The last newsletter before Xmas was emailed today, and with it the results from the Battle Hill ride.
Battle Hill is always a challenging venue, and the hot mid-day and firm tracks have been reflected in higher than usual vet-outs. Well done to the survivors, and commiserations to those who didn't qualify - better luck next time.
From the ride base, the hill itself looks quite tame, and indeed the clockwise direction of the Puketiro loop takes the worst of the steepness out of the up-hill section.
But the steepness is not really the issue - it's the height and the length that take their toll. The climb is close to 400 vertical metres over an unrelenting 3 kms, and it has to be approached with respect. Add to that your descent from Water Point 1 into a valley and a climb back out of it (mercifully not the whole 400 metres) and you begin to get the picture. Of course the Open and Intermediate 1 classes do yet another descent and climb on their extended section of the ride. Although it's a little out of date, the 2006 trail profile gives you a rough idea of what you tackled.
Nor is the homeward section of the Puketiro Loop to be underestimated. It is at least downhill, but downhill throws enormous strain on the horses' forelegs, and combined with the additional weight of a rider on their backs leaves them less ability to pick their way through stones, which is one reason many riders get off and lead their horses on this section (and it's easier on the rider if they have to trot the horse to make up time)
Bright's Farm is a similarly challenging venue. The trails are not as firm as they have not been constructed to carry logging trucks, but they can sometimes have long grass which can be slippery, especially if wet. High steep hills are a feature of this ride also, making it one of the toughest in the WATRC calendar. Again, an out-of-date trail profile is available, but do not rely on this as a guide on the day - the course may cover different ground or go in different directions.
Think about a ride strategy. Doing your speed work and covering distance up-front lets you take the end of the ride more slowly, allowing the horse's heart rate to come down, but remember that course layout and conditions can force you to re-think on the fly. If the underfoot conditions are good, that's an opportunity to make up time and distance at any point in the ride. If the underfoot is bad, slow down regardless - you're better to vet through late than to arrive lame on time.
Never forget your horse - most CTR competitors only have one mount - look after them and they'll look after you. Plan to finish this ride and be back for the next - don't blow it all on one day.