In the mid 90s I entered my first MTB race, I was 13 or 14, It was 60km long, Started in National park raced down the road through some farm and then through the 42nd Traverse. I was on a ridged bike with toe straps and lost my spare tube half way through the race, Turns out I would need that towards the end of the race, to fix a flat front tyre. I think I finished 8th in junior that day (with a flat front tyre). This event stopped being run a year or two later, A couple years ago a new crew decided to hold a race through the 42nd Traverse.
This year I was able to make it to the event. So, on Saturday the 5th I woke to a loverly blue sky and a good frost. Since the Ocieania champs in early March, I have been riding a few times each week (for fun) letting the body and mind refresh and to remind myself why it is I ride the Mountain bike. It was a fast start with a couple km down the road before a couple more km across farm paddock leading us onto the 42nd track it self. I tried to stay top 5 although not on the front, As we hit the track I new it was my last chance to take off my vest so I took advantage of the moment. We had a small group of 5 or 6 as we hit the first wee climb and the group dropped to four then three soon after. On the way down the big decent to the river I had a bit of a moment pulling my foot off the pedal as I jumped a ditch, I landed on some slippery clay and headed into the some branches on the side of the track having one of them hit my ADIDAS half rims and slide down the glass and snap as it hit my face. The three of us stayed together until the last major river crossing when Matt (last years winner) flew through the river and lifted the pace up the first part of the big climb out, I was able to stay with him but the other rider couldnt respond to the lift in pace and we were two from there to the finish line. I was a bit concerned with how I would cope towards the end of the race and knew I had to keep putting my PEAK FUEL gels and drink mix in. Other than a couple wet muddy/slippery spots my new TNT GEAX MEZCAL tyres were the tyre to run giving me speed on the fast gravel roads. I remember passing that same point I flatted way back in the 90s and thinking "YUS! the TNT tyres sure are awesome". As we approached the finish I knew I had to be in front so I could control the pace through the last little bit of single track and in to the finish, as we entered the grass park to finish we were told to stay left, so we hugged the tape on our left until people started yelling and pointing to the finish shoot (to the left of the running shoot!) so a quick skid and turn around before sprinting for a gap in the barriers to cross the line and I was able to get the win.
48km in 1hr48min on the MTB and other than a pinch of cramp on the last climb (due to not training enough for the pace we were riding) I am really happy with how it all went.
It was an awesome day and everyone hung out in the park while everyone else finished, chatting and yarning about all the things that happened along the way. Now thats just one of the things I love about this sport!