Cateye Moonride 24hr MTB race

Cateye Moonride 24hr race report

A team of us have just completed the 24hr mountainbike race in Rotorua, New Zealand. The Cateye Moonride is a fairly big race, with about 2000 mountainbikers (300+ five person teams), a unicycle team, two 12hr solo unicyclists and a 24hr solo unicyclist.

This is my race report:

Friday 9 May:
830am: Mum drops me off at airport. Fly to Rotorua. Certainly beats driving for 6-7hrs. But the unmistakebly smell of Rotorua is evident even from the air as we approach Rotorua.

1000am-ish: Got picked up by Peter’s Mum. Went to the Biers house not far from race venue. Sleep till 4pm.

4pm: Assemble unicycle. 29’ Yuni with 125mm cranks, Nanoroptor tyres, KH seat. Gimme a KH seat over Carbon-fibre airseat anyday- 24hrs on one wheel, next to no chafing :slight_smile:

4.45pm: Went for quick spin around the course. Fairly flat, rolling 85% singletrack/ doubletrack, 10% gravel road, 5% pit area. Even had an nice smelly geothermal mud pool next to the track. Completed practice lap in about 35-40min. Sweet, this will be easy! Got interviewed by a reporter from the Rotorua Daily newspaper.

9pm: Arrive at race venue. The whole team has arrived!
Crazy 12hr solo unicycle guys: Peter Bier, Tony Melton
Slightly more sane 24hr unicycle team: Malcolm Todd, Peter Derrick, Jez Weston, Steve Pavarno, Steve Taylor.

9.20pm: Interviewed by TVNZ newscrew. Quote: I’ve got a pretty soft seat but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to walk on Monday.

1000pm race start: Started on flat road to spread out the riders. Steve and I were last as we were thoroughly undergeared for this. Headed into the forest. The cheers were deafening!

1020pm took a wrong turn as nobody to follow and it was dark. Got lost, ended up where I started and had to do that loop again. Really P#$% off but nothing for it but to keep going. Ended up doing about 1hr20 for first lap:( ! The top MTBkers were doing 20min laps.

1120pm headed out on second lap. Didn’t realise I’d used most of the charge on my 4ah battery, since I was running it on full 20W. Ran out of battery juice at about 3/4 way through that lap. Had to use an LED bike light to get me home. Another long lap. Went to my bigger 7ah batteries. I didn’t realise how difficult this course was in the dark. It was bumpier than I remember in practice. The fog didn’t help.

Somewhere between midnight and 3am- I knock off another few laps. Legs cramping. Dreaming of fairies. I had to stop and get a couple of hours rest.

5am: A lot of teams have run out of battery power and only a few top teams and some masochistic solo riders are battling it out.

6.30am to 10am: Daylight, yay, I can see! I managed to do some of my faster laps 40min + 5min drink/peanut butter sammy stop at the Fat Dog tent/ Unicycle HQ. I get as many laps in before the mayhem when the 12hr teams start.

10am: I get back just before the 12hr teams start. Time for a hot breakfast. Bacon, Scrambled eggs, juice. Fat Dog Cafe you guys rock! Got interviewed by the TVNZ newscrew again. Quote: I’m shagged but I’m enjoying it now that I can see.

10am to 5pm- my head is in Disneyland so I cannot report anything exciting happening. There were a few dressed up teams: I loved the bumblebee team and also the police team. Dunno about the naked guy. Well, not quite naked, he had helmet and gloves and shoes on. Lucky not too many kids around this event.

Tony and Peter are ripping up the course with some pretty impressive times. I coudn’t believe they were both using Cokers with 170mm cranks on such a tight twisty course. The 24hr team are going well also. Only about 3 laps in front of me after I took a 2hr nap.

I’m having to run a lot of easy sections because my legs have turned to jelly. Every bump would cause me to fall off. Hopefully not too many people will go away thinking that Municyclists can’t ride anything. I think Tony and Peter were the most impressive out there as their legs were still pretty fresh.

Got lot’s of encouragement by everybody, but didn’t have any energy to answer:
“Good on ya mate, you’re a F@#$king legend!”
“Keep it going dude”
“Go uni guy!”
Thonk! (hits a tree)
etc etc

5pm: Had to have another 30-40min break. Oooh massage:p !

6pm: Apparently I’m on National news on TV1. I view it the next day and they had some cool footage! They showed my interviews but luckily they edited out all those dizzy, my head is in fairyland comments. This is great, it’s the first time mountain-unicyling has been on national TV so hopefully it will do alot for our sport. We made it into about three or four local newspapers: The Dominion Post in Wellington, the Rotorua Review, The Rotorua Daily, and possibly the NZ Herald as well. We were also interviewed for an article in Spoke (NZ mountainbiking magazine). There sure were a lot of photographers taking photos on course, and there was a lot of emphasis on the unicyclists.

I crank out a few more laps to make it to 20laps. Original estimate was for 30laps but I had no idea how tough this course was in the dark, and how much fatigue sets in. Although it was a flat course, it required 100% concentration at all times because of all the twisty singletrack. Give me the Karapoti anyday.

