NZXC Racing managed to pick up the support of Southsure Insurance which gave us the opportunity to travel down south for the Motatapu MTB Race last weekend. It was a first time for the whole team apart from Sam so we were pretty excited.After a big day of travelling on Friday with flights and a couple of long drives we made it to Dan from NZ by Bike’s place in Queenstown. Haylee cooked us an amazing pasta dinner and with some good advice from Sam on the course and tactics we were all set to go. The race makes its way over 48kms from Lake Wanaka across the mountains to Arrowtown. The route manages to slip through the pass without a large amount of obvious climbing but there are still some steep pinches and the gradual haul to the top takes a fair bit of effort. Because it’s all on gravel or farm roads, roadie tactics such as drafting and team work come into play which made things interesting and a bit different to the other races this year.
A slow start kept everyone together early on but a small bunch of us got away over the first challenging climb. I wasn’t feeling super good but once the first 30mins or so were over I tried a small attack to test how the others were going. Carl and Anton both came up to me but not super easily so I got a bit of confidence and had another go on the next pinch. I got away by myself this time and settled down for a long solo ride to the finish. It wasn’t to be however and on one of the downhills I went through a hole in the road and my bars twisted right round in my hands. I hadn’t tightened them up enough when building my bike up after the flight down. I was pretty pissed off with myself but luckily the race rules required every competitor to carry a multi tool so I was able to do some on the fly adjustments. Because of the number plate I couldn’t easily access the stem bolts and the lead group soon caught back up. I yo-yoed off the back for a while doing my best to get everything tightened up on the undulating terrain while staying with the leaders.I got the bars tight and then spent a bit of time at the back of the bunch before deciding I had better try and get away again. A good hard burst opened up a slight gap but I wasn’t able to get away as cleanly this time and was soon joined by Carl with Brad chasing hard not to far behind. Carl and I worked hard together to keep Brad off and seemed to be slowly easing away, but my bars started loosening up again and I was forced to slow down and have another go at getting them properly done up. This time it was a bit easier as it came on a longer climb and with a slower pace I was able to do a better job and thankfully didn’t have any more issues during the race.
However I had a bit of work to do with Carl and Brad getting a good advantage while I stuffed around sorting myself out. Because we were up high in open farm land they were both still in sight though which made it a lot easier to catch back up as I had a visual target to chase. Brad soon reached Carl and a few minutes later I was also back up with the both of them. Brad was really pushing the pace and Carl ended up cracking and fell behind. I was content just to sit on Brad’s wheel and let him do the work for awhile. As the kms ticked by I knew I would have to make a move soon as it would be hard to get away on the decent and I wasn’t keen for a sprint if I could help it.
So a pretty successful weekend away. A big thanks to Sam for coordinating the trip as well as Dan and Haylee for there hospitality and our sponsors particularly NZ BY BIKE and Southsure Insurance without who it wouldn’t have happened.