Hard, wet, cold ride

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Wanaka man Eddie Spearing was not mincing words after finishing the Bannockburn Gutbuster mountain bike race on Saturday.

”That was about the worst bike ride I have ever done in my life,” Mr Spearing, who competed in the masters 50+category, said.

”Of the four times I’ve done this race, that was hardest.”

At one point in theĀ 75km race, ”treacherous” crosswinds almost brought him to a standstill around Duffer Saddle and then ”massive headwinds”, rain and hail were features of most of the ride from the Garston Hotel, near Queenstown, to the
finish line at the Bannockburn Hotel.

”I was heard to say `I am never doing it again’ -but then I think I have said that the last three times too.”The race, part of the Bike it Now Cromwell Summer Series, attracted more than 200 mountain bikers, who had to negotiate more than 20 creek crossings in the Nevis Valley.

Race director Terry Davis said ”very tough” conditions faced competitors.

”The importance of taking the right gear was reiterated at the briefing.

When people asked if they take their light or heavier jacket, they were told to take the heavy one,” he said.

”Character was the
winner on the day. Everyone who competed out there on Saturday showed great strength of character -the winners did amazing times into the wind and the back-of-the-field guys showed incredible perseverance to not give up.”

There was a nail-biting sprint to the finish line for the first two riders in the open men’s category, with Tim Rush crossing the line just 1sec ahead of Michael Vink in a time of 3hr 05min 31sec.Liam Aitcheson was third.

The open women’s race was won by Kate Fluker, of Queenstown, in 3hr 48min 02sec, with Erin Green second and
Shannon Hope third.

Mr Davis said there had not been a lot of interest in a new category for teams, with just three entering this year’s event.