Round one of the Giant 2W enduro started with a bang. Being part of the Rotorua Bike Festival meant there was already a lot of bike related events going on all week, the weather was perfect and the vibe was high.
This was the first round of three, and has something for everyone. With the options of a short course (4 stages, grade 3-4) or a long course (6 Stages, grade 3-5), and the choice of shuttling the transitions or pedaling them, there should be a race to suit everyone. Although the race is held on one day the course stages are released throughout the week before, so there was the chance to get out and practice them before hand (if you were lucky enough to live nearby).
Never one to back down from a challenge I opted for the six stage non shuttle assisted course. This worked out at about 40km and 1500m of climbing, but considering you could do the stages in any order, how you linked them together would effect your overall distance quite a bit.
We opted to get the pedally stages out the way first, whilst we had plenty of energy. Also the climb to these stages would be brutal in the mid day sun. Stage A was The top jumps of Corridor, crossing on to Tokorangi, which turns in to soak hole and finally crosses over on to grinder (at 1.8km it would be a tough pedal, although not the longest stage of the day, it was the most awkward). I’m glad we did it early as well, the trail got dry and dusty very quickly, and the normally predictable Corridor jumps claimed a few victims throughout the day. The only negative thing I have about the race is the timing system. Using a dib in and out system means having the plastic dibber strapped to your finger, so you can get it in the receiver at the start, and end of the stage. I had taken advice and put it on my middle finger, however I quickly learned that it messed with my breaking. This played with my mind for the whole first stage as I was very aware of it getting in the way, so when it came to the second stage I moved it to my ring finger, and never had any issues with it for the rest of the day. Stage B was the whole of Gunna Gotta, with a short uphill road sprint in to Paddy’s run, which finished on the wash exit. This was a bit tighter, and more technical than stage A, with a narrower and more rutted trail. The more cross-country style trail of Paddy’s run tested everyone’s fitness and resulted in a lot of overtakes too.
After the first two stages we headed across the forest to tackle the two grade 5 stages that were only in the long course. Not before a pit stop on the way over for orange slices, sweets and a lot of water. We opted to do stage F next, a brand new trail, Tuteata. This trail was only finished a month ago, and this showed with parts of it still bedding in under the weight of the riders. A lot of off camber and narrow benches made it a technically challenging trail to hold speed on. Mix in a bunch of small gap jumps to clear, turned it in to physically demanding trail. Back up to the top of the same hill for stage E, and a favorite of mine, Te Ruru (named after the native Morepork Owl). Similar to stage F it was steep, natural, fast and a lot of fun.
The final two stages were on a different hill, with a brutal long climb up to stage D. It started with the top part of Eagle vs Shark which is super fast and flowy, in to a very long uphill track sprint which required digging deep in the energy reserves to keep the pace on. It then dropped in to Tukonohi, another fast and steep trail with plenty of little drops all the way down, to keep on your toes. The final stage, C, was a full Te Mounga, and although I wish we hadn’t left the longest stage until last, I was feeling strong. Te Mounga is a trail I ride often, so I felt confident in my line choices. The top part is awkward and rooty, this turned in to an open dusty and rough trail, then the final section of the trail flowed back through the trees and one last sprint to the finish line.
Despite the big climbs and punishing heat the race was a huge amount of fun, with some brilliant trails. The finishing line had sausage sandwiches and beer to chill with in the sun waiting for the podiums. All the shuttled and non-shuttled racers are put in together, so I’m even happier that I won my category, beating some of those that shuttled their way around, and managed to come third fastest women overall.