Here’s a report from Simon on yesterday’s Karioi Classic:
The Waikato fog finally lifted in the Raglan foothills, revealing Raglan harbour and Mt Karioi in full sunshine. This beautiful maunga is the centre of the inaugural 45k gravel backroad race, with about 15 km of seal and grass. Clockwise around, just don’t turn left.
No single track, so it is not really a mountain bike race. I tricked out my commuter with CX tyres and it proved a fast enough combination. There were still a lot of soft 26’s on knobblies which would have taken a bit of grunt to move fast.
About 200 riders hit it at 10am in perfect sunny winter conditions. Winner was about 1h35m. It was mostly very hard packed gravel, I max’d 62 kph on the long downhills, averaging 21. I felt lucky to complete it ok, having lactic thighs from 3 days of skiing to the Monday before – found walking hard all that week.
The views were stunning especially on the volcano’s flanks above the legendary surf breaks and in the native bush sections. All the locals on the route turned out for their Tour-de-Karioi, and it was really well run.
The last sections were a long sealed up-and-downhill where 4 riders closed up and we went at it. Some roadie drafting downhill really came in handy ‘cos last was a long 2k flat grass 4-way sprint on the airfield to the finish. That spongy grass was seriously energy sapping making a true level playing field, but the 700c’s won out.
Clubbies included Edd, Paul B, Joel in his first race, and Megan on the division podium.
A lovely winter’s race. Recommended for ’11, (but could do with some farm XC down from the road summits …)