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Motatapu Challenge – Picturesque Mountain Bike Blast

Motatapu Challenge – Picturesque Mountain Bike Blast

Guest blog by Alan Palmer - Pushbikes Ambassador

Churning through boulders on river crossing after river crossing with the wheels submerged past the axles. I had been advised to get in the right gear and just go for it – no stopping! This was just my 2nd XC race ever. In my first race, the St James Epic, I carried my bike over the crossings and lost valuable time. I was imagining the big mechanical repair bill when I got home.

Motatapu is an iconic Kiwi classic XC race covering 47km and 1214m of elevation.

Motatapu Challenge

There is nothing unusual about the race. What is unusual is recent interest in endurance cycling and performance coaching at age 63. It seems like cycling is a sport you can do forever – there were136 riders in my age group!

I nearly didn’t make it to the start because I hadn’t read the instructions about the mandatory bike check. Fortunately, the bike shop in Queenstown was open late and they were very obliging. Rookie mistake!

Race day began with a shuttle from the finish line in Arrowtown to Wanaka. 1500 riders positioned themselves in the starting chute according to their target completion time.

The course covered beautiful terrain over private land currently owned by Shania Twain. The good news is that this land is about to be gifted to the people of NZ – the largest gift of high country land in history.

I finished 6th in my age group in 3.11 minutes.

At the end of the race. I stored the bike upside down to drain the water from the frame and when I got back to Christchurch, I stripped the bottom bracket. More good news – there was no water in the bearings. I have heard horror stories of riders returning from these events and putting their bikes away for several weeks before riding them again, only to discover hundreds of dollars damage to the bike drive train.

So a few lessons learnt. I trialled a new sports drink that promises everything you need in your drink bottle for the whole event. It worked and I didn’t stop once for water or food. I rode a full suspension bike and this was perfect for the terrain. The seat post dropper was a lifesaver – that enabled me to go fast with confidence in all sorts of sketchy places. And finally, I learnt that I could do better at positioning in the starting chute. There is probably a 10 minute time saving by starting in the right place.

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