It was one very busy weekend, with me racing back to back days and Scott hopping into a helicopter to get dropped at the top of a mountain! (And then racing with me the following day).
Saturday was supposed to be windy and ugly with a chance of snow in the mountains, which I why I chose to stay in sunny Christchurch and race in the Mt. Pleasant Enduro. I’ve enjoyed this race in the past as it’s one of the most low key events in high-calibur New Zealand. No pre-race jitters, no “why did I spend $120 to do this?” concerns. For $40, racers got 3-4 hours of riding with friends, four timed stages, a sausage sizzle, and the always spectacular views from the top of Mt. Pleasant. Totally worth it.
My race went really well. I only came off the bike once, in an awkward uphill climb-fail. I beat some personal records, and I had a really good time. I was well in second place for the better part of the race, but good fortune kept me on the bike and not my competition, so I ended up winning the women’s overall! (Out of 7. Mountain biking is incredibly male dominant, eh?)
Unfortunately, they put me in the Mens 30-39 category instead of Women’s, so I missed out on my big podium shot. After results were fixed up, my friends insisted we re-create the moment:
Sunday was the final downhill race of the season. It ran down a track called “Tilted Sally” which I’ve always felt was the most challenging of the main trails in Victoria Park. This course starts with a 15-foot jump (see Scott huck below), then you ride over a metal A-frame, through a small rock garden, then you’re off! That was the first 5 seconds. Next comes very loose, very steep descending, a log jump (which I make look very awkward- see below). Coming up after that is a road gap (or not, if you’re me), then a very steep root section that I crash in more often than not. I held it together for my race run. Barely. The end gets really fast and flow-y through roots and rocks, around a bluff, and down another steep dusty forest hill to the finish. All in all it takes 2:32 minutes for Scott, 3:26 for myself. He found himself in first place (for Mens 30-39) and me in third, which was also last (awwwww) for Women’s. I’d like to point out that there were only 3 women of 60 participants. And lots of potential riders, men and women, were put off by the weather, and many others put off by the course. So (I’m telling myself) that last place is okay, because I did it at all!
Below, Scott looking smooth after hitting a 12+ foot road gap, and me looking funny because I’ve come into the berm from the chicken line!
I woke up this morning feeling like I got hit by a truck! Two days of racing bikes is hard on the body, but setting goals and reaching them (winning the enduro, not dying in the DH!) is a great feeling of accomplishment.
Backing up to Saturday, however… the trip I missed again….argh! There’s an annual heli-bike mission put together by friends of ours. They commission a helicopter to lift them up to Chest Peak, a mountain in inland Canterbury. As one can see in the photos, there’s no “trail” for much of the ride, more like picking the most ridable way down the mountain side. The views are amazing.
I didn’t go this year because there was a threat of poor weather and the need to start early and “hurry” along a bit. Though it thankfully turned out fine, I didn’t want to be the slow rider, the weakest link, holding everyone up in a torrential downpour! Oh well, there’s always next year!
All of the following photos were taken by a friend who is an AWESOME photographer, Odin Woods. Scott is in the green jacket on the teal bike.
Rugged and beautiful, no?