Saturday, June 25, 2011

Manawatu MTB Club Winter Series Round 2 - My Intro to Palmerston North

Ooops! This week really got away from me! So thought I best do some blogging on last week's race before it became old news!

I recently packed up and moved myself from Auckland to Palmerston North, following a new job, partner and a fresh riding experience. I suppose the first impression of Palmerston North is that there isn't really much mountain biking around these parts, and admittedly, I felt a bit the same when I first got here... However, once you get in the loop with some local knowledge, there's actually plenty to keep a rider amused around these parts... Some excellent climbs out on Greens Road, Takapari Road and K-Loop, not to mention that being such a cycle-friendly city, most walking trails around here are dual use (although make sure you check which ones before you ride them!!!). And if you grow tired of riding around town, Levin and Wanganui trails are within an hour away and the likes of Wellington, Tongariro national park, Hawkes Bay and Taupo are all within a couple of hours for a day trip.

After some guided tours around the town's trails and K-Loop on Friday and Saturday with the infamous Sasha (Piki) Smith, we headed out to Santoft Forest on Sunday for round two of Manawatu Mountain Bike Club's Winter XC series. What a great bunch of people!!! This was a typical grass-roots event run by a bunch of people who love riding. It was so cool. The entry fee was spare change ($2 for members, $5 for non-members) and there were nearly a hundred riders lining up on the start line on a grey, cold, rainy afternoon! It's easy to see the club is well-established with no agenda other than to provide an amazing environment for people to enjoy their riding (big kudos guys!!!). I had a real moment of truth when I realised that race categories were determined by our age as of 31st of December 2011, which qualified me for VET1 category!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!! I decided to remain in denial and entered the open category anyway...

Once we were off and racing, I spent a bit of time getting into a rhythm and getting to know the trail. With the move and all the travel of late, I hadn't been on the bike all that much, so it was great to get out. The trails at Santoft are sand-based and it's a relatively flat course, so once we were off, there was very little time to gather thoughts or a breath... I pretty much just dropped the hammer from the outset and didn't stop until I crossed the finish line (reflected well and truly by my heart rate figures at the end of the race). The trails are well-built and flowy and FAST! My average speed at the end of the race was 17.5km/hr and I came in third well off the pace from first-placed Fiona McDermid (who is representing NZ at XC world champs this year) but only one minute twenty down on my buddy Sasha... LOOK OUT NEXT RACE PIKI!!! Haha!

Great day out on the trails with great people... I definitely feel like I'm home...

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