and Pang specialize in the tea making department.

Seb

Apparently you are out of the Alliance for slacking. The miss two digs and you are out rule.

Simon

I’m the president!! I deal with the big decisions, world domination etc. I’ve been on many a solo missions up the hills. Tom and Pang specialize in the tea making department.

Seb

You just repeated the same answer. Are you a retard or an early nineties printer?

Simon

WHATEVER!!!

Seb

So what is each of your roles in the Alliance? Is it a co-op or do is there a hierarchy?

Thomas

As I said Ginge is out of the alliance so don’t listen to that, and his many solo means one.

I am El Presidente with the mountain as my 2nd home. I flag trail with sneeze snot from my amazing hayfever. Ginger just got promoted to tea boy for his solo dig last week..

Paul

haha! Ginge likes to think he is the president, truth be known he has done less days than anyone, he spends more time text messaging than he does digging, and what digging he does do we have to fix! Ah Mate! We do joke of a hierarchy, but it is just a Co-op, but to earn yourself a place in the alliance you have to do two consecutive dig days, and consecutively turn up to earn a t-shirt! Tom is the most committed, mainly due to him having the most free time because of his inability to attract females.

Seb

So what’s the current list of Alliance members?

Thomas

Pang, Matt and Pete Weir, Mike Aubrey and old No Wood (Andrew Norwood) is in the alliance too, with a few others that come now and again

Seb

So when do you dig? days, evenings, weekends, moonlight?

Thomas

Anytime, just whenever. We usually drop riding when a build is on and hike up there take a week off and shred the new goods and links that they bring then (i) search for the next project.

Paul

No set rosta, but once get going there is a group of us digging pretty much every night of the week. Mostly evenings once we finish work

Seb

Hey Ginger stop harrassing chicks that you fooled into been your online friends and concentrate. You are barely in The Alliance I’m told so pull your act together young man and answer the questions.

Simon

whatever!!

Seb

So why did you choose to build trail on Skyline?

Thomas

‘cos it sucks riding up there then shooting down in about 2 seconds. It’s like finally plucking up the courage to sleep with a ginger then it being over before you open your eyes.

Paul

We have been concentrating on digging up skyline because it has a silly amount of potential as you so well know. There are loads of trails up there but there should be so many more. It is easy to get to from town, which is important from a digging point of view, as it doesn’t make it a mission to get to if you only have a few spare hours after work to get some spade work done

Simon

We made Turd Sandwich up on Skyline because the hill has so much potential but just hasn’t had any hard work put into it., plus the new V-line trail is too wide people are forgetting what mountain biking is all about

Seb

And what is mountain biking all about?

Simon

Mountain biking is about riding different variable terrain. Mud, roots rocks!! The fun stuff not just DH BMX tracks.

Seb

So where did name for Turd Sandwich come from?

Simon

Well Tom ‘the tea boy’ was scoping the trail and needed a shit, so nature being nature he had to go so curled one out. His original idea for the trail name was Single Track Sandwich but after his dropping the kids off we decided Turd Sandwich was close enough.

Thomas

Yeah my leaky anus got caught short and I took a shit right where the trail goes through.

Seb

So what was next project after Turd?

Paul

Once we finished Turd we decided we wanted to make a top section and a lower section for link into it and out of it (Upper and Lower Turd), we churned that out pretty quick and now you have a decent descend from the half way point of skyline. Next project was a bit of an illegal trail affair, but something we had been wanting to do for a while. Very different type of riding up there due to the type of soil and terrain, its just a short trail, but something that takes you right to the valley floor rather than finishing high up.

Simon

Yeah Holy trail, which is finished but needs some fine tuneing, it’s steeper but opens up a whole new area in the Queenstown area. Exciting stuff!! We went a bit more gnarly on this one. Dont bring ya mum on that ride if you come to QT.

Seb

So whats next?

Simon

Well there’s talk of a linking around from another trail to the top of Holy trail or making an upper half of Turd sandwich? W will have to consult the rest of The Alliance.

Paul

We need to ride Holy Trail some more and decide what needs fixing up to make it ride the best it can, and once that is done we are going to go back up skyline and try and get involved in the “Forbidden Trail” which someone has started from above the gondola and heads down towards gorge road. Huge potential and will be a big mission, probably take us the rest of the summer, but what a trail we will have by the end! As well as that we want to build a “Top Turd” from above the gondola building too, something that will link to the Lower Turd trail, giving epic singletrack lovliness all the way down!

