Day two of the Yeti Trans NZ Enduro stayed put for a second day in the wilds of Craigieburn. For a change of pace, I thought I’d switch over to a personal account of the day, that way I get to relive the day too!
Rising in the dark, 2 minutes before the alarm (why does that happen?) I gathered my kit together, fictitiously patting myself on the back for laying it all out the night before and set out for a shuttle ride down to breakfast at Flock Hill Lodge, where a majority of the riders were staying. Riders were now getting in the routine and breakfast affairs were now less frantic as hungry riders realised there was more than enough food to go round.
As I drank my tea under the cover of the café roof, the sun rose overhead, burning bright into the morning mist. I stepped out from the door to be greeted by golden light shimmering in the moisture over the top of the barn where the bikes were housed. Picking my way from one end of the barn to locate my bike was like walking through your dream bike shop, bike bling propped up the entire length and breadth. My custom bike, a Swarf Curve, is pretty distinctive though so there was no mistaking it in the gloom.
Today was due to be a shorter day as the whole race setup gets transported in the afternoon to Queenstown where the base will be located for the final three days racing. Even with this in mind I was still keen to get out early for the days racing, I knew that the Craigieburn sun was going to heat up into a scorcher of a day pretty quickly.
The climb up to stage one ‘Dicksons’ was a chilly one, the trail hiding in the shadow of the hill on which we were to race. Topping out on the summit we were treated to the sun on our backs, thawing out the body and helping to loosen any aches and pains from yesterday before taking an assault on day two. Getting out to ride early, well and truly bit me in the backside on stage one, the open trail, deep ruts and low lying sun made for a tricky concoction of variables as I dipped in and out of the shadow in the lower half of the trail. If I could have crossed my fingers as I rode, I would have done. Fortunately I didn’t need too as lady luck was on my side, when temporarily blinded by the sun, my wheels stayed firmly in said rut! “Blinding run?” someone asked me at the bottom. Indeed.
The most talked about part of the day came up next, no not the feed station, but the long and arduous climb up to ‘The Edge’ which was playing it’s role as stage two. Whilst briefing us last night, Wingman No. 1 (to Megan the organiser) Ted, had this to say “You’ll get to a part of the climb where the road stretches out in front of you and you’ll think ‘I will NEVER get there’………. But you will!” And I did, in just under an hour too just before 10am with the climb still shaded by the trees, a welcome relief, Craigieburn by now was enjoying bluebird skies and still air, she was hotting up!
Stage two on ‘The Edge’ was one of the sketchiest trails I have ever ridden, less than 30cm wide in places, traversing the side of a mountain, with rocky outcrops to the right waiting to snatch a handlebar from the grip of an unassuming rider. The stage is a slither of benched trail with upright mountain to the right hand and a sheer drop to the left, this is one hard trail to race! I learnt a first hand a lesson in respect today, as when feeling confident I let my guard down resulting in a front wheel dive into what my brain imagined to be oblivion. As my front wheel lost traction with the narrow and steep section of rock on which I was perilously riding I had a brief moment to wonder where I was headed, The Edge is called The Edge for a reason. Luckily I was approaching a creek crossing where over time landslides had produced a bank jutting out from the sheer cliff, so I slid unceremoniously for a few meters before scrambling to my bike and wrenching the bars straight again, looking over my shoulder furtively for the next rider hot on my tail. After this escapade I eased off the gas and put my brain onto ‘red alert’ for danger, the trail soon eased off and widened, enabling me to rocket down a sweet rooty part of the trail called ‘Anti-Luge’, a great antidote to the fear of the previous section.
The third and fourth stages of the day combined slippery, flat, pea gravel filled trails in a two part descent to the finish line. Masters in getting a foot out will have reigned supreme here. On my part I made an uncoordinated scrabble from corner to corner with just moments, that had they been caught in a still frame, would have looked rad as I went foot out, back wheel sliding, shooting gravel into the sun dappled bushes! The day finished just meters from a cold beer and the logistical nightmare of getting 130 riders and 40 volunteers to Queenstown. Luckily Megan is a old hand at this and standing atop a picnic bench surrounded by a melee of riders and their kit she got the show on the road!
Results for day two sees Giant rider and World Cup Eliminator pro Paul van der Ploeg still topping the leader board, he dealt with the four stages of today in 18:08. Behind him in second, just 20 back was Brit (now Queenstown resident) Pete Robinson and rounding out third place was Nelson’s Mike Cowlin. In the Open Women’s category the racing is tight, with not much to choose between the top four, us girls will be on our toes all week. Day two saw me go fastest with Sarah Rawley hot on my heels just three seconds back, third place was taken by Melissa Newell just a further seven seconds back!
A seven hour drive will see all the bikes and riders in the adventure capital of the south, with a good feed and a comfortable bed, ready for three more days of awesome trails.