Friday, December 18, 2009

Great Barrier 80km MTB Marathon

OK... Pack car, go to work, drop table back to Andy, pick up Suse and be at ferry by 1pm... Check... How the hell, did I not know there were 2 ferry terminals in Auckland??? So at ten past one, I'm hooning across the city in my VW transporter trying to make it to the 2pm Sealink that leaves for Great Barrier. Oh, by the way, check in was 10 minutes ago... This is NOT how I had imagined or planned for this Friday to turn out.

Navigational embarrassment aside, at 2pm, I'm sitting on a ferry with my bike and a bunch of newly found cycling buddies on my way to Great Barrier Island, and the morning's stress and rush is all but forgotten. Tomorrow is the inaugural Great Barrier MTB Marathon, and as the island looms into view, it occurs to me that it's been a while since I was in the hills.

We climb off the ferry, collect our bikes and load our luggage rather dubiously onto a ute for the race organisers to take to the camp site. Then we jump on our bikes and make our way there on 2 wheels to meet our luggage. With camp set up, we cooked up dinner (when I say cooked, I actually meant "burn some food to the bottom of the pot"). Then we sat around and talked until our weary eyes gave way to bed time.

Race start was 10am, so the morning lent itself to a sleep-in and chilled out brekky in amongst the patches of rain.

Finally the race was upon us and after a slightly delayed start, we were off behind the neutral vehicle. As he pulled away for the race to begin, the hill that immediately presented itself made it very clear to us that today was no easy day in the saddle. A group of about 5 or 6 of us took off up the hill at a solid pace... We'd soon see how long it would last. I must admit I was slightly surprised by the amount of road that linked the mountain bike trails, but the trails were so awesome that the time spent on the road was not only worth it, but welcomed as a break and a chance to have a drink. I'll be honest, I was here to win... And the last 2 weekends of racing made this a difficult task to remain focused on, but no matter how hard we were riding, it was impossible to ignore the amazing views surrounding us at every turn. Hard climbing was rewarded with stunning outlooks across Great Barrier Island and the trails were sweet... Rugged, untamed wilderness at it's best. I couldn't help but smile through the pain. Having said that, I distinctly remember one road hill in the race which was about 7 km long and it winded it's way relentlessly up the hill out of Okiwi. That hill nearly broke me that day. There was no view or promise of sweet single track in this world that would have made that hill pleasant, but at least I knew it would top out and fall off the other side of the hill sometime (hopefully sooner rather than later).

The last section of the race was a road section and in an awesome stroke of luck, I was blessed with a tail wind to sail home on. I crossed the line 80km later in a little over 5 hours, before the rain hit. We climbed 2200 vertical meters. I was female winner and 4th overall... Not a bad way to spend a Saturday by any stretch of the imagination! The race was followed up with some awesome local-cooked chilli and then was the plane trip home for me to work in the morning.

I must say, that although it wasn't the biggest race I've attended, the atmosphere was fantastic and it's definately well-worth doing. I think this race has the potential to be the next Colville and realistically, the travel is no issue if you're searching for a good race. I feel completely honoured to have taken the inaugural title and hope I'll follow it up again next year! Check out the website

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winning on Waiheke - Round Rangihoua 4 Hour Challenge

I did this race last year and it was an absolute treat. Ferry ride to Waiheke, a day out of Auckland, good atmosphere and some really sweeet trails. Waiheke Mountain Bike Club have been developing bits of trail on the island based around the Onetangi sports club... They have about 10km worth out there now and it’s well worth checking out.

Have to admit that after this week's rain, I was a little concerned I could be in for a really muddy Sunday, but it was perfect. In fact, I think that it would have been too dry if we didn't get the rain. In true endurance style, we started with my all time favourite… The LeMan’s start… having said that, it was very forgiving at just 50m long and along a flat piece of grass. The organisers were awesome enough to assign me a support crew for the day seeing as I made the trip over by myself and I ended up in the very capable hands of young Eli (dude, I hope I spelt it right!)… He handed me bottles and food for the four hours so I didn’t have to stop to pick it up… Legend!

First lap I managed to hang on to the top bunch for half a lap, but let myself drop off a little in the realisation that I had another 4 hours left to go. I remembered the lap from last year… One nasty climb up the side of the hill, then sweet flowing single track all the way home. It’s a bit of a trick in a way… You have such a great time on the second half of the lap that you forget about the climb at the start and you think “wow, that was awesome, I have no problems going out on another lap”… Then you hit the climb again and reality kicks in… What goes down must first go up!

