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November 2009

Tandems, mountain bikes, hot rods

091109The second running of the Nzo Whirinaki Quest was a great day out for the 240 mountain bikers who made the trip to Minginui in the heart of the Whirinaki wilderness.

Beautiful weather  on race day and a challenging but fun course meant everybody was happy afterwards.

A mix of purpose built singletrack through the huge old podocarp forest, old logging tracks and 4WD tracks brought riders to the Grovel Hill at about the 30km mark. A “hike-a-bike” to rival the Devil’s Staircase at Karapoti saw a lot of cursing and struggling, but the pay-off was a sweet downhill on loose fresh singletrack that erased memories of the climb within the first two turns. The Quest has everything you could want in an event:  stunning scenery,  fun trails, a bit of nasty old back country stuff, and good organization. Minginui turned on a great bbq lunch and a great locale for a race with a selection of swimming spots to refresh riders for the drive home.

Sunday was Rotorua’s big roadie event, BikeTheLake. My brother and I had signed up for 84kms on Jeff Anderson’s new tandem, which we took delivery of at 7pm on Saturday night, precluding any chance of a shakedown  ride. We set it up and pedalled to the start, not sure what to expect once the racing started.  For the first 42km we were awesome, not counting our pathetic performance on the only real hill on the course. Why are tandems so slow uphill? Any advice will be welcomed, as we are planning to do Taupo, where hills are constant. The second half did not go well at all, my excuse being a seat height miscalculation. We got in a race with another tandem at the finish, my brother reckoned we would have beaten them if he was driving, but that’s not going to happen.

Just down the road from the race finish was a fairly stellar hot rod show,  which we visited dressed in our matching lycra outfits. What the assembled petrolheads thought of our get-ups can only be guessed at but nobody said anything derogatory or threw anything at us. Hot rodders are wierdos, and are perhaps recognise kindred spirits, even  if they are wearing tight, shiny pants.