Yesterday (26th “MO”vember) was the Grate lake cycle challenge, NZs largest cycling event with close to 10,000 people taking part. From a four person team doing 40km each to 10 laps of the 160km ride around Lake Taupo or the “HUKA” a 85km MTB ride/race.
I am lead to believe this years Huka race is also the NZ National Marathon Champs, it is on the UCI web site for 2011 http://www.uci.ch/templates/BUILTIN-NOFRAMES/Template3/layout.asp?MenuId=MTUyMjU&LangId=1 but every time I asked an official about it, no one knew any thing about it!?! I guess I am going to send a few emails and try and sort it out.
OK now about the race it self. The wind was out of control! We started at 7am and I attacked about 500meters in to the race, Yep at the bottom of the first climb! I went clear and one or two younger riders bridged the gap for a short time. I was getting away from them when the top of a tree fell and landed on the track just in front of me although I was able to dodge most of it and kept going, This was the start of what was to follow as a rather scary ride in the forest. I had the gap out to 30sec before to long and settled into a steady pace not to go to deep but keep the pace high and try and stay out of sight, As the race went on more and more trees were snapping all around us, pine cones and branches falling from above hitting people (myself included). As I was nearing the rely change over I was sent the wrong way but because this is my fourth time doing this race I knew it was wrong so I pinned it along the bit of single track until I could get back out onto the road and down to the change over where I slowed to tell the organisers what had happened, One of them was on the phone at that time and put it down to yell to me to stop “the race has been stopped” As I stood there in confusion (along with all the team members and supporters) about what was going on, the top of an old pine tree snapped and fell to the ground missing some kids playing near by. We were all told to go down the road a bit and meet up with all the other riders then all ride the last part as no trees had fallen and it was deemed safe enough to ride. The race was over and it was just a social ride from here on so we got a bunch of the top riders together and rode the track doing skids and jumps along the way having a laugh as we went. It was decided that the results would stand as per the order of riders on the track when the race was stopped, Myself 1st, Dirk Peters 2nd and Tim Wilding 3rd . This result gives me a record of 2 seconds and 2 wins in the four years of this event running , not a bad tally if I do say so my self.
The right call was made at the time with the conditions we were facing and it is just lucky on one was killed out there