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Meet the Cardrona Bike School Instructors

August 29, 2019
Jen Houltham
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Jen Houltham

Our Cardrona Bike School instructors are a motley crew with tips, skills & laughs to share!

We asked the team behind our epic Cardrona Bike School lessons about how they got into mountain biking & what their top tips for summer at Cardrona are.


Hometown: Taupo, but been in Wanaka since 1988
MTB Qualifications: Level 2 PMBIA
How you got into mountain biking: It was a natural progression from BMX racing & riding moto to mountain biking for me.
What you enjoy about teaching: Seeing people progress & discover more trails & terrain.
Your top tip for visitors to Cardrona this summer: Explore more & give mountain carting a try!


Hometown: Orono, Ontario, Canada (Toronto without the t's)
MTB Qualifications: Level 2 PMBIA
How you got into mountain biking: I was an incredibly stubborn kid, pretty vocal about it too. So when it came to outdoor sports (like riding a bike & skiing), I never let anyone teach me. That's how I ended up having to teach myself how to ride a bike at the ripe old age of 12. After that, I started to ride more & more until I finally ended up on the west coast of Canada after university. I started teaching at Sun Peaks & ever since then, I knew I wanted to do this full time.
What you enjoy about teaching: Seeing the huge grins on people's faces & creating a day they won't forget. When someone gets to the bottom of a trail & they're beaming with excitement, it reminds me why I do this day in & day out.
Your top tip for visitors to Cardrona this summer: If you leave without eating a cheese scone at The Lounge, you didn't get the full experience.


Hometown: Isle of Man, UK
MTB Qualifications: Level 1 PMBIA
How you got into mountain biking:
I've been mountain biking since I was 12 – there wasn't a great deal else to do on the island!
What you enjoy about teaching: I love to see people's excitement when they improve or learn something new, & biking becomes even more fun for them – it's pretty cool!
Your top tip for visitors to Cardrona this summer: Pre-book your rental bikes & lessons in advance, & don't forget your sunscreen!


Hometown: Aviemore, Scotland
MTB Qualifications: Level 1 PMBIA, TCL, SMBLA Expedition Leader
How you got into mountain biking:
I started mountain biking more seriously about 4 years ago after a knee injury that left me unable to do any other outdoor activities like skiing, kayaking or climbing for quite a long time. My surgeon said that easy XC trails would be great for my rehabilitation, get me outside again, & be a great low impact activity for my recovering knee. Little did he know, after a few weeks I got bored of riding XC on my hardtail & bought a full suspension trail bike & some knee pads to start hitting the grade 4 trails in & around Rotorua.
What you enjoy about teaching: Getting to share my passion for riding with others – getting new riders excited about the sport & giving them a good skill base to start from.
Your top tip for visitors to Cardrona this summer: I would recommend that everyone who rides Cardrona should ride the Peak2Pub trail, because every good bike ride should end with a good beer.


Hometown: Queenstown
MTB Qualifications: Level 2 PMBIA
How you got into mountain biking:
Back in the mid-eighties I lost my car license & needed to get to work. I bought a mountain bike, a friend took me off-road & I had a hallelujah moment. I've let it guide & direct me ever since.
That has led to too many adventures to list, but things like 30 years of racing, film stunt work, bikes & associated product development, winning national races & national titles, coaching, trail design & build (including the first Cardrona trails), youth development programmes, represent NZ at a couple of world champs, retail, event management, event commentary etc... all these things paint a picture of an overly passionate, fairly experienced bike bum.
What you enjoy about teaching: One of the main drivers is the win-win situation when you can share a "light bulb" moment, be a part of someone's progression, or break down some fears, which ultimately leads to more fun on their bike. While on one level you're offering insights & ideas to help them progress & have more fun, there's a deep personal satisfaction that comes from sharing these experiences.
Your top tip for visitors to Cardrona this summer: Get up there as often as you can, throw a vest/jacket in the car just in case, get a lesson, enjoy the coffee & food, absorb the scenery, get a posse together for some cart action... there are too many good reasons to get up Cardrona!


Hometown: Canmore, Canada
MTB Qualifications: Level 2 PMBIA
How you got into mountain biking:  
I got into mountain biking just after university as I thought it looked like a super fun sport, & because I had destroyed my knees playing soccer in university I thought it would be a much better sport for my knees. Once I bought a bike & started riding, I was hooked!
What you enjoy about teaching: I might be biased, but I think it's one of the raddest sports in the world. To help someone to develop the skills & confidence to ride & conquer a new trail or a difficult section on a trail is the most rewarding feeling, & I love to see how stoked someone can get as they gain more confidence on their bike.
Your top tip for visitors to Cardrona this summer: Start on the trails that are challenging but within your skill set, & session, session, session! Once you gain confidence on those trails, then progress to more challenging ones. Cardies has an incredible variety of trails & there is always something to challenge yourself on.

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About the Author

Jen Houltham

Jen is Cardrona's resident word nerd. She's out & about on the mountain most days; a big fan of carving groomed runs, powder hunting & laps through Lil' Bucks!

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