Tuesday, March 20, 2012
We were so lucky with the 2012 Karapoti take-2. For a starter, despite not being under any obligation to do so, race organiser Michael Jacques held the 2nd event after the 1st was rained out with a massive weather bomb. It felt like a very old-school race with the reduced numbers and the vibe was great. I guess it shows how many people come from outside of Wellington to do the "Poti" each year, when they cant make it back for the re-run. The weather was awesome all week and it didn't rain until the following Monday. With my knack of picking the crap years to race, it had been a really long time since I can recall blasting down the Big Ring Boulevarde in bright sunshine. My recently acquired BPPV had pretty much cleared up, unlike poor old KC so I didn't really have any excuses for a performance that was a bit under what I was hoping for.
I was really hoping that my Kiwi Brevet endurance would come to the fore a bit, but as I have always said, the Karapoti has to be raced like a sprint race, with the same sort of intensity that you let loose on a round of the nationals. Unfortunately I didn't do any of that stuff this season so I was missing a lot of top-end. I guess I should be happy with sneaking under 3 hours again; theres only a handful of us 50 plus riders who have, but Ian Paintin is so far ahead he is in another league. I was in touch with 2nd place getter Ant Bradshaw for the 1st hour until my body realised I was faking it. From there on I rode a bit with Steve Pedley from Crankit Cycles, struggling a bit on the slippery smooth rocky climbs as my 40psi tires struggled for traction.
I stopped at the top of the grueling Devils Staircase bike-push for a precautionary chain-lube and watched as at least 4 people passed on by, never to be seen again. The only one I saw again was Brett Irving who punctured trying to find a line around a slower rider down the Big Ring Boulevard. I felt for Brett who was denied his first sub-3 for sure. The rocks were flying out from under my wheels like rifle shots and one must have tweaked my rear derailler as it started jumping in my two lowest gears. At the top of the last climb up Dopers I checked my splits (a pretty lame 24 minute climb) and figured that if I nailed it I could just break 3 hours. I did, but I wasn't the last person to do so, with Barryn Westfield rolling in and then Kim Hammer-Hurst coming in at 2:59.59 !
The most obvious stand-out performance to me was by 12 year old Eden Cruise. With a time of 2:46 he has thoroughbred written all over him. He's probably taller now at 12 than Anton Cooper is as well ! Lets hope it stays fun for him for many more years to come.
As always, Karapoti was a race of attrition. I saw many people around me come to grief with punctures. There are many combinations of tire set-ups you can go for, so here is some anecdotal evidence of what worked and what didn't, lets just put them in the fail and win boxes.
These are the potential tire choices:
tubed/tubeless/ghetto-tubeless (ghetto tubeless is normal tires run without tubes, but using Stans sealant to supposedly stop punctures).
low/medium/heavy tire weights
low/medium/high air pressure
narrow/medium/large tire width
1 - got impatient balked behind slow ride down BRB and took a bad line. Puncture. Insert tube.
2&3 - tubeless ghetto-set-up, tire slowly loses air through pores in rubber and has to be re-pumped or tube added.
4 - Tubeless ghetto-set-up, slashes thin sidewall and has to replace with tube as stans juice wont seal.
1. Tubeless, Nobby nics, Snakeskin, 2.25 both ends. 600 grams, 30-35 psi, 26er fully,
2. Tubeless, Maxxis EXO Ikons front and rear, 30-35 psi. 29er rigid.
3. Tubeless, Maxxis EXO Ignitor front, Ikon on back, 590 grams for Ikons, 27 psi, (light rider) 29er rigid
4. Tubeless, Maxxis EXO Ignitor front, Ikon on back, 590 grams for Ikons, 29/27 psi, 29er rigid
5. Tubeless, Maxxis EXO Ikon 2.2, Conti Race King 2.2 racesport, 530 grams, 26er rigid
6. Tubless (ghetto) Maxxis Larsen/Crossmark 2.0 combo, 30 psi, 26er fully
7. Tubed Schwable Racing Ralphs 2.25 with removable valve cores, 25psi, and Stans sealant inside 26er fully.
8. Tubeless ghetto, Maxxis Larson TT front, harddrive rear, 40psi, 26er fully.
These are all typical of the choices many people made, with a lot of people still using tubed set-ups.
This year Maxxis Igniters and Ikons seemed to be popular combo. The trend is for people to run much fatter higher volume tires at karapoti than you would in a normal XC race. 2.1 to 2.2's instead of 2.0's. The Maxxis Larsen TT front and Crossmark rear have always been a popular combo in the past at Karapoti and are still quite popular.
I guess the bottom line is, if you want to get a trouble free run, don't skimp on your sidewalls, run a UST or equivalent tire, or run a ghetto set-up with a tire with stronger than normal casings. There are many things that can slash a tire in the Karapoti. Beefier tires also means you can run lower pressures for better traction and a softer ride if you are on a hard tail. Take a c02 and a pump!
See you next year.