The Whaka 100 is a 100km MTB event in Rotorua. It’s also the only event that is a permanent fixture on my ride calendar. It’s truly a beautiful thing.
A hilly 100km on a singlespeed MTB is clearly something you should take seriously in terms of preparation (they do have geared, team, and shorter formats if you are interested). I certainly did in the first edition with a solid, and targeted training schedule. Unfortunately it all came undone with a mechanical in the first 30min.
Since then, however, the pattern has been more akin to seeing how little training one could get away with. This year it all came together with the wonderful combination of woeful on bike training (two 3hr hilly road rides, one fast roller session, and a mix of run/ride work commutes), the decision to ride a fixed MTB (no gears, no freewheel), and an early mechanical.
So I’m hanging out at the start line at 0845, shooting the breeze with the organiser, wandering round the stalls. Meanwhile the race had started at 0800. I was there too, though only for a couple of km, then I snapped my chain in two places. Damned if I drove all this way for a DNF!
A quick trot back to event HQ where the mechanics were without a chainbreak or new chain. Nice. Wait for the bike hire guy to show up, have a coffee, find and start up the generator to run his eftpos. Chain acquired. Supplied my own chainbreak.
Off I go again, this time head down with a bit more haste (got a 40th b’day in Auckland to get to). A quick track-back for a bit of navigation security as I’d lost a bit of focus. Didn’t even see another rider until 1100, 3hrs into the event.
Then the frankly preposterous notion of making up time on this course, this bike, and this lack of training, became evident. I was cooked by the 50km mark. And that was the easy half.
A quick rest and feed at the 64km refuel station saw me start to perk up at around the 75km mark. Just enough to grind round the rest of the course, little engine style, I think I can, I think I can…
By now I had the motivation of a constant stream of broken riders to ride through. Interestingly I passed more on downhill sections, despite(?) the fixie setup. Riding a fixed MTB downhill feels like the bike is literally pulling you down the hill. Best approach is to fully commit and cross your fingers.
In the end my ride time was a full hour longer than I was hoping, and the event time recording another 1.5hrs on top of that. 7hrs of fixie hill riding was rather more than was sensible given the limited training I’d done. I’m totally busted today, hands, fingers, arms, core, shoulders, legs all got the deep burn on.
Hopefully, I’ll come right to get back into the West Coaster Marathon training. Being out for a week not really an option at this point… eeak.