Saturday, 23 January 2010

Tour de Roadworks

Tour de Ranges Roadworks 2010

It was not the best start to the weekend when I was trapped at Wellington Airport for an extra 90-minutes due to rain and fog in Wellington. Waking up in Auckland on Saturday morning it was not any better with rain and mist covering the entire region witnessed during the drive from the North Shore down to Clevedon at the other end of the City.


The start of the ride was a little unusual with ‘GO’ being spoken without a proceeding countdown causing some confusion among the cyclists at the front of the start line. Once off the line there was the usual helter-skelter start as riders tried to get the preferred bunches at the front of the field. The hills through the first ten kilometres ably performed the duty of sorting the riders into groups nearer their own fitness and ability.

Ride Data:
Distance: 108km 5,358 Calories
Time: 3:58:55 27.1 km/h
Elevation: Ascent: 1158m Descent: 1168m
Ride Data: Garmin Connect Player
Location: Auckland, NZ 23 January 2010


The route of the Tour de Ranges Roadworks has the potential to be a brilliant mix of scenery, undulating hills and very low motor-traffic volumes. Unfortunately the road conditions for 2010 were a let down due to roadworks and to a lesser extent the weather. Personally, I would not train on roads in this state. The gravel on the roads equates to shredding expensive tyres and potentially dangerous blowouts. Having ridden in other events that have altered their courses in the past, the further into the ride witnessing all the puncture repairs I was a tad surprised that the course had not been changed or relocated to elsewhere in the Auckland region today. It was certainly enough to give those at the elite end of the spectrum rather potty mouths! Fortunately I did not have lightweight race tyres on today and managed to complete the course puncture free. It felt like I was in the minority not puncturing today!


While I witnessed many punctures in the first 10-15km, with a smidgen of loose gravel sprinkled over the sealed roads the real trouble was further up the road. To call it roadworks may be kind, as that would presume that there would have to be some road. There were two or three large sections of roadworks in which the road became a loosely formed track with its surface consisting of rocks rather than bitumen or even gravel. Along these sections the distance to puncture ratio continued to decline rapidly with countless riders on road edge swapping inner-tubes and re-inflating their tyres.


Somewhere near Hunua my right eye became irritated. I presumed I had water and spray in it from a wheel in front of me. Unable to clear it, and regretting leaving my cycling glasses on my dining table in Wellington I was riding as a one-eyed alien the rest of the way to the finish. A combination of being half blind, rain and mist meant I completely missed the promised views of the Hunua Ranges from with the Tour de Ranges Roadworks gets its name.


A gradual incline from Mangatawhiri led to a sweet descent down to Kaiaua bringing us to the coast and even some sunshine! Wow! Without the rain and mist it was nice fast ride along the Seabird Coast before the route became more undulating with a couple of short climbs before the King of the Mountains climb up Snake Hill. The KOM, U23 and line honours went to Tom Findlay an hour-and-a-quarter in front of me – best I stick to my day job!!


Once over Snake Hill, it was back into the rain and mist with the last 20km was gentle and undulating offering the chance for me to regain my breath before I made a sprint at the line to ensure I finished in under four hours – 3:58:55 phew!!


St John Ambulance kindly rinsed my little eyeball at the finish but in the end it was a visit to the doctor and with aid of his magic gue and a couple of days it sorted itself out. Must not ever leave my glasses behind again!!!


Looking forward to returning with the roadworks completed and the hope of more sunshine. Any meaningful statistics on punctures today would make enlightening reading. There must have been 100 or so? More?? Not what one normally thinks of when speaking of cycling a century!

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