Monday, 28 July 2014

Round 5: Wooden Legs and Grey Ambience

110 dedicated riders lined up on Sunday to sample Round Five of our Hüttcross series. With relatively temperate weather leading up to the race, we wondered why numbers were a little down. Certainly the frosty Hütt air was lacquered with a certain layer of gloom, and spirits were not exactly buoyed. 

I guess we're all just getting a little sick of winter. 

Nevertheless those that threw the ambivalence off with the bedsheets were treated to a pretty cool course. Being a scoundrel who prefers courses that aren't exactly pleasant, I would say that though, wouldn't I.  

Good use was made of the stop bank. A conscious decision was made to dial back the severity of the off camber, leaving it to the traffic to make life more difficult. This had the desired effect. For C grade, nearly all of it was ridable with a little commitment. For B grade, there were a few fresh lines for those who knew where to look, disappearing by the end. Which left a conspicuous absence of acceptable lines for the A grade race. Perfect. Elsewhere we had good, wide hairpins and judicious use of the road to ensure plenty of passing opportunities.

C grade looked like fun. While we were tempted to heckle ruthlessly, the field had the composure of persons comfortable with riding at their own pace, and not inclined to throw themselves recklessly at a technical section because some fool encouraged them to do so. Instead the heckling evolved into quite a genial commentary. Lisa Hunkin was the standout female, edging out the fast approaching Karen Hunn by 11 secs in the end to secure 4th overall. Jan Sheppard, mother of XC star Samara, was all smiles too, relishing the technical lulz on offer. 

B grade was full of the usual suspects. Sasha Smith was a cut above the other ladies, finishing a lap ahead. But given I've witnessed her getting very icky on some Wellington tech, and she's got a good engine, that's no real surprise. Mike Hunn won't mind me saying that he was heard several times whinging about admiring the technical parts of the course. He was all smiles at the end - soaking up that retrospective bliss we all know and love. Up the front of the race, Sam George spent the race chasing young gun George Jackson, but both were to be outdone in the end by Blair Simpson who secured the win. Joel Healy looked impressive. Having warmed to the peculiar demands of 'cross, he was able to make use of his illustrious TT hams to roll some seasoned racers. Also impressive for his progress was Matt Disney, who very nearly monstered the tricky uphill chicane that reduced the bulk of riders to a walk by halfway.

A grade was treated to two different courses. First it was greasy and cut to shit by the preceding grades. But then the sun came out and a frigid southerly hammered up the valley, turning the slippery business into a rather agreeable, tacky mud. Big T-Rex rode a solid race, but our compadre Alex Revell was on another level, taking a convincing win. Clearly he has cultivated some good form ahead of the National Champs race on August 10th. Fellow ttcross conspirator Calum Chamberlain was conducting an active protest to the difficulty of his flatmate's course design by stopping every so often to chat up Hutt girls by the stop bank and watch wistfully as clouds rolled by. He finished 15th. 

Finally, we'd really like to thank Amy and Ryan Champion. They were there to help set up in the morning, and stuck around to help pack it all down. That's pretty typical behaviour for the Champions. In Ryan's words, "That's just what it takes to make 'cross happen." No doubt - thanks nonetheless.

The next big event, if you're so inclined, is the National Champs race in Hawkes Bay on August 10th. Rumours are that the course will be challenging, and we're hoping to send a strong Wellington contingent up to poach some of the titles and maybe even bring the jersey on home. 

But then...

It's the finale. 

Hot dang have we got a special day in store for y'all. It's at Awa Kairangi park, in Upper Hutt - a previously untested venue. And there will be fresh features and gaiety in spades. We intend it to be a celebration, but with a competitive flavour. Costume up. Bring some friends. Come prepared to race hard and see the season off in style.

And then, of course, stick around to find out who is to be the lucky recipient of the custom frame. I think our merry band is all agreed that the hardest part of organising this race series was disqualifying ourselves from the prize draw. It will be a fine frame. 

August 24th, lovers. That's just under 4 weeks away. Best get to designing your costume, and ready yourself for a party - 'cross stylez.

Happy wintering, chins up now.



(Photos abound on the Facebook page.)

(Provisional results are also available.) 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Round 4

Be like Lars.
Round 4 at California Park this Sunday. It's looking damp ahead of the race again, so be inspired by stage 5 of Le Tour and embrace the mud, the battle, and the glory
(for one catch-up, see: http://inrng.com/2014/07/tour-de-france-stage-5-wrap/).

Check out heaps of photos from round 4 here, and results here.

For those who either want to give a CX bike a go, or who have family/friends/enemies they want to play a prank on, the generous blokes at BikeTec will again have some bikes available for use. If anyone is interested in making use of one, flick them an email at huttcross@xnet.co.nz.

This offer is also open for the Kapiti CX series but you will have to come by and pick up the bikes as I wont be there.