On the 2nd of February 8 of the Tauranga Development raced at Palmerston North to compete for the North Island XCO Championships. We had a number of riders including Amy in the U17 girls, Emma in the U19 girls along with Angus, Zane, Corban, Conor, and Cameron in the U19 boys. On Friday 31st January Angus, Zane, Corban, Conor and Tristan went to fellow u19 competitor and friend Adam Francis’s house to have dinner, talk about the course and a bit of pre-race banter. After this we travelled to the accomodation in Himatangi which was close to the beach.
The next day was course practice where the team travelled up to Arapuke mtb park to pre-ride the course, after finishing the first lap scoping out lines we could tell this was a gruelling and technical course. The course started with a steep uphill road climb till the gantry and first feed zone. After the feed zone we dropped into the first descent that leads to the rocky rambo drop, a steep rock drop with sharp rocks scattered around. After the drop it then leads to one of the main climbs on the track. Once climbed the steep track you cross through the second feed zone and into a undulating trail until a sharp corner to the second main descent which is a fast downhill with one a-line rock section and berms turning down. As soon as the descent is finished it is straight into a steep road climb that leads to the technical part of the course. This track has constant tricky features that test your skills as well as off camber corners and drops which goes all the way down to the the start line and the first steep road climb that leads you to the gantry.
On the practice day we had a few mechanicals from the gruelling course, Corban had a flat on the rocky rambo drop and Conor and Luke got a slow leak but their tubeless fluid self sealed and Conor snapped his chain as well. This was a testament to how brutal the course was on our equipment and we soon learnt to ride smooth and carefully.
The 2nd of February, race day for the squad members and the closing race of a three week New Zealand campaign for riders Amy, Emma, Angus, Corban, Zane and Luke. With all the mechanicals being fixed from the previous day and everyone knew their choice of lines it was time to start racing. The sun was out during the day however very strong winds were blowing making it quite a bit colder and hard to stay in a straight line. However, up first in the morning was Amy who started at 9:00am, attacked the course from the start riding very aggressive the whole way and finished up 2nd in a strong group of U17 girls. In the next race at 11.30 we had the rest of the squad members who were there racing. However during Luke’s warm up he had a bad crash landing on his shoulder hard and had to pull out because he was very sore, later after x-rays he was diagnosed with a broken collarbone. We wish Luke a fast and proper recovery so he is able to race in America in March.
The U19 boys went in the second wave 2 min behind the U23 where we saw good results from all the squad riders in U19, Angus rode at a fast consistent lap times over the whole race which saw him come away with a 3rd place. Corban had a good start but crashed quite hard on the 2nd lap which twisted his bars slightly and broke his lockout but continued to end in 5th. Zane rode really well attacking hills with speed and rode smart on the downhills which put him into 7th going through the finish, just behind was Connor who swapped his enduro bike for the XC hardtail and put on the lycra for the first time to smash the gruelling course and finish 8th. Another enduro rider Cameron didn’t swap out his enduro bike but still rode strong having a good start riding through to a 10th.
Finally Emma started a few minutes behind the U19 boys where she took on the course coming away with a 1st and the North Island champion jersey. Thank-you to Tristan for organising the trip, transport and feeding riders during the race, as well as a thank-you to Merv Hurst for transport and feeding and all the other parents and supporters out on course or at home.