A little overcast and a smattering of rain to keep us cool... Perfect weather for a mountain bike race!
The Huka mountain bike race is run in conjunction with the Round Taupo Cycle Challenge. This is the second year they have run the mountain biking component of the festival and I gotta hand it to the organisers, they know how to pick out an amazing mountain bike course just as well as they run a huge, well-organised road event.
I raced in the XL category (elite). The track was as good as I remember it from last year... A great deal of fun, flowy singletrack with a few road and fire trail linkages. For me, an 80km race is a bit shorter and faster than my usual cup of tea, and I was dropped from the top bunch fairly early in the race. I rode by myself for some time until some of the Huka challenge men started coming through, and some of the fast bunch from the start dropped back (or I started catching them... One of the two!). There were quite a few sections of the trail we went over more than once, and one of them I remember vividly from last year (and with good reason)... A nice, solid single track climb weaving it's way up to the top of craters of the moon... I think the trail is called "Grinder" (very appropriate!)
Thanks to nutritionist, Christel from Nikki Hart Nutrition, i had a nutrition plan for the race, which I followed as best I could. Unfortunately the timing of my eating didn't necessarily coincide with the time of the fire trails, so I found myself starting to lag around the 3 hour mark. Something must have gone right between 3 and 4 hours (possibly the Go Fast Gum!) because when I hit the 60km mark at about 4 hours, I had this sudden surge of energy and finished the last 20km in an hour and 5 mins.
I came 7th in the elite women with a time of 5 hours 5 mins. I definately intend to return next year but have plans of potentially doing the maxi enduro (4 times around the lake on the road bike)... Hmmm. Tough call... The Huka is so much fun!
New bike ran superbly after some final touches the evening before the race and the SRAM XX groupset shifts like a knife through butter... Drool worthy. All in all, made for an incredibly enjoyable day out on the bike for my first race back for the season.
Big things ahead for this year!!!