Last weekend saw the inaugural Whites Bay Enduro take place around Whites Bay in Rarangi, Marlborough. The two day event covered a range of tracks up in the hills below Mt Robertson and with a $500 prize find for the male and female winners drew a big crowd! We checked in with local rider, Kiel Boynton, to find out how the first event went.
Day one based out of Whites Bay, greeted riders with clear blue skies and high of 28 degrees forecast, with nearly 1000m of ascending it was going to be a warm one. After a grind up the gravel road, stage one 'Double Eagle' was the reward. After a recent tidy up and with dry conditions the track was running fast, the steep entries into corners and a narrow track covered by the native bush meant picking your lines and braking points were the key to a good time. Justin Leov took out stage 1 ahead of Loui Harvey and Tristan Rawlence. Amanda Pearce started her domination of the weekend on this stage but Deanna Elvines was close enough that no mistakes could be made.
With stage one cleared it was back up the gravel road to stages two and three on the Whites Bay Loop track. With the sun beating down, the cover of native bush was a welcome relief as bikes were pushed to the highest point of the day at 690m. Stage two was the longest stage of the day with a mixture of tree roots, narrow tree lined sections and the infamous sharks tooth rocks. Sighting your lines to hold speed, but not asking too much of your tyre sides walls on the rocks, and digging it in on the pedalling sections made for a good stage. The timing gear on this stage was positioned on a steep uphill that had a lot of riders falling over themselves trying to scramble up on foot and clock out!
After catching your breath, stage three was the second half of the Whites Bay Loop track. This stage was more open as you descended down the ridge line at much higher speed, with Manuka trees ready to catch your handlebars. The stage ended with a cool ladder drop just above the tar seal road to round out day 1. A quick spin down the road brought you back to Whites bay were a well deserved beer was on the cards to replace the fluids lost from the day. Justin was again the fastest on his local tracks, with Loui and Tristan holding their places from the morning with Kurt Lancaster in 4th going into day 2.
Day two was a completely different contrast to day one, based around the Rarangi Campground we were greeted with an over cast day with drizzle coming in from the sea which made for wet conditions up in the hills, Stage one was a repeat of Double Eagle. With the first group of elite riders who went down having a few "issues" because the wet conditions, the stage was cancelled.
Stage two was a shorter part of Whites Bay Loop done on day one but the track conditions were completely different. As you climbed closer to the start the cloud rolled in and the temperature dropped, and with everyone checking tyre pressures, we were keen to start to warm up again. Aaron from Fortrin Coaching, the events main sponsor, was sent down the stage to check conditions, and he gave the go ahead with caution. Once away the tracks conditions were wet and slippery and picking your lines were critical to staying up right over the tree roots sections. The fast lines of the previous day were for those keen to push the limits of grip with the rock sections offering some relief from the sodden track. The stage ended at the Pukaka turn-off in preparation for stage 3. Unfortunately Stage 3 had also been hit by the conditions and the option was given to either bike back to Rarangi down the loop track or down the cancelled stage 3 Pukaka Walking Track, with most riders opting to ride down the Pukaka track. Riders were stoked about how cool this never-before-raced track was, but were clearly relieved that they were not racing it at full speed.
The event ended with prize giving and spot prizes with Justin Leov and Amanda Pearce taking out the Male and Female Classes and George Kennington taking out the Under 19 Class. A big thanks to Fraser for organising and running the event each day, Marlborough Mountain Bike Club, Aaron at Fortin Coaching for supporting the event and providing the overall prize money and Brent and the team at Bike Fit for their support also. These events wouldn’t be possible without the help of the marshals and first aid staff so thanks to their help also. Next year event is already in planning and shaping up to be another good event!
Words: Kiel Boynton
Photos: Bejon Haswell Photography