New Plymouth’s Daisy Day is entered in the 25km 60+ age group for the second time, after taking up mountain biking later in life when she decided she wanted to get fit. She was a surfer and coach, but wasn’t liking the cold Taranaki days in the waves. Daisy has shared her mountain biking journey with us.
I started mountain biking later in life when I should have been learning to piece a 1000 bit jigsaw together. I bought a rusty Raleigh M2 Sport for $100 as I wanted to get winter fit.
I wanted more than biking on a smooth surface. I met a bloke who became my 'bike buddy'. A seasoned rider, he became a patient mentor, a personal mechanic and a good friend.
Totally hooked, I sacrificed skin. My husband would shake his head and sigh, “Daisy, you used to have such nice legs”.
I entered my first 12km mountain bike race in Rotorua on a green Trek Wahoo hardtail.
I got in the way of the fast and furious elite riders. I was last, my husband had eaten 20 sausages while waiting. I'm a vego, and I was starving.
But I received a wonderful spot prize, plus I was allowed to keep my first ever race number. Achievement! I have become obsessed.
It was then time for a new bike.
Time for another weapon. An Air9 hardtail. Oh my, carbon too. I felt special and hip. I joined the New Plymouth mountain bikers.
Riding was getting easier. Skin was still falling off, ribs were cracking and there were rubs in strange places, but my confidence had grown.
Fast forward to today, I’m riding my first full suspension Niner RDO RKT. Totally blinged out by Mr Mechanic, and for my capabilities.. a maturing mountain biker, I am in love, and it ain't a surfboard.
The Whaka 25km is looming. The butterflies are starting to flutter. The hype and the buzz of this event is fabulous. Like minded riders..my age and OVER!
The friendliness, the intense, yet happy vibe. Even the most serious of riders are smiling. And there's some great music.
This is an event for everyone who wants to ride the trails with a more competitive feel. I enter because I ride trails I would probably normally balk at. I like to push my limits.
For me, I always set myself a personal best, little goals I make up on the way throughout the race. Can I sing a whole song and make it a mantra as I plod the uphills? Can I make it uphill? Oh no, another rider passing..that's okay, they are so much younger than me.
Can I do a whole race without flying over the handlebars? I am certainly well versed in that skill.
If I can just finish, I'm happy. As long as the coffee cart is still there.
Preparation for the Whaka is a huge factor for me. The work I do is physical. I tire easily these days. Also the last few months have been somewhat unsettling for everyone.
I found it hard to get into a routine again, and my bike fitness has suffered. We shifted property and now there's hill upon hill to climb. That is a good thing.
I try a couple of two hour gravel road rides within a 10 day limit, the rest are 30 minutes to an hour, depending on what cafe I feel like frequenting, and who has the best cheese scones.
I have only just got back into the forest here, so my skill factor needs working on.
I have been lucky with having had a couple of bike and surf mad, proactive physios who have given me great stretches to work on. There have been huge changes in my flexibility, what a difference to my riding.
I relish riding with some of the women in the local forest, but I don't often get the chance. We tend to be more at ease, and not always make every ride a race. There is that underlying competitive spirit naturally, no matter what age, which is a good driver for me especially when the Whaka100 approaches.
I know I'm only riding the 25km, it's enough adrenaline for this body and mind to get through.
If I can still do it, I will and with a big smile. That's the achievement.