If you had to sum up this race in 3 words, it would be tough, hot and humid. We had a long day in the saddle with technical stages and tight transition that allowed us only a little time to rest before the clock started. Coming out of the winter from the northern hemisphere to New Zealand was kind of a heat shock, had to that the 100% humidity from the jungle, it was like racing in a turkish bath all day.
The course was really fun and technical due to the slick roots everywhere. And the best would be do go stage by stage as each had their own peculiarity. We started off at the Te Puia center that host the Maori Arts and Crafts instute and is located in a geothermal valley. The first 6 stages where in the Whakawerawera forest and the &th and last stages was at Skyline bikepark.
Stage 1 was my nemesis: lots of pedaling on the top flat section in the mud to destroy your calf muscles for the rest of the course. Then come the DH bit with muddy off camber turns spiced with slick roots. Lots of heckler populated the jungle in this bit and to keep you on your toes. A nice flatish sprint at the end to finish to kill you. I didn’t stay upright enough on this one.
Stage 2 had a really tight transition leading into it, with just a few minutes to spare it didn’t give much time to recover. With lots of pedaling involved at the beginning of that stage, it gave me leg pump and I had hard time at first, then the flowy bit came and it was all fn and giggles.
Stage 5, my second nemesis but only in 1 spot where I got hanged up for what seemed forever and it involved a lot of swearing in French. Other than that if you look at timing, it did not go badly apparently. It had a lot of off camber traverse with lots roots and it involved picking up your front wheel a lot.
Stage 6: That was one of my favorite during practice, a high speed flow track with lots of drops. I got offered a re-run on it after being diverted due to an injured fellow racer but passed. Would it have been worth taking it? No sure as I was pretty tired at the time. Could have, would have, should have…. we will never know.
Stage 7 was way more slick at the top than I remembered and quite treacherous plus being tired didn’t help. But I felt quite good on the bikepark bit even though wooden structures are not to be trusted.
So stoked to have made it out alive, in one piece and with just a few bruises all over my body. Finished 24th of a stacked up field of strong women. Good day in the saddle though. Finished the day with a huge smile on my face.
GPS track for stages 1 to 6 (forgot to restart it for T7 and stage 7)
Official results are:
1- Jérôme Clémentz
2- Fabien Barel
3- Wyn Masters
4- justin Leov
5- Florian Nicolai
6- Nico Vouilloz
7- Matt Walker
8- Damien Oton
1- Anne Caroline Chausson
2- Tracy Moseley
3- Cécile Ravanel
4- Aneeke Beerten
5- Megghie Bichard
6- Ines Thoma
7- Rosara Joseph