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Vulcaniser Race Reports

23 January 2011

Report by Oliver Whalley                 –

24 January, 2009 – Dayle McLauchlan, Christchurch
The Vulcaniser was my first race back after taking time off during my Wifey’s pregnancy and the arrival of my Twins. I always knew the race would be a baptism of fire. Little did I know the earth itself would be scorching.

I rolled up to Mt Vulcan with the A/C cranked up to maximum in the van and I sure as heck didn’t want to step out into the 34º of searing North Canterbury heat, but the ants in my pants were too much to contain. I had been fantasising about this race for a whole year, I had managed to record the fastest lap last year and had delusions of being able to find that same form again. Yeah I know “tell him he’s dreaming”

After a very brief warm up and I decided that I might just need a little more water during the race, so a quick jaunt down to the saddle at the top of Boars nest and a drop off of 3L of H2o to slim and I was ready. Back to the start line and I felt pretty comfy, confident even…..

Go…..hold on a minute, wait up kiddies you are going too fast, slow down a bit, trust me I have done this before. It didn’t matter what I said, everyone was passing me as we raced through the parking lot. It is alright I thought, I will catch them up on that tough first climb up to the start finish. Well I did manage pull in a few people and a few funny looks as I sang “ this is the way we ride our bikes ride our bikes ride our bikes”. Those who know me will know this is normal race behaviour. The first lap hurt, BAD. I limped around the course feeling like my legs were lacking in power.

I hadn’t had to put it in the granny ring at all last year and I found this year I was scrambling for the shifter as soon as the bike pointed up. Oh dear. I had the same issues for the second lap, but It was just great to be out riding my bike on such an incredible track. I was in the hurt bag, but I didn’t care. I did have a few thoughts of what on earth am I doing? I should be with my lil nippers at home teaching them valuable life lessons or something important.

The strangest thing happened though when climbing up through the carpet climb of Trimble track on the 2nd lap, I found my legs. I felt strong again, I pushed and the bike actually reacted, rather than my legs quivering they spun the cranks. Hallelujah I was healed. cranking it up and gaining speed I felt I could do something with the rest of the race, alas, disaster struck and my rear mech was not wanting to stay in any certain gear. The chain was dancing all over the cassette. Lovers lane was an exercise in holding the shifter in just the right place to keep it in gear, but at least I could keep it in the middle chain ring. I stood up to accelerate and woooah my wheel leapt out of the rear dropout….After a fast and furious dismount I placed the wheel back in the dropout and tighten the skewer. Off again with the gears working well. (My wheel had been slipping out of the drop out and had been causing my cluster to misalign with the derailleur) Good news. It happened only once more. The next time I closed the skewer as tight as a fishes arse. Now I was feeling good I could push it. The rest of the 3rd lap was a breeze. Last lap and I could see Oliie Wally in the distance, That was it, my new goal was to beat Ollie. I caught him as he was fading and I was surging. I was on his tail and he was doomed!!! We hit the carpet with my front wheel almost rubbing his lycra and right at the peak of the carpeted climb he put his brakes on and forced me into a stall, needless to say I slammed into my razor sharp saddle almost resulting in an unscheduled vasectomy. As he powered off into the dust I scrambled up the bank applauding his cunning tactics. Resolved to reel him in and make him pay. We went through the last gate neck and neck, it was a downhill sprint, rubbing shoulders and clashing helmets. I took the lead with only inches to spare.

Finished and feeling great, I had finally warmed up and was ready to go. Weird aye. But that’s just me, I like it hot. Somehow during all that madness I had managed to win the Expert men 19-29 and bag the 3rd fastest lap, which was of course my final lap.

Massive thanks to all who attended, raced and marshalled. It is the wonderful community of Mountain bikers that keeps me coming back for more and more and more. Hopefully next time my lil nippers will be there to met you all. I can’t guarantee they will be racing though.

24 January, 2009 – Oliver Whalley                , Christchurch
View report by Ollie, here

24 January, 2009 – Sara Taylor, Christchurch
There are many words I could use to describe the 2009 Vulcaniser, hot and dusty come to mind first. Technical, beautiful and painful are close behind.

The Vulcaniser course is an example of why I became a cross country rider – fantastic descents, technical climbs, knarly switchbacks, relentless hills and of course beautiful scenery. I didn’t mind going over the bars so much as only the blue ocean witnessed it.

I will be back for the next race without hesitation, all I ask is that you station another marshall to pour water on our backs on the climb before Trimble Track again!

Well done Craig and Rebekah, it is always a pleasure riding in your events.

