Race Report about the Linger an Die Enduro 2013 by Altitude Adventures – The Endura Clothing Enduro Race took place on Sunday September 15th!
The weather is ‘always’ good in Central Otago but even so, it was nice to wake up to a perfect spring day for the inaugural Linger and Die enduro. People who know the extensive network of natural trails around the Alexandra/Clyde area in Central Otago have been looking forward to an enduro racing format event for ages, and there was a lot of excitement that the day had finally arrived. 85 riders from all over the south and even some from the other island assembled at Clyde for the event. The Queenstown international brigades turned up in force, and a slightly bleary eyed English guy who only heard about the event in the pub only a few hours earlier showed up. Pretty sure he would have won the ‘fastest rider wearing jeans’ category too, except for that puncture on stage 4. Oh well, that’s racing.
Special Stage 1. “Cupcake”: 2.8km, up 10m, down 370m.
A new track made by Phil and his boys last summer just for events like this, linking the top section of the Clyde “big downhill” to the schoolies track lower on the hill. The race directions promised a mix of high speed off camber corners, rock rollers, small jumps and rock garden sections, and that’s exactly what it delivered. You don’t need to pedal to have fun on this track but to go fast you need to add value by powering the low gradient middle sections before finding good flow and holding speed through the dusty berms and rocks on the steeper and tighter lower tracks. A gnarly step down option and an 8m tabletop mark the end of the stage, fastest time 5:13 by Jimmy Pollard, fresh off the boat from Whistler.
The top three on this stage looked suspiciously similar to the top three from yesterdays downhill which shared some of the track. Interestingly, all three reckon that they are “the most unfit they have been for ages”. I’d like to think they are onto something here, and that fitness is sooo overrated. Next year I think I will try to make sure I get the benefit of being as unfit as they are! From the top of stage 1 you couldn’t help notice it looked a hell of a long way across the valley to the next stage above Alexandra, but most of the distance passed quickly on pleasant singletrack beside the mighty Clutha River. From Alexandra we just had to gain enough altitude for another special stage. The first part of the uphill, on an interesting rocky trail was pleasant enough, whereas the last part, known as ‘horrible hill’ by the locals, also lived up to its’ name.
Special stage 2. Coach road to Greenhorns track: 2.6km; up 40m, down 220m
The first part of this track was made by the miners rushing to the Dunstan goldfields 150 years ago. Their iron shod wagon wheels carved two deep grooves in the bedrock trail, now mostly filled with a centuries worth of variably sized rubble. Bumpy would be one word for it. A couple of short rises and a significant flat section gave the pedallers something to get their teeth into, while multiple line choices on speedy sections kept everyone amused down to the greenhorns turnoff. I don’t think this track got named because it is good for novice riders, so maybe the green horned skull that lives on the side of the track has something to do with it. A few fun rock rollovers lead on down to two long off camber sections separated by a high speed big old G out dip. 400 meters of fast off camber on a 15cm wide, loose dusty trail intermittently studded with unhelpful rocks equals 400 opportunities to loose your line or speed, a good place for the good riders to draw away from the pack. A final rock slab and dusty berm remind you ‘this is Alexandra’. Dusted off in 4:05 by Matt Scoles, somewhat longer for everyone else.
Short steep ups and nice single track to start with, then the second trip up Horrible Hill seemed sooo much easier from the back seat of the shuttle vehicle (thanks Phil) and just a bit more uphill to get to stage 3. Is it still called hotlining if you long-cut the liason? Fun to include another slab anyway.
Special stage 3. Willow 2.1km; up 75m, down 210m.
At the start it was hard to stop staring at the fabulous 360 degree views and concentrate on the line of riders heading across what looked like a flat plateau to a horizon line 800m away. The riders soon found it wasn’t as flat as it looked, as the trail dipped and rose through a series of gullies and false flats, investment of full power was required to maintain any kind of respectable speed. Just about the time it felt like coughing up your giblets was becoming an option, the track finally tipped down into a series of flat out, long arcing corners through the scrub and rocks. Hell of a good fun, the only thing wrong with this track is it finishes waaay too soon, at a slidey 90 degree corner in the only patch of mud Alexandra has. Unmistakably ardent tracks showed what tyres 80% of people seemed to be on. Junior rider Ethan Glover smashed out the days fastest time – 3:11. Respect. After that, link 3 was just a wee step up to the start of stage 4.
Special stage 4. SIngle Malt (and the legendary Shit Track) 3.5km; up 15m, down 270m.
Another epic view point overlooking Graveyard Gully and a whole lot of prime riding hiding away in between the gullies and ridges that drop back towards town. Phil positioned the start back a bit so we had a minute or so of bonus pedalling before gravity took over on the loose as, rocky benders that characterise the track. Normally I wouldn’t really feel the need to pedal much on this track, but we were racing right? So I did, until I hooked a crank on a solid piece of mother earth hidden in the thyme bushes, achieving my maximum speed of the day shortly after leaving the bike OTB style. Oh well, you don’t know you’re alive unless you have the bruises to prove it, do you? Always good fun, the old single malt, the rest of it went better thankfully, because there are worser places to come off where it is a tad steeper lower down. Then into the legendary shit track, a mixed bag of nearly everything that makes biking fun, sneaky line options and finally, thanks to an early winter flood, a 300m sprint on a surface closely resembling pea gravel. For some reason people were finishing with their tongues hanging a long way out. Best time: Jimmy Pollard 8:54. Hold on, that hardly does it justice, better to imagine something only slightly more subdued than Rob Warner at the Champery world champs “LOOK AT THE TIME, 8 MINUTES 54, HOW DOES HE SIT DOWN ETC. ETC.’’ Honestly, if I had of known they were going that fast I probably would have sold my bike and brought a ticket to watch. Thinking about it makes me wonder if maybe I should just sell my bike anyway.
In the overall, the women’s race was mighty close, Natalie Jakobs finishing in 28:01, just 4 seconds ahead of Naomi Wilson with Harriet Latchem third at +13 seconds. Jimmy Pollard, (riding for Altitude bikes) took out the open men’s division in 21:41, with Matt Scoles (Altitude bikes/Wide Open) at +19 seconds and Tom Lamb +30 seconds in third place.
Full results: PDF
So there you have it, 4 stages (11km and -1070 m) of pure fun, interesting linking stages, the overriding impression of the day was a happy and relaxed group of riders having a really good day out. Thank you to the sponsors, the landowner John Sanders and all the timekeepers, drivers and all the other course workers, and especially to event organiser Phil Oliver. You always hear “this was the best event since whatever” (even the olympics do it) but that’s not how they do things down in these parts.
Words & Photos: Altitude Adventures