Day two of the NZ Enduro couldn't have been more different to the day one, speak to any competitor and the first words on their lips will be 'weather', quickly followed by 'slippery'. The Nydia Track was testing to say the least today, racers faced 4 stages, 1100m of climbing, 1600m of descending and as many technical root sections and you can handle.
I've ridden the the Nydia Track in the dry so I can tell you it is without doubt one of the most beautiful trails I have ever had the good fortune to ride. The trail begins at Opouri Saddle before arriving down at sea level at Duncan Bay, a gorgeous spot where on a good day the water is an amazing bright blue, contrasting with the green bush rising straight from the water and into the peaks surrounding it. From Duncan Bay the trail traverses up to the Nydia Saddle, the aqua sea catching your eye at each break in the bush. Keeping the mountain on your right hand side you descend to an oasis of calm at the Nydia Lodge and continue to ride on up and over another saddle to Kaiuma Bay. In the sun the views are unrivalled, the Pelorus Sounds turning up the volume in a big way, each new angle needing time to take in the beauty and admire the landscape we are so privileged to be able to take our bikes through.
Today, the weather threw at us the opposite of yesterdays bright sunshine, the clouds were low, the rain was steady and the tracks were wet. Today was a day that when you think you are wet enough, you find a small part of you that can still take on a higher level of saturation. It was day where an individuals morale can plummet or rise at the slightest turn, where good friends and a bit of support or banter go a long way. It was also one where it pays to remember you are riding your bike and not at work! I'll recap todays stages but to be honest it all went past in such a blur, it might be better to let the photos do the talking for today, a picture tells a thousands words and all that.
We were shuttled early this morning to the Opouri Saddle dropping in straight away to the first stage of the day. I was quickly to realise what the Nydia Track held in store for us, about 100m in and as my front wheel tried make and escape off the edge of the trail I remembered Sven's words from his briefing "todays trail is one locals may steer clear of in the rain", this is high consequence riding with a hard benched trail there is mountain to be aware of on the right and a long drop to the left. Easing us in gently stage one threw just the small rocks and roots our way alongside the exposure, it was still a slippery affair and one to be still taken with caution. I made it down the trail just a short way before my 15 second rider was on my tail and shouting, happy to let her past, I tagged along for the ride for a while, wishing for some of her style and confidence to rub off on me in the tailwind!
The Nydia Track is a slow ride, we were in for a 35km ride today and I was expecting a 6-7 hour day. In these wet conditions it was a slow hike up to the Nydia Saddle for stage two, where at 400m of elevation we were also treated to a cold wind. Soaked through and aware that this was the toughest stage of the day I dropped in. Right from the word got the trail was a crazy mix of rocks and roots, the less said about my riding the better! As the men behind me began to catch up I realised it was actually much more fun to watch their antics as they rode, ran and danced their way over the trails, this was cyclocross territory. High lines were risky and left only to the very skilled, this trail demands momentum to manoeuvre the cobra sized roots and awkward rock steps.
The interval between stage two and three took place at the 'On The Track Lodge', where the hosts cooked up a BBQ lunch for 150 very dirty, extremely wet riders. The lunch, the tea and the coffee was just what we needed to get going on the 15km we had left to ride. I also needed the boost of some time with all the other competitors, a quick "hows it going" and a smile goes a long way. It was entertaining and reassuring to hear about the events of the two trails previously from the other racers experiences. What the lodge must have looked like after we removed all the mud ridden jackets and bikes, I hate to think, a big thanks goes out to the lodge owners and staff - without them stages 3 and 4 would have held a lot less smiles.
The hike to stage three and the subsequent stage seemed to me like a less steroidal version of stage two. I managed to stay upright and further perfect my running skills holding tightly to the top tube of my bike whilst keeping the bike at arms length to save my shins. I figured getting off once and running for longer saves time, I don't think the results will show this though!
Getting to the final stage and taking on the flat out pedal down a trail resembling a river, I was glad to see the finish line. My eyes had taken enough of the dirt, my shorts were sagging with mud and I was spent. There were mixed emotions about today, I for one bounced to and fro all day. I was super impressed by the high spirits of a majority or racers showing that riders love adversity and a challenge, remembering if it does't break you, it just makes you stronger!
Those that held the lines and didn't take a flying lesson down the bank were Mark Scott and Claire Hassenfratz. Scott Won three of the four stages and came second in the other. It will be enough to bump him up to second on the overall after two days of racing. Damien Oton still holds onto the lead with consistent days riding and Kiwi rider Joe Nation just sneaked in front of Jerome Clemetz by one second into third.
In the womens, Ines Thoma takes two stage wins and Claire and Bex a stage a piece. There is less than two seconds separating Thoma and Hassenfratz making for an exciting finish tomorrow. Mel Blomfield leads the open womens, Jonny Waghorn the Masters men and Byron Scott the Open men.
Tomorrow we head over to Canvastown and ride the Wakamarina, a favourite trail of Kiwi's and holiday makers alike!
Check out our full photo gallery here.....
Provisional results are here: