Round 1: Ngati Tama
The weekend heralded the arrival of Hüttcross 2016. On Saturday, frigid squalls lashed the windows and swept the streets of life. But it failed to dissuade over 150 participants from rolling out to Ngati Tama Park on Sunday to slither about the season opener.
It was a baptism by fire. For those who didn’t know, and those who’d forgotten, the greasy off-camber showed its hand early. The course was an ataxic slog through awkward direction changes and slick traverses that upended riders like it had been waiting all summer for the privilege. It was also peppered with delightful micro-degradations such as barriers at the bottom of the stop bank and compulsory lines through bogs that might never have been grass at all.
The mud was incorrigible. It heaped up on components, frames, legs, faces and sucked components into malfunction. Chains derailed with heaving gritty clunks and the vacuous slurp of tightening cables bubbled out of the sludge.
In spite of, or because of the hardship, the riders were thrilled. Countless hit the deck and most others had small dignities stripped by pieces of unremarkable earth in the backblocks of Upper Hutt. Some even mangled expensive mechanical items into ruination.
But smiles cracking through dried mud don’t lie.
The cross community is well-established now. The first casualties on Sunday were egos, and after that most relaxed into the visceral enjoyment of careening out of control around a Council Reserve. After a dishearteningly arid 2015 season, 2016 has hopefully signalled its intentions.
If Round One is anything to go by, it’s going to be sublime.
All photos courtesy of Digby Shaw Photography
Results are archived here.