Sunday, March 04, 2007


That's what they call the Karapoti... and it was certainly a race to remember.
Tama yelling random crap in my ear....

With 1300 riders from 13 countries, the race lived up to it's billing as "NZ's favourite MTB race". People like getting tortured for between 3 to 7 hours I guess. A 10am start turned into a 10.40 start for me, being an old guy, with the Pro's going off first. In typical 'make-life-as-painful-as-possible' style, we were made to run through ankle-deep water, which was heaven compared to the ankle-deep mud later on. Ross lined up at the front and got into battle for the win with Clinton Avery and Aussie Nick Both. The singlespeeders, tandems and unicyclists were next, all the freaks in together. Tristan got the holeshot and led onto the tar, with A-dub not far back. Finally I got to get away, and I tried to keep the Wayne Train in sight, but not wanting to blow my legs apart in the first 5k, hung back a bit. Of course the Fire Road Heroes were out in force, and some guy came barrelling past me saying "jump on", which I did, getting a free ride until the first sign of a rise, when he popped off immediately, as is typical of the FRH. It was time to abuse the granny, and with 600-odd riders from the earlier starters in front, congestion on the super steep climbs made riding hard, and running/walking/clawing was sometimes the only, or best option. About an hour in I caught Wayne, announcing my arrival with "all aboard the Wayne Train... tickets please". I passed him I think on a climb, and stayed in front until the next steep section, which was totally impossible for anyone to ride. It was bikes on the shoulder and hope you didn't fall over, and I heard Wayne behind me asking "what are you gonna say about this on your blog?". I think I replied, or at least thought, "it won't be for family reading". As the grades got a little less vertical, we were greeted with bog holes that would suck you and your bike into them instantly. I quickly learned to keep the bike out of there, and put up with the mud in the shoes. Finally we got to go down, through the Rock Garden, which was a real rock garden, huge sharp bastard rocks that struck fear into the riders as we slipped, bounced and fell our ways down. I elected to walk a few sections, thinking that a broken leg or neck wasn't going to help matters at this stage. There were some of the most sketchy manouveres going on down there, what is wrong with some people, thinking that they are going to make up a place or two on the most dangerous part of the course? I was soon passing all the heroes as we got out of there, and into more climbing, before a sweet, long fireroad downhill, where I followed a guy on an Epic and one on a Stumpy. We had a Specialized train going, passing dozens of riders, then a few little pinches where I dropped them, before plummeting down again. I was on fire, feeling pretty good, but wondering if I should try and hold back to prevent a blow-up later. The Wayne Train had disappeared from my rearview mirror, so I kept hammering, within reason, trying to eat and drink regularly. On the last section of nasty uphill, I spotted a Rocky Mountain up ahead, and it was Bevan, who I'd met at Blackball a week ago, and who had started in an earlier group. We rode together for a while, having a chat, me sometimes pushing, he too afraid to get off the bike as cramps were threatening. After a while I got away from him, and it was onto the last downhill before the fireroad back to the finish. I was passing heaps more riders, a couple from my age group, and I was sure I was well inside the top ten. All I could think of was "no mistakes, ride light, no punctures". Maybe I should've had an empty head, as the next thought I had was "oh SHIT" as I hit a rock and pinch flatted the front tyre, at about 45kmh. I pulled it up, just, and got to work changing the tube. As i pumped away, Wayne rolled past (at high speed), and I got going again and drove it hard towards home. Another FRH came by, and I jumped on his wheel before he got the shits and got away from me. Sucker... I caught him as we got back to the river, ran beside him through the water, then out-sprinted his stupid arse up the rise to the finish. I checked my computer, 2.58...Yeah, I'd broken the magic 3 hour mark. Or so I thought... Of course computers don't read time when you are stopped fixing a flat, and my real time was 3.05. The five minutes I'd probably taken to fix the flat. Wayne was shocked to see me come in a minute behind him, as he didn't see me on the downhill as he nailed it past me. I was still pretty happy with my ride, finishing 11th in class (Wayne 10th), and 134th overall, out of 800-odd finishers. Ross finished 3rd outright, he was outgunned by Avery, and had also had another big spill at about 50kmh. That guy's gotta get some handling skills if he's gonna cut it as a pro! A-dub got 3rd in singlespeed, with a 2.50 something, but of course wasn't happy with his ride. Tristan did a 2.55ish on his SS, and was feeling it. Ross's teammate Jenny Smith (NZ via Colorado) won the ladies pro, beating the 13 year old record time of NZ legend Kathy Lynch! After negotiating our way out of the traffic jam back to Wellington, we met up with Jenny and Tim Vincent and his fiance Sandy, and chowed down on food and beers before we all got some much needed, and deserved rest. Damn it, I'm gonna have to come back next year and decimate that 3 hour mark...and you too, Wayne!


K MAN said...

Top Effort , Your base must be up cause "the Train" was stronger a few weeks back.Top 11en that shit - "SICK".Your new name is Brett "OK to drop a name or 7" Kennedy.It sounds like a trade show social ride - I like trade shows....lots of socks!!!Your old's new car is PIMP - 'I want that one' - with a rally pack and tint and bass.35 degrees yesterday -fucked up -it was a multiple southo day -and hence an early night.I am such a poor pisshead ,oh ,and hill climber.Speaking of fucked up hills, I have climbed none since I have been home , as we only have 'bergs'.As in 'we just flow along this trail for a while then punch up over a berg.'Maybe an 'iceberg' is a hill that Rad climbs and doesn't break a sweat -stays cool.
Bye K

brettok said...

hey bro.... yeah the fitness is certainly getting there, although we haven't touched the bikes since Karapoti! going up Makara today, Ross looks like he's been in a scrap with a whipper snipper, skin off everywhere... see if he can stay upright, and break a sweat. ps got a job and flat in welly, will post details soon.