On January 27th we completed the 80km ride from inland of Taihape through the Central North Island Plateau to inland of Napier. It was through awesome country side up and and down equally awesome gravelly hills.
Organised by Andrew Ninnes and his team of volunteers, this inaugural event goes down in my book as one of the most memorable and enjoyable bike events I have ever done.
It was a relaxed event with most of the participants being novices doing it for the scenery and the challenge just to finish. As per usual, there was the handful of hard out fanatics who had to go as fast as they could (I confess - I was one of them). But I still managed a quick swig of the free brewed coffee on offer at the half way point. The overall winner was the appropriately named Steve Pedley.
I did the whole distance according to heart rate. I had worked out that I could do 80km of mountain biking at about 140-150 beats per minute with the upper limit being 160 beats. So that is how I rode the hills and the flats, only once hitting 160 beats. I was in about 25th place by the halfway point and finished strongly to be 5th overall. Not too bad for a guy in his 50's if you don't mind my saying. I drank approximately 2 liters of water and ate about 4 caramel bars which I gobbled down at the crest of the big hills before picking up to speeds of 60-80 km/hr on the massive winding descents. What a thrill! Despite the huge hills and the heat, I finished without any cramps at all - only a raw arse from all the bone rattling ruts. I put my performance down to improvements in diet over recent years and being much smarter with training and racing.
The race finished at the Waiwhare community centre, a converted rural school. There we lazed in the shade and paddled in the refreshing swimming pool. The locals put on the healthiest spread I have ever had at any sporting event and there was more food than anybody could eat.
The prize pool was impressive and I was astonished to win the spot prize - a $1,400 spinning bike donated by Action Wheels of New Plymouth. In fact, the bike was of such a good quality, I have arranged to sell them on my website (keep an eye for them as I bring them on line).
This was a wonderful event through one of the most remote and scenic areas of the North Island. It was impeccably organised and so relaxing from start to finish. It was almost an embarrassment to appear to be riding hard out in such picturesque surroundings.
We will be there next year - and we will be looking out for you!