24 January, 2009 – Anton Cooper, Christchurch
I was picked up in the Pushbikes van by Vaughan and driven to the start of the race. We all jumped out of the van and after a very easy warm up lap in the heat it was time to get ready to start. The race started on the flat and then climbed up a couple of short hills before it hit the single track. The start was fast and furious and I could already feel the burn in my lungs and legs. I was fourth place into the single-track and moved up to third on the first major hill. As the climb wore on the heat of the day started to take its toll on everyone’s legs. We then climbed up a very steep grassy hill in the well over 30 degree heat to the top of the “Boars Nest” just one of the super fun, rooty, technical descents found at the Vulcaniser (and also where you can find Aaron Allen behind a camera and a speakerphone yelling support in your direction). We then popped out onto a very steep 4WD track which climbed up to the start of the dreaded Trimble track. This is just about the nastiest thing you can imagine after you have just recently half died riding to the top of the Boars Nest. All the riders then climbed back on up to the lap changeover and to another cold water bottle (thanks mum).

A large percentage of riders were not able handle the blistering heat and were forced to pull out after the first lap. As the laps wore on the track somehow managed to get even dustier than it was already which meant everyone was on the edge especially down Slimline and the Boars Nest. The next couple of laps continued with no major drama with the top few riders staying in similar positions right up until the finish. A big thanks to the guy at the entrance to Trimble Track who poured a cup of cold water down my back. How refreshing!

This was the toughest race I have been in since last year due to the extreme heat and toughness of the course so I understand where you are coming from if you pulled out. Congratulations to all the riders that finished the race but the biggest cheer has to go to the rare few who went the full distance on single speeds.

A big thanks Ross and Bruce Little and their families for allowing us race on their property and to Craig & Rebekah for organising the event and building the track.

It was great to see a big turnout and I’m looking forward to seeing many of the same faces at rounds 3 & 4.

20 January, 2008 (SI XC Cup final) – Lisa Morgan, Wellington (Elite Women)
Pre Race: These moments suddenly rock up so quickly! It seems like not long ago at all that I was willing summer to hurry up and get here so I could get out there and see how I go in pro-elite, and now I’m flying out tomorrow for my first race!

The story behind this one is that 2 years ago [2006] I entered my first national series and Christchurch was my first race of the season. We were racing on the Vulcaniser, just over an hour north of Chch, and I had a couple of practice days on the course and was loving it – techy singletrack in the forest, tricky steep climbs, stunning views from the top if you had the time to look up. But on race day I didn’t even get through my first lap. Just before the last climb I was hammering though an open section when my back wheel slipped off the track. After recovering it my front wheel went and after that it was all over. I hit the very hard dirt taking the fall mostly with my head and sternum getting some great, visible grazing down my face and sternum and giving myself a decent concussion plus damaging the joint between clavicle and sternum.

The result was no more racing. I had concussion symptoms for 3 months even with treatment, and it took a while for the rest of the pain to subside as well. So I didn’t race any more of the series that year, but I’d planned all the travel and accommodation so at least I got to go and support and see what it was all about.

I was gutted when there was no Chch round in 2007 as I’ve been waiting for a chance to get back down there and race on the course properly. So even though it’s not a points round for me as I haven’t done the other two SI Cup rounds, I’m looking forward to returning to the scene of the crime and putting things right. Makes the first objective a pretty easy one – get through the first lap! Then I’ll focus on the rest.

Post Race: I had a few objectives for this race. It was my first 2pm race, so I wanted to make sure I got my fuelling right. I had to eat just enough and at the right time. Too early and I’d feel hungry and underfuelled during the race, too late and, well, I’m sure you can imagine the worst case scenario. So I’m pleased to report it seems I got it just right. Second was hydration, particularly in the heat with some of the recent problems I’ve had. But again I seemed to have it just right (and big thanks to Karen for feeding me too). Another goal was to complete the race feeling like I’d given it everything, including no crashes and not getting lapped. Another goal accomplished. And finally, to achieve a mental state where I retained focus for the whole race – a slowly deflating rear tyre in the last lap and a half affected that slightly, but for the most part I achieved that too.

The start went well. I hadn’t really known what to expect. In the past in small fields like that I’ve known I’d take the lead or close to it pretty quickly, but I’m up with the big girls now and every now and then I’d have a thought that I was going to be blown away and left looking like I’d dropped my chain while they all pedalled away in big chain ring half way down the block up a steep climb! But I managed to hold my own in the start, even getting ahead of Bob (the eventual winner) for about 40 seconds :o)

I’d already dropped to the back by the top of the start climb, but was right on the tail of the group as we hit the first pinch which saw 2 or 3 riders off. I managed to hold my balance and get in front of Fiona while she was getting back on, but she got past me again soon after. Up the next short grassy section I fell back again but made up some time on the first downhill and after the short climb to the next downhill was catching again, so of course used the technical sections to my advantage. By the bottom of slimline I was back on the tail but as it turned up a hairpin there were more offs and that forced me off too. I got back on and wasn’t able to get back on the train. I didn’t help my cause by messing up a gear change in to the steep climb, going in to big instead of little! I abruptly hauled to the right to ride along the hill and let off the tension so I could change down, recovered and kept pushing the pedals up the hill. Straight after that we were in to the final downhill (Boars Nest). It was just out of here I injured myself in 2006, but no issues this time. The final challenge of the lap was the ‘carpety climb’. In 06 I never got up it, but with Tama, Heather and Chris all egging me on I had no trouble.

