Ever thought about quitting your job, selling your home and moving to Queenstown? Guilty! i think we all have, well Simon did just that.. here's his story
There comes a time in life where you can go with the grain or carve out your own path - Simon has done exactly that - from swinging spanners as an Automotive Technician in Sale, Victoria. Simon realised his time was now to act on his dream of Living in a MTB town and trading careers for satisfaction, He has landed a job with the team at Bikeaholic, Queenstown - Although the Covid had a different idea for the end of the summer 19/20 season it looks like things are swinging around and should be back to the new normal soon enough, Simon has filled us in on where he's at and what it's like to trade in your 9-5 and mortgages to doing what he wants - you have to respect that. Words by Sam Shillo (editor)
SN - I’ll start with some back story, I’ve wanted to come and live in a mountain biking destination for quite some time now BUT life and commitments have got in the way.
I first thought it’d be a good thing to do way back in 2012 and finally made it happen in 2019. I had visited Queenstown a total of 5 times prior to Selling my home, Quitting my job and living here with somewhere around 4 to 5 weeks in total being spent in the South Island adventure capital.
SN - After having a decent crash and lengthy recovery in 2017 I decided I would work towards living the mountain bike destination life for a bit. Lack of funds and a partially renovated house stood between me and the goal. I’m starting to get on a bit in terms of being a bike bum and living the endless summer - with the age limit for a Canadian visa nearing I applied for and gained an IEC visa for Canada, it was game on!!
The renovations were underway at home, Taking way longer and costing a lot more than I had hoped for or expected but was getting there step by step (I wouldn’t recommend doing all wet rooms at once) with my date for the Canadian visa to be activated getting closer rapidly I had to take a quick trip to Canada as a bit of recon and check out one of my future homes. It was a Quick trip (i had to enter through Canadian borders to activate my Visa) I spent 8 days in a motor home during the end of winter, it was somewhat character building. That’s now activated and one less timeline to deal with. I flew home to AUS to focus on the finishing off the renos on my place. Due to poor planning on my behalf I didn’t make it to Canada for the 2019 summer which bummed me out but that’s life. Fast forward a few months, I quit my job as a mechanic with no locked in plans, not a lot of money behind me - i focused on the finishing touches on my house and getting things ready for it to go on the market.
SN - At this stage I had a light bulb moment and figured a Queenstown summer would be an ideal solution for me if the house could sell. Keeping an eye out for potential summer jobs I saw Bikeaholic were looking for a staff member. With a the worst that can happen is a no attitude I put my interest forward and managed to snag the position. Within the space of a week I was packed up, house empty, offer accepted on the house and contracts signed and I'm on my way to Queenstown.
SN - Just like that my life had taken a big change in direction. I started work and getting settled in, meeting new people, riding new trails, getting fresh bikes and generally living the dream. The Bike Park opened up (Skyline, Queenstown) in mid September i was getting up there every spare moment I could, trying out as many marked and un marked trails as I could find. Some days were spent just riding trails in the park and others a mixture of park laps and heading up above the park to the more alpine single trails.
SN - The days get longer and the bike park hours get longer too!
with the longest days of operation 9am to 8pm (how good!) As you can imagine summer gets busy!! Heaps of tourism and heaps of riders coming to town to ride and/or train for the upcoming racing seasons. I spent a lot of my spare time on the bike and not behind the camera for a good few months, way too much stoke to be on the bike with friends than behind the lens.
photo cred: Campbell Telfer @tampbell_celfer
photo cred: James Malone @whoa_malone
SN - I managed to have a little dirt nap after getting caught in a cross wind on rude rock, the day before flying back to AUS for Cannonball festival (DEC. 2019) A concussion, hematoma and some possible bone bruising later a quick hospital visit and I was ready for a very different cannonball trip than what was planned.
SN - With the McGazza fest and Farm jam events getting closer dream track was getting plenty of use and running well due to maintenance organised by Emmerson Wilken. With many international riders coming over to compete, we were getting spoiled for world class experiences - it was a great time to whip out the camera and get some shots.
SN - By now I had been getting the camera out quite frequently as the images through this article will show. Trying to capture some of the areas iconic trails and views but not redo someone else’s shots. Although later in the season having my bikes dialed in, I was finding myself throwing a leg over the bike before picking up the camera. I set myself up for a big day in the park on the downhill bike - I managed to get 22 laps and 84km before the gondola was closed for the day - I was spent, The next day my body was toast.
SN - As many know there is an abundance of trails and places to ride in the Queenstown area, from 7 mile to gorge road, rude rock to the skyline bike park and dream track to Fernhill. All of these have different elements and difficulty levels. The sculptured art that is gorge road jump park is something that has to be seen, the iconic views of rude rock or the sheer volume of trails in the bike park. There really is something for everyone here in Queenstown and it makes you realise why it is one of the most frequented ride destinations in the southern hemisphere.
SN - Working at Bikeaholic has been quite the change of scenery, coming from a career as an Automotive Technician it’s was a huge step out of my comfort zone and one i needed to push myself to do. When I first meet someone I’m usually quite reserved and shy, not the most ideal trait for being front of house in a retail position. I took this new role in my stride and try to spread the stoke I have for bikes with anyone that comes in store.
*If your heading to Queenstown for a ride trip once things re-open, be sure to drop into the store or send Bikeaholic a msg online. Bikeaholic has a large range of demo and hire bikes, Simon and the team will fit you up and you can get on the hill without any worries - be sure to book ahead in peak bike season (summer) as things do get pretty hectic.
SN - A day in the shop consists of a few things, chatting bikes (mainly) In store, over the phone or via email to work out customers bike needs, sorting out customers for their rentals on our fleet by setting it up to suit them to get the best ride they can, ordering and displaying stock and helping in the workshop when required. Many days are started and/or ended with a ride, be it park laps on the downhill bike or a trail ride on the all mountain bike. All in all it’s quite possibly been one of the best things I’ve done but it does have its pros and cons.
What might they be you ask?
1. Riding bikes way more than ever before.
2. Exploring some of the best trails that there is and amazing places to discover on and off the bike.
3. Meeting many different people from different countries and backgrounds.
4. A great way of life with a Good work / life balance.
How possibly can there be cons?
1. Riding bikes way more than ever before.
2. It will ruin Australian trails for you. With maybe a few exceptions.
3. It’s an expensive place to live and finding accommodation can be difficult.
4. Wages aren’t high.
5. Tourism is king here and it gets BUSY.
SN - As we all know the covid 19 worldwide shut down has caused a heap of waves and so life is on hold. Below are the views whilst in the New Zealand lockdown. No more park laps this summer but plenty of time to reflect and keep safe (at time of publish - Simon is back cutting laps of Skyline) There's talk of a bubble with NZ / AUS travel re-opening for the ski season, so here's to hoping that happens!
You can Find simon noble when hes not riding: If I’m not riding i'll be out taking photos, working, sleeping or Exploring!! Queenstown is Sik!!
Side note* All photos are shot by Simon unless otherwise credited - you can follow Simons photography page @simonnoblephotography or follow his story @simeeze