It is Sunday 12 December, stinking hot, and 57 riders are setting off one at a time to tackle the formidable Waihi Midsummer Madness Time Trial.
This is the toughest road time trial event in New Zealand. I make it 127km with about 1300 vertical metres of climbing. There is some great scenery…but I have to admit it is hard to fully appreciate that during the ride.
Ages range from 16 to 77. There were six women, one tandem, three teams and a whole bunch of guys racing. The team category was new and required the team members to ride together over the entire course – nice idea for first timers. There were two Palmerston North riders at the start: Jocelyn Goodwin and myself. It was clear that we would have bolted into the prize for those who travelled the furthest, but sadly the organisers had overlooked that category.
Did I mention it was hot? The little box on the handlebars recorded an average temperature for the ride of 26.8C and a maximum of 35C. I suffered a lot in the last hour and was very dehydrated and saddle sore at the finish. I think many other riders would have fallen to the same fate…dehydration that is! No-one came close to breaking 3:30:00 or the record for the course which stands at 3:20:19.
Times by individual riders to complete the course ranged from 3:40:16 to 6:02:31. I did 3:51:48 to win my age grade. Joceyln did 4:38:20 to grab silver in her age grade, but her time was affected by a mechanical problem at the base of the main climb when gears refused to change and she spent time stopped at the side of the road trying to shift a gear suitable for the longest hill climb on the course.
I was attempting to defend the Doug Kingston Trophy again this year. It is awarded 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” 58 year old would ride the course in 5:02:39. I managed to ride 3:51:48, so I beat that by 1:10:51. It was good…but not good enough. A guy in the 70+ age grade beat his MAST time by 1:11:03.