The day dawned fantastic for the 2010 Colville Connection. Not a cloud in the sky, and the trails looking bone dry. There was a huge turnout from the AvantiPlus Waitakere/DOC crew.
The 72k’ers were off first. I witnessed the start, there was a mass 500+ peleton up the road. The pace was cracking.
24k’ers up next. Plenty of smiles, families and happy riders.
Before I knew it the 40k’ers were lining up, and we’re off. My legs felt dead straight off the line, sleep is over-rated anyway. (Note to self: If daughter invites friends over for a sleepover the night before a race, dont stay at home :-D)
Up a gravel climb jostling for position, lungs burning, then we’re into some nice swooping single track..yeah! Legs feeling better, but now its the road climb grovel. I get passed by some whippets, Im a few pies and lagers heavier but manage to hold them in sight. Now the inertia kicks in and I easily haul them in and pass them down the other side. (Computer reads max speed 82kms/hr)
4 of us work together bunch ride roadie styles on the flat road section and do between 36-39kph into Colville. Not bad for 26″ wheels and knobblies aye roadies?
They drop me like a stone at the next climb, so I just sit back and try and find my rhythm.
Then we’re into the 4wd and single track. I know its a big climb, from sea level to 450+ metres in a short space of time, so again, its spin to win and try to find the mojo.
I get passed by a girl, a 13 year old and 2 single speeders.
This will not do.
So I man up and the course starts to work in my favour. Im better when the going gets technical and tough. Haul some places back and after a steep hike-a-bike section finally we’re at the top. The view is fantastic. I can see the Pacific to the east and all round the Coro Peninsular. The pain and suffering are definitely worth it for the view alone. This is a beautiful part of Aotearoa.
But I cant hang around and admire the scenery for too long. Ive got 450m to descend. Yeeha!!!! This is where I can gain some places and time back. Im a much better descender than climber, confidence is high and my bike is running awesome. (2008 Specialized Epic Expert. Specialized make the best bikes on the market. Specialized. Innovate or die.)[tm]
The downhill is fast, rocky and slippy. I make inroads into the field again. My lungs and legs are feeling good. I know Im top 10. Perhaps top 5. Heck maybe I can make the podium….yeah DEFINITELY podium.
This is where things start to go pear shaped.
A gorse branch, unhappy at being cut down to make the way clear for dirty mtbers, decides to jump from the side of the track and lodge itself in my wheel between my spokes and fork. You know that feeling you get when youre about to go over the bars, and you know there’s nothing you can do about it? If you dont just ask Gaz Hutch. He gets that feeling alot. Anyway, thats the feeling I had right then. That “OH SH*T” feeling. Im sure I let out a little squeal at that moment.
The endo was big. Shoulder first, then helmet, then knee. Ouch. Dazed and battered a bit I dust myself and the bike off, remove the branch and Im back on. A little tentative, but I haven’t been passed.
HIIISSSSSSSSSS. Damn, puncture. A bunch pass me but new tube and CO2 and we’re away chasing.
HIIIIISSSSSSSSS. Really??? Yup [expletive]. Oh well lucky Ive got another tube and Co2 cannister. Another tube in the rear tyre, Ive lost quite a bit of time and places but I get stuck in and try to get some time back. Its not all over yet.
Its when I try to take a corner and my front tyre rolls off the bead sending me into the ferns that I notice my front tyre has lost more than half its pressure. Surely not? Yup Puncture number 3. That gorse still wasnt done with me. Its a slow leak so its ride, stop, pump and repeat up the last climb.
I see the podium ride off into the distance (TUI ad, Yeah Right) as I contemplate the long walk out when Craig Thompson, my knight in shiney A+ Waitakere armour, steams into view and offers up his spare tube and CO2 can. Cheers bro! Craig is on fire and stoked hes in front of Steve so hes off for his well deserved 8th Open Men finish.
My race is dusted so I wait an age for Bruce C to catch up and tow him along the road so he can finish like Mark Cavendish.
So there you have it. A fantastic day in a beautiful part of the country. A big thankyou to the people of Colville, the school, the marshalls, the organisers and everyone who competed or supported or was involved.
I will definitely be back next year. But I will be running tubeless tyres.
A few notable mentions in no particular order:
Martyn Pearce 4th Vet men 72k
Ian Burgess 1st junior, 3rd overall 40k
Reuben Horn 4th jnr, 8th overall 40k
Craig Thompson 8th Open men 40km
Keith Raynment 10th Singlespeed class 72k
Paige Weir Youngest rider 24k
If Ive missed anyone out let me know. If you have any photos to upload, please also let me know, coz I forgot my camera.
Oh, and when I got my bike out of the van to put it away at home, the rear wheel was flat. Again.
Man I hate gorse.
Tee S. Muggla out