The Subaru Sani2c has quickly become probably the most popular multi day mountain bike stage race in the country, and talking to some of the riders taking part, quite a few are coming from abroad to take part in this brilliant event. The race now in its fifth year, is run over three days, but comprises also of the “adventure” race or “fun race” which runs one day ahead of the main event. By doing this they are able to accommodate all the entries they receive and give more riders the opportunity to take part. This was my third year and I’ve seen some pretty bad conditions in my first year, but this year took the cake!
Day 1 follows the same route as used in the previous editions, but just when you think they can’t improve, they do! The singletrack sections this year were doubled, not in length, but literally in tracks, as they made two completely separate tracks running alongside each other to speed up congestion and make the fast guys wonder which line was fastest. The field was stronger than ever as many teams were using it as final preparation for the Epic. Needless to say the pace was flat out and soon after the first singletrack and onto the climb, the selection for the day was taking place. Dave and I, both riding the new Raleigh Moonraker full suspensions were putting time into our rival teams on the rough climbs, but we were favoring speed for control in what was some of the muddiest conditions I’ve seen on day one. Heavy rains leading up to the race, and a thousand four hundred bikers going through the route the day before, had made the track really slippery and technical for us. Any time we gained on the climbs we lost on the descends. However we managed to keep it together and in the end had to settle for second place on the day by only five seconds.
Day 2 for Dave and I was always going to be tough. Overnight rain and another day in hectic mud was on the cards, and with 30km of steep downhill singletrack to start, we had no doubt our competition would be trying to take time out of us. We lost about 90seconds down Murrays Meander and Nicks Pass, and from the bottom had to start chipping away. We maintained a hard pace up the long climb to the first water point, and just after cresting the top, we bridged the gap to the three teams out front. It was up the climb to the halfway compulsory stop that the bikes came into their own again, really rough jeep track allowed us to turn in the screws and put about 90seconds into the next chasing team. After a refreshing stop, we did a two man team trial to the finish, claiming the stage and the overall lead by nearly 6minutes.
Day 3 for us was just about conserving, riding within ourselves, taking no chances, making sure of no mechanicals and consolidating our overall lead in the race. Some of the teams forced the pace from early on and we could sit on, not having to contribute to the work load. It is always good if you can have a day without too much pressure and often in these circumstances you perform really well. We had a hassle free ride and the hardest part of the day was making sure we never fell off the floating bridge across the river mouth at Scottborough. A couple of the teams did take a swim here, including the stage winners on the day! We decided to sit the sprint out at the finish and let the other three teams contest it, for us we were just happy to have won the race overall, giving the other guys a chance for final glory.
Well done to the organizers for putting on a super event, yet again pulling out all the stops and improving on an event which is already world class.
So our preparation looks on track and I have no doubt we’ll be right up there with the best riders in the world, ready for the hardest conditions mother nature can throw at us!