3Fidi crosses “the ditch” to Colville Connection 72km MTB

A few weeks ago I decided to take advantage of the dubious honour of the “Mr Average” mantle bestowed through finishing with the average time at the Highland Fling. This included free airfare (well with payment of $300 in taxes doh!) entry, accommodation and transport to the Colville Connection. This is a 72km MTB race at the northern tip of the Coromandel peninsula on the NZ north island.

I set out early Friday morning and arrived in Auckland to a hire car and a 2.5hr drive to Coromandel. The scenery to get there is spectacular with rolling green hills south of Auckland turning into winding narrow roads virtually on the rocky shoreline. It’s like going back 30 years in time with virtually no development along the coast except the odd grouping of fibro / weatherboard holiday shacks.

Karl’s advice on the iffy weather proved all too right with sunny pleasant days either side of the race day where the prediction of showers, unlike here, means rain for more than half the day. At least it wasn’t cold as I omitted a raincoat and any warm gear…so although the weather was ordinary the scenery made the day worthwhile.

I decided to not busta boiler and enjoy the ride and stopped to take a few photos and watch the dolphins. The course involved 60km of essentially gravel roads which were open to traffic, sparse but enough to get adrenalin pumping on tight corners, which there were plenty. There was also 10km of farm and single track. that rose up to be quite high with good views and some big side drops for the unwary. The farm tracks were pure potters clay that involved walking (as most did) or skid steering. I chose the latter and with the only grassed area along the edge of the drops this included some inevitable off edge diversions – at least these were lush and soft…

The last 25km was flat with two climbs, constant rain and into a headwind so I put my head down and ground along. With no cramps even after a sprint finish I crossed the line and “Mr Average” I was not no more Bro finishing within the first few pages of results…. The rain helped get the bike clean for the trip back to Coromandel in the hire car but I and the bike still needed a wash down courtesy of the Colville school kids..brrr

Overall, it was a long way to go for a soggy weekend, but worth the effort, I’ll stay longer next time and maybe take the family…they are keen for some more of the possum merino gear, better set some more traps Karlos…