Evo Crew Pre The 2020 Whaka 100

Lester Perry | Mon 19th Oct 2020 14:31

The Evo crew will be out in force at the 2020 Whaka 100. We talks to Clem, Josh and Lester about their race prep and expectations for the event.

The Whaka 100 is only few days away now, and a handful of our Crew are putting the cap on their preparation leading up to the big day! Below we take a quick look at how three of them have prepared, thing’s they’ve learned over the years and some tips ’n’ tricks for racing the Whaka 100.

Clement Holgate, our Rotorua showroom leader. ‘Clem’ has been in the bike industry for years and has been a familiar face at MTB events across the country since his junior days. Clem’s the most savage of our group, taking on the Whaka aboard his trusty hardtail single speed, yes, only one gear!

Josh Page comes into the Whaka with a storied history of both MTB and Road racing, having podiumed the event before. Josh is our Northern Operations Leader, overseeing all showroom operations North of Pukekohe. It’s a while since he’s raced a big MTB event, but he’s keen to get it done and is not one to shy away from a big day in the saddle.

Lester Perry is part of the Marketing Crew here at the EVO Support Centre. Lester has dabbled in a few XC events over the years, but this will be the first one he’s taking on with some training under his belt and aboard a proper XC race bike.

Why do the Whaka?

Clem: Turns out my partner signed me up one night as a bit of practical joke. But it’s one of those events that living in Rotorua and being a cyclist is going to be good to put a tick beside.

Josh: I’ve been wanting to do it again for years, I think I last rode it in 2010 and it’s always conflicted with Southland or I haven't had a MTB, so this winter I decided I wanted to get out there and ride it again.

Lester: Covid-19 put a fork in my Enduro plans for the year and I really wanted something to aim for, and motivate me as we headed into Winter.

What’s your history when it comes to mountain bike races like this?

Clem: I have ridden bikes since I was 12, so a long time, and was competing in the very early Linger and Die and Central Otago MTB XC races as a kid around Alexandra and Wanaka. More recently most of my riding in Rotorua has been on a trail bike and racing the likes of the Giant 2W and Dodzy Memorial type events. The closet event in terms of distance would have been racing the Huka 65km event of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge event several years back as well as the odd club XC race.

Josh: I started my bike riding life as a Mountain-biker. I have ridden Whaka twice, The Taupo Huka twice, as well as other endurance events like 24h Moonride solo, 12-hour day-nighter solo and plenty of 6h endurance races. I’d say I’ve done my fair share of MTB events over the years so it’s nothing unfamiliar, unfortunately, that doesn't make the undertaking any less daunting though!

Lester: I’ve done a few similar events over the years (Huka, Moonride 6 hour solo etc) but never really prepared specifically for them. The last few years have been dominated by racing Gravity Enduro events, so a far cry from the Whaka-100 style!

Clem’s Giant XTC Single Speed rocket.

Do you have a goal for the event (outside of just finishing!) if so, what’s your aim?

Clem: Not to come last out of all the EVO crew competing, haha, and to beat my physio's time of 6hours 31min. So sub-6hours 30min would be an aim.

Josh: Well, last time I rode Whaka I finished 3rd. So, you always go to an event to improve, but I'm also 10 years older and the field is a lot deeper this year. So many other factors contribute. I think if I can finish in the top 10 with the depth of field that this year’s event will have I’ll be pretty happy.

Lester: I’m not too sure what I’m in for really, so if I stick to the plan of just to ride my own race and enjoy it, I’ll be happy. I’m all about trying to deal to the process, the resulting time will be what it is.

What do you think the biggest challenge of the day will be for you?

Clem: Managing my blood sugars. Being a Type 1 Diabetic I will need to keep a close eye on my blood sugars, nutrition, time and try to keep it all in balance.

Josh: Not going too deep too early. If I can hold back in the early stages when the young guys rip it, my age and endurance should even things out in that 4th and 5th hours of the race.

Lester: Much like Josh - just not getting carried away in the “race” early on, and not pushing too hard on the descents, just saving energy.

How have you prepared for the event?

Clem: Trying to get at least 1 good long ride in a week and if possible 1 or 2 shorter rides. The Rotorua Wednesday Night XC races through the winter have been good motivation also. Trailing out some nutrition and hydration for what to use on the day has also been a good learning curve.