I wasn’t too far off the pace and in laps 2, 3 and 4 made up a little bit of time. Around half way through the 4th lap I noticed something wasn’t feeling right in my rear wheel and soon noticed I was losing pressure. Well, I thought, the terrain isn’t too bad so I shouldn’t pinch flat and lower pressure will be good on the climbs (let’s not worry that I started with very low pressure because of the climbs anyway!). In the 4th lap it really wasn’t a problem, and I had a really good lap. In lap 3 I’d really started to feel it in the legs with a bit of jelly-leg feel and some good pain, and in lap 4 the pain was intense – it spurred me on to push harder and keep that pain on because as we all know, pain is your friend!

Heading in to lap 5 it was obvious I really didn’t have enough tyre pressure so I was careful to unweight the back of the bike when rolling over anything. I could feel the rim every now and then (and I’m running light weight tubes) and it was starting to roll out on me around corners and anything that hit the side wall. I was still riding well. I was knackered and felt like I’d blown my legs apart, but that’s exactly what I wanted. There were 3 pinch climbs that I thought had the potential to take me out as fatigue set in, but I rode all 3 in all 5 laps. Unfortunately with the tyre so deflated I was off on a couple of other pinches in the final climb and I probably lost a total of about 2 minutes to that problem.

I cross the line in 2.17. Last place, but I was elated. I’d completed my first elite race! I could ride expert and be winning races, or I could really test and push myself up here in elite, and I have no regrets about my decision. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about riding to the best of my ability. I’ve always wanted to be able to respect myself after crossing the line, and I definitely could with this race.

The best thing is, even though I felt like I gave it everything, I still feel like I’ve got so much more to give – and now I’m just amped as hell to get out there and give it in every race over the next few weeks!

[Lisa went on to race the North Is Cup n the weeks following the Vulcaniser and took out 3rd place in the elite women’s category for the series. She also wet on to take 6th place in elite women’s at the 2008 National Champs. Well done Lisa!]

19 November, 2006 – Anja McDonald, Dunedin (Expert Senior Women)
During my drive up from Dunedin, all I could think about was how much it was raining…And how wet the track was going to be. I’d heard rumours about how slick the Vulcaniser course can get but despite the rain and visions of a quagmire, I was looking forwards to riding the track again. It was one of my favourite from the ’06 National Series. Of course, last time I’d ridden it, it was bone dry, dusty, and about 30 °C!

The track had held up well, and the wet track just added an extra element of fun to the technical sections. However, the beating of the Rescue Chopper’s blade’s over the course as it lifted an injured rider to the hospital, was a sobering reminder to stay in control. The race was great, and there were a few of the country’s top riders on course, as well as a few who were just happy to be out there for a good ride on a fun track.

Thankfully, most of us had finished when the weather finally sacked it in and the rain started blowing in sideways. I was feeling pretty sorry for the race organisers, knowing what a battle they were going to face packing up, after we’d all bailed to our warm dry cars for the trip home!

Even although it was a fairly small turn out, you guys organised a great event, well supported by good sponsors with all sorts of fantastic prizes and freebies. Fun courses stick in your memory, hence, I was so keen to have another blast on it. And the modifications and tidying up on it certainly made for a more flowing race track as well as a challenging and fun ride.

I’ll be singing your praises down here in the deep south for a while yet, so hopefully I can drum up some more support for next year’s event!

22 January, 2006 (National XC Series) – Angela Eccles (Elite Woman)
After two relatively average races I was a bit nervous for things to go well at this round of the series. I was also pretty nervous about the weather as it was raining on my drive up to the course. Last time I had raced here it was wet, and thus very muddy which made for lots of fun but tough riding. 5 laps may have proven very hard in the wet!! In fact it ended up being hard enough in the dry. Instead of rain and mud the sun decided to come out an hour before the start which created a scorcher day!! The track was dry and dusty but in excellent condition after a lot of hard work from Craig, Rebekah, Andy and the rest of the Adventure Events team. Awesome job guys!!

