Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Festival of Cycling

Well, we are back home again, after one of the most fun cycling weekends we've had in a long time.
As Nic alluded to in her earlier post about the Huka.... one of the most exciting things for MTB at the moment seems to be the frequency that it is being recognised and included in Festival style events. Following hot on the heels from Taupo, was the Armstrong Motor Group Festival of Cycling in Christchurch. Now in its fifth year, Simon Hollander and his team decided to add in an MTB event so we showed up to try it out.
The festival is impressive. And while the MTB event was maybe a little short, it was certainly demanding. Our races didn't go quite to plan. I felt really strong, but lacked a top gear. So when Brendan Sharratt and the impressive Richard Anderson jumped away I could only watch. I had the tiny Anton Cooper for company. Turns out he wasn't much use to draft off.... and then I made the mistake of letting him lead me into the singletrack.
Turns out Port Hills singletrack takes some time to adapt to. Its narrow and rocky. I didn't see Anton again till the finish. 4th it was then.
Nic on the other hand stormed up Rapaki track into a commanding lead. Relaxing across the top she didn't notice local Sarah Taylor working well with some of the guys to bridge across to her. Making the same mistake of letting the local into singletrack, she couldn't find a way past. And had to settle for 2nd.
We soon forgot all that though on day 2 of the festival and the event we'd all really been waiting for. The celebrity tandem crit (on singlespeed tandems). 10 cycling celebrities were paired with 10 businesses for a pretty fun (and intense) race. There was a bit of carnage off the start line but things soon settled as we started to test how well these things braked and turned. Kashi and Jack Bauer weren't as agressive as we might have hoped, but Nic was making up for things. Meanwhile Heath Blackgrove and Robin Reid proved pretty adept and aggressive pilots and pulled off some strong passing manouveres under brakes. I tried to line them up into the hairpin into the last lap only to drop our chain.
Nevermind... we still hit 46km through the speed trap. Awesome fun. Thanks to Simon Hollander for an awesome weekend. We might have to investgate a few more tandem events I thin?!
Cabin and his shadow.... until the shadow got away
Nic displaying impecable DH form
Before the start of the tandem race where all form went out the window
Lean angles were surprisingly good....
While Nic decided pedalling wasn't really neccessary

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Taupo Huka Wknd

Just like 11'000+ ppl Cabin & I made our way to Taupo on Friday afternoon. Amazing - isn't it? That many people participating in a cycle event! Each year it grows I am in awe of the effort, organisation and community spirit Taupo demonstrates to host such an iconic event. It is quite remarkable.

Cabin & I were there to participate in the Huka MTB race. It was a mixed bag for team n-Duro. Cabin had a fine ride, carving the craters single track at a very consistent pace riding up to third place in the open men's race behind Stu & Mikey. Congrats to these guys who battled it out on the home straight for a photo-finish...kinda close huh. Awesome. And top ride to Poppa Cabin, letting the younger riders know he is not over the hill or even close yet!

Meanwhile I was on the side of the trail trying to come to terms with a DNF. I had a return of my vision problem. Off the start Annika & I rode out to Craters at a comfortable pace & I was thinking sweet, legs & lungs will go the distance well today. Not long into the single track I was aware that my vision was a little 'blurred' but thought it was just a dim day & I was adjusting to the light. I stopped to request riding glasses & lost touch with Annika although on the open climb I could still see her & set about a good pace to hopefully get closer. But I didn't see her again, in fact I didn't see much. My eyes got thicker with white cloud/fog and my vision was all but gone by the time I got to the 55km mark at Heli-star. I had been battling with the decision to w/draw as I was crashing frequently through the last trails in Craters & getting really agitated. When we popped out of the forest into the open, the glare seemed to make it worse - I could see white & bright but that was all. I put my bike down & sat down on the grass unsure of what to do next.

It is pretty hard to deal with when your legs are strong, you feel good & then have something like this occur. I was extremely frustrated and disappointed. I just wanted to ride & finish but I couldn't even do that. So for me, it wasn't the day I wanted. Of course we are investigating further & hopefuly we get to the bottom of it fast.

Even with the generous help of a supporter finding some riding glasess for me (if you are reading this please let me know!) to use, my vision deteriorated pretty consistently once it had set in. I doubt that having the riding glasess helped, but it was definately worth a shot. Thank-you!

The thing that did cheer me up however, was that my eyes recovered within 4hours (previously it has taken 8-10hrs) and I could go and participate in the 5k Heart Childrens ride which I had been looking forward to too! This was a truly fantastic way to turn the day around. Heart Children NZ is the official charity of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. Along with Bevan Docherty & Eroni Clarke I had the pleasure of some quality bike riding and hanging out with these courageous Heart kids. They are inspiring, you would never guess the great deal they have been through. I am sure you will all agree that prizegiving had a particularly 'feel good' factor to it. It was a celebration of participation, riding bikes and fulfillment. It was also a wonderful fundraiser for the most deserving children & families in NZ. Go the Heart Kids!!

So all in all it was a great weekend. We had fantastic accomodation at the Rahui Racing HQ - thanks Marty & Tristan! We liked your racing tales :) We caught up with a good few friends & spent some quality time with sponsors & fellow bike riders.

Someone said the other day that... 'track is for racing, road is for training, and dirt is for potatoes'. I think the addition of the Huka MTB race to the Taupo programme is fantastic & I reckon we will see a few changing discipline to 'see how the other compares'. Let's hope so! 300 starters in the Huka MTB race on Sat... no doubt there were just as many tales and heartbreak in the Huka as with the road event. I don't mind being called a spud if I get to hoon around 70-odd km of single track getting some mean drifts, physical & technical climbs, no bunches and crashing w/o suffering from road rash...suits me fine. See y'all next year (and I will be SEEing you at the finish)...

Photo's to be added :)