The Santa Cruz Coppermine Epic mountain bike race, now in its third year, attracted a large, diverse and competitive field of riders on Saturday 21st February. Riders came from all over to test their skills and fitness against some of New Zealand’s best trails and arguably its toughest mountain bike race. Full results here.
The entry list showed a mix of talented riders, Robin Reid (Olympic Time Trail rep), Tim Wilding (2007 NZ Xterra and 2009 Singlespeed champ), Andy Reid (2nd Kiwi Brevet), Susy Wood (national cycling representative), Lisa Savage (seasoned adventure and multi-sport racer), Harriet Harper (2009 national downhill champ and world representative) and Anja MacDonald (2007 XC mountain bike champ).
This year, the course was faster and more ridable with new work on the challenging Boulder Valley. This meant competitors spent more time riding their bikes, as opposed to running. It was still challenging enough, only two competitors this year could ride all of Boulder Valley, Spoke Magazine’s Leif Roy was one of them.
The race has two courses which climb the Dun Mountain rail trail and through into the mineral belt. They then descend from Coppermine Saddle down the highly challenging Boulder Valley to the Maitai Dam and out via the Maitai River track to the finish line at Almond tree flat.
It was notable that the top 3 male and female riders of the Epic class had ridden Santa Cruz full suspension bikes, which obviously suited the course.
Richmond’s Robin Reid, former Olympian NZ time trial representative, won the race in a very fast time of 2.09.24. Reid held off the TimWilding, of Wellington (2007 NZ Xterra Champ and 2009 Single Speed National champ, who rode to Nelson from Picton the day before!). Local, Ethan Glover narrowly held into third place, after repairing a puncture on the course. Fourth place went to Andy Reid, who performed exceptionally well considering he had finished in second place in the 1200km, multi- day event, the Kiwi Brevet only two weeks prior. It was surprising to see him racing; other Kiwi Brevet competitors didn’t even want to look at a bicycle.
The Woman’s Epic race was very competitive and again a field of multi-talented riders. Blenheim’s, Harriet Harper (current NZ National Downhill Champion), finished first in an incredibly fast time of 2.38.56, which put her 13th overall. Harper overtook many riders in the technically challenging parts of the course on Black Diamond Ridge and Boulder Valley. Harper will be off to Wellington next week to defend her downhill title at the National Mountain Bike Champs. Richmond’s, Susy Wood brought in second place and was noted that she set a scorching pace up ‘The Classic’ climb. Wood had a train of riders trying to keep up with her speed on this long and difficult climb. Seasoned national Cross Country racer Cathy Hamer of Hokitika secured third place.
Last year’s women’s winner, Lisa Savage, didn’t have the speed this year and was obviously recovering from her amazing effort in the Kiwi Brevet.
The men’s Enduro race was won by Richmond’s Gazza Milbank (also riding a Santa Cruz mountain bike) in a very fast time of 2:11:06. The woman’s Enduro race was won by Nelson rider Alicja Maslowska in 2:45:04.
All riders were glad to cross the finish line where they were rewarded with liquid refreshments from the Sprig & Fern and a BBQ of gourmet seafood provided by Solander, with an option of a massage waiting.