Last weekend was the New Zealand Singlespeed Nats. We loaded up the Camry with Cleetus, his family and his Fat Chance and went road-tripping to Rotorua, or Roto-vegas as its known. We must have got the last cabin in Rotorua as I had no idea it was a long weekend when I booked the unit 5 weeks out. It was by a fence, maybe 10 metres off the main road, and boy did those big trucks shake the house.
The company was good though and Cleetus’s 2 year old Clem, and myself have a similar sense of humour.
The Singlespeed champs is often described as the Rugby 7s without the Rugby, and its always a hard call as to whether you have more fun competing or watching. I had the Karate Monkey single-speeded with my giant Knard 3 inch tire on the front, and Matt had a new Eno rear hub on his vintage Fat Chance 26er hardtail. It was looking pretty nice. A failure with Matts tubeless set-up in the morning had us throwing in a tube at the last minute but other than that we were both very fresh and well rested from a lacking of training point of view!
We turned into the Waipa Mill entrance on the way into Rotorua and met up with Peter Colvin from Team RTD, (check out his pix!) he had just done a lap or two with Rosara someone and Gaz… I was all for taking the monster truck tire off the front of my Karate Monkey but Pete convinced me it would be superb, and it turned out it was.
The race briefing was a laugh in its own right as the scary looking organiser (Rah) told us that if we had practised the course that was marked out the previous day, then we were sucked in badly. It was a decoy. The real course was marked in completely different markers : ) That was a blow to the hard-outs. Not that you can have a bad time riding any of trails in Rotorua. There are so many of them.
|Race start: Images by Odile|
Just to liven stuff up the organisers swapped the positions of all our
bikes before our Lemans start so it was a bit like watching Zombies on
crack as everyone panicked trying to find their steeds. Poor old Garth
Weinberg got a very late start, but the riders made room for the man in the “Gimp suit” and before long the lead was his.
There was a fairly good representation from the Wellington/New Plymouth crew with some minimalist costumes that caught the eye. Thomas Lindup seemed to attract a fair bit of beer on his ride which had a detrimental effect on his disc brakes. Jonny Waghorn’s costume and his similiarly specced Singular Swift were also very well presented. Tom Lynskey had the Hello Kitty look nailed but was suffering from a bit of chafing by the finish.
|Jonny Waghorn (The Flash) with his similiarly decked out Singular Swift: Image by Al Crossling|
I had a great time dicing with fellow crusties Geof Blanc and Scott Emmens who I met during the last Kiwi Brevet and their partners were fully into it with some great costumes and support (blood-bags, etc). See team US-Postal in Peter Colvin’s photos, thats Scott’s crew.
One thing I noticed that was completely different to the World Singlespeed champs held in Rotorua in 2010, was the design of the course. As Cleetus and I noticed the next day (sunday)when we stumbled across the old Worlds course, it had a very long climb in it. In 2010, this climb started about 20 seconds after you had just skulled your beer. Not good…. In 2013 you had a chance for your beer to settle before you got into oxygen debt. The new Nats course was a very user friendly affair with no heinous climbs, just a few short grunts.
|Thomas – part man part Sasquatch. Als image.|
I am not sure of the actual downside of drinking beer while competing, common sense would say it was a silly idea, but I don’t feel that it hampered me in any way. I have no idea how long the race was because the only result they take is for 1st man and woman. The both of them immediately went under the “gun” as is compulsory for any winner, and within hours Garth and Erin were sporting new tattoos, Garth his 4th NZ champs one.
Lets hope Garth retires before he runs out of skin !
|Dr Ferrari (Geoff Blanc) behind me making a move before pouncing down the nana line and getting in front. Luckily I passed him in the beer queue as he spent too much time savouring his Speights – the curse of the Southern Man.|
|Dicing with young Motorhead bogan for a couple of laps.
His gear was too tall for the gutty climbs but he got me in the end.