Monday, November 28, 2011

Huka XL Challenge

Saturday 26th November held the annual Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge around the lake, and the equivalent Huka Challenge for the mountain bikers.  The event attracts New Zealand’s top riders with the promise of a good hard race with stiff competition and prize money. 

I awoke early to another cold Taupo morning and headed out to the event centre to make the 7am start. The wind had picked up overnight and was blowing a gale.  The race began with us climbing up Tongariro Street and then heading into single track, making our way towards Craters of the Moon MTB Park.  Once at Craters we could hear the echo of creaks and cracks throughout the forest as the wind continuously struck the battered trees. Pine cones and branches were falling left, right and centre and I even witnessed two fully mature pine trees crash to the ground blocking the track ahead. It was dangerous, and the decision was made by the organizers to cancel the race at the 30km mark and to get everyone out of the forest before more people were hurt.


At the time the race was stopped I was having a good race and had made my way into 5th place.  Top 5 of the women usually receive prize money so was a bit gutted they did not note the positions after first place. Though big congratulations to Mikey Northcott and Karen Hanlen who were the men’s and women’s winners, well ahead of the rest of the field at the time.
Once out of the forest, riders had the option to ride the last bit of the course outside of the forest, up to Aratiatia dam then through Spa Park to the finish.  Obviously most riders did this, having a leisurely social ride with friends. In the end we still rode 55km (of the original 80km) and were still able to cross the finish line even though the places did not count. It was a good day, and least I know I continue to get faster with the help of John Lee, despite the tough university year I had. It was also a great opportunity to catch up with friends and see some of Taupo’s iconic landmarks.

Ash and I crossing the finish line together

My legendary Dad completed the Extreme Track Enduro for the second time, which consisted of two laps around the lake (320km) mostly into a headwind wind and with a sore knee. Go Dad!

Andrew Morrison on is second lap around the lake

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Auckland Championships

New look (Kit and Bike)
Last Saturday Ash and I drove up to Auckland for the final round of the Auckland Mountain Bike Champs held in Riverhead. I was leading woman in the series, with three wins at the previous rounds in Woodhill, Hunua and Slater Road. Kindly, the Retief family generously let us stay Saturday night so we would be prepared to race on Sunday.
Sunday morning arrived and we set out to the track, I was feeling a little nervous about the course. We were to do three 11km laps of a very challenging and technical course which included a 41% rutted and slippery climb, tight rooted single track, and a steep knarly downhill with jumps and drops. 

I started out conservatively as I knew it was going to be a tough day on the bike. The first lap I was riding like a muppet, not use to the vast number of exposed roots which made for a harsh bumpy ride. This initially lead to me to making poor line choices with a disorganized gear selection and a few crashes. As the race progressed, I began to recognize sections of the track and became more confident, faster, and started to really enjoy it. Riverhead is such an amazing place to ride, it really challenges the rider's skills to cope with ungroomed, 'true' mountain biking tracks, never short of ruts, roots and mud. 
I finished first women out of 3.  The small number of women is a shame, but luckily the race format allowed everybody to start together so I was able to be competitive against the age-group men and push myself. 
Thanks to Ash, the Retiefs, Nigel from Endura, Auckland MTB Club for the support at the race series.  With 4/4 wins in the series means I am now the 2011 Auckland MTB Champ. Congratulations to Tom Reynolds who took out the men's title, and Matt Andrew who won the Single Speed class.

Men and Woman's Auckland MTB Champs

1st Raewyn Morrison, 2nd Renee Wilson, 3rd Naomi Wright

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cycle Obsession

Ash and I have officially moved out of Auckland (for good) and are currently residing in Tauranga for the short term. 
For 2012- my final year as a physiotherapy student -I have been allocated to Rotorua to complete 1000 hours of clinical placement. Understandably, I'm very excited to be moving to Rotorua (the heart of mountain biking heaven), making training easier and as a bonus I will be closer to my coach, John Lee.
Unfortunately by moving out of Auckland I have had to leave 239 Bike, located in Pukekohe. Will and the team at 239 have been a huge help and support throughout my time in Auckland so it will be sad to leave. If you ever have a chance, I highly recommend you make time to visit the store, I guarantee you will not be disappointed. It's a massive shop, containing a wide range of top-end product and bikes with fantastic service.

On a different note, I have joined my partner in crime and racing (minus the crime part), Ash Hough, and now officially riding for Cycle Obsession, located in Mount Maunganui.  
Owned by Kris Snow, Cycle Obsession is a passionate bike shop that is at the heart of the mountain bike scene in Tauranga. I am very excited to be part of Cycle Obsession as they provide a positive image and support for local events and athletes in the Bay of Plenty. You can follow them on facebook at

Recent races:

Last Monday  we decide to compete in the Monday night race up at the Summerhill mountain bike trails. Ash and I rode out to the track, only to arrive late and found that the race had already started.  With a 3min handicap we set out, busting our guts to catch up and gain positions. After the tough hour I had made my way into 1st position, leading the women, and ash made it to 4th, 1min behind first place (Kris Snow).  Looking forward to the next one :)
For the last few months I have been competing in the Endura Auckland XC MTB Championship Series. So far I have won every race although unfortunately competition has been a little slim for round 2 and 3, which just means I have been racing against the guys. Ash and I will be travelling up this weekend to compete in the final round at Riverhead, and then Taupo the following weekend for the XL Huka Challenge. 

Endura Team Launch

The new Endura team has been launch! 
Last week the team meet for the first time in Taupo. We spent the day trying on new kit, stickering our bikes up and taking photos, the end result being a snazzy looking team on bling bikes and flash kit (check out the photos below). It was a fun day with a talented group of up-and-coming athletes.

Team sponsors include:
-Endura Clothing
-Specialized bikes
-DZ Nuts

Have a look out for us at the races this season....

Nigel McDowell, Adrian Retief, Nathan Johnston, Josh Parkin, Amber Johnston, Ryan Hunt, Raewyn Morrison

Stumpjumper 29er!