On a recent weekend our intrepid leader, Dale, reluctantly agreed to show the world that riding for the 5 Men was not solely focussed on a means of getting from one café to the next; throwing all caution – and personal well-being– to the wind, Dale and Paul B set off for the inaugural Ruapehu Express.
On the event website the Ruaphu Express is described as a “classic cross country point to point race/ride mostly across private land with exclusive access for this event only! Mountain Bikers start on the Tukino Ski field Road and are treated to a huge variety of terrain and trails including . . . NZ Army tussock/desert landscape LAV tracks, . . . the myriad of trails in the Karioi pine forest which wraps around the Whangaehu and Wahianoa Rivers, . . . the beautiful native Rangataua forest, [and] a smattering of farm land and quick dash to Ohakune on the tar sealed roads.”
Sounds challenging enough for practiced mountain bikers: for Dale, more used to the sedate roads around the Miramar Peninsula and social rides on gentle cycle trails, it was even more daunting.
The event is marketed as a both a “race” and a “ride”, and there is no doubt that the top riders are firmly in the former category, with the winner’s time being just a little over two hours for the 55 km course. The leading women completed the course in just over 2 ½ hours.
For Dale the emphasis was on completion rather than competition: and complete it he duly did, participating in the “Super Veterans” class; several others were not so determined. For the record Paul B finished further up the field than Dale, taking full advantage if his greater experience in off-road riding.
By his own admission Dale’s ride was not without incident, with a couple of falls, and a few near misses with other riders on the sometimes narrow course. But apart from a few cuts and bruises, no permanent damage – and a lot of memories of a successful day. Followed by a well earned beer (or three).
Congratulations to both Dale and Paul B for the successful completion of what is clearly a tough ride.