In my ten years of racing I can honestly say that the Tour de Whaka was the most enjoyable race I have competed in. Two days of racing split into four races: A hill climb, super D, time-trial and cross country. The weather forecast was slightly dubious and the organisers made a call to have the three short events on the Saturday followed by the XC on the Sunday- good call as it turned out! There was a good turnout from the Palmy crew with seven riders! The field at this event was so strong- pretty much all of the north island nationals racers were there and very few punters so we knew we were up for a couple of days of hard riding.
Most people were slightly apprehensive about the hill climb but I was looking forward to it! Just short of 20 minutes of uphill slog- good fun! The ride of the day here has to go to Sam Bamford who finished well up the field. The super D was a brilliant, albeit pedally course, with some of the best tracks in Whakarewarewa- Split Endz, Pondy Dh, Pondy New and Rollercoaster. Everyone loved this race! The best moment had to be Ben Somerton doing a cartwheel off his bike over the line and the only thing he was worried about was whether his time had counted or not! Dan Terpstra showed off his awesome skills in this race with a 6th place finish in the U19 grade. After two hard races everyone’s legs were feeling pretty heavy with a time-trial on Old Chevy still to come. This was a really tough track to ride fast with the hill climb and super D efforts still fresh in our legs! At the end of day one several Palmy riders were sitting well up the field but the times were close so it was all going to come down to the XC race on Sunday.
During the night we awoke to hear it absolutely bucketing down! It was so loud that it was hard to sleep and all I was thinking was that it was going to be an entertaining race the next day and that I hoped it wouldn’t be cancelled! Luckily, the race was on! 25km of muddy goodness. The puddles were gigantic and hid numerous obstacles! Being of shorter stature I practically disappeared in one of the puddles- heard the rider behind me having a good laugh before taking a different line. It was a super fun, fast and flowing course. By the end of the race we all had a mudpack facial. Summer racing? Yeah right! At the end of the day Karl Paterson and Ben Somerton finished 5th and 7th overall in open men- the first non-elite racers which was an awesome effort. Ethan Jacobs has a stellar ride in the XC to finish 2nd overall in the U16 category while Sam Bamford finished 7th in the extremely competitive U19 grade. Tom Bamford finished 3rd in the veterans grade and in the open women’s’ grade Sasha, myself and Megan finished 4th, 5th and 6th respectively. It was an awesome, well-run event and well worth the trip to Rotorua. The new Pedal Pushers shirts also made their racing debut and got a few comments on how good they looked! If this event is run again next year you can be sure I will be on the start line!