When we left this story last time, poor Dave was out at the first stage, but all was going well for Carl into day two of the NZ Enduro 3-day race in the Marlborough Sounds. All was going well…
NZ Enduro Genesis and the rock-drop
I cruised along the transition stage, which is a pretty decent hour or so singletrack sidle, then more consistently climbing over some very rooty track. I happened to ride parts of it with Ian Goldschmidt, who’d started the NZ Enduro four years ago. Ian explained: “After running the Coppermine Epic for a long time, I figured New Zealand riders were ready for a wilderness-based Enduro event like this and while it’s not simple to make an event like this work, with DOC’s help, we actually managed to put it all together.” I also took the opportunity to quiz Ian at length about ‘the rock drop’ Sven had warned us about during the briefing. I thought I remembered it from the only time previous I’d ridden the track and thinking “this track is awesome, but I wouldn’t want to race it, because of things like that drop. If you get that wrong you could hurt yourself and you’re a long ways from anywhere”.
After the starter said “you can go whenever you’re ready” I was off, with only that rock-drop in my mind. In no time at all there it was. I rode it and thought “eh, was that it? What was I on about?!” Then the trail got consistently really rocky for ages and I remembered it was all the stuff after the drop that I had actually remembered. I got off a couple of times in the interests of preserving my teeth, but otherwise rode the insanely rooty sections well enough. At least that’s what I thought until fellow Wellingtonian, Jonny Waghorn, flew past me with another rider that I didn’t recognise. Ugh. I know Jonny is faster than me, but it’s never awesome being passed. Still, I rode my own race and kept an OK pace. The trail then got flat and smooth and I raised my seat and pedalled hard out of all the corners in order to save a few seconds. Then pedalled hard around two corners in a row in order to save a couple more seconds. Then I broke my ankle.
I’m on a boat
To break my ankle, first I had to pedal around a grassy flat corner, which was actually a greasy-mossy flat corner, lose both wheels from under me instantaneously, then come down sitting on my foot that happened to be tucked underneath me, probably still pedalling, and ride my foot like a bony sled across the moss at 35kmh for a good few metres. Yes, it hurt. And yes, I got straight back on my bike and tried to stand up on the pedals. “Nope, sit down!”. So I stood up again and promptly sat back down. I rubbed my shin vigorously for 10 seconds as I rolled along thinking “that’ll warm the muscles up” and stood up on the pedals and pumped. That was a big mistake so I sat down again, rolling to the stage’s finish line only a couple of minutes of flat corners away, but I didn’t pedal or save any more seconds around the rest of them. After that, I sat down. My ankle swelled up big time. With assistance of Ben, Luke, and Declan, along with other riders I didn’t know, and especially Graeme, the super-medic, I rode out one-footed to the lunch spot. From there, I took a ferry out to Havelock with another busted rider and the rider of a busted bike, pretty disappointed. At least once I got back from hospital around 10:00pm that night, Thomas felt sorry for me and gave me the double bed, while he took the lounge. While it certainly changed my plans to write about the event, luckily I could hand over to fellow Wellingtonian Jono Baddiley to cover the rest for me…
Jono explains the race stages following the lunch-stop of day 2: “The ride up to Stage 5 is not too bad - it’s in regenerating scrub, the heat of the day is getting towards complete, and your stomach is full from the second helping of burger at lunch. Towards the top, the gradient isn’t too steep, and the beech forest was carpeted with rata blossoms. Stage 5 starts about the average width of your average hand-built trail; just enough length to get up to speed, around a corner, and straight into a high-line narrow enough to making clipping your handlebars and tumbling down the steep bank a real possibility. After the 2017 edition encountered heavy rain all day, the trail conditions were all-time. Enough to give me the confidence to feel comfortable, stick the high lines, and generally feel relaxed. Which probably contributed to breaking my little finger.
Fortunately, pinkies aren’t entirely necessary race equipment, so the next stage and a half flew past. Stage 6 is shorter; a reasonably smooth walking track, which begs going faster than the corners it has really allows for. The last one of which, a flat, dusty switchback with minimal warning, leads to a sweeping grassy corner sprint to the finish, where one of Nelson’s finest emergency department doctors (riding the race as a medic) gave me a local anaesthetic, bent my finger back into shape, and told me I would be fine to race day 3 (on looking at the X-Ray, the doctor at Wairau Base Hospital suggested otherwise). So there was nothing left to do but share stories about the day with friends as they came across the finish, grab a cold drink, and catch a water taxi back to Havelock before heading to Blenheim Hospital to spend the early evening with the rest of the Wellington Master 40 ACC racing team.”
Again, we’ll leave our fast-dwindling Wellington masters crew here, until the last instalment, coming soon…
Words:Carl Patton and Dave Carlyon and Jono Baddiley and Barrie Wallington and Ben Wilde and Jonty Richie
Photography: Boris Beyer, Duncan Philpott, Digby Shaw and Sven Martin
Originally printed in Issue 88 of New Zealand Mountain Biker