The Karioi Classic Bike Race is a new event that started recently in Raglan, 40km east of Hamilton on the Waikato Coast. Although famous for its surf breaks, there is also a large amount of stunning coastal scenery and rugged trails ideal for cycling. The drive south from Auckland would take around a couple of hours and we didn’t want to take any chances of dehydrating on the way there so refreshments were essential in the back seat. Nick, can clearly be seen below hugging his freshly laundered sheets, still warm from the dryer.
In theory this race was going to be a nice gentle mountain bike ride from the fire station around a small hill then back to the Raglan Airfiled for cups of tea and handshakes all round. However, the reality turned out to be a hard ride over many rough, unsealed roads with constant hills, a very strong westerly wind and occasional rain shower to add to the fun. The team was a mixed bag of cycling talent which ranged somewhere between well chiselled racing snakes to middle aged BI desk jockeys. The Race was on a Sunday morning so we all headed down to Raglan on the Saturday afternoon for a little pre-race R-n-R. With value always a top priority for the amateur BI sportsperson, a cabin on the Raglan campsite was selected as all seven of us could cram into a small room with four bunk beds in it, together with our seven bicycles. It turned out (unsurprisingly) that no one else was staying in the campsite in the middle of winter so we had the place to ourselves, including a barbecue fit for a whole rugby team. This was going to be fun. A select few also managed a little afternoon swim in the freezing estuary waters and a Frisbee or two were thrown around.
Once we had consumed half a butchers shop, we headed off into town to see what fun could be had in Raglan on a Saturday night. As it turned out, not much. We found the only bar that was open and settled in for a few hours of liquid refreshment and tall tales of past cycling glories. Craig was very excited that the super sugary drinks were two-for-one and decided to buy six! A great few hours were had and then we headed back in the wind/rain to the campsite for a good nights sleep.
The next day dawned after all of us having had a terrible night’s sleep. The combination of the noise of the wind and several snorers with the heater being left on was not ideal pre race preparation but after a few more sausage, bacon and eggs we made it to the start line. The scenery on the West coast side of Mt Karioi was stunning and helped the endless hills and bends go by. The wind sock near the finish line shows just how tough the headwind really was, especially for the larger framed riders among us.
There weren’t quite as many smiles at the end of the race but it was well worth making the effort.
Nice work all of those of you who made the effort, I’m sure we’ll be there again next year for yet another great “tough” weekend.