Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Well Not Really

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.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ready to Race?

It could be conscrewed that I have become a fair weather rider. I may indeed have gone a little soft since my return from Canada. There it was at the opposite end of the scale and verging on the very comfortable. But hey it’s off season right, well not for long. Events loam on the horizon and local and national races are slapping themselves on my schedule.

The New Plymouth MTB Club (NPMTBC) is making resurgence with a veritable flurry of races and track building. A three hour race recently highlighted my lack of readiness at the time to taking on hard racing. This was the first event of this kind hoisted by the NPMTBC. At soon they are stepping it up with a six hour to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

This weekend will be trying to again to finish the 100km Whaka in Rotorua. Last year my drivechain ate itself to my tentative relief at the 50km mark. I was having a shit of race. Thankfully the spring is giving a show of spring’s diversity and rain has be blessing the region for that last week and looks to continue on race day. Should be a muddy delight good times. A chance for the Rohloff to prove itself once again.

I looks like my beloved Ellsworth will once again be gracing these shores. But its stay is uncertain thanks to my financial plight. The frame, fork, headset and seat post are immediately going on sale. Don’t think I’ll even ride it again, although I will miss it. There will soon be a replacement to fill the void in the form of and new Niner JET.

Packed the caffeine, gels and perpetuem to make sure it at least ward mid race hunger. Will be nice to thrash the Rotorua trails again, it has been a while. From memory there is only one of my favourites the race will miss so all going well fun will be had in shovel full’s.