NZ Enduro The Final Domino

And…we’re back, or at least Barrie is, to fill us in on the remainder of the NZ Enduro, day three. If he can stay on his bike…

 Three second place finishes for Mitch Ropelato today.

Day three: domino four

With Jono out, Wellington-masters-fastest-man Barrie Wallington pick up the narrative: “The start of day three and life is good: a bowl of Yum granola with yogurt and a chopper ride before 9:00am! Right then: Jonny [Waghorn] is a minute behind, Andy [Reid] is a minute in front. I can't see much changing but day three does suit me. ‘5,4,3,2,1…in your own time’ and we're away. Oh yeah! A fresh cut track through verdant green forest, off camber and a bit slippy (way more slippy than yesterday) better keep the wits about me. Remind myself that this track is tricky, fairly fast with the odd little rock garden covered in slimy green. Funk! That climb's a killer, get the old heart rate under control. Back on the gas, allez, allez! And it was all going so well…"I Don't remember this bit…switchback left, switchback right, straightening up, get on the gas, not far to the finish line now, I can see the river! Finish line coming up! Woah! another switchback with a flat slippy slab of rock in the middle: this isn't going to end well.  BANG! Damn, that was a hard landing, get up and get over the line and you'll still get a time. It’s all over red rover".

NZEnduro_GG4A0274.JPG

By all accounts Barrie hit that corner, which he didn’t see it coming, faster than anyone, but ended up breaking his collarbone, getting a helicopter ride straight to Nelson hospital, got an Uber back to the race-finish and got in before the last finishers. Another of our intrepid reporters is out…

 Rider Briefing.

Ben

Enter Ben Wilde: Ben is another of Wellington’s old-man mountain biking fixtures and Trail Fund spokesperson). Ben describes Stage 8. “The main Wakamarina descent was for me easily one of the best stages of the weekend. Long but less demanding physically than the flatter, more technical stages of Nydia, with zero climbing (always a plus) and with enough going on to keep you on your toes (or over the bars if you don't pay attention). But fun as it was, it was also one of my more conservative runs of the weekend having just seen Barrie winched off the hill before dropping in. Nothing quite like seeing a mate pulled up into the whirlybird to settle things down.” 

 Start Marshals take their roles super seriously here at the NZ Enduro!!!

Although Ben didn’t crash out and did finish the race, I asked Jonty to take us through to the finish line: “Stage 9 is short and relatively inconsequential to the overall standings. I like this stage because it combines high speeds with some technical challenges, which if negotiated well allow you to carry speed into the next section. I'm not such a fan of the previous stage eight down the long Wakamarina descent, I tend to get a bit lost up top, then frustrated by my seeming inability to negotiate at speed the multitude of tight corners on the lower half of the course. Maybe I need to do a skills clinic? Whereas the best descriptor of stage nine would be to that of being fired out of a cannon...

Although Ben didn’t crash out and did finish the race, I asked Jonty to take us through to the finish line: “Stage 9 is short and relatively inconsequential to the overall standings. I like this stage because it combines high speeds with some technical challenges, which if negotiated well allow you to carry speed into the next section. I'm not such a fan of the previous stage eight down the long Wakamarina descent, I tend to get a bit lost up top, then frustrated by my seeming inability to negotiate at speed the multitude of tight corners on the lower half of the course. Maybe I need to do a skills clinic? Whereas the best descriptor of stage nine would be to that of being fired out of a cannon...

 Start of stage one.

Final thoughts

Dave Carlyon: To sum up, at the end of the race me and at least half of the Welly Masters riders were injured and had been to hospital, but would we all do it again? Hell yes! After all it is called an adventure race...

Jono: The thing that is special about the NZ Enduro — apart from the exquisite organisation from Sven and Anna Martin, and the bag full of goodies that we all receive at registration, and the helicopter ride up to stage 7 on day 3 — is the sense of adventure. Sure, it’s racing.  Yet it feels more like an afternoon out chasing your friends down the hills. Marlborough is a special part of the country to ride in, and the NZ Enduro rides some of the best trails on offer. I’ve raced it 4 years now, and I can’t wait for 2019.

Barrie: The event itself has a super-relaxed vibe for a start and the tracks are awesome. But I reckon the best races are run by racers, and Sven and Anka definitely know how to race bikes. Everything runs super smooth, the sign-on goodie bag has quickly become the stuff of legend. B-Rad is there to fix your bike for free whether your name is Blogs or Clementz. I can’t say enough about the medical staff and volunteers, they're all awesome, who doesn't love starting a stage with sweet tunes and a disco ball?!

 Cheers until tomorrow.

Ben: Overall, what strikes me about the event is the sheer complexity of the logistics and how well it runs despite that. Day two, in particular, has to be tough to make work and yet from the competitor point of view it's seamless, comes with a fancy lunch in the middle, and if you're fast enough down a beer at the end. And when things do go wrong there's a bunch of people around you to figure it out along with two fully qualified ER doctors out there who are slowly getting to know most of the Wellington Masters field on a first vein basis.”

Jonty: In my dotage, these types of multi day wilderness Enduro events are my favoured type of racing. This event in particular being one of, if not, the best. The combination of beautiful scenery, sweet natural techy, rooty and rocky single track, low key relaxed vibe, plenty of good folks from around the country and very well organised. Day two through the Nydia track is always the stand out for me. It is very rare that you get to race your bike in that type of terrain. Slowing down and reading the terrain, so as not to stall or get off your bike results in a fast time, especially on stage 4.

Carl: The guys have summed up nicely the specialness of the NZ Enduro. If you’re thinking about doing the race, then follow the event on Facebook because when entries go up for sale, they sell out immediately. I should add that while some of us old fools did make a bit of a hash of it, don’t be put off by our mistakes! The NZ Enduro is a physical event with some technically challenging riding, but the vast majority of the 140 racers came through unscathed.  I’ll see you there next year…

 Day 3 of the 2018 Santa Cruz NZ Enduro, Wakamarina

Special thanks

Special mention to Jonny, Jonty, Luke, Leif, Caleb and Ben for being the Wellington masters who didn’t play dominos with us, held it together, and finished the event in one piece (or at least with just some stitches holding the pieces together).

Special thanks to Medic-Graeme, who shepherded me out of stage 2. And also to Ben, Jono Luke, Declan and all the other guys who pushed me when it got too steep for me to ride out from Stage 4.

Special thanks to Barb for driving me to Blenheim hospital and to Dave and Jono for driving me back (they were already at the hospital anyway, but still…)

Special thanks to Jonty and Thomas for driving (not you Jonty) and arranging logistics and relinquishing the double bed once I broke my ankle.

Special thanks to Hamish and Barb for putting me up and running around when I couldn’t.

Special thanks to Sven and Anka for running such a great event.


Photography: Boris Beyer, Duncan Philpott, Digby Shaw and Sven Martin

Originally printed in Issue 88 of New Zealand Mountain Biker