Thule Group

Motu Challenge 2010

Blog post   •   Oct 14, 2010 18:14 BST

After last year’s epic at Motu we along with every other competitor were hoping the scenario wouldn’t be repeated. Leading up to the race it wasn’t looking promising though with a major front due to swamp the area for the race day (and only the race day!).

Sure enough Friday night the rain started pouring down but everyone held a glimmer of hope as it had cleared slightly by the morning and the temperature wasn’t too bad considering it was 6:30 in the morning.

Setting off it didn’t take more than about 3 km for the rain to start back up and for the next two hours it go progressively wetter and the wind progressively stronger.

As we hit the first of the 3 big hills to Motu I managed to get away with team rider Tim Wilding and two Motu 160 competitors. We quickly put some good distance between ourselves and the chasers and towards the top our group was whittled down to 3.

On the descent Tim and I managed to get away from the other rider and we did some good work together to keep the pace up. Unfortunately on the second descent I punctured and Tim sped off into the distance.

By the time I’d finished the change 4 riders had passed and so I had plenty of riders to chase over the final 40 minutes of the ride. By the top of the final hill I’d just about caught the leading chasers and was able to sneak past on the final portion before Motu.

Onto the run after a rather slow transition due to frozen feet and struggling to get them co-ordinated enough to slip into my running shoes and it was off for what would turn out to be a rather lonely run. I think it’s the first time I’ve never seen another runner on course. The middle forest section was really wet and slow but wasn’t nearly as bad as the head wind over the last couple of kilometres.
Getting on the Time trial bike I was decidedly nervous given the strength of the wind and within a kilometre I’d already had a few close encounters with the side of the road. It was especially scary when the wind swung in behind and all of a sudden I was hurtling down the road at 60 kph and wondering when I was going to get nailed by a big side gust.

The ride turned into one of self preservation as there was no way I was keen to end up in a crash with more races coming up very shortly so a large amount of the ride was done off the aero bars. I was passing a few of the Motu 160 riders who were looking really battered by the wind too.

Over Trafford’s Hill and I swear at one stage I was completely stopped by the wind, I ended up in a track stand for a second or two before the wind eased and I was able to inch forward again. Fortunately once off the descent and into the Waioeka Gorge the wind subsided except for the occasional corner and the final few kilometres flew by.

At the river I was looking forward to having a sit down in the boat but from all accounts I was only about 10 minutes up on second place and given my lack of paddling in recent years I thought I’d better knuckle down and on with it. The river was running at a nice level after the rain and the only hassle was the ever increasing wind as I got further down towards the finish.

I must admit to a few looks over the shoulder to see if any company was imminent but aside from the spectators on the road and safety crew I seemed to have the river pretty much to myself.

All good things have to come to an end though and the legs were complaining a bit as I tried to coax a jog out of them up to the final bike section which promised to be a real grind into the wind.

The bike was almost twice as long as last year when we had a similar sized wind but from the opposite direction but the relief at finishing is immediately replaced with the fact there is still 3km to run.

It’s always nice to finish these races for as much as I enjoy them they also do punish you a fair amount. Dwarne Farley finished up second after what sounds like an equally lonely day and young Sam Clark continued his improvement with a solid 3rd placing.

Team Biosport were too strong in the teams with an easy victory and big thanks to them for helping Elina and I with support crewing along with Mum who came across for the race.

In Elina’s race she’d gone in a bit worried about her form after a crash in our last race in China and always having little issues while overseas. Added to that the women’s field was looking strong with Louise Mark who was second at Coast, Rachel Cashin, Sia Svenden who had been concentrating on riding, and local competitor Karen Hanley who had been receiving big wraps.

Elina and Karen got away early on the first hill before Elina was able to make a break on the descent and then gradually stretched her lead all the way to the finish.

Given the state of the course and the conditions the fact she rode with a couple of minutes of her MTB record and set a PB on the run will be a big confidence boost for her as she looks to have a bit of R&R before the NZ summer gets into full swing.

Karen Hanley held onto second which she seemed delighted with and Louise Mark rounded out the women’s podium.

The drive home Sunday was nearly as scary as the road bike with Gale force winds threatening to rip our kayaks off the roof or simply destroy them meaning an ultra slow trip to Wellington before the late night ferry home.
/Richard

PS: Next up for me is Xterra Worlds in Maui in two weeks, and then what will no doubt be one of the biggest tests of the year with the Tour of Southland. The Motu weather in the last two years has definitely been good training for that from what I’ve heard of the typical weather during the event.