It was so exciting to stand on the start line for this race with 15 other girls. Such a wicked turnout for pro-elite but it made for some pretty tough competition also. The start of the course went straight into a grassy climb which had the heart pumping pretty darn hard right from the start, then it was a lot of scrambling for places before we got onto the first bit of singletrack. I ended up stalling at one point so had to run to the start of the singletrack to avoid being passed by too many people. Next it was into a dry and dusty downhill with all of us following each other like sheep due to passing not being possible. The first open climb gave everyone a chance to have a shuffle around before a much longer piece of very technical downhill. This bit of track was pretty darn sweet with a few log drops, rocks and lots of tight steep corners as it wound its way through the Manuka trees. I was following Sara MacDonald most of the way down, with Erin Greene following close behind. Erin managed to get past me at one of the few pieces of double tracks so I was a bit eager to get to another open section. When it came I was pretty quick to get past them and raced off up the hill with both of them in fast pursuit. At the top of the next hill Erin put one last effort in to try and get past before the next technical downhill. Luckily I got some energy from somewhere and stopped her getting past. From then on I pretty much left both of them behind but you can never be too careful so had to keep pushing hard. The temperature was pretty full on for most of the race so I was drinking like crazy to keep hydrated and fend of the dreaded cramp which I got in Dunedin. Unluckily it started to kick in on the last two laps but wasn’t too bad so was able to keep pushing after having some crampstop. Slowly but surely I was finally in sight of the next competitor in front of me so that kept me going. Unfortunately I didn’t have quite enough time to catch her (Brenda Clapp) but a few people said she looked like she was hurting lot – she obviously knew I was right behind her too. It is actually really interesting to have people in front of me this year as I find it very motivating (obviously I would rather be in front but that will come in time!!). Last year I was out in front for every race so found it quite hard to keep going without someone right on my tail all the time.

It was certainly great to have a nice clean run and to have no mechanicals. It certainly helped my overall series placing quite a bit. I was actually quite pleased to have gotten through the race as I actually had food poisoning on the day of the race and ended up having to get a friend to drive me home and stop a few times along the way so I could spew!! Big huge thanks to Zane for looking after me!!

4 December, 2004 – Jason McCrystall (35-44yrs Expert class)
This was my first race at the Vulcaniser course but not my first visit as I volunteered to help with track building in 2003 but was unable to race due to expecting the next generation of MTB racer’s arrival. After a pleasant drive up from Christchurch and no confusion with directions (well sign posted and excellent information provided on entry form and website) arrived ready to race. Simple and friendly registration was provided (even free banana & Carbo drink). Race briefing was top notch and we were ready to put the pedal down. As usual the start was fast & furious off into the unknown as this part of the course was all new for 2004. Fast rolling downhills on farm tracks allowed room for passing and sorting out before a creek splash led into the first killer hill winding back up to the start/finish cross-over point (# 1) and on to the first single track though the forest section with enough tricky bits to catch you out if going too fast (managed to part company with bike on lap 3 here due to being too bold) then out to next cross-over point (#2) at last years Start/finish area across wonderfully built bridge and down a bone jarring farm track to the part of the track I helped build that head’s out to the coast (super views). Winding our way back across several grassy hills punctuated by short technical single track through Manuka stands till returning to cross-over point # 2. Those who raced last year remember the nasty hill from here but thankfully a purpose built single track is being used now (thanks to all those who sweated and shovelled to make this superb track) – only wished my legs had more horsepower to conquer it all but had to have a couple of walks. Then another brief climb before hammering it down to the start/finish on a really cool track and managed to pop a jump coming into the finish area only to have to repeat this 2 more times – bugger! Not those hills again. But the beauty of the course is that hills are in between some real sweet downhills and excellent single track sections that make you want to do 3 laps for the joy of riding.

On a personal note I was lapped by the winner Andy Reid (bloody awesome and if only I could borrow that engine) just before the Start/finish but was allowed to continue due to Andy’s fast time and the desire to do 3 laps of what I would call one of Canterbury’s special MTB courses.

We are lucky that the farm owners are so willing to let their land be used for these purposes (For all series events) – Thank you.

Special thanks to all the sponsors and big big thanks to Adventure Events (Craig, Rebekah & Andy) for taking the time & effort to put together the Canterbury House Medley series.

Note: I’m putting my name down to volunteer for next years Track building if needed and would like to see more help out as we are the ones it benefits, so offer your muscles & time to make it even better. (I’m off my apple cart now but open to abuse if anyone thinks I warrant it).

Final comment – Loved the event – hated the hills – enjoyed the day and fellow riders – appreciated the great meal – be back next year. Outstanding!!!!.

4 December, 2004 – Andrew Friend (average sport class punter!)
The 2004 Vulcaniser was my first ever ‘lap format’ race so I didn’t know quite what to expect. I woke to heavy rain on race day. I convinced myself I wasn’t feeling nervous (yeah right!) and forced down a quick breakfast before Malcolm arrived, and we loaded up the car and set off.

