I have just got back from four days in Nelson and a race win at the 3rd round of the New Zealand MTB cup. It was a really enjoyable little trip with some good riding, glorious weather and the result I was after on Sunday with a win at the UCI cat 2 race.
I arrived on Thursday and put in a few laps on the race track with Nelson local and sometimes MTB racer turned super fast roadie George Bennett. Coming straight from Rotorua, I found the track a bit of a handful early on. It always takes a bit of time to get used to the lack of berms on every corner which is what the majority of tracks are like at home. I crashed a couple of times on the first lap but soon got the hang of the tight twisty trail and its often rocky and extremely dry surface. I was a bit surprised with how little climbing there was in the course because although there was a fairly long road climb at the start it wasn’t steep so it was a bit different to the typical hilly Nelson circuit. It was obvious that it was going to be a very fast track if the weather stayed fine for Sunday.
That evening Stylie and I went for a trail ride on the ‘Peaking Ridge’ track. We went the shorter way to the track consisting of a long and often extremely steep climb up a gravel road and then a smaller 4wd track. After riding that I have had to reassess my ideas on what is actually a steep climb and I now know where to come for some punishing hill training. When we finally made it to the top the reward was an undulating extremely rooty and rocky single trail continuing along the top of the hill to our destination at peaking ridge. The descent down the Peaking ridge trail was awesome. I have never ridden such a rooty trail and particularly higher up there were some pretty rugged rock sections as well. I would have been better suited on a bike with a bit more travel and a more trail friendly geometry but the Blur XC handled the track well and really it was up to me to ensure that we made it down safely. The track opened up slightly as we got lower down and once I got used to things I was able to get a bit more speed up and really start to enjoy it.
The next few days were spent at the race track and by Sunday I knew it pretty well. Rain had been mentioned on the forecast but the weather man got it wrong and we were treated to another hot sunny day.
No one really wanted to be in front up the first section of road so the pace was slowish from the start until the last pinch where George attacked to take the lead into the single track. I made sure I got his wheel and that was where I stayed for the first laps. We got a good gap on everyone else early on and it was clear that the battle for the win was going to be between us. I felt comfortable in the single track and I was pretty confident that as long as I didn’t let a big gap open on the road sections I held the advantage. After three laps of following I decided it was time to have a go and countered an acceleration from George, opening up a small gap and then taking the lead at the top of the climb. With the remaining three laps I extended my lead eventually taking the win with a two minute advantage over George in second place.
So it was a pretty successful trip. Thanks Stylie for the accommodation and for introducing me to some ‘real’ mountain bike riding. Hopefully I will be back some time soon.