They call it ‘one of the toughest’ – NZ’s toughest single-day mountain bike event, here is my little journey and insight in case you’re wondering… why?!?
The Whaka 100 is an event that takes place in the Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua. 100 kilometres of some amazing single-track mountain biking (MTB), accompanied by 3,800 metres of vertical climbing, rewarding descents, the most mesmerising greenery and not to mention the vibrant atmosphere the event brings.
To the locals, the forest is also known as ‘The Reddies’ and is pretty much my second home. Known as one of the greatest MTB destinations in the world (kudos goes to Rotorua Trails Trust) and in my opinion one of the most magical places you could ever visit! Some choose to take their annual leave going to Rarotonga whereas my husband Jeremy and I choose to spend the week close to the Reddies so we can maximise our time in the forest.
It only seemed right to put the Whaka 100 event on my radar as not only did I want more excuses to ride my bike but I wanted to put my skills and body to the ultimate test. It sure did that!
I had completed the 50km event last year and thought I might go back and try and beat my time at the 50km this year, but it wasn’t quite cutting it, I needed something to REALLY challenge myself. Once I had put it out there that I was going to do it, that was it, Dave and Cormac took great pleasure sitting next to me whilst I was blissfully unaware that they were entering me into the race. Then that was it, it was official, I was entered! S*#T!
Injuries have been a bit of an issue for me – not looking after my body when pushing it harder than it has been before and doing lots of kms on my MTB and roadie. Tight hip flexors, sore lower back and knees have been my main issues. However taking some time to sit down with Dave to write a programme (so important) and seeing Cormac on a regular basis I was soon able to feel more comfortable about the lead up to the event. Niggles still came (I knew they would) but nothing a lot of foam rolling, stretching and glute activation couldn’t fix, and some iron fingers from the physio every now and then (painful but SO effective).
Rain! That stuff did not stop coming in Sept/Oct which meant a lot of soggy rides and sometimes no rides. I remember one Sunday morning staring out the window, waiting/wishing/hoping for a break in the weather so that I could jump on my roadie and do my planned 100k training ride. Unfortunately, that ride didn’t happen, the weather got worse as the day went on and I lost all motivation to get out, I think you just have to accept these kinds of days and look forward to how you can make up for them. I was lucky enough that the weather gods played nicely the following afternoon and got a big ride in.
Dave spent time with me sorting a training plan on Training Peaks (totally recommend this if you need some guidance and accountability) and had some fantastic training buddies, including my hubby, Jeremy that kept me on track. It’s such a highlight of the whole experience that I got to ride with people that have the same passion for riding and we all had one goal…to complete Whaka. After all the training was done, I was now set and had my eye on that 8 and half hour goal to complete to 100kms.
I have never really trained for a big race like this, so the week leading into Whaka was a bit weird, I had so much time on my hands after all that training so my efforts turned to the crucial piece of equipment that was going to get me round 100l of trails. I went over my bike with a fine tooth comb, making sure all was in good working order, I practiced tyre changing and fixing chains – we all hope and pray for no mechanical issues but you have to be prepared for when something does go wrong. It gave me peace of mind that’s for sure.
Race day was finally here! I actually felt quite relaxed sitting on the start line. All I could do now was get out there and keep myself and bike together to make it to the end. To be honest I just couldn’t wait to get amongst it! And every single person on that start line had the same goal…to finish.
There is always such a good vibe and comradery feel at these events. Everyone is just happy to be on their bikes and in good spirits, not to mention the superb volunteers and the best support crew ever.
I couldn’t have really asked for a smoother day. I had a couple of spills (as to be expected as the body got tired), lots of thrills, and no mechanical issues (bonus). And to top it all off I successfully made it within my goal time and crossed the line in 08:23:32 – Happy as (well, I may have had a minor, very brief cry from relief)!
I recall saying to Jeremy after the race ‘I don’t think that is something I will need to do again’ but by the following day I had decided that I do want to do it again next year. There are things I feel I could do better to get me through the day, and you just can’t beat the feeling of accomplishing something like this. I totally recommend it to anyone who wants a damn good challenge!
So that’s it, my Whaka 100 2017 journey. I tell ya, that event is something special and won’t be forgotten very soon.
The event offers 25km, 50km and 100km distances that offer a great mix of pleasure and pain, and something to suit all challenge levels. All you need to do is commit, put in the training, be accountable and be ready for some hard work on the day. All will be worth it crossing that finish line, I promise.
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure some of them are in the dirt. You won’t regret it 🙂