It would be nice to tell of how I was hardly tested by the Whaka 100km and that I blasted it in two wheel sliding fashion. The harsh realities of this race were a clear from about the 30km mark. Cramp came a knocking when tore my legs apart with its vicious jawors. Debilitated to the point of feeling embarrassed at the pace I had to take some hills that towered throughout the course ahead.
Because of team budget restrictions I had to leave for the race at 4am. Dark damp back roads in a car that would raise the hopes and lower the brow of any common highway cop. Clearly the start of something truly great. I had scrounged what race type food left over from the Canada campaign and polished my Niner Rip to a high sheen that only top end bikes can acquire.
On the starting line feeling calm now, I can deal to this, 5 or 6 hours of Rotorua tracks. The distance or time of race rarely worries me now. Most of the field I could tell were placing this at the top of their worry list. What was at the top of mine, making a fool of myself again in this year of disappointing results and course of concern. I was going for a solid race with no mistakes and respectable result.
So I blasted into the lead for the first 5km of single track with a general abandon. I knew the chasing riders would be think of the assault to race would add up to be. Whereas I knew come what may I could ride out 100km. About this time a learned that my Rotorua track tearing skills were not as they use to be. Despite pulling gaps on the descents the bike was not at its limit.
This was the theme on the trails of the entire race. Feeling as if I was riding at 65%. Very careful line selection, under control. Aggressive but measured, conservative by my standards. The Rip is real trail machine, enough pushiness to iron out mistakes the largest obstacles I would see all day. Added to the 29 wheels and the Rohloff gear box it is one of the easiest bikes to ride regardless of the speed or tail conditions. So why was I this tentative, I knew the tracks better than most? Off season and off practise.
Bitten by the cramp monster and disillusioned with my trail ripping performance I was half way through this ordeal and only able to take comforted in that I was somehow near the top ten. Then I was directed the wrong way down a gravel road and lost a decent amount of time and energy just before the climb that did not end. A constant grovel in the mid range gears.
The remainder of the race come though in a blur of increasing frustration and pain. Ends less hills tore at my legs consoled only by pass two riders in the last 6km. I revelled in riding old favourites again and for the first time on my Rip that made things just pleasant.
A painful trip down memory lane. But a concerted effort at a respectable result. Perhaps given no cramp I could have worried the podium but for now 8th will do and its all clear to get on with preparing for 2010.