My last lap- I stop on the side of the track a few times “I want my mummy!” Not many things bring me to tears, but when I reach the finish line for the last time I burst out in tears and bawled my eyes out.

Got a nice wee campervan hire package ($750) for my effort but I was too tired at the prizegiving to do more than shove it into my bag (I hope it’s still there). I think Tony won a watch and both him and Peter got some sort of adventure sports package- ?shooting clay pigeons and riding on dirtbikes?

I must say a big thank you to everybody who supported me: 
Mum and Alex, The 24hr team, 12hr solo guys, the Bier family for all your encouragement and organisation, the Fat Dog cafe for feeding us and putting a roof over our heads, J’ville cycles for keeping my unicycles running smoothly, the race organisers Murray and Ingrid for putting on another fantastic event, and all the people who cheered me on even when I thought I’d had enough.  I couldn’t have done it without you all!

Also a special thank you to everybody who sponsored my ride to raise money for Oxfam.  You have no idea how much work I put into every dollar you sponsored me!  There has to be easier ways to raise money for charity.

Race photos and reports from our other team members to follow in the next day or so :slight_smile:

Great work, you’re a machine! Do you have any idea how long each lap was? Congratulations on all the media coverage you got, that’s amazing. And as you said, it’ll do a lot for our sport. Those are some good quotes you mentioned. Was there a separate unicycle division?

Thanks for a great report and I’m really looking forward to seeing the photos and what the track was like. You really took me back to my 24hr race and you’ve inspired me to go solo in the 12hr.


Some comments from one of the 12 hour solo riders.

First up boring/confusing lap length stuff.

The lap length was some where around 8km. The race organiser gave us a figure of 7.6km long (although I think he gave us that number after being awake for 36 hours in a row and he was getting pretty incoherant). One of the guy’s cycle computers read it at 7.75km for the 12 hour course. The 24 hour course cut off about 900m of the track so in theory was around 6.85km long.

The track was definately one of the longest feeling 8km courses I’ve ridden. Last years 12 hour endurance event course in Taupo was much easier. This years moonride course had no climbs longer than 20m but there were lots of sharp turns, roots, short steep sections, trees in the way etc.

Most of the single track was quite technically demanding, especially as we often missed the best line to make way for passing MTBers. I’m amazed I didn’t have more major crashes, especially since I was on a Coker for my first 9 laps.

Ken pronouced us mad when Tony and I decided to try the course on Cokers, even with 170mm cranks. We figured we would still give it a go any way and it proved to be a great tactical decision. Even thought it made the technical track tougher to ride it give us a speed advantage, especially on the one really sweet single track section (…mmmm banked corners and no roots :slight_smile:

I belted out the first 6 laps in under 4 hours, doing sub 40 minute laps and having brief water stops. Tony was cranking it even faster. I figure he must have been approaching sub 30 minute laps which on that course was insane.

We continually impressed the MTB guys by catching our unicycles will UPDing at speed. I’m not sure how I managed to catch a Coker will crashing at +20km/h The body has some amazing self defense mechanisms!

After hour 4 I started to slow as poor fitness and worry about my ankle came into play. This was my first race after tearing a couple of ankle ligaments and I was determined to come out of it walking. Strapping my ankle proved to be a great plan and got me through the event with minimal ankle pain. I was forced to walk two of the short steeper hills as riding resulted in sharp pain but the rest was still rideable.

Tony continued to zoom around and lapped me three times over the next few hours. I don’t know how he kept up his pace. I blame my poor power to weight ration :slight_smile: We both rode our cokers until failing light and fatigue forced as to switch down. I chose to ride a 26" with 150mm cranks once darnkess hit.

The night laps proved very challenging as a 10 watt light was barely adequate for night riding. I could hardly make out roots and turns before I had to deal with them. On lap 11 I told myself this had to be the last one as serious knee pain started to set in and my lungs started to give out. I passed Ken and one of the 24 hour unicycle team members looking absolutely stuffed and came into uni HQ ready to call it a day.

Tony was just hopping on again after a brief break to head off on another lap (the machine!). Then Ken came in and carried on again and I figured if they could do it, I could too. For my last lap Malcolm unicycled with me, providing lots of moral support and extra light. With three lights between us we managed to ride a final lap, despite having to stop to fix lights several times.

Balance was becoming a real problem and I had my first major crash, doing a full body slam into the dirt. The combination of knee pain, fatigue and saddle soreness was really starting to affect me.

I made it past the finish line with my energy utterly spent. I have no idea how Ken managed to continue riding 12 hours more than I had just ridden. Coming into the Fat dog tent I collapsed onto a couch next to Ken and Tony. We made a nice trio of exhausted riders. I was hicupping madly while Ken and Tony were going into random convulsions. The organiser popped in to see how we were going and asked what our lap totals were. With enough time left to do one more lap we unanimously decided we couldn’t face another and called it a day.

