Yeti Transnz Day 2:craigieburn, Skirting The Edge

Postby Melissa_Theuriau on Fri 4/Mar/16 11:06am

Day 2 of the Yeti Trans NZ danced a fine line of an adrenaline pumping pucker factor, and super fast, super flowy tracks that entertained riders through four stages, up and down trails at the foot of Craigieburn Valley Ski Field. This was a new route for 2016, as last year’s course on Mt. Hutt was decommissioned due to logging shortly after the inaugural event.

“We’re two days down and things are good. The weather has been fantastic, and everyone seems to be happy and cheery, and enjoying the trails,” said Megan Rose, event organizer of the Yeti Trans NZ. “Only two casualties so far, but they are in high spirits and recovering nicely.”

A bit of fatigue is beginning to set in as the initial race nerves have worn off, and riders faced 815m of climbing, and 907m of descending over 26km, all by Noon, so the enduro circus could pack up midday and traverse the South Island to the Pinewood Lodge in Queenstown by dinner time.

The early morning wake up call made Stage 1 a fresh start, featuring locally built jumps and drops down the Dickson Trail. A fine mist settled into the valley with cool temps for the big 500m climb to follow. The road incrementally steepened, and one by one riders fell off of the horse and began marching up towards the Edge Trail, the portion that Ted Morton, assistant event manager, described as the “highest pucker factor of the day”.

Riders emerged above tree line, feeling slightly victorious, but only momentarily until they headed directly into avalanche scoured terrain, passing the sleepy base area of the ski field on the way. The Edge fully lived up to it’s name; even the transition required forging through a couple of scree fields before entering the starting corral.

“The Edge was my favorite stage of the day. It’s great fun— high speed, but also quite a few points on there that get your adrenaline pumping. I quite like the fact that you get into the scree, and you certainly know where you are— right on the side of a mountain,” said Kashi Leuchs (Dunedin, NZL), Open Men. “You feel that out there; it’s exposed and different.”

While some riders thoroughly enjoyed teetering on the edge of a cliff with fast, tight, squared-off corners, a punchy climb through scree, followed by a steep, slippery path back into the beech forest, others found their limits out on the track.

“If I was with a bunch of my mates, it would be my favorite trail ever. In a race setting, it was simply survival,” said Shelagh Coutts (Calgary, CAN), Open Women.

The Edge dropped directly into Anti-Luge, where riders could ease their minds and flow the trail in reverse of what they transitioned on Day 1.

“Stage 2 had a couple chunky sections which made me feel right at home in Colorado. A nice contrast to the super flowy lower half of Stage 2,” said Jason Laabs (Breckenridge, USA), Open Men. “Stage 3 you could really get into a good rhythm sliding through the series of 10 switchbacks in the middle of the short stage.”

The fourth and final stage sent riders down Coal Pit Spur, almost directly into Flock Hill Station, to quickly grab lunch and pack their bags before being whisked away in buses. The Trans NZ evolved into a scenic tour for the afternoon, as shuttles weaved through the Mackenzie Country, internationally acclaimed as a dark sky reserve, where the quality of air makes star gazing some of finest in the world. Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand offered stunning views as the troops rounded Lake Tekapo and headed towards Central Otago.

“I’m looking forward to getting into some different zones. I haven’t been to New Zealand before, and have been looking forward to getting down to Queenstown to ride their famously ripping trails,” Laabs said.

Tomorrow ushers in a big challenge with the longest day distance wise, 1550m of ascending, and 65 percent more descending that climbing. “We’re headed to really different terrain, and it’s going to be really tough; it’s a huge epic ride. You drop a long way down from the peaks, and the climb back out is just as big,” Leuchs said.

The lead in the Open fields remain consistent with Carl Jones (Rotorua, NZL) keeping a strong margin over his competitors with 12 seconds on Flynn George (Colorado Springs, USA) for Day 2, and 51 seconds overall. Aaron Bradford (Seattle, USA) had to drop out today due to surgery to repair his severe road rash, but rumor has it he will return to ride Days 4 and 5. Deborah Motsch (Annecy, FRA) has widened the gap to 1 min 42 seconds over Katie Oneill (Rotorua, NZL).
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