629th out of 967 riders!!!
I did the 50km 20th Anniversary Karapoti Classic on Saturday. It’s NZ’s oldest and favourite mountainbike race. It’s also the oldest and toughest MUNi race in NZ (with it’s own unicycle category for the past 3yrs).
Because it was the 20th anniversary, there is a 4wk exhibition at the local art gallery with photos and exhibits ranging from the first retro mountainbikes in the event, old equipment, T-shirts, the Karapoti board game, Karapoti wine and other memorabilia on display. Including my 29’er unicycle, which was the first unicycle raced around the Karapoti
I went to the anniversary function on Friday, then stole my unicycle from the exhibit as I had to ride it the next day- I gave it back afterwards :D.
Unlike previous years, this year I was the only unicyclist at our premier MUni event (C’mon guys where did you all go?). It turned out to be a race against the clock to beat my best time (4hrs 28min), and to beat as many mountainbikers as possible.
I started in the Retro, Singlespeed, Tandem, Unicycle start, which was shortly after the Pro-elite riders, and not too far ahead of the Open riders. It was the traditional race start- across the raging Akatarawa River (twice). Luckily it was at one of the lowest levels ever, so I didn’t fall in like I usually do.
After that it was all on- up the Karapoti Gorge I was apparently doing 24km/h (29er, 150mm cranks) according to one of the guys with a bike computer. My legs felt like they were about to fly off.
I eased off and tried to pace myself through the singletrack and braced myself for the Open Men to catch up. When they finally did I was almost at the top of the Karapoti Gorge- couldn’t believe my luck! About half the Senior men and a few of the Vets passed me, then we hit Deadwood (BIG Hill #1). It was a perfect opportunity to pass them back as I rode, ran, rode somemore, and scrambled to the top of Deadwood. This hill is so steep only about 1/3 of the field ride the whole thing
From there I would lose a few more places as we rolled along the top of Deadwood, before dropping down into the Rock Garden- probably the most treacherous part of the course. It was great seeing the brave few who tried to ride (or bounce) their way down the boulders, often destroying their bikes and bodies in the process. I picked up my MUni and sprinted past all the riders There was not a single rider that passed me on the rock garden, not even on big DH full suspension bikes.
Off the Garden and straight up the Devils Staircase (BIG Hill #2). It was remarkably dry this year, but still pretty slippery. Passed quite a few more MTBkers hauling their heavy bikes up there (not even the Pro Elite guys can ride the Staircase). My only bad fall of the race occured when I slid a couple of metres back down the Staircase and landed the unicycle on my head.
At the top of the Devils Staircase I grabbed a couple of jet planes (the ones you eat :p) at the drink station and then headed down Big Ring Boulevard.
The intention was to save my legs down here, but it was the roughest I’d ever seen this section (Have to go Tubeless next year, 50 PSI is ridiculous). My arms and groin started cramping up which unfortunately meant I did not have the legs to ride up Dopers Hill (BIG Hill #3). Still managed to run up as fast as the guys that were riding.
From there it was all downhill. I was slightly behind schedule to make a sub 4hr Karapoti, but not far off. I tried to pedal as fast as I could, but had a couple of bad cramps that had me crying like a baby on the side of the track .
Back across the Akatarawa River (twice) and rolled across the line in 4hrs 11min, the unicycle course record, and 629th out of 967 riders that completed the 50km Karapoti Classic.
Any NZ riders reading this, or if anyone is interested in coming to NZ to do a MUni race- this is THE BEST race there is!!!
Hope to see more of us out there next year!
Results up on www.karapoti.co.nz
p/s Colin- who I took a ride out to the race with, (and he was one of the officials during my 24hr World Record Ride) won the major spotprize of the event- a $2000 mountainbike.
pp/s Unfortunately, they gave me the same prize for the third year in a row, a Cactus Climbing bag. Oh well.