I was recently invited by a back country shredder of mine Rhys Palmer and a bunch of his mates on a trip to the Craigieburn region and Mt Oxford and it was an offer I could not refuse.

The reputation of this area ranges from the Mt Oxford technical alpine tussock single track through to tight and steep beech forest and the fast and flowy

This was my inaugural trip on my newly decked out Santa Cruz Nomad with Shimano XTR DI2. This certainly was going to be the testing ground for this equipment. It performed flawlessly. We based ourselves at the Cave Stream Campground - fantastic spot camping by an alpine stream, trails start and finish from the camp ground, you can’t get better than that.

First up was Mt. Oxford for the uber tech beech alpine with a roots fest, 3 hour hike-a-bike and 2 hour decent. As you can see fantastic views up and down the Canterbury Hill Country. More information can be found on this trail on Trail Forks. We finished off the afternoon with a shuttle on ‘Dickson’s trail’, wide open, fast and flowy mix of tussock and scrub country, as soon as you finish you want to go back up to the top again. The day finished up with beers and steak next to the Cave Stream.

First initial impression of the Nomad with the Shimano equipment was that the XTR DI2 was super crisp and accurate. Being able to quickly change gear with the grade change means you can continue the flow of the trail without having to wait for the gears to catch up. The wheels I am running are XT and they roll extremely well, they are super stiff and add purpose to the ride. 

To finish up on the Sunday we rode the classic alpine trail the ‘Edge Track’ which I hadn’t ridden for 20 or so years. It was fantastic to be reacquainted with this trail on a ‘modern’ trail bike! This trail led into ‘Luge’ which is one of my top ten trails in NZ. For a trail that started out as a walking track it has incredible flow through the beech forest. More about these trails here: 

We finished up the trail with a rowdy DH trail off Cheeseman ski field called ‘Cockayne Alley/Cheeseman DH.’ It starts off in open tussock then to a super steep beech forest loam fest.  A couple of runs of this will get you forearms pumped. 

Can’t speak highly enough of this area as a destination for a great weekend away and a fantastic first ride on all the Shimano equipment.