Whaka 2014 100 km
Hmm, where do I start - maybe with the appalling race preparation leading up the 100km race? In the week before the 100km mountain bike race, around the trails in Rotorua, a group of friends and myself had way too much fun playing on the trails. In the space of a week, we had clocked up 350+ km with an awful lot of climbing and single track than you could possibly imagine. This resulted in our group starting the race on weary legs with one of the madder guys riding every day including the race on a single speed bike (apparently he can't afford more than 1 gear poor thing).
The day started freezing cold at -1 degree there was actually frost on the ground though luckily it wasn't snowing! We rode from the accommodation to the start about 10 minutes away. By the time we got to the start my hands were playing up and were very painful one the girls leaned me her lovely warm gloves to warm my hands up and I did eventually give them back! The race started well with a Maori group doing their traditional tribal dance I couldn't see it but I could hear it! The atmosphere was amazing and you could feel the excitement build. I was aware that the open female field was very strong with some of the local elite riders also coming out to race. I didn't really think I stood much of a chance but decided I was going to really enjoy the race!
The race for the first 3/4 was well marked but then the signs fell off and I relied on a couple of other competitors telling me where to go - when I got back I compared my Garmin with the race map to ensure I hadn't missed anything and I hadn't. My Garmin though was set to factory default in measuring distance which means it was measuring points at 10-second intervals with the tight twisty singletrack it missed half of it. This meant race distance was very hard to judge correctly so my pacing may have been a little too good.
The first part went well I was admiring the view, trying to keep the bike going the right way and eating and drinking at the same time - lucky I can multitask. I had one small fall over a silly little log the front end went over the back end hit it and slipped all the way down and spat me off the side. I landed in a nice comfortable pile of mud. The main issue was getting the chain back onto the bike it had jammed down into the front derailleur this took a good 5 minutes to sort out. Another girl passed me asked if I was ok to which I replied no to which she ignored me and kept on riding she may not have heard me!
I rode the rest of the course well even getting up to 67km per hour at one point - I was having too much and was probably not racing hard enough though with a foreign race it was hard to know how hard to push it! I only walked up a couple of very steep pinches towards the end but rode the rest of it and every downhill part as well.
I thoroughly enjoyed the race and it was only afterward when I asked the officials where I came I discovered I was 4th in my category just over 3 minutes behind 3rd and 12 minutes behind 2nd. The girl that won was an Olympian and beat 2nd by over an hour! I came 6th overall out of 25 women. I was happy with this effort but gutted at the same time as I had come so close. I will definitely be back to try again!
Interestingly in 2016, Rotorua is holding the world 24-hour solo championships for which I will hopefully return!