Road trip to Rotorua New Zealand
Last week Tim, Chris and myself headed across the Tasman to ride the Redwood Forrest in Rotorua. We timed it so we could also do the Xterra Off Road weekend , which included Trail runs , mountain bike events and the Xterra off road triathlon. Somehow we managed to miss all the bad weather with Cyclone Debbie dumping record rainfalls in the North Island days before we arrived. It is a absolute credit to how good the mtb trails in Rotorua are as we saw a lot of flooding on our drive down from Auckland airport but the trails were perfect.
Race day was Saturday and we got down to the Blue Lake [Lake Tikitapu] early as Chris was first to go off at 9am. The MTB event was the same loop as the mtb leg of the triathlon, we had ridden the course the day before so we knew what we were in for. The 26km loop include 800m of climbing, some of the sweetest single track on the planet and a final decent on the legendary downhill track called “Eagle vs Shark”. Having ridden the course the day before we had a good idea of the more technical spots on course, this really helped on race day as with a narrow track and a lot of competitors it was hard to pass slower riders.
Chris had a solid ride and mastered all the obsticals on course to get around in a time of 1 hour 53min. Tim and myself started our race at a relaxed 11am, with a mass start , crystal clear water and no wind it was a perfect day for a race. I have really worked hard on my swimming this year, as in this race 12months before I really struggled and got way back in the field starting the bike leg so I was determined to have a strong swim and come out of the water with less riders in front of me.
With a traditional Maori welcome on the start line the scene was set , some of New Zealand’s and the world for that matter elite athletes were here racing, Baden Currie who had just won Ironman New Zealand and was looking at defending his title. ITU triathlete Sam Osborne who had been a podium finisher in this event over the last 3 years andin the women’s race two of the most experienced off road triathletes, Renata Bucher and Jacki Allen [nee Slack] were going head to head. Last years female winner Lizzy Orchard,was sideline due to a injury but still managed to compete in a team doing the swim leg.
I came out 6 min quicker than last year in the 1km swim and saw Tim head out of transition so I was pretty pumped as I thought I would be about 3min behind him, even though I still didn’t feel like I had the best swim. With my improved position in the water I was really able to ride a lot faster this year as the single track wasn’t as crowded. I some how passed Tim on course as he was caught up with some riders crashing in front of him, I called out as I was taking the high track around the group, but he didn’t hear me.
The ride took over a 1.5 hours and I gave it every thing I had out on the single track. I have had ongoing calf injuries for 12 months [yes old man calf syndrome :] so I hadn’t run consistently for months, so the 11km trail run was always going to be a battle. To my surprise I ran the first lap in under 30min, I had hoped to run under the hour for the whole course, but the legs shut down with 3 km to go , and I lost my podium spot in the last 1.5km. Still I was stoked with 4th place and to go under 3hours with a 16minute PB from the same event 12 months ago. Tim came in 10th in his age group and was surprised to see me at the finish, he hadn’t seen me pass him on the bike and with the run being mostly in the bush he hadn’t spotted me up the road. This is a great result for Tim who has had a bad knee injury over the last year, hopefully we can have many more battles together like this one in the near future.
If you are looking for a challenging event or just a great place to ride your bikes, Rotorua is a must do destination.
Tim and I would like to thank Celine, Nick and Lucas for looking after the shop while we were away, couldn’t of done this event with out their support, cheers Peter
details of Xterra New Zealand can be found here