De Snor, Alex Revell
was keen to head down and asked if he could stay in the Voodoo Lounge.
His fellow Revolution Cycles rider Geoffrey Notman had to head down
south anyway to take photos for some painting he was doing, so it
would have been rude not to fit in the race while he was there as well.
For me it was a good chance to catch up with my family and bring back a
motor scooter my brother had offered me, and obviously I would take part
in the race too.
There was a taste of things to come when on the Friday morning
as I was getting ready a particularly nasty quake rocked our house. It
was a lot worse at my work where people were getting a bit more
excitable, as is there job to. While I was sailing over the Cook Strait
on the Bluebridge Ferry later on I got a text from my daughter saying
another one had struck.
|Alex roosts it up. Image from Sarnim Dean.
Things seemed to cool down for a bit that night while my
brother shouted us out to tea at the Redwood Tavern. The next day,
Saturday, like a couple of gun-fighters, Alex and Geoff rode into town
rather than accept the complimentary Voodoo Lounge flat-deck-truck
the bikes for the next day’s event and after a wholesome meal topped off
with a complimentary bottle of wine left over from the Grape Ride three
years previous, we hit the sack.
Around 7am on Sunday we were awoken by a sharp quake that knocked a
picture frame off the shelf. Hmmm. A bit of a swarm thing going on
I had first heard of Mondo Kopua at the inaugural Kiwi Brevet in 2010 and he seems to have taken up the role of
introducing CX to the locals in Blenheim. They were very organized and I
think they also had a points system for the non-CX class where they got
credits for things such as skin-suits, costumes and leg-shavings.
|Image from Bike-fit.co.nz|
The course had some good technical bits and was quite a bit rougher
than the manicured stop-banks and parks we are spoilt with in Upper
Hutt, or “Upper Belgium” as its known. I was happy to be on my steel Singular Kite and wondered how much battering Alex and Geoff would have
been getting on their alloy Yeti’s as they bounced over the
myriad of cow-pocks that were in parts of the course. I don’t usually
race CX with gloves on, and this day was no exception but by the end of
the event I had a very nasty blister from my cow-pock induced
these days I seem to be relying on a consistency that manifests itself
in a 14 second spread on a long 7-8 minute course like this. Geoff
and I were both racing vets men 45+ and I watched as he started putting
putting a good 10 seconds a lap on me as he rode off leaving me to battle
with the fastest ladies. Anja McDonald and Jenna Makgill were both riders I had heard about through mountainbiking and I knew technically
speaking both of them would ride rings around me. Downhill, Cross
country, fixed gear and Singlespeeding, these ladies have big reps, World champ and National Champs status across all codes, but I had no idea any of them were CXers.
|Me flying my Kite.
Check out the levers.
I busied myself at trying not to fall off on the
slimy off-camber and after a few laps I managed to haul Jenna back
probably courtesy of my running fitness, up one of the grunty walking
climbs. It was common for me to come a cropper at least once a lap, and
to fail at reclipping into my pedals as my crash point was usually
followed by a pocky descent that was bumping my feet off the pedals.
Sucks to be a nana!
The race was to be a bit longer than normal at 60
minutes plus 1 lap and eventually I pulled back Geoffrey and started
catching a few more riders and lapping a few more. The “other” Mike Anderson from
Stoke Cycles was just around the corner and for two laps I tailed him
and Anja as Anja’s lap times started to blow out. On the last lap I made
a move and somehow cleaned the technical bit that was stymieing me,
dropped Mike and ran past Anja on the next climb. Great I had it nailed.
Unfortunately the last zig-zag proved too much for my nana-skills and I
lost the front-end yet again and with my levers getting progressively
lower with each get-off there was no way I was going to make the time
back with less than a couple of minutes to go!
Somewhere along the way we caught Jut Bishop who I
remember from back in the 90’s as being the area’s top MTBer. Its cool
to see him still out there giving it a crack.
|Geoffrey Notman with his racing head on.
Alex was having it mostly his own way after his main competition,
Logan Horn from Christchurch burped his tubeless tires twice on a firm
part of the course, not that it meant that Alex slowed down at all, indeed
he came a good cropper on the triple-set of stiles at the start-finish
and scored a good haematoma for his efforts. It was great to hear some
of Alex’s tales from his CX racing in Europe last year.
We were late in starting the race so Geoff and I split ASAP
when it finished to get out to his next appointment at Renwick where he
was taking some shots for inspiration for his next series of paintings.
Alex also took off so sadly missed the prize giving which looked
particularly salubrious with some very nice bottles of wine and other
goodies up for grabs.
After attending the Renwick Boar Slaying comp we realised what a
completely fringe activity Cyclocross is by comparison. Thanks Mondo for
lifting the profile!
wholesome meal from my mum I was contemplating jumping on my new scooter
for its last ride on the mainland, to the ferry, when the next quake
hit at 5.09. A 6.5 ! What a monster. I cant say I’ve ever been scared of an earthquake
to that extent in NZ before. Suffice to say it was a busy week at work
the next week.
south and would recommend anyone to check out the CX events Mondo, Brent and
his crew are putting on down there. We travelled via the Bluebridge Ferry which has free wifi and movies. Compare this to the
Interislander Ferry where you have to pay for both of these, on top of a
more expensive passage fee, plus The Bluebridge people had a half price
deal on : )
Thanks to Sarnim Dean for the use of his awesome images on these pages. Check out the classic one below. This is Kim Swan (the one on the left ; ). She is a good friend of my fathers and has written many books on Pig-Hunting and horse riding. For more on this theme check out Sarnim’s pix in his Flickr feed.
|Kim Swan, look harder, no, on the left ! http://www.sarnim.com|