I felt pretty solid for the first hour or so. My laps were consistent around the 17-17.5 minute mark and I had settled in quite nicely. I was the only female solo there for the day, so decided to pit myself against the boys, and I knew there was only one guy in front of me about 2 minutes up on me. It was easy to gauge how far behind I was when I came into the grassy loop towards the timing area. The gap started closing about the 2 hour mark until I passed him going through timing. He hung on the back of me for a little bit but I think I got a bit of a jump up the small pinch just before the climb. I must admit that I was so stoked to have caught him that I probably pushed a little harder than I had been on that lap, and pushed out my best lap of the day. It was really good motivation knowing he was there because it kept me pushing for the rest of the race… It’s kinda like a horror movie… You know it’s there and you’re just running scared hoping it doesn’t come up behind and catch you.

My lap times lengthened a little before the end of the race, but in the end I came 1st in the solo category and also did pretty well overall against the teams. Waiheke Mountain Bike Club had some island ginger beer on tap (man, I’ve never had ginger beer that tasted so awesome!). All in all, a great day out, good trails, good company, fantastic training and some awesome tan lines (just what riding is all about!)

Big thanks also to Gary (Parks Manager on Waiheke) who saw me get off the ferry and offered me a lift to the race, then also gave me a lift back to the ferry after the race… I must’ve looked like a tourist… I evidently didn’t look like I knew where I was going.

I’ll be back next year guys!!! This is definitely a race to look out for next December. There’s a lot of heart that goes into the riding community and trails on the island and it shows.

Off to Great Barrier next weekend for 80km MTB Marathon. 3 nice big races in 3 weeks. Best make the most of Summer (whenever that may be!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Auckland 1 Hour Champs Round 2 and 3 Wrap-Up

OK, so I should've posted these long ago (sorry... Slack blogger). Here are the reports for weeks 2 and 3. See you tomorrow night for round 4!!! Make sure you get to our last round on the 14th of December for the series prize draws including awesome prizes like stuff from Spoke Mag and series vouchers to the NDuro Summer Series (surely you have nothing better to do on a Monday night!). We'll also have a prize in our last round for best dressed rider... BE THERE!

Hey all!

Sorry for the belatedness of this week’s results… Internet problems (serves me right for living in the middle of nowhere!)

Wow, some hot competition at the top of the pack this week! Tom and Chickenman fighting it out for the honors, with Tom eventually winning by one second over the man of chicken (not only can he fix bikes, he can bloody well ride them, too!). Piki (Sasha Smith) taking out the Women’s race this evening by a fairly comfortable margin.

Another great turnout from the young ones… Plenty of JAFA kids in attendance and also a fantastic turnout for the ladies this week. Have to say I am constantly stoked to see so many parents joining in the fun cheering everyone on and some even taking part in the race itself (awesome!!!)

There are some more photos which I will endeavor to add to the Auckland 1 Hour Champs facebook page this arvo which you can view if you click here. There is also an awesome li’l video put together by Fish which I will post in the next couple of days. Keep an eye out for it!

Tonight marked the middle of the series. 2WEEKS TO GO!!!

Thanks to Suse who helped clear the course after the race.

Massive thanks also goes out to series sponsors who are supplying some great prizes (Click to visit their website). Without them we wouldn’t have awesome races…

Bike 75
Go fast Sports
Spoke Magazine

See you all next week!

Another beautiful evening at Riverhead forest and the trails were running mighty fine and fast.

This week’s loop was just a little longer and saw riders battling it out right through to the dying seconds of the hour, with most riders finishing their final lap within the last 2 minutes and Andy finishing with a mere 9 seconds to spare!

The youngsters ruled the roost again this week with Kurt Standen taking out the men’s and Sasha Smith cruising her way to glory over the women’s field. We’re so stoked that she saw the funny side of us doing a 5 second countdown to the finish line even though she had a whole 3 minutes spare… There’s some photos of tonight up on the event page on facebook… Check them out here

Series points are looking a little different though, and it definitely seems that the key is participation with our two series leaders, Natalie and Fish, been riders who have completed both races (and let’s face it, that’s what having fun on your bike is all about!). Looking forward to seeing what next week holds. Remember, we have some awesome spot prizes to give away each week and even awesomer (is that a word???) end of series prizes, like NDuro summer series entries, and awesome prizes from Spoke Magazine, Bike 75 and Go Fast Sports. You need to be there to win your prize!

Massive thanks goes out to series sponsors who are supplying some great prizes (Click to visit their website)…

Bike 75
Go fast Sports
Spoke Magazine

Also big thanks to Chickenman and Raewyn for their help marshalling tonight and to Clark for helping clear the course afterwards.

Take care, and for those of you riding Taupo this weekend, go hard… There’s no other way to do it really, is there???

Peace out