14 March 2017
The NZ Enduro serves up three days of gilt edged Marlborough singletrack around the top of New Zealand’s South Island. With the EWS hitting Rotorua in a fortnight’s time, there was plenty of international star power (and their media entourages) in attendance this year - including our own Jamie Nicoll, and eventual winners Damien Oton and Ines Thoma.
Whites Bay hosted the first sun-drenched day. The grunt to the top of Mt Richmond was hard work in the heat, but the creamed-rice pudding smiles at the finish said it was all worth it. BBQ, beer and beach completed the after-match bliss.
Hardtail hard man, Odin Woods. Photo: NZ Enduro
Tristan pinning on Double Eagle. Photo: Duncan Philpott
Jamie in full race prep. Photo: Max Schumann
The weather gods weren’t so generous for the next two days. A wet Saturday ratcheted up the gnar factor on the Nydia Bay stages. Remarkably no injuries were incurred. And equally remarkably the pros still charged the trails at full throttle. Burgers, hot drinks and warm fires at the On The Track Lodge helped rekindle us all for the final two climbs and timed stages. Each and every rider arrived at the finish in Kaiuma Bay drenched, caked in mud - and indelibly happy.
Lunch and shelter at On The Track, Nydia Bay. Photo: NZ Enduro
Mates. Mud. Jamie and Tristan hug it out. Photo: Jo W-W
Anja scores biggest smile at the end of day 2. Photo: Jo W-W
Guy kept the rubber side down, and was happy about that. Photo: Jo W-W
More mates. More Mud. Caro, Anka and Anita. Photo: Jo W-W
It continued to deliver cats and dogs that night - squashing any hope of the next day’s chopper assisted stages on the Wakamarina Track, and eventually forcing the final day to be cancelled. This was gutting for organisers Sven and Anka Martin. They delivered an outstanding event (that amongst other delights, included the hands-down best race entry pack ever). In spite of the lost last day the mood at the prize giving was ebullient.
Ground Effect Revolutionaries Anja McDonald and Tristan Rawlence each finished third in the open women’s and open men’s catagories. Odin Woods hard tailed his way to wind up mid field in the open mens. Impressive. Jamie will be back in 2018 to have a shot at reclaiming his pro title from last year. I got to ride Jamie’s Santa Cruz Bronson - which helped me have a bundle of fun and no major crashes.
Unsurprisingly, the 140 places in the NZ Enduro sell out in the blink of an eye. Register your interest at nzenduro.co.nz if you’re keen.
Jamie in his faithful old school bus, along with myself in the Ground Effect VW Kombi, are now on week-long roadie with Jamie’s Santa Cruz team mates. Tall stories and photos to follow.
Full video coverage below:
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