I’ve decided that a 12 hour offroad enduro event has to be the craziest thing I’ve ever done and probably will remain so for the rest of my life. I just wish I could have made my offroad century, I came close but in the end couldn’t quite make it.

Peter “my butt’s on fire” Bier

Re: Cateye Moonride 24hr MTB race

On Sun, 11 May 2003 05:04:26 -0500, GizmoDuck
<> wrote:

>‘Cateye Moonride’ ( 24hr race report

Great work Ken! Looks like a heroic race! Thanks for the nice report.

I’m only worried by your statement that you never want to see you
unicycles back again. Let’s just hope that you meant the relativistic
version of ‘never’.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

"Studies show that if a cat falls off the seventh floor of a building it has about thirty percent less chance of surviving than a cat that falls off the twentieth floor. It supposedly takes about eight floors for the cat to realize what is occurring, relax
and correct itself.

Re: Cateye Moonride 24hr MTB race

Ken, Peter, Tony! Way to go!! Sounds excellent and a little tiring! We did a
couple of rides today, one on Coker, the other on Muni, training for our 24
hour event next weekend. Solo though?!!? WOW! Maybe next year. But our
course has over 2100’ of climbing and descent per lap in 10.5miles. How can
I do that over and over again? I guess I have to get tougher.

Anyway, congratulations!


Nice report Peter. You too are a machine! Has anyone got any photos? I’m hoping the 12hr course will be longer than our 24hr course but it’s highly unlikely.


Edit - I just read the article, nice work guys! I thought I read that someone did 170 miles in a 24hr race or something like that. Am I mistaken? Congratulations on your charity work too. I can’t wait to do the upcoming 12hr solo.

Tony is a machine. After UNICON Tony and I went for a muni ride. It was about a 12 mile ride on a rocky and rooty trail along a river and has about 1600 cumulative feet of climbing thrown in along the way. My mountain bike guide book has that trail rated as “Advanced” “Most Difficult”. Tony was still full of energy at the end of the ride and was still jumping up on to boulders and stumps. I was totally spent and having difficulty just staying on the unicycle. How does he do it? This ride was during your Winter (our Summer) and Tony should have been the one who was out of shape while I should have been the one in shape. He’s a machine.

Tony certainly IS a machine. I was a little worried for a while there that he would catch me on the 12hr race! But I was too knackered to care. And I have to repeat myself- I would never have thought anyone could ride a Coker on that course, even with 170mm cranks. It was the toughest I’ve ever done because every bit of trail required your full concentration with all the twists and turns. There was no where to rest, except for a short strip of gravel road.

Aawwww, shucks! :smiley: You’re not too bad yourself, Ken. I don’t think I’ll ever do 24 hours solo!

I found the course to be quite challenging on a Coker. I didn’t do a single lap without falling off at least twice. Despite this it was way faster to riding my Coker than my 29er or 24" with 150mm cranks. My fastest lap was 30:59 and was followed by a much slower 42:10 lap on my 29er.

The early parts of the race were full of seat changes. I started out on a Miyata saddle which by lap 3 was pretty uncomfortable. I ditched the Coker for my 29er for that lap while my ace pit stop mechanic swapped Peter’s airseat for the Miyata. (Thanks, Steve!) I thought this would be super comfy but soon realised that I could barely reach the pedals. The solution to this was to deflate the inner tube (whilst riding, of course). This meant that I was riding a non-air, minimally padded seat - not much better than the original miyata!

After a few laps on Peter’s seat I swapped to my airseat and deflated it enough so that I could reach the pedals and still have some air pressure in the tube.

The first 7 laps were really good fun. Knee pain reared its ugly head on my 8th lap and forced my to stop a few times and do knee stretches. By this stage I’d been riding about 5 hours and was determined to complete a century before dark. I finished my 12th lap in 7 hours 24 minutes. At this stage I stopped for some dinner (thanks to Fat Dog Cafe) and also it was getting dark - a good time to rest as I knew the night laps would be tough.

I thought I’d done 13 laps at this point but I guess I must have misunderstimated. I was happy to have done (nearly) a century.

After strapping on headlights and swapping seats again I set off on my MUni for 2 torturous night laps. The pain in my right knee came back with a vengence and often made me cry out in pain. Mental fatigue and sheer exhaustion were taking their toll on me. Small hills which I earlier cruised up seemed to be mountainous treks of uni-pushing. At one point when I had stopped was feeling most fragile Ken came pedalling past and said ‘come on, Tony, let’s go!’ which helped immensely. I stopped moping and jumped on my uni and caught up to him. Thanks, buddy - I might stayed in that spot a long time if you hadn’t come along. Certainly helps to have several unicycle teams on the course at the same time - gives you someone to ride with who’s actually going the same speed as you. A nice change from being passed by hundreds of MTBers.

The Moonride was a very tough race - physically and mentally- but I’m glad I did it. I found I had reserves of strength I didn’t know I had. I also found out what it was like to do an offroad metric century.


Would you say that this helped you to keep going mentally?