The world has opened up and Wanaka downhill mountainbikers Kalani Muirhead (18) and Nico Arnold (17) are ready to spin their wheels.
Muirhead and Arnold leave home in May for a four-month tour of World Cup and Crankworx races in Europe.
Yes, there’s Covid and the war in Ukraine, but the pair said they were “incredibly excited” about following their dreams.
“Covid has just become part of our lives but the war frightening. But hopefully it won’t affect us,” Arnold said.
“I am excited because it is something I have wanted and looked forward to doing for a very long time,” Muirhead said.
Muirhead is ranked top 3 or 4 in the New Zealand elite women’s downhill category, while Arnold has been consistently ranked top 5 or 6 in under-19 men.
“My goal is to get on to a factory team and go pro,” he said.
The Wanaka duo are the only South Islanders in a nine-member Kiwi youth team competing under the moniker YD Racing (Youth Development Racing).
All are privateers Mountainbike NZ has not organised the tour some will travel with parents, while others intend to get a van.
Muirhead is keen to travel solo as well, and see how she handles two bikes, a bag and her luggage, while Arnold will be travelling with his dad in a campervan.
The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) downhill World Cup series begins in France, but the Wanaka teens will join in Scotland, before competing in Austria and Italy.
Arnold also intends to compete in North America, while Muirhead intends to head to Australia next summer.
Since finishing her education at Mt Aspiring College last year, Muirhead has worked full-time as a pool lifeguard.
Arnold is a part-time year 13 pupil at the college and a part-time pizza delivery driver.
The duo have applied for funding from various organisations and have sponsors.