The 2020 version of the Ruapehu Express was hopefully going to be the full 80kms, but high winds and potential rain took care of that and the course was shortened to around 72kms. We set off at the bottom of the Tukino ski field road, I cast my eye over the field noting the usual cast of fast looking greyhounds donning the start line. However, the start turned into a quiet affair as most seemed to think we needed to follow the pace setter, we didn't so I upped the pace and led the pack out across the misty/grey landscape. We set into a good tempo with three of us taking turns up the front as we raced parallel to the Desert road, an extra joined us and the pace felt good as we turned inland. At the turn off to do the extra 7kms loop over the 60kms riders a gap between me and the top three developed I managed to close it down but I just thought I was tiring given the frenetic speed. A few more km's through some cool freshly made single track I could hear the tyre rubbing against the frame, thought that can't be good!. It wasn't, as we turned onto a firebreak road I could feel the tyre had lost a lot of air as I wobbled to stay upright. I battled on for abit trying to keep up, but by around 35km's I stopped to put air in, doh! no air canister so back to the manual pump. Gave it some air and set off, and 10 minutes later it was back to the same psi again. That happened a further three times, yes yes in hindsight I should have just wacked a tube in it rather than relying on the tubeless system to work.
I crawled home, getting more and more annoyed as I got passed by 60kms riders and e-bikes. Still manged a respectable 5th place overall, but feeling it after riding with a flat for half the course. Many will say 5th is still a great place to finish, I guess those people don’t see the hours of training, sometimes in awful conditions, and time away from family it takes to get yourself into a podium position. Adding to that at 45 years old you have to take the opportunities as they arise!
This isn't all about me, while I was having a shocker Mrs Silversky was busy in the 25kms race putting the hammer down. Taking out 3rd place in the women’s age grade she was very happy, she took some heat last year for getting passed at the end to claim a still respectable 4th place. That made the whole trip worthwhile!
We’ll be back.
Posted: Mon 24 Feb 2020