I’d only raced the Arrowsmith once before all the way back in 2007 as a then baby faced 13 year old. That year it was a round of the South Island Cup / National series and although my memory had faded slightly of the course I did remember there was a grunty, long climb to kick things off.
The weather hadn’t been too flash at all the night before the race and upon our arrival at Lake Heron it wasn’t looking any better with lots of rain bucketing down and the clouds closed in around us. I was quite looking forward to the challenge however and although it meant the views over the back half of the course were non-existent it certainly gave the course an epic sort of vibe.
Just a couple of kilometres after the start we left the smooth gravel road and onto a muddy farm track which quickly pitched upwards into the clouds. I was soon alone off the front and settled into the best rhythm that I could as I fought for traction up the steep, muddy and rocky ascent, all the way up to 1400m elevation. I sure was glad I’d changed to some more mud capable XR2 tyres rather than the worn out XR1’s I’d been training on otherwise I wouldn’t have had a chance to ride much of the climb at all.
After a slippery descent all the way down to the valley floor on the other side of the range we had just crossed it was time to make our way back downstream following the South branch of the Ashburton river towards the start finish area. There was still lots of challenging sections to follow during the 42km but I made it through the race incident free to take the win and enjoy a tough day out in the saddle!