Thursday, May 04, 2017
World Master's Games 2017 - "Mountain Bike and Road Races"
Having moved to New Zealand in 2015 I had accepted that my racing days at Worlds level were over and then last year it was announced that the Master's would be held in Auckland! Should I or shouldn't I enter the mountain biking well it would be rude not to. Further researching the Games it was $300 to enter for the Bronze package and considerably more for Silver and Gold and being a careful Yorkshireman (deep pockets and short arms) Bronze it was.
However there was a silver lining I could enter as many events as desired for the same fee so although not a Road racer I might a well have a go!
My training was going well and I knew I was hitting form at the right time, I had trialled a new Scott 29er mtb having used my old faithful Giant 26er successfully for years. Having overcome several doubts regarding the difference this would offer I had become in tune with the new girl and was very happy with her. (I've had an affair with all the girls as they perform really well and never answer back).
Disaster 6 weeks out and I pull a hamstring on the turbo, this resulted in little training for the next 3-4 weeks (when I wanted to complete the final ramp up) and finally several visits to the physio for hopefully a miracle. I must give a shout out here to Marcel (Bureta Physio) for acupunture and exercises. Slowly and with the assistance of a tight restriction bandage I could train a bit harder. (Thank you Quintain for the referral). I would definitely get to the start line no matter ......
We travelled to Auckland on Saturday to register and start to feel the atmosphere. Registration was smooth although I thought it a bit tight not including a tee-sheet in the bronze pack? Sunday we moved initally to Woodhill Forest for a recce' ride and then to Helensville Campsite for the night.
Starting my recce' I joined an Aussie rider already numbered up so I knew he was in the category below me I had decided to ride it using the 26er having had the Scott serviced and race ready. The Aussie rode very strong and I think was testing me a little, no worries this was not the time and I had to be careful with the hammy. We had a good brisk ride and I wished him well for the following day. The course was easy to navigate, very fast and flowing and not overly technical Grade 3 in places at best, thankfully it did have sufficient climbing to be able to do some damage!
We set up camp in Helensville and the wait began, started to get a bit nervous but tried not to overthink my strategy after all how many times have I been in this position?
Monday 24th April - MTB Race Day
Met some Auckland mates who I had trained with a few times over the months who were starting at 8am. Another part of my preparation included several trips up to get intimate with the course.
Chris and Alicja arrived to support Rob and myself so we put the jug on and started to talk Chris over to the dark side?
Time to warm up there was a lot of activity with races having already started spectators looking for good viewing points and the tannoy system making announcements and commentating. Finally it was my turn, the younger category (60-64) were called forward seeded and gridded then my category. My number was 701 and I anticipated being gridded on the front line but no several riders were called by name and eventually the rest of us could come forward. The starter threw in a wobbler saying both cats were starting together so I was right at the back and a little annoyed!
We were off and I immediately noticed two from my category starting fast and working through the younger ones. These were the ones to mark I latched on and before the top of the climb one rider dropped off but the leader was pushing hard. I sat on his wheel whilst we passed riders and soon we were into the single track forest, the pace was comfortable and I planned to sit for the first lap and see how he fared on the main climb. About two thirds around he made a slight mistake and had to put a foot down I had to pass or stop so pressed on and put in a little kick to see how he reacted, by the top of the climb I could not see him so I pressed on and by the end of the lap my key supporters, spotters and timekeepers (Lynda and Holly) said I had taken 35 seconds out of him.
Coming through the start/finish area I had caught the commentator off guard and he had double take before calling my name! I pressed on hitting the hill hard and by the end of the second lap was 2 minutes up. Starting the last lap I caught the Aussie I ridden with the previous day I asked him his position he said he was fourth I told him to latch on and work together we might get him a medal? We caught and passed the rider in third but I started to drop him again, I pressed on and caught the second placed rider (another Aussie) he panicked a bit and I calmed him down and told him to ride smooth.
We rode together and on the tight single track forested ridge and descent to the finish he passed a back marker who slowed me until I could get past. I had passed all but two of the younger category and was one and half minutes behind that category winner. I would have liked a level start with him?
I had won and the race was uneventful, the hammy was okay and waiting around for the medal ceremony I was asked by lots of people who I was and where had I come from. The lad who was second was local from Helensville and clearly a pre-race favourite having been seeded first at the start. I had beaten him by over three minutes and third place by ten.
On the podium we all received our medals and a unique cap with Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist printed on it.
The event was well organised, marshalled and supported and a special thanks to all the riders who allowed passing without difficulty or complaint.
Saturday 29th April up to Auckland again for the Road Race, set up camp at the Bruce Pulman Park. It rained heavily all night and the wind was howling. I decided not to recce' the route having previously ridden most of it before the changes were made!
Sunday 30th April Race Day
Warmed up around the carpark and joined the assembly 15 minutes before the start. Whilst we were waiting to be called forward a whole row of linked railings blew over indicating how the conditions were.
We were off and the pace picked up quickly but remained comfortable we got to the rolling hills section and then the climb, it was a genuine test and quickly sorted people out crowning the top we hit the descent Fraser had warned me about. The first touch of brakes resulted in a rear wheel slide and a missed heart beat, I backed off a bit until getting past the corner covered in hay bails. We regrouped along the flat section and this formed a pattern for the next two laps. I anticipated a move on the last climb and ensured I was in the first three over the top six of us had created a good gap and this was the move of the race. We worked well although a couple of riders started to hide I felt strong and considered having a go about 5 kms out but resisted and thought it's going to be a sprint finish.
One of the riders snagged a pedal in his wheel and needed a replacement and sadly his race was done.
About half a km on the approach road to the turn into the finish unbeknown to me a rider had dropped back and launched a big attack on the other side of the road, he established a dangerous lead and had completely outfoxed us, it all became messy and I lost my wheel and subsequently came in 5th, three seconds behind the winner and a couple of minutes ahead of 6th place and others!!
I am disappointed not to medal but thats racing and well done to the others guys. Interestingly the rider who came 4th, one second in front of me was third in the mountain bike race 10 minutes down, umm food for thought?
Thank you to the Organisers and Volunteers who made it possible
The Games were clearly a great success and reminder of past experiences and I am glad I participated. I hope my account encourages you to participate, enjoy and experience the camaraderie and occasional competition in our chosen sport.
Defend the title in 4 years, watch this space.
Posted by petehorne at Thursday, May 04, 2017