The rain had pretty much cleared by the time we left Christchurch and the further north we travelled the better the day became. By the time we got to the race venue the weather was glorious, and the course seemed to have been spared any rain at all. Nerves were giving way to excitement at the sight of the limestone outcrops and the ocean, and best of all, beautiful looking single track snaking it’s way downhill to the finish area.

After the race briefing we all headed to the start area. The various categories started two minutes apart so we got to see the Expert Men charging downhill from across the gulley – what a sight! The Expert women then headed off, and then it was our turn. The course started with a brief uphill on a farm track. Having not warmed up properly (i.e. at all) I remember thinking ‘Hmmm …. this doesn’t feel very nice – didn’t the website say the course started with a downhill?’.

Thankfully after about 100m we turned into the first downhill – a wide grassy field that narrowed into a farm track cut into the sloping paddock. Suddenly the entire Sport Men category found itself on the wrong side of the cutting, and everyone was dismounting and jumping down the bank to get back on the course. Ah the joys of following the rider in the front instead of the arrows marking the course!

Back on track we negotiated a nice rutty downhill farm track, crossed a small stream and hit the first real uphill. The altitude profile of the course didn’t do it justice and once more most people seemed to be dismounting and running … who was I to argue? This was the last time I saw anyone actually running uphill – walking seemed to be the order of the day for many on subsequent steep sections.

The hill eased a little and I was able to get back on the bike and pedal. The figure eight course headed back up towards the first cross over point. For me, this is where it started to hurt a little (only a couple of kay’s in!). Was it the lack of a warm up, or lack of training I wondered? Certainly the pace was faster than on my usual 20km loop in the Port Hills!

Past the crossover point we headed into some nice single track through the trees. It was steep, narrow and windy but definitely rideable and fun! Great to see some really interesting track in a race like this. All too soon the single track ends (not a reflection on the course but I could ride that stuff all day!) and we pass the second crossover point, blast downhill on another grassy section, over another stream crossing and hit the bottom of the next climb. I must be warmed up by now I’m thinking. Perhaps it is lack of training! I’m feeling pretty tired and the hill climb on grass seems like a grind. I know it’s not that steep … perhaps I just went out too hard! No matter how carefully you plan your ‘race strategy’ (you know, “ride within yourself, finish strong” etc etc) the adrenaline kicks in and you (and everyone else) ‘fangs it’ off the start line.

There are some more sections of sweet downhill single track through trees and I’m starting to feel a bit better. I’m really enjoying these downhill single track sections! Then the last (and longest) climb begins. This is where it really starts to hurt. I’m beginning to have very serious doubts about whether I can complete the race. I start to wonder how I can manufacture a mechanical problem so I can have an honourable DNF! I force myself to stay on the bike up to where the single track climb gets too steep for my tired legs to continue spinning and I dismount to walk a bit more. Mental note to self; incorporate some hill walking into next years training.

The climb eases again and I hop back on the bike. Rounding the corner I recognise what is the last short uphill leading to the downhill single track that got me excited earlier in the morning. I swoop down it past the finish area – lap one completed! And I’ve suddenly forgotten all thoughts about a ‘DNF’. In fact I suddenly feel pretty good. I guess by now I’ve warmed up, but I also know the layout of the course, and I’ve got all those downhill single track sections to look forward to. Even the steep climbs aren’t so bad second time around.

In contrast to the first lap the second lap is much more enjoyable. The few spectators dotted around the course offer some gratefully received encouragement – I’ve got say they really do give you a huge boost, especially at the top of the climbs.

Despite feeling much better than on the first lap, by the last climb I find I am congratulating myself on my choice of entering Sport Class (two laps) rather than Expert Class (three laps). The course description had sounded so good that three laps had been tempting at one stage!

In the end there’s no glorious surprise podium placing for me (snigger) but there is lunch, the good company of friendly likeminded people, some time to soak up some sunshine, relax tired legs and reflect on an entertaining morning. There’s even the chance of a spot prize.

Thanks to Andy, Craig & Rebekah for organising the Medley Events. They do a great job and it’s a real treat to ride in some fantastic country side. I’m already looking forward to next year!

STOP THE BUS, I WANT TO GET OFF – Organisers Report 2004
Everything was planned out perfectly for the Vulcaniser. Three guys would leave Christchurch at 8am on Friday to mark out the course. I would do last minute jobs around town then go to Hawarden to pick up the Port-a-loos at 5pm. I would arrive at the course at 6pm with dinner and we could all have a relaxing evening.

