Despite a distinct lack of post-christmas funds I have gone and entered The DUAL for it's second running. At NZD$145 it's a bit of a rip-off but the organizers have to shuttle several hundred bikes and a couple of thousand competitors across to an island in the middle of the gulf, so it is a logistical nightmare.
Supposedly some of the profit goes to the Motutapu Restoration Trust which is a very good cause after all. Motutapu means "Sacred Island" in maori and it's a special place with lots of maori and european history. It's also unique in that it's joined by a natural causeway to a young volcano and they both have quite different personalities.
I'm doing the 50km race again but they've added a 30km event this year for casual riders. The terrain is very hilly and you spend the second half of the race climbing in and out of valleys on farm-land. Very energy-sapping as a lot of this is on grass, not a trail as such.
For this reason I plan on taking the Cross-Check. I'll be much slower on the down-hills and will get beaten-up on the skinny tyres but can make up a lot of time if I can ride the whole course. A 36lb singlespeed fatbike was not the best option for the constant climbing involved last year. Most of the riders around me on much lighter geared bikes were walking the steep sections as well, but I reckon with a bit of training they are doable and I won't be stopping to take photographs this time!
With this in mind I threw the knobblies on the Cross-Check yesterday to get a feel for riding it on rough terrain. My main concern is whether my hands and wrists can take 3-4hrs in the drops at speed. It felt decidedly more plush riding a 45mm tyre @50psi than the usual 35mm/70psi combo. Only time will tell on this one.
My DUAL nemesis across the waters. Motutapu on the left and Rangitoto on the right. I can see that damn volcano from just about everywhere I ride!
I'm loving these Paul brakes but the Fire-Cross tyres are painfully slow on tarmac. Practical for off-road only.