The Ngaumu Gravel Grind takes in smooth forestry roads. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

CYCLING

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

A surge in interest in off-road racing will have about 100 cyclists take part in a unique event in the Ngaumu Forest on Sunday.

The Ngaumu Gravel Grind is the brainchild of Athletics and Cycling Masterton and is open to riders on e-bikes, cyclocross bikes, or mountain bikes.

Cyclists can complete one, two, or three laps of the 24km course, which includes 6km of sealed road. It starts and finishes at Te Wharau Hall.

Organiser Mark Langlands said the club had talked about developing a gravel style race for the elite riders as well as the more social rider.

“Gravel racing and riding is booming overseas, and we’re trying to cater for the market that is here and if we can get a few more people into riding that would be great,” he said.

Masterton cyclist Greg Baillie tries out the Ngaumu Gravel Grind course.

“We’ve been lucky enough to get permission from JNL to use Ngaumu Forest and roads that we normally don’t get access to, which is going to be fantastic.

“Mainly it’s an event just to get people out there doing a race that they haven’t had the opportunity to do before.”

Langlands has ridden the course and raved about it.

“Most of it is on nice forestry roads, there are no real difficult climbs, it’s sort of nice and gradual and not too technical on the descents, obviously for the logging trucks to go through.”

“There is one river crossing but that is between ankle and knee height and there’s quite a steep climb out of the river.

“Apart from that, it’s all nice, flowing forestry track and a little bit of gravel road at the start.”

There is no official start time and riders can start from 9am to 10.30am.

The only cut off time is 11am to start the last lap, so riders aren’t on the course all day.

Langlands, who performed strongly in this year’s Trust House New Zealand Cycle Classic held in Wairarapa should be among the frontrunners for the three-lap race, along with fellow ACM A-Grade riders Russell Pickering, Josh van Woerkom, and Simon Butler.

Emily Lutyens and Donna Burkhart, both from ACM, are expected to be among the leading women.

Langlands said there were 89 entries so far, with the field limited to 100 riders.

“I know of a group of 18 coming across from Wellington and there’s a lot of people in the region who may have been out of the sport or haven’t been on the road for a while and they’re coming out to do it which is good see.

“There are a few women who are new into cycling this year and they’re doing it, and we’re encouraging them to come along in an environment which isn’t too competitive, and where they can ride around at their pace and leisure and enjoy the day,” Langlands said.

  • Entries for the Ngaumu Gravel Grind can be made online at www.acm.kiwi.nz and close at midday Saturday.