Summer Season Race Report

Simon Yates has kindly put together this race report for the 2012-2013 season. Simon’s been a member and supporter of the club for a long time now and is a regular at club events as well as providing very valuable input and assistance around advocacy for new trails and facilities. Cheers Simon!

The Spring season began with a roar at 7am, in late November 2012 at Taupo with the 85km Huka Challenge. A marathon MTB race first up with 400 riders in the field.

The 2011 event here was abandoned due to tall pines being toppled around us in a wind-storm ( the race director somehow forgot just to detour and shorten the course out of the forest ). I saw 2 large pines fall nearby, scary stuff.

This season they ran the track in reverse with the 30km of river trails up first, the idea was to try seed out riders before the single track. Didn’t work. I ended up right away entering Craters in a tight bike-train peloton of about 30. After 50k of eternally looping single-track the exit to the home run was welcome and a fun drag to the shared finish line with the roadies. Adriano won the 50s. Rob G really impressed with 4h42m – in his 60s – what an inspiration. My time was 5:05 and I found the duration ok, but I think the course would be better by selecting the best singletrack and not winding in every last piece of it.

Yes it was the beginning of a long summer and a lake swim was a nice fresh unwind.

Next event was Rangihoua 4hour on Waiheke, Dec 4th, and the local crew really put an awesome event together. The Club turned out in force to make up a varied field. Most raced in teams, and as lap racing is not my thing, I was just gonna cruise. But no, harden up, I made a start line decision to contest the 4hr solo. There was a Le mans start, then I was calling out for any spare gels by the 2nd lap; I came in a decent 5th o/a, 1st in division (ok, it was in a small field) , over 13 dizzy hot laps. Great event , full on single-track. I recommend this event for next December and it’s good to add some support into the small number of island riders there. Awesome tracks there with more potential coming up.

There were no other MtB races in Dec, so it’s a good time for any new events, (or shifting the Gt Barrier race ?! ), seeing as March dates get overloaded.

I skied the deep dry Hokkaido powder in Japan over xmas/ Jan, and my legs were fit enough for the first bike ride the first week back in late January, the Tour de Ranges , 110k on the road. Good to catch up with all the Clubbies afterwards – Tad was fast on his first time on a road singlespeed, Pagey’s rear wheel kissing a car, Rob racing in a fast peloton on his knobbly full-susp mt.bike freakin out the roadies !

The National Mt.b XC champs championship round 4 was at Hunua in Feb 10th. Our local venue – and the event, the trails and the weather all really shone. It was awesome to see the world & national champs Anton Vs. Dirk racing wheel-to-wheel in a combined division, duking it out all the way up to the penultimate lap (and all of this on your scenic cruisey Sunday ride trails) . Pretty furious stuff with a 2pm start in that heat. At the final event the next week at Rotorua it was even closer with Anton winning by 1 second. All the best for the 2013 Euro & World races.

I did a Waharau 25km loop ride the week before as casual training , it didn’t help much, but at least I didn’t come last in my div at the Nationals ( yes, local knowledge helps ) . The national DH track off Mangatangi (next to the River trails) was also in fine form for the Nationals, with dry track all through the summer.

The notorious Black Stump Mt.B race in Glen Massey is now cancelled. That was a really tough 36km race, with 8 non-stop hills. I had raced there previously in 2 years of cold rain, then 2 years of sweltering heat. There was nothing easy there, my average speed in 2012 in the dry was only 12 kph. Good on the farmer for running it anyhow, it was a real no. 8 wire, shotgun start, rural farm event.

So instead this year it was to be The Rev, 100k on the road around Cambridge, which is a nice fitness hit out .

The University Cycle club’s inaugural road criterium around the Auckland Museum was held on Feb 27th – brilliant street race track, and the closest thing you can get to XC Mt.b racing on the road. Very full-on cardio, and full-on bike handling skills required.

By March the NZ summer 2 month ‘drought’ was in full effect. Yeah, even in the Akatarawas, where the Karapoti Classic Mt.B was postponed in 2012 due to a cyclone squatting over the hills and I had to head home with a clean bike.

This year it was the best chance of a dry track there , and I decided that week to fly back in. It was my rookie race start there after 2 prior forfeited entries.

Fun river start with the biggest Mt.b field in NZ. Up Deadwood hill it was pretty impressive to see Garth W on the s/s torquing away at full crank, then the Kennetts sprinting up with their tandem. Like most riders I couldn’t ride all of that hill or up Pram, but I managed to ride down most of Rock Garden ( yee ha ) except where there’s a few really rough 1m drop -offs that only a full DH rig could take. My time of 3:22, finishing halfway through elite, was fine by me. Olympian, Karen H was still on the war-path for more National titles after winning the Nationals, Huka and Colville, but got pipped this event by the local Doctor. Surprisingly in the dry, the race record of 2007 still stood, so maybe the evolution of all that new hi tech cyclery since – carbon wheels, full lock-out, electronic shifters, 650, 1xXI, tubeless, seat-dropper, is not as fast as its cracked up to be !

