Everyone loves a local club race. So to keep my head in the game (and because I can never turn down a race) I entered the local Rotorua MTB club Double Brown Triple Crown winter enduro. This one day event was held across three lengthy trails in the Redwoods bike park. Luckily a week of dry weather meant the trails were running well, however the clear sky lead to some frozen and foggy conditions for the first stage.
Southstar shuttles were on hand to give everyone a lift to the top of stage one, which was great to cut out the biggest climb, however it did mean we were dropping in to what I thought was the most technical stage of the day completely cold. Te Rua (The Maouri word for The Hole) had been recently felled and rebuilt, the best way to bed it in is to send 100 riders full speed down it. The top section was a narrow benched trail with some seriously lumpy tree roots crossing the trail at awkward angles, which would be difficult enough on a dry day, but even worse when damp and slightly icy. The lower half was cut through the felled trees and was starting to rut up nicely from all the riders. Very rough, but a wide trail and clear views (despite the fog) meant I could let lose pick up some speed and start to enjoy myself.
Because of the size of the event team there was only one timing system, which meant we had to wait for all the riders to finish stage one before moving on to the next stage. I thought I would get impatient and bored waiting, but climbing part way back up the stage and cheering/heckling the rest of the riders actually turned out to be some of the most fun parts of the day.
Once all the riders had finished up we all road the transition climb to the top of stage 2. The next stage was a combination of two trails; Hot Cross Buns and Tumeke. Hot Cross is a really fun rooty trail to start with and ends with a nasty pinch climb to transition across to Tumeke, a trail which was used for the EWS in March, and never seems to dry out. Back wheel sliding around all the rutted chutes and berms is guaranteed to leave a smile on your face. Especially when the local bakery had put out mini pies and cream cronuts at the finish line.
Once everyone had finished stage two we rode up to the final stage in time for the mid day sunshine to come out and thaw everyone. Stage 3 was a long final bash down to finish line, making use of Corridors, in to Eastern Spice, in to Old Exit. The top of corridors is a flat out jump line which was flowing fast and fun, a quick uphill sprint drops in to a tight loamy section of trail which then turns in to Eastern Spice. This section starts to get steeper with some technical drops and gap jumps to navigate. After dropping out on to a fire road there is a long sprint in to a nasty steep climb to the start of Old Exit. This little trail has a bit of everything in it, dusty berms up top and muddy berms at the bottom, with a long jump competition in the middle.
The end of an awesomely fun day finished with chip butties, beer, and prizes at the trails trust building. All three trails were quite different, but also made use of some of the best parts of the forest. Despite riding here so many times the place is that big that over half of the trails I had either never ridden, or only ridden a couple of times before. Even though it was a local race the stages were technical enough to be a national event. A couple of mistakes from me, and never being able to beat some exceptional local riders on their local trails, meant I was pretty happy to finish 5th in my category and 6th overall. – Now pass me the chips!
All Photos = Mathew Hunt