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Since I'm still buzzing from this event I thought I'd share my race diary.
I thought the turnout might be a bit low, given the wet weather I woke up to, and the relatively low entry fee to 'write off', so was surprised and heartened pulling into the car park to see a throng of riders unloading their finest machinery into the murky wet. At the briefing the organisers actually showed surprised that 4 riders had not turned up, but I thought that 96% turnout in these conditions was an indicator that these 'top of south' dudes were made of tough stuff.
I also should have known after my recent introduction to events here (Kaiteriteri 6 hour) they're a crazy / fun loving bunch, but fancy dress for an epic event like this! And taking the craziness award was 'Singlespeed Bob', a dreadlocked chick running a fixie roadbike and SS MTB combination! She was soon to be hitting the 10km, 800m vertical climb in a 38 / 19 gear *shakes head*. Btw she came in 45 mins before me in the end...
Hmm, so set off a bunch of MTB'ers on road bikes to ride close bunch formation on wet roads, with 4 one way bridge crossings against the right of way, recipe for disaster? Well, the bunch riding was a bit messy, both technically, and literally as cow shit was flying up off wet wheels, but luckily we survived to the bottom of the hill unscathed.
How I chuckled to see the 9 MTBs bobbing away, some of them ferociously trying to stay in contention at the front of the pack (in the event 6 of them finished ahead of me). Overall though it was a slow start by road race standards, and none of the breaks stuck, so it was a big pack hitting the bottom of the hill.
Looooong and steady, it's a big ole muther! Enjoyed relaxing the nerves as the pack split up, but lowlites were being overtaken by MTB's half way up the climb, any pain in the legs however was dulled by the thoughts of what fixie chick was going through...
The climb took 45 mins for me, but in this race the climbing is far from over.
A short 5 minute descent, the rain had stopped but the roads were still wet, a quick chance to feed, and you're into Canaan road and the transition, take care on the entry though - a down hill entry on muddy gravel on 23c tyres!
Starts with a 25 minute climb up the gravel Canaan road, then finally a descent and some flat time until the turnoff for the first single track. My undertrained legs were toast by now, so I decided to back off and ride the next 2 hours of singletrack cleanly, rather than at race pace (and fall off).
For those that don't know the tracks (Rollercoaster, Rameka, Pack track, Great expectations, The Klicks) are a smorgasbord of singletrack bliss, with great variety, including flowing pine tracks, riverside boulder tracks, and the dense native bush of the Rameka. The work that has gone into these tracks is blows me away. The finale 'Klicks' are a rollercoaster along the riverside, full of little man made obstacles made out of riverside boulders, quite charming.
Conditions were challenging in places, due to the wet, but for a rider of average technical ability, who had only ridden the tracks once before, I still managed to ride most of the technical sections, challenging but fun, in fantastic surroundings, it doesn't get any better than this!
A short road section brings you to the finish, after 4 hours 28 min for me.
A big thankyou to the organisers, they did a fantastic job, well organised but fun, quite refreshing. There were 24 volunteer marshals out on the course, all cheery and supportive. There seemed to be dozens of photographers out there and there was even a motorbike crew filming - made me feel like I was in a grand tour!
They say they are going to growing this into 3 day event, I can't wait to see what they come up with!