"The fact I was the only racer in the CX category (with over 700 entrants) kinda' says it all".
Established way back in 1986, the Karapoti Classic is New Zealand's original mountain bike race! Hidden in Wellington's rugged Akatarawa Ranges, the Karapoti Classic offers riders a 20km Challenge alongside the 50km Classic route; and there's even a Kids 5km Klassic too.
As a first time rider of this prestigious off-road event, here's what Wellingtonian Davide Conti had to say about his most recent CX-capade at the 2016 Karapoti Classic ...
A very "interesting" 50km experience! Yes, this was my first Karapoti. I had never been on-course before and, with the mad plan of riding a cx bike, I probably would have changed my mind if I knew what awaited me.
Sure, there was some fun; but mainly it was torture. A fun torture!
With my tyres pumped to 75psi I managed to avoid punctures. As a consequence (of the high pressures), every little stone felt super bumpy - and there were only a few little stones because most of them were BIG.
As expected, the uphills were hard work with pushing required on the steep sections. And whilst downhills are typically the most enjoyable part of any ride, they presented a clear and present danger on a CX bike.
Where my trail bike would float me over rock gardens, my CX steed slowed to a walking pace and greeted the rocks politely. Long fun descents proved to be a real test, as my arms and shoulders were on-fire from the constant battering and having to hold on for dear life. I had to stop several times to stretch my fingers because they were cramping on the handlebars and I was unable to release them.
Oddly enough, it was also the fast descents that brought the most joy. For some strange reason I embraced the lack of feeling in my hands and the constant sideways drift of my bike. This excitement led to inappropriate bunny hops over rocks and the taking of high corners; throughout which I received compliments from fellow riders on more appropriate bikes. Someone even called me a "Crazy MotherF*cker" ... I guess that's a compliment too?
I was aiming for a sub-4hr finish, but thanks to physical pain (and a chain which dropped on every single bumpy descent) I crossed the line in 4h10m26s. On the plus, I won my category!
F*ck yeah! I did the Karapoti on a CX.
A big thanks to; Ben Wilde and Trail Fund NZ for the great tips to prepare it, to Mansour Youssef for setting up the bike, Simon Kennett for giving me some company on the TipTrack, Dave Nendick and all the Welly tracks mtb group for enhancing how crazy it was to ride it on a cyclocross and making me even more excited of doing it.