Alas, it was not to be. I rushed around to get everything done, then drove to my sister’s in Waipara where I was leaving our children. I rang the depot in Hawarden and found that the toilets weren’t there (they had been at Lake Sumner during the week). The guy said he’d make some enquiries and get back to me. So I waited. And waited. Ate my dinner. Waited some more. At 7.30 the phone finally rang and the guy informed me that the people bringing out the toilet had forgotten. He would drive in himself and collect them and we were to meet him after 9pm. I decided at this point that I would drive up to the course so that the guys could at least have something to eat. I don’t think I have ever driven up that road so fast. When I arrived no-one was relaxing at the shearer’s quarters so I continued on to the course I was greeted with the message on the back of a car “I’m down at the stuck truck”. Oh no. I met up with Craig and Glen and they were grateful to receive their hot quiche. Well, warm anyway. Slightly. I found out then that the person they had been relying on to help mark out the course from 10am had not arrived until 6pm. The truck had got stuck about 3pm right down at the bottom of the course and Craig and Glen had lugged a crate full of posts, probably weighing about 30kg, an armful of arrows, and several backpack loads back up the hill to continue marking out the course. Factor in the gusty nor’wester that was blowing and you could imagine their struggle.

Andy was dispatched to get help to extract the vehicle and I helped Craig and Glen finish marking out with the tape around the start/finish area. I hadn’t planned on being there long so hadn’t taken a jacket with me. By this stage the wind had swung around to the south and it was bitterly cold. I was standing on top of the hill marking out the area though the rocks when the phone rang. One of the sponsors who was going to bring up their own product could no longer make it. Can I suggest someone to bring it up for him? Thanks Neil. Because of the wind we couldn’t put up any tents so we packed everything down securely and got back to the shearer’s quarters in the dark just before 10pm. Andy had gone for the toilets and got back about 10.30pm. He headed up to the course to sleep under the stars. And what a beautiful starry night it was.

Race Day. Up at 5.45am. Still lots to do. Quickly ate breakfast and packed up. I couldn’t get my car up to the yards area because the grass was slippery with dew. Never mind, we transferred our gear into the 4WD and finished getting the start/finish area ready for registration, timekeeping, spectating and lunch. God was kind to us with the weather – it was a beautiful mostly calm morning for the race so most people got to appreciate the spectacular views down to the coast. From 8.30am everything began to happen really quickly. People began arriving and before we knew it the race was over. More quickly for some than others. We had 21 DNF’s out of 91 starters. That’s 23% of the field. It is a tough course and bikes were breaking and enthusiasm was wilting. St John only had to deal with one person – a guy dislocated his shoulder when he hugged a tree on his way down through the forest. Ouch.

Andy Reid’s win never looked doubtful. I was amazed when he came through over a minute in front in the first lap. His lap times only varied by 2 seconds which is great consistency and he finished comfortably with a 3 minute lead. Ryan Cull came flying in with second place and it was an incredible 9 minute gap before 3rd placegetter, Andrew Merrylees, finished. In the Junior Men Nik Ferigo held off Ben Thomas, finishing 4 minutes ahead. In the Expert Men 35-44 Tim Hoban finished just 29 seconds in front of Michael Sanders. Simon Adams was more convincing in the Expert men 45+ finishing 6 ½ minutes in front of Martin Leslie. Lap times for some of the Sport Men were not too different to those for the Experts, but maybe they knew they didn’t have to keep going for as long.

In the Expert Women <35 category Rosara Joseph was 38 minutes in front and had she been a bloke would have gotten 5th place. She did a third lap just for fun and finished that in 1:50:53. Andrea Murray in the Expert Women 35+ group finished more than 9 minutes ahead of Heather Brann.

We are grateful to everyone who came along and hope that you enjoyed your day out even if your performance didn’t meet your expectations.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to email us – we really appreciate your support and encouragement as it is a pretty hard slog at times and your positive comments do make the effort feel more worthwhile.

We also appreciate those who gave us a hand building the Vulcaniser course – we spent 8 weekend days up there from April to November – i.e. about one day per month, and we had help from at least one other person on half of those days. I had given up on being able to complete the new uphill single track in time for the race as we had spent several days on it and there was still a lot to go and that was pretty frustrating. We abandoned that track to build the downhill section (we call it the Dollimore Downhill) that goes in to the Start/Finish area. But then Jason Blair emailed me and said he had 5 guys organised to give us a hand so we put all our efforts back into the new uphill track (we call this section the Trimble Track) and managed to nearly complete it in one day. That was a real mental boost to me.

If you want to keep making this course better and are willing to put a hand to shovel, get in touch with us and we’ll put you on our working bee mailing list which lets people know when we are heading up there.

Finally, we’d like to thank Karen Morris of the Templeton Pet Hospital for all her support and contribution to the series. If you need some veterinary care for your pets get in touch with her – phone 349 6325.

29 November, 2003 – Jason Blair
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I turned up at the Vulcaniser Race. After riding in previous events organised by the Adventure Events guys, I knew it would be well organised and probably a bit different from other MTB events. I wasn’t disappointed. The long drive in along the farm track certainly made me wonder how they discovered this place – and after seeing the course I realised how much work must have gone into designing and cutting the figure eight shaped track.

