The T42, pronounced Tee Forty Two not Tea for Two - which is a completely different story, is a 48K mountain bike race “Based around the 42 Traverse track, known to many mountain bikers as one of the (if not the) best one day mountain bike trails in the country.” (According to the organizers of the Race). Yet again WhereScape made its presence known through the valiant efforts of four of its most elite, athletic employees (According to the authors).
It all started well enough with us all meeting up to cram into the one car to begin what became not just the T42, but the WhereScape May road trip.
Lots of time was spent around the back of the car ensuring that the bike rack and the bikes were secure and ready for the five hour journey to National Park. Of course we all had great ideas on how this could be achieved and everyone worked together on getting it just right. We work for WhereScape after all – it’s in our blood.
Even with this level of detail we managed to hit the road in time. Yet another deadline met!
The journey down was a pleasant affair with no spillages recorded and fuel consumption right on target. Only one quick stop at Te Kuiti before plowing on to National Park. As always the excitement built as approaching the Mountain. Or was it the fact we’d be able to use the toilet after a few shandies on the way down? We managed to find our accommodation, which is surprising as we were relying on my 20 year old memory of how to get there. Bruce from Pipers Lodge greeted us with a smile and the offer of cold beer. The smile was a bit creepy but the beer was very welcome.
He showed us to our rooms. Two between four of us – lots of discussion on who will be in who’s room. Let’s just say there were some winners and some losers that day. Bruce even allowed us to store our bikes in the room with us. This was met with a tear in the eye and heartfelt thanks from some of us as the mountain Bike is such a precious thing. Down to registration – back to the accommodation to get what was required for registration – back down to registration. All straight forward and de-didymoed thanks to DOC it was time to think of drink, I mean food. Down to the local pub ‘schnapps’ for some good old pub grub (they even had an all day breakfast). Great atmosphere all around National Park with the place being taken over by T42 eventers. Back to the lodge for gear prep, synchronization of watches and an early bed. We are athletes after all.
Early rise 6:30 (see it wasn’t a get away from the family just to get a lie-in weekend) and full cooked breakfast. Hint: Say you’re gluten free and you get bacon instead of sausage. Pack the car (refer earlier mention of skills in racking the bikes) and off to the event. Arrive at start line attend to some final preparation, some of which was a little out of the ordinary for some, and off to join the other 500 bike riders. There was a race briefing in there somewhere – I’m sure the 10 riders up front heard it.
Not soon after, the start horn sounds and we’re off!!
The first part of the race is a long a metal road which helped spread the field out. Team WhereScape (WS) were sticking together at this stage. The ride quickly changes to cross some farm land and the first of the up hills spreading the field further. Team WS had split at this stage (that didn’t last long) where the fitter pulled off and take the lead (of our group). The leaders being Nick, Steve and Jason. Ok, so in reality they just left me behind. I’d decided not to pull off that early on in the race.
The first downhill approaches. The first thing you notice is the collection of water bottles strewn all over the ground – big dip approaching I think. The next is Jason on the side lines. “What’s he doing?” Cant stop, breaks are for wimps! The downs hills were a “pleasant” break from the many grinding up hills and river crossings. The only problem with having 500 riders enter a race is there are 500 hundred riders trying to squeeze into/onto the same narrow gorge/ridge with either brambles & cutty grass slapping you in the face or the prospect of dropping off a cliff. Even with the weather being superb the trails were still wet and slippery. Probably from the sweat and tears of 500 mountain bikers.
Around the half way mark I spot Nick on the edge. Nick had stopped in an attempt at being at one with the team. A quick yelled conversation, no stopping – breaks are for wimps!, I discover I’d somehow passed Steve as well. How did that happen?
Last I hear from Nick is “I’ll catch you Up!”. The back half of the race is very much the same as the front half, up hills followed by terrorizing downhill’s with a few river crossings thrown in for good measure.
We end up finishing at Owhango after 3 ½ hours. Nick’s there waiting, having finished 20 minutes earlier, with a lovely cold beverage in hand for me. Makes it all worthwhile. Steve comes in about another 15 minutes after that and Jason…Hold on where’s Jason? Little did I know that when I’d seen Jason, he’d been knocked off his bike by one of the many other riders. Bent handle bars and bent body meant he’d literally limped the rest of the way through the race.
After some care and attention from St Johns, amazing what dripping saline solution can do, he was…well still very sore. Steve decided to sit with Jason (also with his shorts round his ankles) to “re-assure the casualty“. We also tried a few “men in tights” poses.
Jason heads off to pick up the car and we head down to the legendary local Owhango tavern. We end up spending a couple of hours there, drinking water of course – we’re athletes! A couple of times during those hours we did question where Jason had got to.
Jason finally turns up and we head back to the lodge looking forward to a nice long soak in one of the three hot tubs (spa pools if you’re not American). Nothing better than jumping into a spa pool with three hairy smelly blokes. Fortunately the other people in the other spas had had enough of our endearing personalities and we were able to spread ourselves out amongst the other spa pools. Archimedes law comes into play “where’s all the water gone?!”
Off down the pub for dinner and some more energy drinks. Front room or back room? Diplomacy comes into play and we end up in the back room eating dinner to some kicking Drum & Bass. After dinner it was down to the event head quarters to pick up our prizes. Unfortunately there were no prizes for the ugliest or most inappropriate so we missed out. The DJ kicks off playing some ‘POP’ music from the 80’s. Not even the edgy stuff you could reminisce about! People started to trickle onto the dance floor, Team WS not included. Some of us were worse for ware at this stage, ironically the ones not drinking tequila, and we decide to leave the festivities behind. A few more snifters at the lodge and then off to bed with thoughts of doing another bike ride before the journey home (like that’s really gonna happen!).
Another reasonably early start, another breakfast and it’s off to the top of Ruapehu. Always a great place to visit and the first time for some, a lot of photos taken to capture the moment.
Then it’s back on the road, the reverse journey to Friday nights. “Why is Jason deleting pictures off Nicks phone?”……I guess for some things, what goes on tour stays on tour.
Well down all who made it and we’ll be there again next year. A great weekend.