Aorere Enduro Race Report - Lou Kelly

Lester Perry | Tue 20th Apr 2021 15:44

Ambassador, Louise Kelly, braved the elements and secured herself a top finish at Nelsons EWS Qualifier, the Aorere Enduro over Easter weekend. Take a read at how her weekend played out on some of the very best technical, native riding NZ has to offer.

Dodge & weave, Nelson native is no joke! Pic: Henry Jaine.

Friday practice brought some nerves with a few wet patches around and the anticipation of how long stage 4 in sunshine ridge would be. Nervous chat in the shuttle on the way to the top showed that everyone was on the same page, worried about all the long stages ahead.

Conditions proved to be tricky as I struggled to keep my feet on the pedals for the whole day. Looking back now, a wet practice made race day so much more enjoyable. Once the tracks dried out it was all on, grip for days and the fear of wet roots was long gone.

Practice day is always a super fun day in the saddle, especially for a home race. It’s always exciting to see what changes have been made to throw the locals off.

A podium of heavy hitters

Saturday morning was practice for racing that afternoon. Race days like this are my favourite because the tracks are so fresh in your mind.

Race day 1 started with a shuttle up Fringed hill into a brand new track, ‘Butters’. We started on Fringe DH and turned off into ‘Butters’ and back onto Fringe DH. This stage was epic, with a bit of moisture still about adding an element of surprise with all the sniper roots showing themselves come the race run. Riding a track blind is so much fun, the adrenaline is running high and I was just holding on and hoping to make it to the bottom. By the time we made it over to ‘Smasher’ for stage 2, the ground was basically dry so it was time to let loose. The last track of the day was loam ranger and it was running fast. I was happy with my day’s efforts and ready to rip into day 2.

When your kit matches the dog coat!

Race day 2 was going to be a big one! Although stage 4 along Sunshine Ridge had been shortened, that didn't mean it was any easier. With the rocks and roots still wet it was a mission just to get to the start of the stage.

At the end of that lung buster (Sunshine Ridge) was the start of the new Whaimana trail, dropping all the way through the native bush. The rain had dried up and the dirt was prime. This track definitely showcases what Nelson riding is all about. This was my first stage win of the weekend. Next up was Aorere, what we had all been waiting for. 12 minutes of ducking in and out of the natives, throw in a few road sprints and a high pace jump section at the bottom. You’ll definitely find yourself with a huge smile on your race after that one, once you’ve caught your breath that is!

Post race dog walk and new kit day.

Maitai face... a classic. One of my personal favourites. Maitai face was my second stage win. Steep and fast. With a few line changes for the race, it was definitely the best track to finish such an epic race on. Couldn’t have asked for better conditions and the crowd was incredible. With a total of 43 minutes of total descending race time, the whole weekend was no walk in the park but that’s what Nelson is all about.

I was beyond stoked to come in second, with a few stage wins in there too! The women’s field was awesome, so much talent and a lot of fast girls. It’s so cool to see more women not just showing up, but also pushing for that top step. Definitely makes me excited for more racing!