Club Secretary Grant Ogilvie shares his experience at the Equicycle event a few weekends ago….
The weather forecast was for rain for what we believe was New Zealands first ever Equicycle event. The organisers (Counties Manukau and Redvale Polocrosse Clubs who organised it as their annual fund raiser) had heaps of phone enquiries, but only 4 cyclists and 40 horses on the day. The format was 2 x 7.5km laps around rolling limerock roads, gravel roads, and farm trails and forest trails…no real single track, but some nicely elevated trails through pine forest which was quite slippery in places where the trail marking marshalls had slicked it up the day before on their quad bikes.
The land is owned by Waste Management (Transpacific Industries) and leased to a farmer who kindly let the organisers setup the loop. The organisers had put considerable effort into slashing a couple of trails through gorse to link roads up, and had very thoughtfully spent ages clearing any gorse so that we wouldnt get punctures. The trail marking and marshalling was excellent.
At 8.30 Jeremy Smart, Chris Kaad, Grant Ogilvie and Leanne Morton lined up for the start which involved a 1 km lap around the horse trotting course, then out into the course surrounding the landfill, all knowing we were looking to finish in the top 3 in our respective classes!! Chris sprinted off in the lead with Jeremy on his singlespeed and Grant not far behind, and Leanne in only her second mountain bike event chasing the guys. Jeremy caught and passed Chris somewhere on the first lap and held on to take a deserved win in 47mins, with Chris about 2 minutes behind, Grant rocking in at 1.16 after doing an extra lap around the trotting oval and Leanne at the same after short cutting as she had sprained her ankle during the week and electing to bypass some very slippery and steep farm trails in the forest section.
We were quietly confident that Jeremys 47 mins was going to be pretty competitive and Chris would be holding up the cyclists reputation too. Could the horses canter for 15kms? The horses got underway in groups of 5 at around 11am. After watching the first 2 groups we hitched a ride up to the marshall point where there was a steep climb, or a short cut which cut out about 300 metres but incurred a 3 minute penalty. We were stunned into silence after seeing the speed at which the horses were able accelerate up the hill which we all had to dismount and walk due to it being very slippery. Our previous optimism was slipping away, and marvelled at the speed of the horses… previously pudgy limerock road that sucked us in sapping power and time was now dry and fast.
We hitched a ride back to the village for the finish and prize giving, first horse in was Florence Cumming in a brilliant time of 38 minutes, with one other horse between Flo and Jeremy in 3rd overall. We enjoyed a prize giving, and BBQ put on by the organisers, all in all a very good experience mixing with another sport who put on an atmosphere very much like any MTB event…a heap of people getting outside riding their weapon of choice in some great trails and having a good time afterwards.
Thanks to the organisers for putting on a great event roll on 2011 and we will be back to level the score!!