Just got back on the unicycle for the first time in 3 1/2 months, so I thought I’d have a go at the inaugral Owhiro Bay to Hawkins Hill challenge.
Basically, it’s a race between Road Cyclists, MTBkers, Runners (and a Unicyclist) to see who can get from sea level up to Hawkins Hill (495m) the fastest. There are three main ways to get to the top- up the road, up the infamous “Tip Track” (rutted gravel road- 400m elevation in 4.5km), or up the Beta Place track (an option for the runners which hardly anyone took). Most of the runners and all the mountainbikers headed up the Tip Track.
It was a perfect day- cold and slightly damp which made the track firm with plenty of traction. We set off at 30 sec intervals from the Bay. It was 2km up the road before turning into the Tip Track (for the MTBkers) or continuing up the road (for the Roadies). Straight away I knew this was a bad idea when I hit the first 100m of 20+% grade . The Tip Track is one of the steepest tracks in Wellington- it’s used by our top Mountainbikers for hillclimb training. Luckily I was able to get off and run up the first section pretty quickly. From there it flattened out a little, but just enough to ride. There were nice bits followed by nasty steep rutted/loose sections that had my heart rate soaring and my legs turning to jelly. I passed quite a few MTBkers but had to run a fair bit of the first km. The middle section was pretty flat and fast, and then it was a medium climb to the top of the track. From there we turned onto a sealed road for another 2km to the finish.
So does this race answer the question of which is the fastest? Difficult to say since the Road Cyclists took a different route to the rest of us. All I can say is that the unicyclist didn’t come last but even if I was as fit as the winner, I don’t think you’d win it on a unicycle. I lost too much time on the sealed road (about 5min to get to the base of the Tip Track, and 3-4min to get to the finishline from the top of the Tip Track). The grades along the Tip Track were limiting for a unicyclist with only one gear. However, I could run up the steep bits as fast as some of the fastest MTBkers could ride up, but nowhere near as fast a proper runner.
There were just over 100 people racing, with some of the top local riders including a former Mountain-running World Champ and one of our Olympic Mountainbikers (Athens). She beat me by just under 5min
So anyway, here is the summary:
Winning time overall (on a MTB): 24:44
Winning time Roadbike: 27:45
Winning time Running: 30:05
Unicycling time: 38:23
Here’s an article from the local newspaper before the race:
Here are the results (I’m entered as a MTBker even though I rode a 29’er Unicycle, 150mm cranks):
Can’t wait till next year when I can get some practice in before the race
Just for interest, I bought a Heart Rate monitor (it’s been about 8yrs since I trained with one, so this is really novel for me).
Max HR 201bpm
Avg HR 191bpm
I tried to get some measurements before the race, I don’t know how accurate they are:
Resting HR (measured 2 days ago) 44bpm
Max HR (measured on a bike ride yesterday) 225bpm
Anyway, I hope to see more unicyclists entering next year- perhaps we can have our own category?