Congratulations to all place getters and qualifiers in the CTR. While the number of competitors in the discipline was small, the quality of the competition was strong and all can feel proud of their achievements.
The Ngaroma course was set in beautiful rolling country and managed to incorporate some challenging and strategically placed hill climbs. Aside from the extra distance, the terrain was really no more challenging than many of our local venues, and the early start meant that riders could for the most part complete the ride in the cooler hours of the morning. By 10:00 am however, the sun was well up and the heat was building rapidly.
The longer distance endurance riders had an even earlier start, riding in the night with head-lamps and following a fairy-lit trail, but judging by the small number that completed the distance, those hills must have taken a toll.
Photographically speaking, my challenge was to get to a place where I was likely to see riders. With an inner loop of 20 km and a 20km extension hooked in at 13 km, my best strategy was to walk the 7 km reverse course of the inner loop in the hope of catching the CTR riders before they reached the junction. This meant I met the "gut-buster" hill going out (and had to live with the realisation that it would still be there, but higher coming back ;-)
I never made it to the junction in time - partly that hill, and partly dallying over the sunrise as I crested it, and partly because the riders would have been doing their first 13 km of flat easy going in about one hour - but I did meet some endurance riders and so all was not lost. When I did get to the junction, I carried on into the extension and waited for riders to return. It was fun, and I hope people enjoy the pics.
It was with some disappointment that I've since read the CTR report. We had not waited for the prize giving, having a five hour drive to get to our over-night stop in Marton (thanks Amy and Anthony) and we'd left feeling that some of the unfortunate issues of last year had been put behind us. And yet, similar isues have arisen again. I really don't want to say more than that, once is unfortunate happenstance, twice is coincidental but begins to look like a pattern of behaviour. Let us hope that we don't get to three times.
However, let it be said that despite some glitches, the trail was brilliantly marked, the facilities were very good, and we had a wonderful time. Despite the distance, it was well worth the trip.
Thank you to all those who made it happen, and to all those who stepped into the breach when things looked a little pear-shaped.