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!)