In a race that has never disappointed, the final day of the Yeti Trans NZ Enduro 2017 could be nothing other than epic! Three stages, a 45 minute hike a bike, one gondola and 1,500m of descending, all before lunchtime beers, a great day by all accounts!
It was an early start this morning as riders rose again in the dark, stumbling to breakfast as the weariness of a weeks worth of racing began to show on our faces. The coffee van soon turned the frowns upside down though and riders were kitted up and ready to go at 7:45am sharp. We were able to ride straight from the door today and were soon settling into a big climb up through the bike park, the gondola doesn’t open this early and we needed to be racing down through it as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
Forget what you might be thinking right now, this wasn’t a day for the park rats. The climb to stage one was about 500m of steep, grinding fire road, it was a quiet affair as some chose to walk and some churn away slowly at the pedals. The stage itself was a mix of bike park trails and hidden links, it was a work out for the brain, checking junctions, reading the criss cross of tape and deciphering the trail through the dust. After an early start, dropping in steeply it was like a slap in face to me, “yup, I’m awake now” I remember thinking a few corners in!
Dropping through open fast bermed sections, straight into tight rooty trails had my brakes screaming and my eyes on stalks. Coming to a halt at the finish I found out the other girls around me had made similar poor decisions on a number of high lines, good, they can’t have been that obvious when racing blind then!
Allowed the luxury of one ‘part shuttle’ today we all took the Skyline gondola to its terminus where we carried one climbing, then hiking up to a trail called ‘Missing Link’, a purpose built MTB trail with a real alpine feel to it, beginning just below the saddle near Ben Lomond. The push up, although never fun, was bearable as we were able to see riders making their way down the stage on top of the ridge line as we were walking underneath. Dropping into the stage, the nerves I had created for myself as I watched riders rocket at warp speed over the skinny trail disappeared and I realised this was going to be an awesome stage. I love the feeling when you feel right at home on your bike, everything just clicks into place and whether fast or not, it almost doesn’t matter. I say almost, we are racing, and as I type I’m in suspense as our times are being held hostage until dinner and prize giving tonight. For now then, I felt fast and had a hoot, probably better that way than being in receipt of the truth!
Stage two took us over rocky terrain, wheels and mechs brushing the tussock grass as we cornered with steep chutes and rocky pinch climbs keeping us honest. At about the three quarter mark the trail dove in the the trees and from here on it was soft, sweet, rooty loam until the finish line. Today the trails were in the kind of condition where every high line was achievable and there was grip for days, a perfect cumulation of weather bringing us to trail nirvana.
A short link took us to Stage three and the bottom of the ‘Fernhill Loop’, a root infested trail with a seemingly endless number of lines to choose. Like the rubix cube of trail riding, I bet there is not one person out there that has ever ridden this the same way twice. Taking courage from the previous trail, the high lines were game on and as the trail raced down towards the bike park the trail straightened out and it was time to hold my nerve and get off the brakes.
The ride out of the bike park was just as much fun as the racing, the lady train had been back in full swing today and we rode down following the local gal, Eva, in a cloud of dust. Back at base there was a cold beer awaiting, race director Megan has the priorities sorted, and a sarnie with as much of the feed station left overs as you could manage.
As I mentioned earlier the results were on hold until dinner time, well we’ve had dinner now and we all know that today saw Pete Robinson put 37 seconds into the field and Melissa Newell go 20 seconds faster than the rest of the ladies. This left the overall results looking like this:
1st Pete Robinson 1:50:21
2nd Mike Cowlin 1:50:31
3rd Paul van der Ploeg 1:50:57
1st Melissa Newell 2:18:09
2nd Sarah Rawley 2:19: 03
3rd Rachael Gurney 2:20:10
The Yeti Trans NZ 2017 has had another blinding year, more awesome trails ridden and good time with good people had than you could ever wish for in 5 days. Megan creates an amazing friendly, inclusive vibe within her events that is indicative of the person that she is; a cool, chilled out character, stoked on bikes, loving life and with one goal – to create something you love being a part of! Mega thanks go out to her and the big crew of volunteers, without which we wouldn’t be racing – you guys rock!
Full Results Here