‘Super D’ style races are the future, just ask anyone who turned up to race Sunday’s Triple Crown event in Rotorua. Full blown XC guys went head to head against full blown DH dudes and full time trail riders over three solid courses. Bikes ranged from current SS World Champ Garth Weinberg’s SS 29er hardtail though to Dean-o Cameron’s Turner DHR full DH bike. 

Riders assembled at the ‘old carpark’ (Redwoods side of Whakarewarewa), registered, told everyone how they weren’t going to ride very well and it was too early/cold/ some other excuse for riding badly and loaded aboard the South Star Shuttles. The mood in the buses was cheery with everyone catching up on what everyone else had been up to, how little riding we’d all been doing (apparently) and how they were stoked to be riding the Triple Crown. However as we got closer to the top of the hill the mood progressively changed. People were getting quieter, more subdued and the banter seemed to dry up somewhat with people looking around the bus eyeballing their competition.

Run 1 was down the famed Billy-T, G-Rock and Roller Coaster. Track conditions were a bit on the wet side, not too muddy but just enough so you couldn’t really punch the turns, meaning more pedalling and less carrying speed! Everyone has some tale of destruction, time lost, chain off, lungs coughed up or “I was going sooo slow!” but Dirk Peters showed his huge engine and mad skills were the perfect combo to take fastest time down the first track.

A short pedal and more blagging to mates and it was back on the shuttle to the top of the hill. Reaching the turnaround, most people opted to ride the top section of Little Red Riding Huck (that’s jump track to most). Trains of riders pinned their way down, dodging puddles, drifting turns and grinning from ear to ear, definitely somewhat easier than the race run 20 minutes before! After the top section of Jump Track it was an amble over to ‘Hot Cross Buns’ where we would start from the highest point, race down to the bottom, a quick gravel sprint to Dragons Tail and ride the first section of that.

With the track damp and technical (well, for Rotorua) and rough as guts in spots Hot-Cross was a chance for the downhillers in the pack to make up some time, with Craig Pattle jumping into second spot just behind Dirk who took fastest and Des Curry just back in third.

The group then headed across the forest to ‘Eastern Spice’, seldom ridden but definitely one of the more fun tracks in the area. Starting out fast and ‘jumpy’ things quickly tighten to  sweet, sweet singletrack, a few drops and some ‘hooky’ turns (and the odd non-racer blocking the track), then a quick gravel spint brings you onto the Exit Track, a choppy but flowy number with minimal pedalling, a tight left, a 30m sprint and we were home, done, caboosh.

Des Curry laid it all on the line and smoked this course,some four seconds up on Byron Scott (second fastest) and five up on Dirk who was into third on this track. Things were looking tight here, with downhillers and trail riders times looking to unpeg some of the XC guys.

It wasn’t to be however, with Dirk’s consistency paying off, taking the overall win by two and a bit seconds over Des Curry and taking roughly five seconds out of Craig Pattle in third.

The whole event was super fun, the racing itself took a sideline to the social gatherings at the start and finish line and the rides between courses offered some time to just ride with old friends and new purely for the enjoyment of it, not just looking to take seconds out of them.

Big thanks to everyone who organised the event, in particular Stefan Bennett who pulled it all together. And thanks to everyone who turned up and rode!

If you care about results go HERE

We need more of these events around the country for sure!!

Here’s the ‘official’ race report:

Cross country riders are better than downhill riders but only just – two seconds better to be precise. Once again the weather gods smiled on the Triple Crown event (although not the track gods), with blue skies and warm weather but slippery and gluggy trails. In a really close finish, Dirk Peters headed off Des Curry by a mere two seconds, not bad after 25 minutes of racing. In his first race back since the doping scandal surrounding his fourth place at the 1993 Les Gets World Cup DH event, sensational 80s downhiller Craig Pattle took third (he’ll be ruing a wrong turn resulting in a head-on with a tree). The top five was rounded out by last year’s king Byron Scott in fourth and Carl Jones in fifth. While there was all the bravado of downhillers vs cross-countriers – in the end it was great to prove that downhillers can pedal and XC riders can hold their own downhill. Oh, and of course sport was the winner on the day.

In the ladies field, Triple Crown newbie Nic Leary headed off Simone McGregor and Sarah Croucher. I’m not sure Sarah Croucher initially thought much of her mother’s day present from hubby Ant (a Triple Crown entry), but after walking away with third place and winning a spot prize of a kayak trip down the Kaituna river – I think she was quite chuffed. Was really good to see more ladies in this year’s event, despite the event being held on Mother’s Day – a slight oversight on my part.

The juniors race went to Connor Hamilton riding with a blown rear shock, with Tom Rose in second and little ripper Nathan Saunders in third – I’m pretty sure his bike was bigger than him.

A big thanks to timers (Malcolm, John and Kim), Mark Upshall and his wife for clearing the tracks and doing a last minute sweep run, Mike and his son Josh for doing the sweeper run and all the prize providers – Okere Falls Store, Pure Cruise, Bike Culture, Southstar Shuttles, Kaituna Kayaks, MTB Skills Clinics and Quiet Chaos.

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