photo CREDIT: Whaka 100 / Clint Trahan
The whole Whaka100 weekend was an absolute blast. From hitting the Rotorua streets on Friday night, shredding the Saturday kids ride, and the (seemingly) never ending mission on Sunday. Tim and the whole team simply did a superb job at planning and executing all the events and giving us riders a weekend filled with good vibes!
I didn’t really have a plan going into Sunday Whaka100, other than “ Don’t bonk and keep it smooth”. So, you can imagine after the first descent when I found myself in the lead with a little gap, I didn’t really know how to play it! It was my first time doing such a long race so I decided my best bet was to just continue riding at my own pace and know that the second half of the course had a lot of climbing (which I felt was where Samara and Josie would put significant time on me) so if I was going to get a gap it would have to be in the first half, and be a pretty decent size too.
By the time I reached the 50km feed-zone I had built the lead to 5mins (which I didn’t know at the time) and was feeling alright, but knew the major climbs hadn’t even come yet, and that things were now going to get tough. After I swapped out my seemingly endless supply of empty GU Energy Gels with freshies, stocked up on new water bottles and shoved some solid food into my mouth, I was back out on course and ready to start attacking.
Then things went a bit pear-shaped…within 5 mins of leaving the feed-zone I lost half my water and suddenly my plan went from “how can I continue to attack” to “how can I avoid bonking”. It turns out the answer was to stop at every aid station and take time filling up my bottle, not ideal (especially when some of my nutrition plan involved getting carbs from my fluids, which I had lost) but needed as I knew my stomach would not love me after 6 hrs of gels with no water. And looking back I’m so glad I did, because If I had not maintained my fueling leading into those climbs, I’m pretty sure I would still be somewhere on 'Pondy Elevator' right now!
After 'Pondy' was done, the 'Mons Summit Challenge was completed, and I was so shocked to still be in the lead (and to have extended my gap to 10 mins). Throughout the whole day I had just pictured myself getting caught up that climb (and don’t get me wrong, Samara still put 2 mins into me on the climb!), that to reach the summit and still be in the lead was a pleasant surprise to say the least… From here to the finish line, I had two things on my mind; “Don’t crash, don’t crash, don’t crash”, and “man one of those burgers would go sooooo hard right now.” Suffice to say, when I crossed the finish line, after 10 mins of lying on the ground and 10L of water being dumped on me, I sent my dad to the burger truck to get me a feed! After all, a fueled athlete is a fast athlete.
Overall, I am very proud of my race, the way I took everything as it came and remained clam enough the make some (at least in my opinion) mature decisions.
I'm looking forward to Whaka100, 2023. However, there are a few things I would do differently. Firstly, I am not wearing arm warmers on the start line if I know it’s going to be a hot day (I was already undressing on the first climb), and secondly, I’m packing more solid food (easily done when I have Stroopwaffles as an option). Plus, with the 85km BDO Huka Cycle Challenge coming up, it looks like I’m going to have the perfect place to experiment with different feeding options and race plans. Hope to see some of you there!!