Zach Husted, carving new trails
November 24, 2017
Words: Helene Ravlich/
Photos: Zach Husted
A native of Colorado, who for the past few years, has split his time between New Zealand and the United States, Zachary Husted is a true Icebreaker.
Zach originally came to Aotearoa to work in snow safety, but the slow start to the season saw him exploring other options. It wasn’t long before he was offered a position with the Crankworx Mountain Bike Festival, and found himself helping to create a bike park at the iconic Skyline in Rotorua, a key destination for adventurers near the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. With an impressive hill and gondola in place, the location already had a lot of potential for mountain biking. Two tracks had been purpose-built for the Skyline Sprint Warrior in 2013 and 2014, and it had also been the site of the 2006 World Champs. Realising the popularity of these events, Skyline management gave the go ahead to build a world-class destination bike park. And Zach was there from the beginning.
Nature is… simply raw! It is an area of pure action with a reaction.”
Battles of will and wind
“The Crankworx event returns every March so I ended up working there off and on for the next three years as a medic and trail builder,” explains the highly competitive snowboarder, mountain biker, and adventurer. “So Rotorua pretty much became my home base. I was an avid mountain biker before that, but arriving in Rotorua really helped blow that up. It is a true Mecca for biking and the trails are incredible.”
New Zealand was a country Zach had always wanted to visit, and he soon fell in love with it. In terms of first impressions he is immediately effusive when it comes to the terrain, which he describes as “unlike anything else I had ever been in. Being able to access so many different environments in just a couple of hours of driving or hiking blew my mind. Where else can you go from a beach to a dense forest and then an alpine trail and a glacier in one day?”
Zach spent the last year and a half in New Zealand building his own completely self-contained campervan, which he lived in for over seven months while travelling around the country. It goes without saying that he used that time to bike nearly every enduro trail around the North and South Island. “I was either in the ocean, mountain biking or skiing every day,” he explains, “and I had never been happier.”
"I was either in the ocean, mountain biking or skiing every day…& I had never been happier."
When he made the move to New Zealand it was for a change in lifestyle that had been a few years in the planning. After completing a double Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Geography at the University of Boulder, Colorado, Zach “left school and went to work with Microsoft as a cartographer.” He says, “It was a nice, comfortable 9-5. The company treated us well and paid us well, but after 18 months I realised I had become the ultimate Weekend Warrior. I found myself trying to go skiing whenever I could but I was dealing with major lines, and discovering that I had more money than spare time.”
Realising his passion for being in the great outdoors was impossible to deny, Zach made the move out of Boulder and trained as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), before asking himself the question: “how can I ski every day?” Working as Ski Patrol was the answer, and the way to roll that year round was travelling to New Zealand when the Northern Hemisphere summer hit. Since that move, Zach’s lifestyle has morphed into his dream, and he has been an ambassador and product developer for likeminded outdoor-focused brands ever since. These include Icebreaker, Weston Snowboards and Zeal Optics out of Colorado, Swany Gloves and PowerBar, all of which recognise Zach’s authentic life as an outdoorsman and lover of life spent in nature.
"Where else can you go from a beach to a dense forest and then an alpine trail and a glacier in one day?"
On that note, Zach’s latest adventure will see him bikepacking across Colorado and Utah's most strenuous trails on a fully loaded bicycle over the months of August and September. “I’ll be focusing on single track trails,” he explains, “and hopefully going for days on end by filtering my own water and things like that for some really lengthy missions.” His end goal for now is the Colorado Trail, which is just over 800km with over 22,000m of elevation gain. “It’s altitude combined with strenuous climbing and a considerable distance,” says Zach with a sense of pride. “I’ll be biking day in and day out over some pretty serious terrain.” His seven months spent tripping around New Zealand were the perfect pre-cursor to the challenge, which he is clearly well up for.
Lastly, what does nature mean to the passionate outdoorsman, who made a significant life change in order to spend more time in it? “Nature is… simply raw! It is an area of pure action with a reaction — giving me unlimited opportunities to push myself in the art of sport.”