As normal I was running pretty late, so quickly got changed and started following the arrows towards the Registration area. I wasn’t going to need a warm up after the ride to the Registration area! – it was hot and one of the riders I saw was already having to walk up the last climb before the descent to registration – I was tempted to join him. Even the descent down the hill almost took me out – I couldn’t remember ever struggling so much just trying to get to the start line! Maybe that last beer at the Dux last night was one too many, but what can you do when the visitor wants to go out on their last night in town? [The 2004 start finish area is in a much more accessible location]

As usual the atmosphere was very very friendly – something that reminds me of what got me into MTBing in the early 90’s – even the Nationals were friendly then, with $10-$15 entry fees and the emphasis on spot prizes. So thanks guys for breathing some life back into MTBing – giving us some variety and some events where the emphasis is on participation and not on winning.

So, what was the race like? First of all Andy explained the race format – finish the lap you are on when you reach your time limit – e.g. 2 hours for Expert Men. Your average lap time would be used to calculate your points for the race in the Adventure Events Series. Wow – you actually had to think about this one! If you get to the Start/Finish at 1:58, do you start another lap? Will I increase or decrease my average lap time? Do I sit in front of the finish line until 2 hours ticks over? I decided to wait and see how I was feeling closer to the finish. Nice concept guys – especially when you are just used to turning the brain off and following the arrows or the rider in front of you. [This year you can turn your brain off as it is lap based rather than time based – just need to be able to count to three!]

The race start was daunting – straight into a bottleneck up a slow grassy hill followed by a rutty and steep climb – this was going to hurt. [The 2004 start is straight into a downhill – nice!] Well, it did hurt and then one of the ruts caught me out in my oxygen-deprived state and I ended up on my side still clipped in on the up-hill! (I apologise to anyone who heard me commenting to myself on what I thought of my riding skills at that point). Suddenly it all felt better – the hill levelled off – and we had purpose built single track of all types – fast and open – slow, tight and technical – up and down. This was testing for all riders, but the traction was good, so it could be ridden slowly if necessary. Sadly it did have to end and suddenly you were back at the bottom of the daunting hill climb again for lap 2. Funny how the expressions on riders’ faces were very different where the 2 loops crossed over – those heading up the hill looked slightly more pained (and pale in my case!). But the thought of doing that single track again got me up the hill – it’s amazing how you forget about the pain of the climb on such a fun descent.

The laps continued and I was actually starting to feel better – that’s a first. It was getting to the point where I could decide how many laps I was going to do (earlier it was going to be 2 and then I was going to trade my bike in for a set of golf clubs!). I decided if I got to the finish line and there was less than 10 minutes to go, then I would lie down in the sun and wait for 2 hours to tick over and then cross the line. I started my 5th lap with 30 minutes to go – yep, this was my last and apparantly my friend Jason Hill was not too far ahead, so might as well push it to the end and try and catch him. When I did finally catch Jason, he said “you’re not doing another lap, are you?”. “NO way” I replied and he agreed that he was going to finish at the end of lap 5 also. At 1:52 I dropped to the grass in front of the finish and barely registered Andy’s suggestion I start another lap. Dayle McLauchlan had had the same idea sitting down just before I arrived. We were deep in conversation about how stuffed we were, but how good the circuit had been when Jason rolled up on his spit-shined and waxed Specialized Epic at 1:54. I patted the ground beside me expecting Jason to peel himself off his bike and wait for the clock to tell us it was all over. It was all very funny with Jason practising his track stand on the Finish line, but similar to his efforts at the traffic lights, he rolled over the white line – but this time it was intentional! How could he do that to me?! Without thinking I (stupidly) chased him, after I had finished abusing him that is. Dayle wisely never moved from his spot in front of the finish line. Well, the hill hurt yet again, but that single track just got better each time as the track got more and more compressed as well as the grass on the open sections. I was also starting to learn the track pretty well so I could get off the brakes a bit more often.

After that last lap, it was time to lie down and recover – and to get some food and drink down. As usual the prize giving was prompt with lots of spot prizes. I think most competitors were rewarded with a spot prize and the food was just what I needed to help re-fuel me for the ride back to the car. Half the fun of these events is the post-race analysis. This is my story of the race and I’ve heard lots more. It seems that it was a memorable event for most people for a variety of reasons – it certainly had the atmosphere that keeps me MTBing. Even though I’ll probably take a year off bike racing next year [Yeah, right Jason!], I’ve already put my hand up to help these guys cut more track for this event next year if they have a working bee. These tracks don’t make and maintain themselves! A final thanks to Craig, Rebekah, Andy and all their helpers for running an awesome series. We are very lucky to have such a variety of events within Canterbury (and a very useful list of events on their website!). Good luck for future events – I’m sure you will continue to get increasing support from Mainland MTBers as word spreads about your events.

