Hamilton rider Sheldon Gorter may have felt a little “knackered” at the end of last Sunday’s Karioi Classic bike race around the mountain, but he had good reason — three of them in fact. Riding a mountainbike this time around the 21-year-old retained his King of Karioi title as first male home out of a field of around 200 riders. He completed the gruelling 44km circuit four minutes faster than last year, and he did it all on top of riding from home over the divvy and on out to Raglan as a warmup.
“It’s actually more of a training ride for me,” said Sheldon, who was also planning to bike back into Hamilton as part of preparations for a seven-day road race coming up in the South Island in November.
Cycling’s in the Gorter family blood: Sheldon’s dad was in Sunday’s race too, while he has a brother currently riding professionally for the Subway team in the States.
Second rider home — having dropped half a minute when he lost his chain — was friend and first-time competitor Jonty Taylor, 36, from Ohaupo. Despite the mishap he crossed the finish line at the airport just 2 minutes behind Sheldon. “Curiously enough he (Sheldon) borrowed my bike last year and won,” explained Jonty. “He’s [just] a machine.”
Third home — in 1 hour 35 minutes — was Hamiltonian Oliver Shaw, a young sport and leisure student who was delighted to better his top 10 placing from last year. An “awesome” event, he reckoned as he recovered at the finish, and “well run too”.
But it was the first ever ride round the mountain for the event’s winning female. Albany 21-year-old Raewyn Morrison took out the Queen of Karioi title, making it back to Raglan near the head of the field in an impressive 1 hour 41 minutes. It was definitely “hard yakker”, she said, but worth the effort for the weather, the stunning views and for not knowing exactly what was coming next. Six minutes behind Raewyn was Auckland’s Louise Mark, 34, full of praise for the “awesome course” and scenic splendour en route — and “hell yes”, she reckoned she’d do it all again next year.
About 30 Raglan entrants were among riders from all over the North Island who competed in this year’s event, and it was local GP Mike Loten who claimed bragging rights. He came home in 1 hour 45 minutes, slashing nine minutes from his 2010 result in which he was second local rider to finish. Second local home this time round was David Wright, whose 1 hour 51 minutes slashed a full five minutes from his last year’s time.
Meanwhile Dr Mike’s wife Joan had a great debut ride, having won a bike in an earlier Chronicle competition which gave her little option but to enter the race.
Joan did a “sensational” time for a first ride of 2hrs 26 minutes, said co-organiser Lisa Thomson, who was happy both to see the event attract new converts and lots of returning riders smashing their times. Several local couples tackled the course, she said, as did three local under-16s — Eddie Young (2:15), Amy Munns (2:49) and Braden Shilton (2:53) who, at just 13 years of age, was the youngest competitor.
Chris Meek was the only Raglan competitor this year in a field of 10 who contested the all-male single speed category, and he was over-the-moon to “smash my time by 10 minutes” for a 2hr 38min finish on his typically unsophisticated bike. Ash Hough, 21, from Albany — partner of new Queen of Karioi Raewyn Morrison — won the single speed race in 1:36, and with it a boutique weekend for two in an Ohakune chalet courtesy of holiday let company Bachcare. King and Queen titleholders were awarded locally-made trophies and $100 cash each.
Two tandem bike teams from Auckland added to the fun, while pink fairy wings and hot pink tinsel hair beneath bike helmets were spotted on a couple of female competitors at the 10am race start from the fire station. New to this year’s event was a trophy in true Tour de France tradition for the ‘lanterne rouge’ or last rider home, which went to Mike Dobson with a time of 3hrs 50mins. Even so, he was still nearly 25 minutes faster than last year’s slowest rider.
Event co-organisers Dirk De Ruysscher of Bike 2 Bay and Lisa Thomson reckon they struck it lucky with the weather again for the mid-winter event which is deliberately timed to bring the punters to town during Raglan’s offseason. It’s their seventh event in three years through Raglan Events and Multisport Trust and the focus now, they say, is to grow it bigger and better with the same “fantastic” team of behind-the-scenes volunteers who help make it such a success. Lisa reckons “everyone’s positive” about the event which, she admits, is not a “big player” in the world of multisport but which celebrates our physical environment, its people and community spirit.
Most Raglan businesses contributed to a generous array of division and spot prizes for the day while Hamilton businesses — Trek n’ Travel and Shoe Clinic — also contributed more than $1000 each to boost the prize-giving pool. And Waikato District Council generously funded $1200 towards event costs.