Sunday, November 09, 2008
Twelve hours. A day at work is only eight. Why would you want to be doing something for twelve hours? Because you have to? No. Because it's fun? Maybe. I enjoy work, because it involves bikes. I like riding more, so twelve hours at a race should be fun... after all, I didn't have to ride the whole thing myself. I had three mates to share the pain and fun with me. And that's what my second Wild Wellington 12 hour race was; pain and fun. Last year I was on the winning 'Legends' team (a nice way of saying 'old codgers' I think) with Ian, one of the fastest and fittest fellas around these parts (these parts being the whole country), and Matt and Ant on the Searltech team. This year Ian and myself were riding for my employers team On Yer Bike, and with Steve and Rob (the LPG or Little Pommy Git) we had a pretty formidable line-up to go against our former teammates. Wellington turned on a perfect day weather-wise, with not a cloud in the sky, a light southerly to cool the air, which became a little chilly once the sun went down and the lights came out. The Hataitai velodrome was the epicentre of the course which wound its way up, down and around Mt Victoria. To have such a venue right in the middle of the city is amazing. Singletrack on your doorstep, and no long drive home after. In fact, nutters like Josh and God Carl rode to the race (but bummed a lift home after a BBQ and beer at the Ratahi camp). We sent Ian out as the starting rider, and after a mid -pack start he had worked his way to the front of our class by the end of the first lap. God was charging and led the entire field into the velodrome and set out on a second. Of course he was riding a totally inappropriate bike, this time a Trek Remedy, 30 lbs and 6 inches of travel, but at least it was the right size and he had it wound up. Rob headed out on his S-Works Stumpy for our second stint and kept us ahead of the Searletech guys by a couple of minutes. I was just kicking back and enjoying the sun in Camp On Yer Bike, as Steve readied himself for his laps. By the time he'd done his double, we were just behind as Matt and Ant had put in fast laps to double-team Steve as he faded a little on his second lap. I went out and tried to keep myself under control as the were still ten hours to go, but I caught Stephen halfway round, then held off Don on my second. Ian decided we needed a buffer, and opened up a four minute gap on his next set. We steadily built on our lead over the next couple of hours while socialising with the tight-knit Welly MTB community in between laps. Karl Rata's team was sitting in third, with Karl putting in his usual fast laps, but they just couldn't catch the second placed lads. Carl and Josh, meanwhile, were sitting in second overall and riding well, despite Josh complaining about a runny nose or something. Didn't stop him catching me on one lap and dropping me over the summit of the course though. We were up to third outright for a long time, battling with the R&R mixed team containing several National Junior guns (like Samara Shepperd, who I have to say I unmercifully dropped on the climb! A small victory but I'll take it...) Ian took it upon himself to bust out three back-to-back laps, with an 18.10, 18.12 and 18.11 in a row... awesome. Our win was virtually sealed after that, all we had to do was lap consistently and could even take it easy. Yeah right, Ian doesn't know how to back off, and kept smashing himself for the rest of the race, while we all kept our times in the 19-20 minute area. Ten O'clock couldn't come quick enough, and after many calculations we decided that we didn't need to get in a last lap, but would anyway to make it a lap back to second. Rob, who never rides at night, was the unlucky rider who was designate, after I'd offered but then retracted said offer when I got the unexpected acceptance of said offer. Sorry Rob, but you were the man for the job.The lap had to be completed by 10pm for it to be counted, and we waited at the finish as riders streamed through as the minutes ticked off. With about three minutes to spare, Rob charged in to the velodrome, pulling out a very quick night lap to seal the win. It was finally time for a beer, and Ratas fired up the barbie and the stories of the day were recounted under the stars of a clear, cool night at the end of a very coool day.