I had my first real MTB race on the Karate Monkey on sunday at the Wainuiomata Trail Park, round 1 of the PNP series. It was also my first offical race as a Master 3 (50 year old). Not that I am 50 yet, but I will be this calendar year. Given that I was M3, I knew there would be limited technical challenge to the course (knowing the course designer’s preferences quite well) so running a rigid frame wouldn’t be too much of a hindrance.
|Photo borrowed from Andy Woodwarks Collection|
The hooter sounded and I wound up the new 46 sprocket (thanks Marco) and shot past a fair few of the combined M3, M1 and elite field before we turned off 10 seconds later onto the first climb. Straight away I was hammering up behind my old protege Jordan Blake and before long Marco floated up behind us on his 17 pound C-dale. I could see Marco was angling to take the left hand side of the water-tower at the top of the first climb, but my gut feeling was that the right side was quickest. Jord had the local knowledge so I went with him. Good call, we didn’t see Marco again for quite a while, until I heard him call out from behind that “The Painting Man was coming through”. Despite his digital weight-loss techniques Ian Paintin was still a bit behind on the climb, but was about to make his move. He busted through on the descent and we levelled out again on the next small climb.
The first of the granny climbs went well but I lost traction just before the top. On the second climb, Ian had the good line on the left, and I had the gnarly one on the right, but he spun out and speared off over to my side forcing me off, apologising profusely like the gentleman racer he is.
We remounted and somewhere before the main ridge track Marco made his move and got ahead of me before the left turn into the newly built Towai single track. Ian was having none of it and retook the lead, having been caught behind Marco’s extra large elbows before. I on the other hand was not so clever and spent what seemed like an eternity stuck behind the Godfather until he agreed to pull over. I have the guys in the workshop working on a high-voltage Capacitor Discharge device that should enable me to give Marco a good zap on the ring-piece if he shows a lack of fair play again!
The new Towai track was great. Narrow and winding, and a bit rooty, but I cant wait to get out on it again. The wagon wheels on the Karate Monkey seemed to eat it up quite well, but I suspect a bit of front end suspension would have been a help. I got out onto the main trail in second place wondering how far up ahead the Painting Man was.
The bee-line descent went well, (took the girls route) up Jungles and down Snails and over the Wetlands and on to an unmarked fork in the track. Bugger. What to do. The majority of the wear and tear to the track seemed to be to the right so I went that way. Doh! 20 seconds later I almost had a head-on with someone coming the other way so I back tracked back and took the left hand fork. I heard a coasting free-wheel up ahead and wondered if it was another super-crusty who had passed me while I was going the wrong way. Sure enough I spied Gary Moller up ahead. Catching him was hard, as I kept hitting back markers. They were always courteous and pulled over where they could. Gary is at the upper end of the super-crustys age bracket and has just gotten faster over the last 3 or so years. I snuck past him near the top of the climb somewhere but didn’t put much time on him down Snails on the next lap.
Somewhere along here things get hazy. I would swear on my death bed that I did 3 laps of the course, as outlined in the Course Algebra description, but obviously I did 4, and I apologise for convincing Gary that we had an extra lap to go, as it cost both of us a place on the podium. A small amount of post-race research found that there was a strong correlation between our numeracy skills and our final positions, with school cert maths results having a big influence on the final outcome with Ian Paintin scoring 98, Marco 86, and me a dismal 50. It all makes perfect sense now.
All things considered it was a good day, a fun track and some good riding. Things are looking a bit dire up our way at the moment. The Waitangirua Forest Park is closed for lambing and Danzig is likely to get levelled so that the timber can be turned into car-boxes in Japan. On the up side Marco and his buddies are building a new link track from the Coach track across to Hill Road (I think).