Thomas

Maybe more around Holy Trail. Have to check that traverse you said about Seb and link end of ToadStool Trail to Holy Trail near power lines. Also want an alternative way up Fernhill loop so it’s not just out and back of singletrack goodness. Blair has started way up from Sunshine Bay.

Seb

Bloody hell, so many options. It’s like a whole new movement of motivation has washed over Queenstown. So I heard there’s t-shirts? Are you selling these?

Thomas

No. You can’t buy into the alliance! Dig in only! 10 digs to earn the right to buy a t-shirt. Maybe a sticker soon for platinum members

Simon

The T’s we don’t sell. You can earn one after a few digs. HAHA. They are becoming quite the fashion in the QT riding community.

Seb

So have you yet to earn your t-shirt then Ginge?

Simon

ha ha el presidenta don’t forget.

Seb

Not if you don’t dig penis breath. Even I can tell from half a world away that you are useless.

Simon

WHATEVER!!

Seb

so what do the authorities think of this movement to finally do something that isnt paid for by charitable donations/ tax payer money/ or the digger driver pension fund?

Thomas

They seem stoked, Nathan (Greenwood) even lent us tools…until I broke them. The alliance will take over the valley but we don’t want to take over from the club. They are why Queenstown is so good. The alliance has made me appreciate what they do because i’m sure they started just like we are now and are now the real deal with funding etc. just need more singletrack!

Paul

As far as I know they are pretty stoked that some other people are building trails in QT, everyone knows the potential of this place and it is nice to see all the different styles of trails popping up. Our goal is to build a singletrack trail for every digger built trail to keep the balance! HA!

Seb

So you guys are keen on the use of hand tools only. What happens if some rich bugger like the owner of the LoG series donates thousands of dollars for trail building? Would you buy digger time? Would this make your lazy attempts at trail building easier Ginge?

Simon

It’s true we do only use hand tools, but you never know. All those who are in the Alliance love flowy singletrack!! Who doesn’t? So thats what we want to build more of.

Thomas

Not for Double XC, maybe for a sweet tech trails (dirt jumps) set.

Paul

Never! Call me old fashioned, but I was brought up on hand built, technical singletrack trails like those found in the Scottish borders in Innerleithen and Glentress back in the day. A digger can’t beat the finesse of a man with a pick and a spade. It will never be able to leave that tree stump or rock in the trail that you know would be good to pop off, or smash off to help you make that corner better to pump into the next section….

Seb

If people are interested in joining The Alliance how would they go about it? How would they contact you fellas?

Simon

All they need to do to join is to just come along and dig!! there’s no special invite its just a group of riders who are passionate bout making some fun trails. Just pop into Vertigo Bike Shop in Queenstown and ask about it.

Paul

Yeah just come and see one of us boys in Vertigo Bikes is probably the easiest thing, and arrange with us to do a few days digging when they can, and like I said we need 2 consecutive days to become part of “The Alliance”

Seb

What’s the future for Queenstown riding in terms of trails in the Alliances eyes?

Paul

Thats an easy one to answer and not such an easy one to do, but hopefully, as we have all talked about for years we would like to see more big long epic singletrack XC loops connecting all the main riding areas together! It will happen!

Thomas

We want to link existing trails and make it worth riding up the vertical climbs around here, maybe eventually building some nice new fun climbable climbs.

Seb

The Alliance seem like a handful of renegade builders content to build the underground. what about taking it above ground?

Paul

Nah, just happy to keep it renegade at the moment, so we can build trails we like to ride and on our time scale, we can control it at the moment, but who knows how it will go!

Seb

Ginger the boys say you are a homo, hanger on, slacker, whats your reaction to this?

Simon

They are bellends!! Going to have a board meeting tomorrow and some asses are getting fired!!

Seb

Whatever, your ass be making the tea.

Simon

Ah mate!! They will need a digger if I’m out, I’m the muscle of the group.

Seb

Thank you Pang, Tom, the other members of The Alliance and even Ginger Si.

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2 thoughts on “THE ALLIANCE

  1. Pingback: THE ALLIANCE | Spoke Magazine

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