WOW. Round 4 of the PNP MTB series in
Belmont was pretty intense. I was itching to get my own back on the Wellington crusties who spank me around Makara, as I rarely ride there. Being a Belmont resident, local knowledge was my not too secret weapon! Having the "knowledge" meant that I knew I had to be first into the Danzig track, as there are NO passing lanes and if anyone falls in front of you, you lose valuable time.
I have never been shy on going for the hole-shot so I selected the appropriate gear and tried to imagine I was back on the velodrome doing a 3km pursuit. It worked. Into the first turn and I was already in first place, then we dropped around behind the shearers quarters and heading for the left hand gravelly turn.. Splat!! I lost the front wheel, and went gravel surfing, but before you could say "oh my golly" I was back on, and in the next 20 meters had retaken the lead and crested the rise and into the single track in 1st slot. Plan 1 was a sucess... Now on to plan 2... Hmmm... I didnt have a plan 2...
Rob Kilvington was on my tail and obviously cruising. We slowly put time on the chasing trio of Brett Irving, Karl Ratahi and Matt Farrar. Rob took off just before the top of Danzig and rode off into the sunset never to be seen again.
I just put my head down and just rode it like I stole it. Knowing what was coming up was an advantage, but not the technical kind of advantage like you get at Makara, more of a mental advantage, knowing when the gradient was goingto change etc. The other guys seemed to be making time on me on the descents somewhere through the kilmister block, but were losing it on the climbs. Awesome.
Last time up through the Pony Club I punctured after the last stream crossing and that was that. 2nd place gone. I had tried to go tubeless with my rear the previous night, but gave up when I couldn't air up the tyre. Bugger. I felt as deflated as my tyre. I aired up again with a new tube and co2 and took off just as Matt Farrar caught me, he too had also punctured early on.
The manic pace was taking its toll, I was already starting to cramp each time I jumped over a stile, and there seemed to be heaps of them! I fell into the old trap of over-doing it after my "puncture-rest". I dropped Matt but I think he was spurred on maybe 5 mins later when Michael Thomson came up behind him and woke him up. Both of them shot past me somewhere along the old coach track and the best I could do was keep Michael in sight on the Danzig descents. I grovelled in at about 6th spot I think, feeling a bit gutted, but I enjoyed it while it lasted. We were really going hard for a long time. Too long!
Andy Woodwarks photos here.
Nigel Sanders photos.
I take blurry fotos.