Josh: I have done some pretty big days on the bike this year both on the road bike and the MTB and then some shorter erg and hill rep sessions thrown in the mix. An event like Whaka is more about riding a solid pace all day and note fade too much, rather than being able to rip ridiculous power for short periods like a shorter XCO race.

Lester: I have had a pretty solid build-up of 3pm Snickers Bar and Coke, with probably too many Craft Brews, and Fish and Chip dinners! Amongst the things slowing me down, I’ve managed one big ride a week, combined with a couple of trainer sessions during the week.

Josh’s Giant Anthem getting some sun.

What bike set up are you running?

Clem: For the Whaka I am (I'm not sure why) riding a Giant XTC Advanced 29er Single Speed.

Josh: I brought a 2020 Giant Anthem Advanced 1. XT group set, carbon wheels, I have also put an Oval absoluteBLACK chainring and stages power meter on. I’ve trained with power on the road for years so was interested in seeing what the power in an MTB race is like. It’s the first time I've owned a Giant and I'm really impressed with it. I’ve always run a slightly heavier tyre on the front as well like a Schwalbe Nobby Nic, but I've been trying the Maxxis Recon Race tyres front and rear and been really impressed with those so will be using them on the day. Unless it looks like rain, then ill do a last min change out.

Lester: I’ll be aboard a 2021 Giant Anthem. The bike has been a real game-changer. After riding a hardtail over lots of Winter I got on this a month ago and it’s so much easier on the body!

One of the bonuses of later Winter training.

What are you dreading about the event?

Clem: Pondy Elevator, then the weeks to recover!

Josh: I am nervous I’ve done everything I can to prepare. I’ve been looking to this event for so long that I get myself pretty nervous that I’ve prepared right. Even though I know what to do and what I need to do I still get nervous. An old coach told me if your nervous and worried you have done things right then you’re in the right place, switched on and ready to go. Once that gun goes its business time and you just need to ride. Blowing up though is always crap on the MTB, then it’s miserable.

Lester: Dreading that I’m going to ride all the downhills really well, then be passed by heaps of people up the climbs!

What are you most looking forward to about the event?

Clem: Turns out I might be slightly competitive, so I am looking forward to the build-up of race day and getting amongst some friendly racing

Josh: 100k of MTB riding!!!! How much fun is that!!!

Lester: Just getting stuck in! And looking forward to seeing how well / if my training has actually helped.

Breakfast of (wannabe) champions!

What are you planning on eating and drinking through the day?

Clem: Lots. I have bars for my main source of food + snakes + 1 bottle with a carbohydrate-containing hydration + 1 bottle of water on the bike and then making use of the feed stations along the way.

Josh: Pizza the night before, probably hells chicken and cranberry pizza. Big bowl of porridge with heavy oats and heaps of nuts and seeds for breakfast. Once the race starts, I will have some solid food like bananas and maybe cliff bars to eat in road sections. I will try save Gels and blocks for later in the race when you are more drilled. In my bottles I will run power aid or whatever is in my pantry, I am not picky. And Coke, I’m all about the coke.

Lester: I’ve put a bit of work into sorting my nutrition out, so I hope I’ve planned that all correctly haha! A Clif bar and half a pack of Clif Bloks per hour early on, Gels later in the day, combined with high carb SIS Beta Fuel in my bottle, and 2 litres of Nuun in the Camelbak which Ill refill at 50km. I’ll be carrying a bunch of weight but hoping it’s all worthwhile later in the event.

Any special hacks or unique things in your setup?

Clem: Just riding the XC bike, and have opted for a FOX 34 fork up front to try and give me some more freedom and confidence on the way down

Josh: The absoluteBLACK chainring. I really rate oval rings on the MTB, they just work. Other than that, after years of riding and training and studying sports physiology and training I have discovered that really keeping this simple is the best. Lots of long slow rides, long steady rides, and fewer intervals than you think. I will probably smash a Giant Pizza the night before the race, that normally goes good pre-race. Other than that I don't think there's any rocket science to it.

One training session I find goes good for this sort of stuff is wake up no breakfast smash a black coffee and just go ride solid for a couple of hours. Other than that I'm pretty boring really, maybe I've just been doing it for so long nothings out there anymore.

Lester: I’ve brought a Camelbak for the event, I haven’t had one for years but I’m realising the importance of fuelling & hydrating correctly, so wanted the ability to be pretty self-sufficient and carry all my drink and food.