BIG Day, Little Bike

Giant 2W Gravity Enduro Race 2: 5//12/2020

We arrived late Thursday night and I did my best to sleep in to be well rested for practise. I always find the teasing out of the stage information quite nerve wracking as a new stages is released each day, building up the tension and excitement for race day. Luckily there was nothing that I felt too unfamiliar with, all stages I had ridden before at some point, even if they did have some new sections – Hello Corridor step up! Now lets see how the ‘down country’ bike handles an enduro race.

Practise went well and all the stages are pretty close together which was good considering we had 6 of them, plus the joker to do! I’m most worried about getting lost on Box of Birds and taking the long fluffy duck line, as well as the steps/drops on Eastern Spice, which got a bit spicy today, but should be all good tomorrow. Big feed and a big sleep ready for race day.

Box Of Birds – PC: Robbie Dalziel

We had a loose plan of which order we wanted to do the stages in, but with everything being so close, we were pretty flexible. First up was Challenge DH, a fast flowing jumps track to warm up on. It was ok, but I’d be keen to come back and have another crack at that stage if we have time later on. Next up was Te Huinga and the one I was feeling most confident on. Well the top part was fine and I felt smoother than practise, then we drop into the skills park and more jumps. I awkwardly try to roll/pump them as best I can, but it’s defiantly a skill I need to work on.

Up Nursery Road to Mini DH which was pretty short and sweet, but I seem to take ages and I feel like I’m overthinking it too much. The SB115 is more than capable, I just need to trust the bike and myself to get it done. At least I’ve got the long climb up Katore road to get out of my head before Box of Birds. The queue is a bit longer up here and it is not helping to calm my nerves. A few deep breaths on the start line and I tentatively drop in, struggling to clip my feet to my pedals. I actually quite like this track, but its quite long (compared to our other stages) and I miss a few lines that cost me more time. Damn you Fluffy Ducks!

At least I am feeling good on the climbs and made short work of the trek up As You Do and over to the start of Stage 5: Corridor to Eastern Spice. This is the one I was most nervous about, but after coming down Box of Birds unscathed, I’m feeling good and managed what felt like a smooth and clean run. It just wasn’t fast. We bump into riding buddy Liv, who is marshalling at the bottom of Eastern Spice and get pumped for the final Stage of the day.

After 500 riders, Old Exit was looking rather blown out and I think we still need some fine tuning on the SB115 suspension set up as I was feeling pretty rattled over the braking bumps. I knew where the faster lines were, I just didn’t have the pace to execute and awkwardly bumbled down after a shaky start. We still have oodles of time left from the generous 5 hours given, so head over for a re-do of Challenge DH and the Joker: Down the Guts.

Well it looks like I keep pretty fast company, with the rest of the crew stepping up to the podium. 2nd’s for Ryan and Jenn and 1st for Andy. Strava says I beat my own previous times, so I’ll take that as a win and clearly the little bike is very capable. I just felt like I was lacking the racing edge or something. But I’ve been in a bit of a funk recently and until a few days ago I didn’t think I’d even be going.

Overall I’m stoked to have had a weekend away riding bikes with mates and doing my best to put the SB115 through its paces. The bike is super awesome and I just want to ride it more and more, if only the Taranaki torrential rain would let up long enough to get out there! 

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