SHAMELESS

2nd place is the first loser. Caleb did a bit of shameless self promotion after the Day Nighter, so now it's my turn...

On Sunday just passed I did something I've never done before, I rode for six hours. Not a big feat for some of you reading this I'm sure, but for a guy usually used to tooling around, riding downhills, and trying to be one of the youth by riding a BMX it was a big deal!

The Pukete Spaghetti is a six hour multi lap race held at Hamilton's Pukete MTB park. Much like every other race of its type it draws a huge range of competitors, from teams of 12 year old girls, to teams of 50+ guys, to solo riders out for blood.

Sunday dawned bright and almost clear, but by half way through race briefing we saw the first major downpour of the day, this "four seasons in one day" weather was to continue all day. Due to the abismal weather organisers made the decision to cut a couple of sections out of the course. Initially I was gutted that the more technical parts were gone but by three hours in I was glad they were, with even the easy parts of track proving difficult in the slippery goodness. The shortened lap was around the 8km mark, with the winning team completing 16 laps, and winning solo 14.

I managed to get a flat front tyre on about the fifth lap, and after my wizz-bang, no patch needed, goop charged gas can malfunctioned and covered me in foam, I almost threw in the towel after losing a few minutes on the side of the track. I manage to complete the remaining three quarters of a lap on about 10psi, and limped my way home to the pit area for a new tube and a track pump. Sorted.

Winner of the muddiest person in the 80kg+ Solo division.

The rest of the race is a bit of a blur but a few things stood out. Energy gels do work, as does "Cramp Stop" spray. The new 'technical' section of Pukete is awesome at high speed and doubling out the steps adds steeze points but makes it real squirrely when you hit the next bit of bog! Even with XTR on your bike it will work terribly and need cleaning every lap once its clogged with a combo of grass, leaves, and mud. No matter how good  a rider you are, after 4+ hours in the saddle even the simplest slippery corner can pose a problem (just ask the woman who passed me laughing as I squirmed around on the ground after sliding out). Carbo loading does work, and an eating plan is pretty important. Lycra is your friend, especially when it's wet and muddy, baggys have no home on the bike for that length of time. The race ain't over till it's over, I managed to gain time on the leader almost every lap after my flat. No matter who you are or what place you're coming in the race there's no excuse for creative license when it comes to the course, just because it's your last lap doesn't mean you can cut sections out (yes, people saw you).

So, a long story short, I managed to finish 2nd Solo rider with what I'd consider as a pretty strong ride, and only three mins off the winner. Thanks to HARO for sorting out my bike in time for the event, Doug for being my pit crew, and Hamilton MTB club and volunteers for their efforts! See you at the next event, I think I could be some sort of XC/Enduro convert?!

Bummed I didn't manage to get any 'action' photos from the day but I was a bit distracted riding my bike. Will post some links up once the Hamilton Club website is updated.