Around 3pm Friday, my partner, Rebecca (driver) and I started our journey to St Arnard.
Having never been there and arriving at 7ish in this isolated spot was fantastic! We found Kerr Bay campsite right next to Lake Rotoiti, and set up camp. Among the campers were loads of MTB’s and speed boats! After 2 helpings of spaghetti bolognaise that Beck cooked, and some star gazing at the seamlessly perfect sky, it was off to bed to keep warm and stop the sand flies sucking all the blood out of us!
The alarm went of at 6.30 and it was all go! Off to have a nice hot shower, a luxury when camping! Packing up the tent is always fun, we ended up just chucking it in the boot to worry about later.
A short 9km drive in the morning to get to the start where the 657 entrants were signing in and getting everything sorted. At the sign in tent I noticed half a dozen riders already on the start line. So it was straight back to the car to get kitted up in my “Blox” riding gear, pulling the Merida from the back seat of the Subaru, chucking the wheels on, and down to the start line to clam my position.
Looking around I noticed there were no toilets! So the good old wooden post was good enough for me to settle my nerves (with every other male). Not sure how the females coped.
On the start line there was a wee bit of banter about how hard the ride is and that we will be having a head wind. Trying not to worry about this, as I was a first timer to the rage, I waited eagerly for briefing to start. A huge emphasis on warm clothes was made.
Before I knew it, we were off doing our 15kmh behind the Ute jostling for positions, the Ute took off and so did all the competitors, the race was on! Remembering what Paul had said, I placed myself around 10th so I didn’t have to lead, but could still “go” if the front guys attacked. Rebecca watched the start and said a couple of riders were fixing flats before they even crossed the start line.
After the first 30km I found myself around 18th, good rhythm, and happy with how things were going. Up Island Saddle, which is about 3km long, and after riding 57km to get to the bottom, it hurts! But the down hill was great, all the hard work was meant to be done, fast undulation down hill to Hanmer, but that southerly had picked up, and being alone I had no choice but to dig deep and keep turning the legs for the next 40km!
As the temperature dropped, I though of how Rebecca drove down from St Arnard with a heater going, nice soft seat, and minimal effort, and here I was slogging my way up Jollies Pass, I must say its not that steep, but it killed me! The last 6k’s was the fastest down hill, which put a huge smile on my dial! The thought of no more corrugations of the shingle road was something to grin about too! A chicane at the bottom with everyone cheering me on as I crossed the line in a time of 4hours 42mins, good enough for 24th overall and 3rd in my 19-29 age group.
The weather got even worse, about 30mins after I got in it started to rain. Fellow Rainbow Rage competitors were coming in shivering, with a few being shuffled off to the ambulance being hypothermic.
All in all it was a great ride, being my own critic, there was lots I did wrong, but after less than a year of riding I can’t complain too much, and I had no mechanicals!
I’m looking forward to the Rainbow Rage 2010.