On Saturday I went along with a posse of friends who had entered the inaugural T42, a race though the 42 Traverse near National Park in the middle of the North Island. As this group don’t own a geared mountain bike between them, I took my singlespeed along to show solidarity. Driving through pissing rain on Friday night I was feeling pretty good about that feature of the weekend – mud was on the menu. The only thing worse that riding a long way on a hilly course with one gear is grinding a perfectly good multispeed drivetrain into a worn out pile of junk in less than three hours. On arrival The Park was awash with bikes (literally, as DoC insisted on de-Didymising bikes and shoes prior to kickoff, and the forecourt was covered with suds). Registration was in the bar, which had various beverages flowing and a fire to sit around. This is a great concept I think all events should get into.
Race day dawned grey but dry, and we got ourselves up to the start courtesy of Kate’s mum Jen, 4 riders and their bikes constituting almost the entire singlespeed category (not that there was one) crammed into Kate’s little wagon. C T-B worked his way up to the front of the horde, while DB and Kate joined me near the back. The race started in a sort of semi-swamp of cowshit, but soon enough we were on the 42, which turned out to be very onespeed friendly. The quads that haunt the area have created excellent berms on all the corners – the downhills were really good fun. The climbs were interesting – the single gear meant I was either climbing faster than I usually do or walking, with no other option available. The race finished in a paddock behind Owhango, which was surrounded by forest and must have looked much the same for the last 50 years... fantastic kiwi setting for a race through the heart of the North Island. Factoid: Owhango means "the place of wheezy noises". I certainly made some of those getting there.
To our collective amazement, we all finished in the top half of the field. We chose the early BBQ sitting (excellent), but the combination of the long and arduous day and a huge pile of food knocked us out like Nelson’s eye, and we were all asleep by 9, sort of wasting the fireside ambience of the crowded bar. The morning after presented a bluebird central plateau scene, with Ruapehu carrying a fresh dusting of snow. The photo is from our breakfast position, has my corn flakes cropped out and a goofy sign we saw on the way home grafted in.
All in all a great weekend away, give this event serious consideration next year. Yes, yes I know it is a long way from your place, but you can fly into Rotorua, ride yourself silly, and do this as well.
We have come up with an excellent addition to the Soigneur range, which I can’t show you yet (secret) but I did wear a sample of it for the T42. It was as brilliant at maintaining optimal temperature and looking generally cool as you would expect, was lusted after by my roommates, the race winner Cabin and the Olympian Kashi alike, and was completely caked in mud by the finish. Today it hangs in the breeze after laundering and looks like new. If you are game to take a Soigneur top off road, it will handle it.