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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Huka XL

The Huka Xl is one of the many races that make up the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. It is a huge event and its great that Mountain biking is now an integral part of the big day. Although I have raced on the road around the lake several times over the years it was my first time competing in the ‘Huka’ and I was keen to have a good race. The large amount of prize money up for grabs ensures that it is always very competitive with every one chasing the cash that comes with the win. At just over 80km it makes for a long race but it’s a great course packed full of Taupo’s finest single track. There isn’t a lot of long climbing but the twisty trails really wear you down and by the time you start heading back along the river to Taupo several small but pinchy climbs ensure that you make it to the finish well and truly buggered.

The 7.00am start time meant that it was going to be a very early Saturday morning. Just after 4:00 I was up and getting in some breakfast and then into the Ute for the drive down to Taupo. After sorting out rego etc there wasn’t much time for a warm up but the start was taken at a nice pace and I sorted myself out slotting in at around 5th wheel for the first few minutes and then moved up into 3rd once we got into the main Craters of the Moon trails. And thats where I stayed for the majority of the race. A small crash had me chasing to get back to the front for a wee while but I was riding well and as the kms ticked over things were looking good.
Unfortunately the distance was a bit much for me and with only about 15km left I ran out of gas losing contact with the leaders. As I neared the finish my legs were pretty much shot and going up a cruel little climb I slipped from 3rd to 4th. I was a bit gutted to drop off the podium but I was very glad when I finally made it to the finish and relieved to hang onto 4th place.

It is amazing how smoothly the event runs. With so many riders to keep under control the organisers and many volunteers did a great job and the Taupo weather came to the party as well, it was maybe even too hot. And despite not winning the major spot prize of a new car I had a great day and am already planning for next year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mid North Island Cup Round #2 Taupo.

It was a wet start to the day at home but 20 minutes down the road it was dry and by the time we got to Taupo things had taken a turn for the better and the weather was not too bad at all.
As usual the Taupo MTB Club put on a great event and there was a good turnout of riders of all ages. It was especially good to see so many youngsters getting stuck into it. Unfortunately though the number of competitors in the open grade was somewhat lacking. Still it turned out to be a good training mission and it was nice to be getting in some action on the MTB again and I had a lot of fun riding what turned out to be an awesome course. And even better to top the day off I was pleased to receive a $30 Hells Pizza voucher as the prize for the win so I’m eagerly waiting for next weekend where I will make good use of it after the Contact Huka XL Race.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rotorua To Ohope.

It’s been a couple of months now since my last race back at the world champs in September. So today was a good chance to get the legs turning in anger and back into the swing of things with a busy race calendar over the next few months.

I don’t often give the roadie a run but the annual Cycling Rotorua Inc club race to Ohope beach is a lot of fun and I thought I’d better dust the cobwebs off and get into it. Mind you it’s a great route for a bike race so it wasn’t a hard decision. A couple of small climbs to test the legs and nice views as you pass by several lakes, a fast drop down the Rotomas, through Texas (Te Teko), a bit of side wind to keep things interesting near Awakeri and into Whakatane and finally the climb up over the hill and down to the finish on the beach at Ohope.

I had a good day in the saddle although my arse wouldn’t agree, I am definitely not in great condition for several hours riding in the seat on the road bike and would much prefer the constant changing of positions that comes with mountain biking. My second place finish wasn’t too bad. And in the end this was what the rest of us were left to fight for after Clinton decided he wanted to be a motor bike and soloed to the win dropping us on the twisty descent down the Rotomas. I love the last climb to Ohope from Whakatane it makes for an interesting finish as it is long enough to launch an attack and split the race up preventing the normally inevitable bunch sprint.

Next week is the second round of the Mid North Island MTB Series in Taupo which I am really looking forward to. It’s not until you have a good break from racing that you realise how much fun it is. It will also be a good chance to have a practice on some of the tracks to be used in the Huka XL the following week.
Until next time.