>> Friday, November 27, 2009
After laying low for a couple of months I decided it was time for some laughs, in the form of a race. The previous couple of months have been fairly cruisy, mixing up a couple of road rides with some fun trail riding. Although I'd participated in the Wild Wellington event for fun I wasn't taking any racing too seriously at this stage, instead preferring skids and wheelies over xc jeyboi antics of olde. I'm in the enviable position of being the only ring-in for the Bushlove Racing Team. They call me up when their members are weak and slow. With Tiger OTA, Davo pulling some sort of self-sabotage and Hinge no-showing it was left to Angry, Slacky (Definitely ginger) and their mate Hugh to carry the day.
After finishing breakfast (2 drumsticks and some fries - I like to dip them in my potato and gravy) and fitting the largest tyres I could possibly find I rocked up and registered for the race. Being the last round of the series I was expecting a larger pro/elite group than normal, which ended up being around 10 riders. Awesome. After a bit of pre race banter we were asked to line up on the road. I looked to my right and saw some pretty fast dudes beside me. Crap. Worse still, the 2 fastest guys (Ed and Stu) were racing for the overall, not just the day. This was gonna be fun.
As the hooter went off, I somehow managed to get my horrendously heavy wheels up to speed and headed up the road. After leading the first few hundred metres I expected to blow like a ginger, but actually felt OK. Must have been the secret herbs and spices. I sat on Mr. Ed's wheel into the singletrack, and stayed there for the first 20 minutes or so. As soon as the proper climbing started up to the summit of Makara Peak things changed.
My lack of race fitness started to show - Ed started gapping me, then Stu came past, then the ever improving Alex stormed past. Shit. Here we go... I churned away, trying to stay away from the folk behind me - I didn't want to look back. After the first climb I started to come right though, and had a good ride down Leaping Lizard right to the bottom. From the top of the first climb I rode solo... constantly looking ahead, seeing if I'd pulled any time back on the guys in front, and when I wasn't doing that I was looking over my shoulder hoping for a top 5 finish. Before riding up Missing Link I grabbed a wing out of the pocket of my riding top, hoovered that shit and topped it off with some coleslaw. I think the sugar content of the "coleslaw" would have been enough to get me through to the end.
The couse was great, and we were able to ride Sally Alley in the "wrong" direction which was a novelty. After another tough climb to the summit we dropped down the northern side of the Peak, only to ride straight back up to the top. Twice. The climb was short but sharp - I used one of the Colonel's refresher towels on my forehead to wipe the grease away. I was still on my lonesome, with no idea where the other riders were around me. As I reached the summit for the fourth and final time I spied Alex along the top of Ridgeline. It was a pretty decent gap, maybe near a minute, and I didn't have any intention of making much time back on the descent. On I went though, and still had the energy to attack the wee pinches along the top in my big ring (Although it's a small, girly big ring. Still, I'll take it). I downed the last of my Mountain Dew in my bottle (I had 2 free refills). I had great fun down ridgeline, ripping some meaty drifts and even getting both wheels off the ground simultaneously at the same time more than once. Madcore. The rest of the descent was awesome fun but uneventful - more drifto action and some skids thrown in.
As I headed down Koru Dry Feet I saw third place about 10 seconds ahead. Hmmmm..... says I. Get to the road, put it in a biggish gear and smash it. Look up, he's a little closer. Head back down, legs keep going. Repeat. Stoked to blow past with about 300m to the finish. Felt a bit rude just riding past, but I was in a hurry. The Colonel was beckoning me. I ended up about 3 minutes back from 2nd place, with Ed another 3 minutes up the road taking out the win and the series.