By Sophie Luther
Dunedin’s weather didn’t let the Cyclocross National Championships down this weekend, it gave the riders exactly what they wanted, snow, mud, ice and slippery obstacles to suffer through.
The 48 hardy Cyclocross riders battled it out for the National title over the 3km track built out at the infamous Whare Flat, Waiora Scout Camp event site, by our hardy CycleWorld Team. Cyclists from across the country came down to enjoy the frozen south and our volunteers put on an outstanding event full of thrills and spills. Some of the highlights would have been the fairy who turned up despite the cold, the MC’s banter flying across the course and the snow flurries which thickened during the race.
But to the competitive stuff, the racing and in the men’s category the standard was very high but it was Nelson’s Tristan Rawlence who cleaned up first with 6 laps in 1 hour 4 mins and 53 sec. Close behind him was Christchurch’s Logan Horn followed by Wellington’s Brendon Sharratt, with only 9 seconds between them. As many of you will know Tristan has raced internationally on his Cyclocross bike but loves racing back on home soil. “It was a fantastic race course, it had mud, snow and was technical, everything cyclocross should be,” said a stoked National Champion. “The race was especially tough with the pressure Brendon Sharrett was putting on me, there was only about 10 seconds between us for the whole race so I was stoked to hold on for the win. Cheers to Ground Effect cycle clothing and Santa Cruz bicycles for keeping me rolling. The Cycle World team put on a flawless event, NZ has been waiting for a course of this caliber since the sport took off here a few years ago.”
Women’s winner Anja McDonald showed the girls and the boys how it’s done, by winning convincingly despite having to run some of her last lap as her chain had broken in the thick muddy conditions. Rotorua born Anja has also ridden competitively overseas in the UK and Canada on her cyclocross bike and attended the 2007 Cyclocross World Championships. Local riders were thrilled to be able to pit themselves against such high competition and for the junior riders they had a lot of great role models to look up to. Second and third in the women’s class toughed it out, but it was MultiSport legend Kath Kelly from Roxburgh who took second and third went to Auckland based tough-cookie Gayle Brownlee.
The Cyclocross race was preceded by the Sport Class race, which saw the mountain bikers out in force. This category was added to the format so people could experience, the madness of riding a cyclocross course and have fun on their bikes. Local MTBers took on the challenge and entertained the spectators with their lively antics. Local Ray Hope came away as worthy overall winner of the Sport Class and Single Speed winner. While Reihana Haggie needs to get a special mention for his brave finish line strip tease, which we are sure was helped by Emerson Brewery’s fine refreshment.
The event was topped off by a bonfire, BBQ and some awesome beats at the Scout Camp, as the snow fell on what was a very memorable event. We would like to thank all the competitors for coming down and making this Nationals so special and our lovely sponsors Specialized, Ricoh, Hasler Builders, Emerson’s Brewery, DCC, Mountain Bike Otago and Cycling Otago. Until next time fellow CXers!
If you are asking yourself what Cyclocross is, here you go. Cycling is a growing sport in New Zealand and pockets of keen Cyclocross riders are springing up throughout NZ. The sport is known for it’s off-road courses where you can expect to encounter grass, dirt, mud, gravel, sand, and a whole slew of other assortments and combinations. The races are based on a set time and measured by numbers of laps, not distance. It is very popular in Europe and the States and is sometimes seen as the hipster form of bike racing.