Karapoti is tough enough already but this year the weather conditions spiced things up and made it that little bit more extreme. Barrelling along the gorge in the first part of the race I couldn’t even tell if it was raining or not from the water getting splashed up as we smashed through puddles strung out in a big line of riders.
Fairly early on a group of three of us split off the front of the race going up the Deadwood climb. Tim set the pace followed by Anton and then myself. The plan for me was to wait and see how things panned out. In other words I was going to be playing follow the leader unless I absolutely couldn’t keep up. Once into the final climb I would attack and all going well ride away to the win. And thats almost how things turned out. Stu managed to join us and for the majority of the course all four of us rode together. The rock garden and the tough hike a bike up Devils Stair Case didn’t do much to split us up and it was clear that it was going to come to a show down up the last climb, Dopers hill to decide the race.
We hit Dopers Creek and the loose gravel coming out the other side forced Stu, Tim and I off our bikes. Anton however was able to stay riding and seizing his opportunity made his bid for victory. I scrambled back onto the bike as soon as I could and set off in pursuit. Reeling him in was easy enough but try as I might I couldn’t drop him and by the top we were both still together, well clear of Stu and Tim.
Despite a crash for me and a few attempts by both of us to get away from each other before the finish, we were still locked together coming into the final river crossing. I was confident that my superior height would give me the advantage in the dash across but although holding the lead coming out of the water, my sprint let me down and I missed out on the win. I was obviously disappointed with second but for the first time ever I got through Karapoti without getting a flat tyre, busting my bike or blowing. So to be honest I was actually quite satisfied with how I rode and pleased to have made it onto the podium for the first time.