New Zealand National Headwind Cycling Championships

Race report – 27 September 2020

The inaugural New Zealand National Headwind Cycling Championships was held in Martinborough.

Requiring wind speed of greater than 10m/second, Tāwhirimātea did not disappoint. As registrations opened there was concern from race organiser Stuart Edwards, the predicted gales would be replaced by rain. Wind speeds hovered at a disappointing 6-7 m/s.

Registrations were hampered by MetService predictions that New Zealand was about to be blown to South America. Wellingtonians might have been reluctant to travel across the Remutaka Hill for fear of flying trees. One apparently demolished the car of a cyclists as they were driving across Wainuiomata Hill toward another race!

We made it to the start line with 9 registered participants, the wind was howling (excellent) and rain lashed the course!

Dave Shepherd was serious from the getgo, he is a competitive multisport racer and even did a warm-up start and a warm-up lap of the Te Kairango ring road. We could tell the others were nervous (perhaps wishing they were on the Remutaka Cycle Trail or enjoying some other leisurely pursuits in Martinborough.

David Blake is well known locally for his antics on the Single Speed Surly Straggler, touring NZ by bike, he was a real contender – but his legs are shorter that Dave Shepherd, if that made a difference.

Rikk Sparrow held status as an unknown, from Masterton the legend says, what is this man capable of?!

Everyone else dressed funny and were gallantly destined to fight it out for the best costume prize.

Dave Shepherd was first out of the blocks and quickly put some distance between himself and the rest of the field. The remainder of the field departed at 20 second intervals.

David Blake was nest to leave but did not manage to muster the Shepherd into closer view, Dave kept pulling away, opening up an eventual margin of 1:27. Rikk Sparrow was second to last out of the starting gate and reeled in the other competitors like a child fishing for herrings. Relentlessly he made his way up the field.

Paul Mason chose to dress for dryness rather than speed, a choice he lived to comfortably regret. Too much rubber for a bike race.

Em and Rex were the super heroes of the day – Rex’s choice of eyewear was wise as others endured needle-like rain drops. Em’s cape flapped around like the caped crusader, while she attempted to place a stranglehold on the field. In the end was her that was strangled by cape!

Joe put his head down and persisted, making a final sprint, just a little too late!

Flo was dressed as a toilet roll (we still don’t know why!) but it certainly did not improve winning chances creating more drag as she punched into the storm – It was an incredibly good effort given the conditions.

Our biggest shout-out goes to Olivia, Flo’s young daughter who made it the distance in very challenging wind. Sheer willpower and determination and still smiling at the end!

From a super slick 7minutes and 3 seconds to a hard fought 15 minutes and 30 seconds, all competitors felt the race was a little more challenging than your standard 3km spin around the block.

Race Results

1st place & undisputed National Champion: Dave Shepherd with the winning time of 7 minutes and 3 seconds.

2nd place: Rikk Sparrow, clocking in at 8 minutes and 9 seconds.

Rikk and Team Sparrow, with a bottle of Te Kairanga Pinot Rose – accepting a hard fought second place.

3rd place: David Blake was hot on his heels at 8 minutes and 30 seconds.

Paul Mason, Dave Shepherd (National Champion), David Blake (2nd)

Fourth place: Rex the super wingman, taking joint prizes for dress ups and posting a credible 9 minutes and 58 seconds.

Wingman Rex and Super Em! With a bottle of the sponsors product, thanks Poppies of Martinborough!

5th place: Super Em the caped crusader with a time of 10minues 14 seconds. Joint dress up winner.

6th place : Paul Mason in 11 minutes and 18 seconds. Dressed as a …..well we are not sure!

7th place Joe Howells who put in a last sprint to clock in at 14minutes and 13 seconds.

8/9th place: Flo & Olivia – another fancy dresser and our youngest competitors rounding out the field in 15 minutes and 30seconds!

Will we be here next year? You bet! The riders loved their race and recommend this madness to everyone. Keep and eye-out on our New Zealand National Headwind Cycling Championships Facebook group, where you can post photos of your own headwind cycling aventures!

Ride on!

Sponsors and Helpers

This event was made possible by the kind help of:

We were honored to have help from Martinborough Lions Club, Liz Stevens, The Reids, Pam Howells, David Knowles, Mick Gasson, and Bronwyn Pogson, who came down on her day off to marshal!

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