Monday, February 09, 2009

SI XC Round 1; Return to Dunnas

Grinding up the first climb of the day

The eagerly anticipated first round of the South Island XC Cup was held on an undulating course that traversed Otago's rugged peninsular coastline.
Early rain that put a dampener on the field's nervous warm-ups didn't eventuate to much, and riders were fortunate enough to be greeted with a glorious headwind of similar ferocity to those sung of in sea shanties of old.

Ventana's pro XC rep Oliver kicked the race off with a terrible start, and as the riders funnelled into the congested first climb (the biggest of the day at 350m vertical) the jostling for position became vicious.
Fortunately the usually mild mannered Oliver took to the challenge with vigour, and muscled his way to the back of the lead bunch in time for the first descent.

Slick, wet and slippery was the order of day, with careful brake use required to keep bikes on course and avoid the dreaded grass burn.
From here the course became a flat gravel bash, punctuated by steep climbs and whoopy paddock based descents. Midway through a flat section of the course Oliver reported running out of gears, clocking a speed of 50km/h as mother nature gifted riders a free ride to the finish.

With finish in site Oliver dug deep, pulling in several elite riders in sight of the finish. One gutsy passing manoeuvre proved worthy of TV superstar status; earning Oliver 2 seconds of fame on TV3s national news. Look for the Fuego rider 42 seconds in.

A solid 6th place and 8th fastest time was Oliver's reward for a day of graft. The highlight would have to be the tremendous tailwind. In an age where nature's climatically driven air movements are the ire of so many cyclists when faced with them head on, it was fantastic to be treated to a gale of such epic proportions from the tail.

Mountain Pedaler out...

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