I flew south on march 22nd and had lunch with Mops before dropping her back at the airport so she could fly north, this worked out well as we swapped car keys and both had transport for the weekend. Next stop was the Gondolas and to meet up with Craig Pattle to do a few runs and see what I was in for... I was in Queenstown to do a couple races during the bike fest week, the first was the 6hr super-d (I was in a two person team) and the other race I was doing was a gravtiy enduro on Corronet Peak.
My team mate for the 6hr was Ed Crossling ( Ed also raced in elite xc at Nationals this year), I was on my amazing ROCKY MOUNTAIN ALTITUDE and Ed was rocking his 100mm travel xc full sus with seat slightly dropped. Each lap we caught the Gondi to the top and raced down (with a few small climbs to mix things up). I went to have a look at the lap times to see where we were sitting with about 1.5hrs to go, turned out we were a few seconds off the lead! with this came the game face and it went from "do the race to see what its all about and have a fun day out" too "we are in with a chance of the win!!! time for the race face to come out of the bag" I started pushing hard and making silly mistakes, then decided screw it Im here to have fun! "still push hard but have fun doing it" this new frame of mind worked much better and I started riding properly again. We managed to get one more lap in than all the other teams before the cut off time giving us the win both in our class and over all. This was one awesome event to be a part of with some of the top dh (and gravity enduro) racers in the world taking part.
I spent the next few days hanging out in and around Wanaka, Helped out crewing on the final day of a multi day multi sport race for a couple friends, taught a couple of the girls to hit a few of the gap jumps in sticky forest and did a small photo shoot on the edge of the lake with Mops.
All this before heading back over the hill to get ready for the gravity enduro on the 29th. We headed over the day before the race and rolled a couple runs of some of the tracks we would be using in the race, a couple of us took turns driving shuttles while the rest rode
We had four stages on the one dayfor the G.E. (gravity enduro), we had sign on at the car park at the top of the road (bottom of the ski runs) then had to make our way to the top of the mountain for the start of the race, most of us rode up the track we were going to race down so to get a look at it. I missed the top section of the track and regretted it as soon as I saw it from the top as it was the most challenging part of the run (the start of the national down hill track) I watched a few guys go down then thought Id have a go myself. I made it down fine but lost a bunch of time at the top trying to find my way through the big gap jumps and drop offs. The next stage was a track called "cock rock" (or now its known world wide "rude rock") It was an ok run for me but I need to work on my corner speed. Third was Skippers, yup we raced down into Skippers canyon (not all the way) this is the track I feel I lost the most time on, Im not sure why but I just didnt gel with it at all. One thing with G.E. racing is you have to be self supported and ride between stages, this meant riding about 40min back up Skippers road. Most of the way up I could feel a clicking and hear a funny noise as I was pedaling, I stopped a couple times before noticing one of the links on my chain had come apart and the chain was only just holding together.... About 5minutes a chain braker and a speed link and I was up and running again. The final stage was ZOOT, shorter than the others but still a cool track with some cool jumps and a "split" section towards the end with two options to take before rejoining just before the finish line.
I felt "ok" all day but didnt feel like I rode as well as I could have... It was once again a stacked field with most of the guys racing that were at the 6hr race, I was about 2min down on the winner after about 26min of racing over about 4/5hrs and four stages.
I have to keep reminding myself that Im coming from a 16+year xc back ground and Ive never really done this sort of racing until this year so it will take me a bit of time to get used to "racing the clock" and be closer to the front guys and I also have to remind myself that they are some of the top pros in the world. I know I have a bunch of things to work on and Im finding that it has me excited to be riding again!