2003 Organisers report – Rebekah
For some unidentified reason I was excited about the Vulcaniser for days before the event. Perhaps it was because it was seeing coming to fruition all the effort that went in to organising the event.

On Thursday night we spent a couple of hours loading the trailer with all the gear we’d need and getting soaked in the rain. On Friday morning Craig set out first thing, with Andy and I due to follow after lunch. However, there was a delay with picking up the toilet so we didn’t end up arriving until 5pm. By that time Craig had single-handedly marked out the entire course. We then erected all the tents and did some other bits and pieces while I whinged about wanting dinner. I ate half a packet of wine gums to keep me going and finally got to heat my can of spaghetti at about 9pm when we headed down to the shearer’s quarters.

Despite being very tired, the cold in the morning (the vehicle windows were iced up) woke me at 5am and my mind was instantly in a whirl. I tried going back to sleep but after half an hour gave up and went and ate my breakfast and read the 2nd edition of the NZMTB magazine.

By 7am we were heading back out to complete the preparation for the days event. This involved marking out the drive in, setting up the generator, registration stuff, transporting all the food down, picking up the St John personnel and a little bit of last minute trackwork.

The women slowly drifted in and the field of 15 got under way at quarter past 10. The field was quite spread out by the time they came back past the start/finish area and the comments ranged from loving it to hating it. Still, they all got around the course eventually. Andrea Murray led the way completing 4 laps in 1:45:05 with Glenda Ryan not far behind completing 4 laps in 1:49:27. Three other riders also completed 4 laps of the course which I thought was a fantastic effort.

I hadn’t been watching the clock so I was taken by surprise when suddenly it was 12 noon and there was a big queue of guys outside the tent wanting to register. Fortunately Hayley came to my rescue and after initially getting in each others way, we got into a rhythm and got them all processed without too much muddle. It was also at this point that I realised I hadn’t had anything to drink all morning, was very hungry on account of having breakfast at 5.30am and with the heat in the tent I felt like I was going to faint. But the show must go on so when there was a gap in those wanting to register I grabbed some lunch and ate mouthfuls over the next hour or so. By the way, the lunch was prepared by my Mum and Dad and I thought they did an excellent job of it.

There was a field of 64 guys that took off on the starting line and the battle between Andy Merrylees and Ryan Cull was on. Ryan eventually won completing 6 laps in 2 hours, 1 minute, 5 seconds. After watching the women in the morning the men seemed to just fly around the course. The fastest lap time was achieved by Andy Merrylees in 19 minutes, 12 seconds. The course is very physically demanding and again there were people who loved it and people who hated it but the “loved it” proportion was much stronger this time. We’d said that if you didn’t ride for your allocated time (1.5 hours for Sport and 2 hours for Expert) that you’d DNF. It was quite bizzare to watch the guys lining up at the finish line waiting for the clock to tick over because they couldn’t face doing another lap. One of the people who stopped was Jason Blair. He’d been there for a few minutes when his friend Jason Hill rode up and pretended to stop then took off again. The challenge worked and Jason Blair kicked in for another lap.

When I was reviewing the results I sent Andy off to find out why one guy recorded 30 or so minutes for his first lap and about an hour for the second. I thought we must have missed recording one of his laps, but no, he’d done a lap, stopped for lunch, then headed off for another round. That gave me a good laugh.

I demarked the bottom valley section and I really enjoyed seeing the worn track. It would have been easier riding it at the end of the day than at the start because the track was so much smoother by the time the grass had been worn down and any loose soil thrown off. We’d spent several long days over the past few months doing the spade work for the track and it was great seeing it being used as we’d hoped. When we first went up there it was just a farm valley with a few cattle tracks here and there and the 4WD tracks. No doubt we will make a few more improvements before next years event.

By the end of the Men’s Race I was totally fatigued but somehow I managed to get the results reasonably correct (there’s an oxymoron for you!) After both this and the McDonald Downs event at the end of the day I just felt like crying. I think it was because I’d been on a high for quite a while and when it’s all over I can afford to come “down”. Anyway, no time for tears because we still had another 4 hours work to do packing everything up. My earlier estimate of “it’ll take about an hour” was a little out! It was a nice evening and I enjoyed the quietness of the farm after the hustle and bustle of the day.

I got to bed about 10pm but my mind was still buzzing so it was quite a bit later before I went to sleep. However, I must be a beggar for punishment because I volunteered to get up at 4.30am the next morning to take my parents to the airport. When I have caught up on my sleep Andy, Craig and I will sit down and discuss the areas that we could have done better or differently so if any of you have things to say, we welcome your comments. Even things like getting spectators to the start/finish area, words to use on next years entry form so new riders have a clearer idea of what to expect etc.

Well, you must have better things to do than sit here reading this so I will stop.