Day 6 of The Pioneer gave rider’s a welcome shorter stage of 64km today. However, initial excitement of a significantly shorter day in the saddle was quickly put to rest with a look over the course profile. The stage beckoned 64km of pretty much entirely uphill riding to the XC ski village of ‘Snow farm’. To soften the blow of the climbing ahead the trail to the base of the climb included a loop of the Wanaka ‘Deans Bank’ singletrack. One of the few offerings of singletrack was an absolute treat with smooth, flowing trail and perfectly groomed berms. The race entered this singletrack at a very fast pace with all rider’s jockeying for position and keen to drop their competitors in the trails more suited to the pure mountain bike athlete’s. However, any small margins that were gained on this portion of the trail were proved to be insignificant when brought into comparison with the bohemeth climb that lay ahead.
A number of teams in contention for the minor placings in the open male pairs category attempted to establish an early breakaway to consolidate or achieve their position on the podium. However the Spanish ‘Imparables’ team and ‘Watson & Son Manuka honey’ who have been dominant all week further proved why they were ahead on GC with a commanding ride up the climb to take the stage honours together. Sharing the spoils for what has been a battle royale all week between these well credentialed cyclists. Next across the line was the ‘seven day adventurists’ team followed closely by us here at Subaru-marathonMTB.com team in 4th. With 1 stage remaining it appears barring any serious mishaps we have the GC competition wound up across the categories. For full results click here.
The climb today was a true test of character with more absolute leg tearing terrain to push a bike through. Conditions one would never voluntarily choose as a trail to ride a bike on. As The Pioneer promotes, you will ‘find character’ in this event and having grizzled and grunted a bicycle tyre up and over some absolutely grewsome terrain I am very grateful to now be able to draw upon these experiences when pedalling my road bike up a smooth road seems hard. Rider’s are now settled into the spectacular XC ski village of Snow Farm, ready for 1 more day of gnarly riding into the tourist city of Queenstown.
The Subaru-marathonMTB.com pairing of myself and Mike Blewitt had our best stage yet with a well paced climb we managed to cross the line 4th for the day, 3rd in the open men category. Working in pairs can be very satisfying when you get it right, reading each others strengths and weaknesses and been able to use strengths at the right time is a great skill to learn and would have benefit in many aspects of life.