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A Pleasant Ride in the Coromandel Hills…Sort of!

It is Sunday 13 December and five riders from the Manawatu (along with 50 riders from the Waikato and Auckland Region) are tackling the Waihi Midsummer Madness time trial.

It has to be the toughest time trial event in New Zealand. I make it 127km with about 1360 vertical metres of climbing. Apparently there is some great scenery…but I have to admit it is hard to fully appreciate that during the ride.

The course is a simple, lengthy loop. It starts in Waihi, takes a few left turns, goes up a few hills…and down again…and then seemingly in no time delivers you back to the start. It is easy to be psyched out by the marketing, but in reality it is not all that different from riding the Apiti Loop. The Apiti Loop is about 136km with around 1200 vertical metres of climbing. Essentially what I am saying is: “If you can ride Apiti, you can ride Waihi…no problems.”

It was great to have some company from the Manawatu this year. I had done the event before, but for Jocelyn Goodwin, Stephen Snell and Tom and Catriona Pirie this was a first time experience. All acquitted themselves well.

Jocelyn won the female C age grade…and beat all the guys in C Grade as well! Tom said he was just there to “scout the course,” but got bronze in D age grade and was one of only eight masters riders to duck under the “magical” 4 hour ride time. In doing so I think he proved that the course does not necessarily favour a light-weight pure climber as many assume, but is kind to a strong generalist rider like Tom. Catriona had a puncture just a few kilometers from the start but showed the tenacity of an ironman to finish and receive gold in her grade. Stephen’s time would have been good enough to win the male C age grade…but unfortunately he was in the very competitive D grade.

This year I was attempting to defend the Doug Kingston Trophy for the biggest difference between actual time and the estimated Masters Adjusted Standard Time (MAST). The MAST works on the principle that older means slower. In my case the organizer generously estimated that an “average” 57 year old would ride the course in 5:00:22. I managed to ride 3:51:03, so I beat that by 1:09:19. The next best difference was 1:05:47 done by a rider in the 50-54 year age grade who won the MAST trophy in 2007.

The fastest time of the day was done by a well known elite cyclist, Aaron Strong, who rides in the A (35-39) age grade and did 3:27:23. The course record is 3:20:19 done by a national class U23 rider in 2006. The oldest rider rode 5:07:07 in the H (70-74) age grade.

For the record:

Barry Gilliland 3:51:03 (1st E grade male and winner Doug Kingsford MAST Trophy)

Tom Pirie 3:52:07 (3rd D grade male)

Jocelyn Goodwin 4:24:43 (1st C grade female and fastest masters female)

Stephen Snell 4:26:30 (8th D grade male)

Catriona Pirie 5:38:54 (1st D grade female)