“PUSH. YOUR. LIMITS”
The three best words stated by Pioneer competitor Yuri Hauswald to describe The Pioneer Mountain Bike 7 Day Epic Challenge. Earlier this year from February 5th-11th, athletes competed in the 7-Day Epic Challenge leaving them bruised but satisfied.
“I’ve done a lot of stage races in my career, all over the world, and The Pioneer sets a very high bar when it comes to the course/route, event production, and overall participant experience,” said GU Energy competitor Yuri.
Through the toughest terrains and steepest mountain climbs in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, The Pioneer Mountain Bike Stage Race tested riders beyond their physical and mental boundaries.
Riders had the option to compete in either The Pioneer 7-Day Epic dual MTB Stage Race or could ride solo in The 4 day Traverse Event.
The Epic Challenge consisted of 545 kilometres of riding with 15,508 metres of climbing through the Southern Alps Mountain terrain.
As the 7-Day Epic Stage Race could only be ridden in teams of two, riders that would want to undertake the challenge into their own hands had the chance to compete in the 4-Day Traverse event.
This event is a smaller version of the 7-Day Epic but allowed the riders to still complete the experience of the 7-Day event in a shorter period of time. As it stood, these riders completed over 300 kilometres of riding.
The Pioneer 7 Day Epic Stage Breakdown (Photo Credit: http://www.thepioneer.co.nz/7-day-epic/overview/)
But although the figures may seem scary to some, the results for undertaking this event was rewarding. Riders had the chance to see the stunning scenery that Southern New Zealand had to offer and it left any rider with a brutal but the most unforgettable experience possible.
Partnered with Andrew Young and sponsored by GU Energy racing, Yuri Hauswald and his partner finished 7th in the Masters 40 years plus and 17th overall and explains why The Pioneer was such a fantastic event.
“The Pioneer has three tenets: Find Stunning; Find Character; and Find Welcome,” he said.
“You will find stunning in the diverse routes that they have created through the Southern Alps of NZ, many of them traversing huge swaths of remote private land that most Kiwis don’t even get to see/experience.”
Embracing the culture and environment is something that riders take out of the whole experience. One of the most important aspects is riding with a good partner, which Yuri claims was key to finish in a good position in this event.
“When competing as a duo in a seven day mountain bike stage race, you hope to ride like well-rehearsed dance partners. Each knowing the other’s strengths and weaknesses, each able to catch the other when they make a wrong move, each able to help the other shine when they aren’t at their best,” he said.
“With practice, there becomes an intuitive, unspoken language between the two that communicates exactly what the other rider is planning to do, how they are feeling, and how hard they can be pushed.”
Fortunately enough, Yuri was able to provide useful tips for any competitors looking to test themselves in next year’s event.
“Give yourself at least 6 months to prepare. The more time you can spend building a big endurance base of fitness, the better. Find a good teammate and spend as much time as possible riding together leading up to the event,” he said.
“Develop a nutrition plan. No matter how fit you are, you must have a solid nutrition plan that will give you the fuel you’ll need to get through each gruelling stage.”
Registrations open for next year’s competition on 1st June 2017.
Written by Vangeli Kollias