Next week was my fave event, the Colville 42k. The climate and scenery here is way better than the ‘poti, the 360 deg sea-views and sea-breezes on the summits were awesome. Land access meant the course was partly altered again for the 4th time now. I know the main track pretty well, coming in 4th oa/ 1st div in 2012, so I was surprised when I saw Tad at the start line on a full rigid. He did find out why, during an early forward roll, but well done ending 3rd oa. The two main down-hills are grade 3+, steep and rough, so you’re at the ragged edge on a hard-tail. I warned my roadie brother Dominic that as a rookie he might want to enter the soft 72k; but no, 42k is shorter/ therefore easier isn’t it? – he ended up walking part of the descents. At the first summit I dropped through 10 gears into top gear – but way too quick, bending my chain, losing 30 places. I managed to quick-linked it in 7 min, and had a blast recovering 25 odd places.

Mid-March was the Tour of Northland, 360km of road racing over 4 days. Great holiday event especially the Waipoua Forest leg to Omapere; some great hi speed /hi cadence peloton work, and a great way to up your base fitness.

Six days later I raced The Dual. There were 4 other mt.b events booked on the this day – with the new King Country Challenge in Pureora ( a race to watch for 2014 ) , the Ohope Ordeal (well it was postponed), the WCRC Riverhead Super D and Peter Stoneham’s Arch Hill Spin.

The Spin saw local event lap racing on the freshly upgraded trails where the Ak Grammar Mt Bike team & others had done a lot of track work managed by Peter – well done all.

The Dual is a great Mt.B track, with fantastic racing down Rangitoto Island toward the lighthouse looming up, and around Billy Goat point on north Motutapu. After the prior 4-day Tour, my fitness was up so my p.b. for this event was 5m faster, but still just outside the top 10, dammit. Blair B was running in the lead but suffered a puncture taking him back to 3rd oa, tough break.

In early April the Club rode the Pureora’s 85k Timber Trail. It was great to get back into cruising events, and the early morning stress and heart rate levels were well down. I rate this as one over the best all-round mt.b day rides in the country.

I had a race bike stolen in June ‘12, I tracked it down 8 months later and nailed the thief off the bike. So I ended up with 2 geared xc bikes, and converted the recovered Gary Fisher bike to a singlespeed. Sweet. Pureora was the first ride back on the Gary Fisher and the 32×20 was a nice easy gear to get back into singlespeeding. It was lotsa’ fun racing the geared bikes on the moderate grade twisty long downhill runs there; the top speeds of s/s Vs. geared were limited to about the same on the moderate d/h sections of the ex-quad bike, windy style tracks.

I skipped the Lake Hawea 125k Epic this year. It’s the sort of alpine expedition race to do every few years as it takes a concentrated season’s effort and fitness base to do well in. I did 6:17 last year, but reckon a sub-6 is coming up. Marquita & Adriano both won their divisions this time in a big field. Hawea is NZ’s ultimate marathon mt.b event, and fortunately it runs at the end of the race season when you should be fit for it. It’s a much bigger challenge for your buck than Wanaka – Arrowtown’s 47k Motatapu. It is a crucial event to do if you like to race, or if you just like big alpine touring rides with only once a year access.

Last event into the Autumn was the Singlespeed National 2013 Championship at Rotorua April 27th. Great to be back in the starting line comprising 250 glammed up loonies. We had a running start over to the next field where the bikes were – well where the bikes were now rearranged in; it was the luck of the draw as to when you located your bike and got started. Riding out, I saw Garth still searching , and looking pretty concerned. He still got the title though. Apparently I came in ‘2nd’ . Three x 9k laps (unless the leader lapped you off) and a couple of beers, huge crowd support – the best I have ever seen, better even than at the Worlds there in 2010. Singlespeeders are usually the mavericks of Mt. biking – but there were still a few in full race lycra kit and daintily carrying their bikes through the foot deep creek. Fiona MacDonald showed ‘em that Barbie Dolls from the Vets div can still do 3 tough laps – even after a creek swim in lap 2.

Queenstown pipped the Club for the 2014 Champs hosting rights at the race-off on kids bikes in the pump track; too bad ‘ay.

There lots of great photos up – facebook.com/2013NZSinglespeedChamps

Ok so that’s it for the season really , a few tall tales in there.

Events coming up locally – Woodhill 360 on 25th May, then Single Speed Sundays in July, and the Club Spring XC series.

Simon.

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